Effective Evangelism

Dear Friends and Family,

I want to use today’s off day report to catch up. I arrive in Nigeria Tuesday and was scheduled to speak on Effective Evangelism “that leads to numeric church growth.” NOTE: I didn’t know the “church growth” element until the last minute.


In general, I explained that evangelism doesn’t always result in “your church” getting new members. And I told a personal story or two, and gave a few statistics to support my point. But then I told them that according to study I came across when writing my Master’s Thesis, the form of evangelism that has the best chance of increasing the number of those attending “your” church is done friend to friend in the form of a two-way conversation. I, then, tied that in with the verses in the New Testament that speak of “you and your house (or household) will be saved,” and followed that up by showing from the NT that when our lifestyle and our gospel message match up, our friends, family, and colleagues (our “household”) see the difference and are drawn to Jesus by our life and words. When a friend or relative then comes to Christ, they are most likely to attend your church with you. That was my Tuesday night presentation. By the way, in those two-way conversations, the Christian should be ready to give good, reasonable, biblical answers to questions the unbeliever may ask… that is doing “apologetics,” which is what I am focusing on helping people to learn to do.


Wednesday was a follow up session with many of the same people with a few added. I wanted to clarify what the “gospel” should include. It’s more than just “Jesus died for your sins and you need to confess and receive Jesus as your Savior.” That is part of it.

We sang the old hymn, “Rescue the Perishing” before I spoke. When I got up I proposed the question, “What if the person you are trying to ‘witness’ to doesn’t know he/she is perishing? And how do you explain to them that they are perishing and need a Savior?” Then I turned to Isaiah 6 where Isaiah saw the Lord and the seraphim were crying out “holy holy holy.” Isaiah immediately recognized his dirty mouth (sin), thought he was going to die (he said “woe is me”), confessed it, and was forgiven. That’s the gospel.

Someone needs to understand the holiness of God and the sinfulness of sin before they will see their need for forgiveness, repent, and believe the gospel. From there I transitioned into what makes for a fruitful gospel conversation (it begins with very active listening leading to mutual understanding). That covers the two nights.


Ebenezer, again, summarized the major points and asked if there were any questions and several hands shot up. It was very encouraging. And for the next hour I was answer some very good, thoughtful, appropriate questions. Let me give you a quick rundown.

Q: You (Steve) talked about preparing a younger generation to be leaders but you did not mention prayer. Where does prayer fit into all of this?

ANS: I turned to Col 4:2-5 where Paul asked for prayer, that God would open a door for the Word and give him wisdom to know what to say.

Q: I have a Muslim friend who does not believe that Jesus is God and was crucified for our sins. What should I say to her?

ANS: I told her to do research to show that even secular historians of the early centuries after Christ record the story of the crucifixion and resurrection so she should do the research and be prepared to show that the resurrection is a true, historical event. I also suggested that she ask her friend if she knew she would go to “Muslim-heaven/paradise” when she died. They answer would have to be “no” because they don’t know and they will not know until they appear before Allah, who makes the final decision at that moment.

Q: We have freedom to share the gospel in public but we see that you cannot do that in the US. Why is it that Christianity is so shallow here in Africa?

ANS: I explained that we have freedom of speech and religion but that the government will not let us share the gospel in private places like government schools and government offices. And employers can prohibit their employees from sharing the gospel with fellow employees while at work. Then I suggested that the reason Christianity is still so shallow in Africa is because of the lack of discipleship and an over emphasis on increasing numbers in attendance.

Q: Early missionaries brought Christianity to Africa and after all of this time Christianity is still shallow. Where did they fall short?

ANS: I suggested that too often, missionaries reach a group of people, plant a church, and leave for a different field to do the same thing. One author called this, “reach and leave.” Then I said, missionaries need to “reach and teach” according to Matt 28, where Jesus said “teaching them to obey all that I commanded you.” Discipleship is to follow evangelism.

Q: Some people come to church and become Christians and then expect the church to take care of them with money and meeting other needs. Others come and don’t like the preaching and then go to another church. What can we do to keep them from leaving?

ANS: I showed them 2 Tim 4 where Paul told Timothy that people want their “ears tickled” and will find teachers/preachers who will tell them what they want to hear. The second group has probably responded to a different gospel like the prosperity gospel believing that if they become a Christian then all of their needs/wants are going to be met. I suggested that those people have not become true Christians and are still unbelievers.

Q: What do we tell people who are suffering or have loved ones who are suffering?

ANS: I tell them God’s story of creation, when everything was very good and how it ends with doing away with the old heaven and earth, and creating a new heaven and earth. Then explain that the reason it needs to be remade was because in Gen 3, the fall cursed everything and at that point every possible evil entered creation and one way or another we are all going to suffer and eventually die. But in the middle of all of it is the promise of eventual healing and eternal life to all who repent and believe the gospel. I reminded them to show sympathy before sharing this truth.

Q: When the Boko Haram come to kill Christians, should Christians defend themselves?

ANS: Yes. Ebenezer pointed out that Jesus told those he sent out to take a sword, implying they should be ready to defend themselves.

FOLLOW UP Q: Should we only defend ourselves or should we go on the attack against them?

ANS: I didn’t want to answer quickly and said “I’m not sure.” Later I thought about the topic of “Just War Theory,” or “When is it right to initiate war?”

Q: What if you are having a discussion with an unbeliever and you can tell they are not sincere? Do you keep going or walk away?

ANS:  I suggested that you ask that unbeliever this: “If I give good evidence to you to show that Christiaity is true, will you become a Christian? Or “What evidence do I need to show you that will convince you that Christianity is true and will then result in you becoming a Christian?” There is a good chance that the person will admit nothing will persuade him/her.

I hope you were helped by this Q&A report.


Friday, I meet with university students and the host pastor is key to opening doors for much larger audiences. Please pray for me as I speak and that he will be impressed enough to entertain thoughts of having me speak to a denominational meeting next April where up to 5,000 could be in attendance. Thanks for caring and praying.

By His grace,



ITEM Next Gen Ministry