Evangelism Without a Bullhorn

Jeff Grant

When a lot of Christians hear the word “evangelism,” they picture a man with a sign saying “the end is near” or shouting through a bullhorn that passersby are going to hell.

While those strategies probably aren’t helping, Jesus did command us to tell the world about Him. In light of that, I propose a different model based on the example of Philip from Acts 8:26-40. There’s tons to say, but I’ll stick to 3 main points, assuming first that we are allowing God to be #1 in our lives.

  • Be Near the Lost: In verse 29, God told Philip to “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” He didn’t say what to do next, but directed Philip’s attention to a person. If we are surrendered to God, our purpose on earth is to help people to know God. We can’t do that if we don’t connect with folks who don’t know Him already. It can actually be very easy! Just pursue the things you like to do (ex. I like board games) and meet other people who like it too. You’d be surprised what doors to spiritual conversation open up!

  • Start Where They Are: There are occasions where your non-Christian friends will ask questions that open the conversation themselves, but there are always situations they’re going through that the gospel speaks into (I don’t mean rules, I mean how the grace offered by Jesus answers each problem in our life). Philip saw the man puzzling over a confusing Bible passage and simply asked, “do you understand what you’re reading?” If we want to help people in their journey toward the cross, we need to first discover where they are, then walk with them from that spot. A great tool in teaching us this process is called CoJourners.

  • Tell the Good News Clearly: I think most of us agree that telling people they’re going to hell through a bullhorn is not the best way to communicate the “good news.” But, if we default to silence because we don’t know the right way to share, the bullhorn message is all people will know. There are lots of good, biblical ways to do it, and it doesn’t require that you have the whole book memorized. Here are two of my favorites:

    Bridge Illustration
    Navigators teaches a way you can use a single verse to communicate the whole truth.

    Knowing God Personally
    Bill Bright developed a booklet that explains the gospel in 4 easy points. I also love the 2-circles illustration used in the final point, which really brings people to a point of decision like nothing else I’ve seen.

Possible Objection

Perhaps you are concerned that another presentation of Christianity is going to be thrown out along with all the bullhorn-yelling, Christian movies and music they tune out throughout their day.

Good point!

When I break out one of those illustrations, it’s usually at a point in the conversation when the person has voiced some interest in knowing God. Perhaps because I’ve asked them something like, “religion aside, how interested are you in knowing God on a scale of 1 to 10?” Most people rate it pretty high, so I then say, “there’s actually a lot of misunderstandings about what the Bible actually says about how you can know God. Would you like to know what it actually says?”

“Still…” you say, and I understand!

Not everybody wants to dive into the Bible like that, even when they’re interested in God. That is why Jesus told us to be His “witnesses.” People don’t connect with facts, they connect with people. So take the facts, and apply them to a time in your life that they played out. When they say they’re interested in knowing God, you can say, “can I tell you about how I came to know God?”

Nobody wants to argue with a story, and they will see it as a chance to get to know you better. It also gives them a framework to see God working in their own life.

Bullhorn yelling may not be the most effective way to tell people about Jesus, but they do have a few things right: urgency and responsibility. God is on the move, doing what has been most important to Him throughout all of history (rescuing His people). He can do it without us, but He has chosen to invite us into this awesome adventure. Let’s not miss out any more.

What do you think? What ways have you found effective in sharing your faith?

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