You’ve probably heard of relational evangelism and initiative evangelism, but ‘gospel appointments’ blend the best of both.
For years I have been looking for an evangelism tool that mixes best practices of relational evangelism and initiative evangelism. Because of time constraints and a lack of tangible results, I struggle to incorporate initiative evangelism tactics such as tracts or surveys into my everyday activities. Relational methods focus on befriending just a few people, who may or may not want anything to do with following Jesus. I still practice both methods and regularly train others to use them, but I feel like there has to be more effective ways of bringing people to Christ.
Then I found a third option: the gospel appointment.
The gospel appointment is a distinct meeting with someone who does not believe. In the gospel appointment, I clearly explain the gospel and give an opportunity to respond with questions and, ideally, conversion.
In the last year, our college ministry of less than 100 students saw 63 friends decide to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord! Gospel appointments account for the majority of those students who came to Christ.
Steve Sjogren once said,“The best kind of evangelism is the evangelism that you do.” In gospel appointments, we do evangelism. It is by far the most liberating and effective evangelistic strategy.
I consider gospel appointments intentional relational evangelism. Gospel appointments are intentional, because the entire meeting is dedicated to delivering the good news. They are also highly relational, because you spend time getting to know the person and building trust.
A gospel appointment is simply an intentional get-together with a person who isn’t a believer.
WHY ARE GOSPEL APPOINTMENTS SO EFFECTIVE?
1. Gospel appointments are easy to arrange.
It’s more like asking someone to grab a coffee than it is an altar call. In the next article, I’ll give more detailed suggestions for setting up gospel appointments.
2. Gospel appointments are ideal for getting to know someone.
You can build trust and show you sincerely care. They are honored that someone would take interest in them, and they often thank me for taking the time to have a personal meeting with them.
3. Gospel appointments are a rare opportunity to discover someone’s story and share yours.
People can get lost in large meetings and even small groups, but when it’s one on one, you can focus on just this one person.
4. Gospel appointments minimize distractions.
Group settings are subject to late arrivers, irrelevant rabbit trails and even insecurity because people are around. When it’s just the two of you, even if there are distractions, you can easily relocate.
5. Gospel appointments emphasize the importance of the person’s spiritual state.
The more time you invest in something, the more important it is to you.
6. Gospel appointments allow a full gospel presentation and time for questions.
Everyone receives the story of Jesus Christ differently, and, therefore, they have different questions that would otherwise go unasked and unanswered.
7. Gospel appointments lead to more meetings.
After having a great experience, people are likely to meet again. Simply ask “Would you like to do this again and discuss the next step in your growth as a follower of Christ?”
8. Gospel appointments are an ideal setting for initiating a relational evangelism friendship.
Even if they do not make a commitment to Christ at the first time you meet, you have begun a relationship that could ultimately lead them to Christ. We have seen several students who were not ready to accept Jesus at our first meeting, but through building friendships and intentional conversations they eventually received Christ.
9. Anyone can be trained to have a gospel appointment.
Unlike public speaking or even small group leadership, you don’t need to be an extrovert or gifted in evangelism. You just need to be a real person.
10. Gospel appointments are effective.
Sharing the gospel clearly with people in a one-on-one setting is extremely powerful. We have made gospel appointments a major part of our ministry since 2009. Through these meetings, over 200 students have received Christ. And most ministries I have trained see 2-3 people come to Christ the first week of adopting this tool. If you share the gospel, you will lead people to Christ.
Hopefully by now you’ve see what an impact gospel appointments can bring your ministry. In the next article we will discuss how to initiate a gospel appointment.
1. What one-on-one evangelistic strategies are you currently using?
2. How can you incorporate gospel appointments into your mission?
Paul Worcester is founder and director of Christian Challenge at Chico State University in Chico, California. He is also the author of the free eBook Tips for Starting A College Ministry. This article originally appeared on Campus Ministry Today.