Tim Keller on Evangelism Best Practices

Tim Brister —  July 16, 2012 — 9 Comments

I’ve learned a lot from Tim Keller, including how to evangelize through networking and understand the relationship between mercy ministry and engaging lostness in my community. Not too long ago, Tim Keller spoke at Lausanne and shared 10 best practices for everyday living. Martin Salter records them and shares Keller’s explanation as follows:

  1. Let people around you know you are a Christian (in a natural, unforced way)
  2. Ask friends about their faith – and just listen!
  3. Listen to your friends problems – maybe offer to pray for them
  4. Share your problems with others – testify to how your faith helps you
  5. Give them a book to read
  6. Share your story
  7. Answer objections and questions
  8. Invite them to a church event
  9. Offer to read the Bible with them
  10. Take them to an explore course

What Keller also advises is that we (generally) start with 1-4. If people are interested and want to talk more you can move them to stages 5-7. If they’re still interested go on to stages 8-10. Sometimes people will want to go straight to 10, but often people start from way back and need some time to think and discuss things in a non-pressured way. We often think that only stages 8-10 count and invest all our energy there. TK suggests that to get people at stages 8,9,10 you have to put the work in at 1-4. Sometimes you’ll have to keep going round the loop multiple times.

When I read this, my went to other helpful resources on evangelism, including Gary Rohrmayer’s engaging spiritual conversations stuff. Resources like this demystify the practice of evangelism, as Total Church does (most ministry takes place when ordinary people do ordinary things with gospel intentionality).

Do you have a hard time leveraging everyday opportunities for gospel proclamation? What do you think are the biggest hindrances to being a faithful witness? Anyone willing to share methods, rhythms, or daily practices of intentionally seeking to evangelize those in your community?

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  • M Kent Travis

    Great post today. I’m a fan of Keller as well. He’s practical and realistic and always gospel centered (as this post demonstrates).

    A friend of mine wrote a short book that your post reminds me of. His argument is much the same: (though you didn’t say it in these terms) the relationship steps are foundational (steps 1-4). It is (i think) most often in the relationships where connections are made and realizations occur. Here’s a link to his book (if you’re interested):

    Thanks again for the post and for the reminder of a valuable perspective my friend taught me. I’m going to forward this article to him.

    • Thanks for the comment and the book recommendation. I agree that relationships are important to a robust evangelistic lifestyle. Evangelism must have at its heart an understanding to make disciples, not necessarily decisions. The former requires investment of one’s life along with the gospel, and that is, I think, one of the major challenges we face in our fast-paced world.

  • Thanks for sharing. Super helpful.

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  • kris

    ok i will agree that most of these are good things to do and can evennbe A part of evangelism but none of them are actual evangelism. 1st we must define evangelism ( bringing the good news) what good news you may ask?? the good news which is the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!!! HE died for our sins ,was buried and rose again to pay off a debt we cannot pay ourselves , this IS the gospel and this is what Romans 10:17 is talking about when it says that faith comes from hearing , hearing the words of Christ. no where in the bible will you find it written that we are to form relationships first , no where in the bible is it written to do any of those items , we are commanded to preach the gospel to all creation and then allow the Holy Spirit to do the rest. discipleship comes after a person becomes a Christian not before .

    • Thanks for highlighting and posting Tim Keller’s tips.

      Kris – In Matthew 5:16 Jesus says let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

      Evangelism is not just about preaching the gospel.
      Evangelism is about living the gospel and being the hands and feet of Jesus, not just his mouthpiece.

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  • Bill

    Evangelism Explosion was the best thing that equipped me to share my faith with others!