5 Bad Ways of Spreading the Good News
by Aaron Earls
Yes, the headline pun is groan inducing, but that’s a perfect illustration of the kind of evangelism methods that may not work. In fact, it is an example of the first of five types of “evangelism” that need to be broken.
1. Cheesy Christian shirts – In high school, we would have “Wear a Christian Shirt to School Day.” Sadly, however, our faux-Gold’s Gym shirt that instead read “Lord’s Gym” did not lead to a campus wide revival.
There is nothing wrong with wearing things that identify you as a believer. But believing your T-shirt that reads “Jesus died for myspace in heaven” is going to lead to mass salvations is a bit naive – particularly when the slogan references a social networking site that hasn’t been relevant in a decade.
2. Attack strategy – Here’s a question that needs answering: Why are some people so angry about the good news of the gospel? I’m not sure how effective a gospel presentation can be when you you are constantly screaming at the other person.
There’s a reason former NFL player and “Evangelism Linebacker” Derwin Gray doesn’t use that method at Transformation Church, the church he planted near Charlotte, North Carolina. Be winsome. Speak the truth, but do so with love (Ephesians 4:15).
3. Ninja tract drop – While I was in seminary, my wife worked at a bank. She always knew when an evangelism class was finishing up because she would notice an uptick in tracts sent through the drive thru tubes. The tract-givers were trying to meet their semester requirement of gospel presentations. No time for questions, just in and out before you even knew they were there.
Tracts can be useful tools in delivering a clear description of the gospel or they can be wasted through bad usage. God can certainly use tracts laying in public places, but how much more could He use them shared with a friendly face and voice?
4. Bad acting – Some people are destined to star in Hollywood blockbusters. For others, their acting career highlight will be “Shepherd #3” in the church Christmas play. But talent has nothing to do with the acting of some when they share the gospel.
It makes it extremely difficult if you attempt to act one way while speaking of Christ and then act different other days of the week. Also, if you’re going to be an aggressive driver, don’t put a Jesus fish or “Follow me to church” bumper sticker on your car.
Let a consistent gospel-centered life be the foundation for your evangelism. People can tell when you’re faking it.
5. Stealth mode – Despite what the internet says, there’s no record of Francis of Assisi saying, “Preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words.” It is unlikely a man known for his public preaching would have said such a thing.
When talking about evangelism, it’s much easier to mock bad evangelism than it is to engage in good evangelism. And sometimes, God can use bad evangelism, but it’s a lot harder for Him to use no evangelism.
What other types of bad evangelism have you seen? How can we best promote good evangelism?
In our Spring issue this year, we focused on some better ways to evangelize. Our cover story details why a personal approach to evangelism is the most effective. We also highlight a ministry in Florida working to make the love of Christ tangible to those in need.
Thom Rainer shares 10 tips for leaders to help lead their church to be more evangelistic. Ed Stetzer reminds Christians that the problem with the harvest is not the harvest.
In our stories, Clayton King shares how to rethink preaching to make the gospel clear. Derwin Gray shares how he has led his church’s evangelistic efforts to be rooted in the gospel.
Tony Merida details the benefits and biblical nature of hospitality evangelism. Jefferson Bethke discusses how churches can reach millennials. And Matt Capps describes the draw of the gospel story woven through all of Scripture.
Aaron Earls (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.