The Barrier of Method
Many people associate evangelism with hard-sell methods and scare tactics. There are a number of unbiblical stereotypes that have kept people away from the real thing. Here are a few:
The scalp hunter. This is the person who tries to save souls to add to his collection of spiritual trophies.
The shoehorn approach. No matter how inappropriate, this person will use any opening he can to slip in the gospel.
The con-man approach. In this approach, the gospel is introduced under false pretenses.
The 2x4 approach. Here, the evangelist puts undue pressure on the unbeliever as he seeks to blast him with a blessing and clobber him into the kingdom. “You’ll hate me now, but love me later.”
There is enough offense to the gospel (1 Corinthians 1:18-24) without adding our own offense to it. Paul urged his readers, “Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved” (1 Corinthians 10:32-33).
Scripture illustrates three valid and different methods of evangelism: These are proclamational, confrontational, and relational. The apostle Peter used a proclamational approach in his sermon on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. About 3,000 souls were added to the family of God that day (v. 41). This method of public proclamation requires a special gifting and anointing, and only a very small percentage of believers can do it well.
Philip the deacon illustrates a confrontational approach in his one-time encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26-39. While all of us are called to represent Christ, a few believers are given a particular gift of personal evangelism that enables them to be effective in sharing the gospel without first developing a relational history with outsiders.
The relational approach is portrayed in the apostle Paul’s description of his intimate personal engagement with people in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 2:1-12). “Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us” (v. 8). Unlike the first two approaches, the relational approach is accessible to anyone who is willing to cultivate personal relationships with outsiders. For most of us, evangelism is best accomplished when it flows out of relationships in an unforced, conversational way.
Taken from Ken Boa’s Handbook to Spiritual Growth