First, there is less and less interest in the Gospel message itself. Consequently, Christians today find their traditional approaches to evangelism somewhat limiting. It was common 30 to 40 years ago to use a simple tract to share the Gospel with others, especially on college campuses. Many baby boomers were won to Christ back in their youth because someone shared the Gospel with them in this way. Today it is much more difficult to reach people by just sharing a simple four-point Gospel presentation. This is true of people in the East or West.
The director for a large Christian ministry on a campus in the US once confessed to me (David), “Only on a good day do I help someone take a step closer to Christ.” Expectations have changed, even among college workers in the last 30 years. A former seminary student of mine in Singapore suggested that something is missing in our approach to reaching students in the East. She said, “As a campus ministry staff person, I am trained in using a simple Gospel presentation and some apologetic skills, but I have problems trying to integrate them during evangelism. When people indicate that they are not interested, I can only ask them for the reason and then invite them for an evangelistic Bible study or share my personal testimony.” She felt limited in her ability to reach students with the training she had received in evangelism, especially with those who were not yet ready to hear about Christ.
A former country evangelism director for a large college ministry in Asia confessed how the training we gave her and her staff have helped her to be successful, now that she is back in the workplace. After using some traditional approaches in witnessing to her colleagues and seeing some resistance, she remembered what she had learned and, as a result, saw greater spiritual openness. “The more I thought about what happened,” she said to us, “the more I realized that in today’s generation, people would generally not give Christians a full uninterrupted ten minutes to share the Gospel with them. It is more likely that we share the Gospel through injecting it into normal conversations of everyday life.”
We are not advocating that we get rid of all the evangelistic tools we’ve used in the past. God can and does use these tools with those who have some receptivity to the Gospel. What is needed today, however, is a tool that can supplement what we already know about evangelism, especially when presenting the Gospel to those who are indifferent, skeptical, or even hostile to the claims of Christ. Not everyone is at the same point in their openness to the Gospel, and we need to use different approaches depending on someone’s spiritual openness.
 Norman Geisler with Geisler, Conversational Evangelism: Connecting with People to Share Jesus (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2014).
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