2: Everyday Evangelism
by Jim Berlucchi
Over the last ten years, I have heard the conversion
stories of many who have become Christians. I remember Barb’s account of
how she knelt next to her television one evening and surrendered her life
to Christ in response to a eloquent appeal. A Billy Graham rally was the
occasion for a childhood conversion of a very dedicated Methodist minister
friend of mine. For a number of years I led music at large Catholic rallies
(F.I.R.E – Faith, Intercession, Repentance, Evangelism). These dynamic
events occasioned multiple conversions and re-conversions, prompting fallen
away Catholics to renew their faith.
These stories illustrate what has come to be
known as “mass evangelism.” Here we are talking about large group exposure
to the gospel through some form of public preaching. God has worked mightily
in such settings, and many people have come, or returned to faith through
Another form of evangelism is called random evangelism.
This is a kind of spontaneous sharing of one’s faith by confident and opportunity-seeking
Christians of all stripes. The spontaneity isn’t without preparation
and training however. There are evangelistic training seminars that
equip people to be ready to defend and advance the faith, and to be on
the lookout for every opportunity. “Always be prepared to make a defense
to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you (I Peter
A Christian who engages in random evangelism is
often praying and prepared to share the gospel at any time and circumstance,
whether it be a locker room or on a plane flight. I know of a Catholic
deacon who boldly shares his faith in his basketball league. He makes sure
his game is sharp by the way.
The Holy Spirit sometimes orchestrates circumstances
for dramatic results. I was once waiting for bus – minding my own business.
Strangely I began to feel an intense conviction that I was to talk to some
fellow passenger about God’s love. The sense was so strong I felt I would
burst if I resisted. I sat next to an elderly man and tried to strike up
a conversation. Within minutes we were discussing spiritual matters. He
seemed down. I encouraged him, told him I’d pray for him and gave him my
Later that evening he called and left a
startling message. That bus ride was to be his last. He was heading home
determined to take his life. Our brief conversation convinced him that
God was looking out for him. How could I possibly have known? That experience
taught me never to undervalue random evangelism, especially when we are
being led by the God who knows the secret intentions of every heart.
Another kind of evangelism is what I call everyday
evangelism. Everyday evangelism involves influencing others toward the
kingdom of God in our daily environments. Normally the process is most
effective in situations where we have ongoing relationships with friends,
neighbors, co-workers, relatives, or fellow students.
Everyday evangelism is, well, kind of ordinary.
One need not be particularly persuasive, articulate or charismatic. Often,
the most effective witnesses are recently converted or renewed Christians
whose enthusiasm makes up for lack of technical know-how.
At the heart of everyday evangelism is the recognition
of the importance of personal relationships in any kind of conversion process.
Few people become dedicated Christians simply by hearing an inspiring message.
Few converts are won solely through the distribution of tracts or by watching
Christian television. In fact, most people respond favorably to the Good
News through the personal influence of other Christians. And the process
takes place in the most modest and ordinary circumstances of daily life.
This kind of evangelism effectively led me back
to the faith I neglected and then discarded during my ‘enlightened’ college
years. I became not only unbelieving, but cynical about religion, thinking
it naïve and unsophisticated. Despite my ignorance I still enjoyed
arguing with the very few Bible believers in my dormitory hall. I had very
little tolerance for religious types and was cynical about Christianity
in particular. Not a good prospect.
But thanks to the persistent, yet tactful witness
of some fellow dorm buddies my faith was renewed. One of these students,
Leo, seemed able to convert the unlikeliest prospects. The rest of us couldn’t
help but notice the positive changes in their lives. And these new converts
were quite unabashed in sharing their newly found faith. And whether or
not they knew it, the few Christian men living in that university dormitory
were under close scrutiny by their fellow students.
Because Leo had been forthright and open about
his love for God others took particular notice to see if his behavior matched
his beliefs. Though I disagreed with his religious convictions, I respected
the sincerity of his convictions. I also expected him to conduct his life
with integrity, and I wasn’t disappointed.
He had a lot of good qualities. Unlike the rest
of us, his life was well ordered and disciplined. His room was neat; he
kept a consistent schedule; he was hard working and cheerful. And he was
really joyful. His steady happiness was particularly striking.
He wasn’t just wrapped up in his own world, but
was generous, even charitable. One night a guest visited me from out of
state. When Leo heard of his arrival, he hauled his mattress into my room
to accommodate my visiting buddy. To this day, I can remember the impact
that selfless gesture had on me.
His speech was different too. No foul talk. He
never criticized or griped. He was patient, sincerely interested in people
and always ready to lend a hand.
At the same time he was a bulldog in sharing his
faith and it was really pretty infections. We all knew he prayed for us.
He would share with enthusiasm how the Lord was working in his life and
helping him. Whenever he returned from church or a prayer service he would
fill everyone in on the message. More than that, he kept inviting everyone
to come along.
Being the aroma
of Christ for others
Over the course of eight months, four of the
young men in this particular hall seriously committed their lives to Jesus.
They had a great influence on the rest of us. Most of them couldn’t hold
their own in a theological debate. They were motivated simply to pray and
pursue. The witness of their lives was indeed credible to their unbelieving
acquaintances. They were the aroma of Christ to us – fragrantly drawing
us to consider the message of their Master. Their genuineness, tact, and
personal credibility carried great weight. In the non-religious atmosphere
of our dorm rooms, cafeteria, and lounges they were able, grace-filled
This example shows how effective personal, everyday
evangelism can be. It doesn’t require years of theological training and
expertise. You and I can do it. As you implement principles of personal
evangelism outlined in the next chapters, you will be increasingly able
to help lead men and women further into the kingdom of God.
article is adapted from the book, Person to Person: How to be effective
in evangelism, © 1984 by Jim Berlucchi, and published by Servants
Books, Ann Arbor.]
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1: True “No Limit” Message
||Jim Berlucchi is the Executive
Director at Spitzer Center for
Ethical Leadership. He formerly served as the Executive Director of
Legatus, an international association of Catholic CEOs. He is the work/life
columnist for Faith
Magazine, and a published composer and recording artist. Sample audio
clips of his music are available online.
He served for many years as a community leader in The Word of God and The
Sword of the Spirit. He and his wife Judy reside in Dexter, Michigan, USA.
They are the grateful parents of eight children and enjoy a steadily increasing
number of grandchildren.