Lifestyle Evangelism

“While I share your faith in the LORD, I wonder whether this act of evangelism is truly the Christian way. I personally interpret the Bible’s message of evangelism to mean living one’s faith every day as an example, hoping that others will follow this example and begin to explore the message of GOD. HE is truly great, and hopefully others will be inspired to follow HIM by their own will, rather than by being preached to or guilted into belief. Every one should learn to love HIM on their own; to be able to find their own way to HIM, because of HIS message of love and forgiveness, not because of a fear of Hell. God Bless,” Blog comment

I thought this comment was too important to simply respond to and that instead it should be a new blog post. If you want to read my post to which this comment refers, here is the link.

Just how clear is the Bible in defining what evangelism really is? How much is left to personal interpretation? Is “lifestyle” evangelism what Jesus commands us to do, or are we to be direct in our appeal for the lost to be saved?

I know of no better way to clarify then to go to Jesus’ own words in Mark 16:15, “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Jesus used two key words, “go” and “preach.” Go is very clear, and the Greek word for “preach” means to herald or proclaim. Jesus did not say, “Live and let others observe your lifestyle.” He said to go and proclaim the gospel. There would be no need to look at additional verses, but because this is so important, let’s look further.

Jesus often used practical, real-life examples to illustrate spiritual truths. In Matthew 4:19, He said to Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, “And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” A fisherman’s job is a proactive vocation. If he waited for the fish to jump into his boat because it looked more desirable than the water, the fisherman would starve. Because fish are natural in the water, they will do everything they can to stay in the water. That is why it takes effort on the part of the fisherman to catch fish.

Catching a fish actually involves death for the fish. That is what must happen to real followers of Jesus. That is why He said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Real followers of Jesus must die to self, and that is not something that happens easily.

That is why the only way to bring a person to Christ is for him to realize he is headed for hell. That is why the Ten Commandments were given – so man can see that he has broken God’s law and is destined to spend eternity in hell, unless he has a Savior. That is why the Holy Spirit comes to convict men of their sin. “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8).

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). That is why Jesus told all who are His disciples to “go and preach the gospel.” In hearing, they are convicted by the Holy Spirit of sin and their need of righteousness because of the coming judgment.

We can learn from those who heard Jesus directly and see how they applied His command to “go and preach the gospel.” Did they go on with their business and hope others would see and want to follow, or were they overt in telling people they were headed for hell? “The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go” (Acts 3:13). The whole section is great but look at Acts 3:19. “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”

You might be surprised to learn who promoted “lifestyle evangelism” early on. “And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:18-20). Peter and John were commanded by Annas the high priest, Caiaphas and the council not to speak about Jesus. The Greek word for speak means to proclaim. Satan wants believers to be silent and disobey Jesus’ command to “go and preach the gospel.”

The question of “lifestyle evangelism” or Jesus’ command to “go and preach the gospel” can be best answered by Peter and John’s reply to the council. “But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye” (Acts 4:19).

I hope this helps make it very clear the sort of evangelism Jesus has commanded us to practice. Everyone reading this has an obligation to their Lord and those they care about. What friend would sit back quietly while someone they cared about was headed for disaster? We must accept that Scripture is very clear when Jesus said we are to “go and preach the gospel”– He meant exactly that.

Life-style evangelism is so much more comfortable, but it is not sanctioned by Scripture. We are commanded to live holy lives, but that is not for evangelism. “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness” (2 Peter 3:11). “Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16).



One of the children took this picture while I was witnessing to a man on a recent trip as we had stopped for diesel.

11 thoughts on “Lifestyle Evangelism”

  1. What an wonderful answer to this person’s comment. Once again you have challenged and convicted me. Do you have any practical advice for getting started if you have never done bold witnessing before? Sometimes I feel afraid that it would seem like I am shoving it down their throat.

  2. Amen! I praise God for the wonderful friend who did not mince words with me when she chose to “preach the gospel” I was 15 years old (am now 42) and so was she. She did not care how much people teased or ridiculed her. She had found ‘the way” and cared enough about me to share it with me and others. I doubt that just watching her lifestyle would have taught me anything or got me saved. Lot’s of people look good on the outside and don’t have Jesus for their Lord and Savior. I have not seen her in years but we do exchange Christmas cards. I let her know a few years ago how much it means to me still that she shared the gospel with me all those years ago. The Lord has worked so much in my life and He used her to get me saved!
    You all keep doing what you are doing. You are bringing more people to Christ than you probably could ever know. People who would never know if you didn’t open your mouth and tell them.

  3. AMEN! “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not HEARD? and how shall they HEAR without a PREACHER? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that PREACH the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” Romans 10:14-15
    Someone once told us that what “Lifestyle Evangelism” teaches is “Good Works”. People will be led to believe that we are going to heaven because we are “so good/ do good things”.
    We feel like Peter and John… How can we not speak of all that Jesus has done for us and in us…we long to share it with everyone…it is the GOOD NEWS!
    We really like the new look of your website too!! Well, Rebekah and Abigail miss the pink 🙂
    You’re in our prayers daily.

  4. I fully agree that we should actively share Christ with our world and I know that so many of us fall short in that regard. We all need be reminded to do our part. I know I have failed in this regard and have found it easy to fall into the “I’m going to show them by my life” approach. I do, however, wonder about the “fear of hell” being the only way to win people over to Christ. As I read the Bible, and especially the New Testament, the theme I see portrayed over and over is the incredible love of Christ drawing people to God. In other words, rather than scaring people into believing with a “hell, fire and brimstone” message, I’m just wondering if it might not be more effective to convince them of Jesus’ love for them? I don’t mean to say that hell is not a relevant part of the message of salvation, because it is, indeed, a reality that those who don’t believe will face. However, as I read the Bible, I see the message as being so much more than just escaping hell; I see it as spending eternity with our Lord and experiencing the vast and incomprehensible love he has for us. I was wondering if you would mind commenting on this and clarifying your views. Thank you!


    We have been greatly encouraged by Ray Comfort’s encouragement on how to share Christ. A little disclaimer with this link. They are geared to encouraging the mainstream Christian population and therefore some of their materials are not real conservative in music and what they show. We began showing the family their DVD set on witnessing after screening each one and carefully skipping some parts. After we had the meat of it, we didn’t complete all of the DVD’s.

    We have come to see from listening to Ray’s materials and from experience, that first a person needs to understand they are under the death sentence, then they appreciate the love of God through Jesus Christ. If you find that by sharing the love of God is more effective than them understanding they have broken God’s law, let us know. However, I think you will find they first need to understand they have a terminal disease and then they will want the cure.

    Scripture is clear, we must be sharing. Let us know how you are doing and we can learn from each other. We have found that most people thank us for what we share. In fact after using Ray’s method, I will often ask them if they are offended and they will say no. I have never had someone tell me they were offended after they learned God will sentence them to hell for breaking His commandments. I think it helps to understand how it is done. I am not judgemental in it. I share that I have broken His commandments and deserve hell as well.

     Hope that helps.

    In Christ Jesus,


  5. Thanks Steve. I have been to Ray Comfort’s website and started to listen to Hell’s Best Kept Secret, but never finished it. We went to the Air and Sea Show last month and there were people passing out tracts from Living Waters. They were very good and focused on the Ten Commandments first and how we have broken them all, therefore need Christ.
    God bless you!

  6. A German Baptist friend of mine summed up the problem succinctly. He said here in the U.S. we don’t have a problem getting people saved, we have a problem getting them lost. If you can ever get them lost it isn’t too hard to get them saved.



  7. I was delighted to read this post today because I have just finished Mark Cahill’s book entitled “One Thing You Can’t Do in Heaven”. The book is referring to evangelism and encourages others to use the approach of helping people see themselves as sinners in need of the Savior. He also credits Ray Comfort and Living Waters, as well as others, in helping him develop a bold witness. The Lord is using this book to convict and motivate me. I haven’t yet looked into the Living Waters materials, but I found this book to be “family-friendly”.

  8. Kate, I enjoy Cahill’s stuff as well. Very convicting.

    Steve, I posted a link to this on my blog and received this response, which I thought was a very good addition to your analogy:

    In regards to the fishing analogy – Jesus spoke of NET fishing. The disciples left their clean, mended, well-tended nets out in the water all night and let the fish come in. They then pulled the net out in the morning.

    The disciples were not making the fish come into the net. The net itself had everything to do with it. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation (the net). We don’t have anything to do with making salvation happen. We are only to preach the Gospel.

    I think the fishing analogy works even better with Susan’s additions.

  9. I just wanted to say thank you to the Maxwell’s for their living evangalism. If it were not for their strong belief in talking to people I would not have seen certian things in my life and been able to change them. Mr and Mrs. Maxwell your family show such concern for where people spend eternity that it speaks volumes for your belief in the Lord. Thank you again.

  10. I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to respond to my post a few weeks back. I”ll have to check out the Ray Comfort material. I have much to learn.

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