I once had an encounter with a Jehovah's Witness on a city street in New Orleans. She approached me with marked up New World Translation of the Bible. I saw this as a rare opportunity to present her with the gospel and win her over to Christ.
I had tremendous confidence in my ability to do this. I had just finished my Evangelism class at New Orleans with an A. I was polished and ready.
I began to counter the teachings of her faith with what the Bible taught but she countered every argument I made. It seems she was as well-trained as I, so I decided to pull out my fool-proof, guaranteed-to-work tactic. I shared my testimony.
One's personal testimony is a powerful soul-winning tool. It communicates on a very human level. It is hard to argue against because it is personal. It gets the point across by explaining how you discovered your need for Christ and how your life is better now.
It didn't work. She walked away from the gospel and I did not become a Jehovah's Witness.
I did however have an opportunity to exercise three of the six evangelism styles that Bill Hybels identified in his book, Becoming a Contagious Christian. I demonstrated the confrontational style by engaging her in dialog and openly declaring my faith. Although the confrontational approach brings mind knocking on doors and asking, “Are you ready to die?” it does not have to be obnoxious.
I moved from the confrontational approach to the intellectual approach when I engaged in a theological debate. This style requires knowledge of the Bible and doctrinal strength.
When I realized I was not making progress, I moved to the testimonial style. I gave my salvation testimony but you can also give a testimony about how God helped you through a specific problem. This is particularly effective if the other person can directly relate to your story.
The Apostle Paul said, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22)
Although each of have a preferred style it is possible and necessary to adjust our approach to the situation in which we find ourselves.