My wife, Judi, and I lived in a rental home in the Northpointe subdivision in Florida, United States, while we awaited the construction of our new home across the causeway in Pace, Florida. The week before the big move, we had a garage sale to discard our unwanted belongings. As I sat in a lawn chair in the driveway watching people pull up to the curb and rummage through our stuff, it dawned on me that many of these people were our own neighbors, but I did not even know their names. That is when God gently implored, “David, you’ve lived in this neighborhood for twelve months. You’ve driven past these homes hundreds of times to conduct preaching services and board meetings, visit parishioners, and give Bible studies across town, but not once have you walked across the property line to get acquainted with your neighbors!” Right then and there I confessed, “God, You’re right. Please give me another chance. Show me how to be a better witness for You.”


Just before Jesus ascended to the Father, He challenged His church to “‘go and make disciples’” (Matt. 28:19, NIV). This work of leading others to Jesus is the highest priority of Christ’s followers. Yet, let’s be candid; it is one of the hardest things God ever asks us to do. Most of us would rather run a marathon than cross the street to greet our neighbor. We are plagued with feelings of fear and inadequacy and with the realities of being too busy. This is true not only for church members but also for pastors. According to one study by Thom Rainer, 53 percent of pastors have made no evangelistic effort to share the gospel with unbelievers during the past six months.1 It is easy to become side-tracked by the “tyranny of the urgent” and ignore the evangelistic mandate of Christ. The reality is, pastors must first model the evangelistic value that lost people matter to God before their churches will ever emulate it.2 As Alvin Reid puts it, “Your church collectively will not be more evangelistic than you are personally.”3


When I was in Pensacola, Florida, I used to stroll along the fishing pier and watch the people fish. It was interesting to note that they used different kinds of bait to catch different kinds of fish. You involve more members with a multidimensional evangelistic approach because each member uses a different witnessing approach. And you reach more people because different people are better attracted to different styles. This loaded “tackle box” creates a win-win situation. It involves more members and “catches” more people for Jesus Christ.

I will never forget one of my first doctor of ministry assignments. Our professor, Dr. Joseph Kidder, instructed us to take our Bibles, scan through the book of Acts, and look for the different methods of evangelism that were used by the early Christian church. I was a third-generation Seventh-day Adventist who grew up as a preacher’s kid (PK). I knew this message backward and forward. My stereotypical view of evangelism was public reaping meetings by a professional evangelist, with the four beasts on the screen. But we prayerfully made up our individual lists and then compiled our collective list on the whiteboard, filling the board with more than 40 evangelistic methods. Though Ellen White had attested that “different methods are to be employed to save different ones,” 4 this exercise was a great eye-opener for me. I subsequently grouped the methods into seven witnessing styles:5

1. Prayer—Interceding for the salvation of friends, family, and work associates.

2. Friendship—Forming relational bridges to communicate the gospel in a low-key, nonthreatening way.

3. Service—Demonstrating God’s love by doing practical acts of service with no strings attached.

4. Testimony—Relaying from one’s own personal experience the great things God has done.

5. Invitation—Inviting family, friends, and acquaintances to social events, service projects, culturally relevant seminars, or spiritual events where Jesus and His gospel and truth are introduced.

6. Conversation—Utilizing casual conversation to introduce people to Christ and His truth.

7. Proclamation—Declaring the absolute truths of God’s Word in an authoritative, non-judgmental way through teaching or preaching.

I am thankful that God has given me many more chances to share His love with others since that epiphany during my moving sale 26 years ago. God will use you, as well, as you use the various witnessing styles and train others to do the same.

NOTES: For more on the topic, see David L. Hartman, Winning Ways to Witness: Seven Witnessing Styles That Attract People to Christ (Collegedale, TN: College Press, 2018).

-- David Hartman, DMin, at the time of writing, was the ministerial and evangelism director for the Kentucky-Tennessee Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. He recently has become a professor in the school of religion at Southern Adventist University, Collegedale, Tennessee, United States.

This article was extracted from the Logos for June 5, 2021.