Defining Personal Evangelism
The various kinds of evangelism may be placed under one of two headings: personal or impersonal. When the preacher stands in the pulpit and proclaims the good news of the kingdom, he makes every effort to bring the message personally home to each individual in the audience. But, strictly speaking, group or mass evangelism, such as preaching from the pulpit or over the radio, is not personal. It is meant to be, but it loses much of its personal touch.
The Best Terms
It is a common thing for people to speak of the kind of evangelism we, are talking about here as personal work or visitation. These are good terms when properly understood and used, but they are not the best terms to use in describing personal soul-winning, Neither term is specific enough lo describe adequately evangelism on an individual to individual basis.
One may feed the hungry or clothe the naked, make a call at the hospital, drop by to encourage a weak Christian to attend worship services more regularly, or go to see a newcomer in the community, and still engage in no evangelism at all. These are good works of us as a Christian does. This kind of is rightly called "personal work" or visitation." On the other hand, when one makes a call solely for the purpose of teaching (and teaches!) the truth of the gospel this is evangelism, and even better, it is personal evangelism.
The Right Emphasis
The words "personal evangelism are not the best terms to describe what one does when he teaches the gospel to another individual, but they also point up the right emphasis. By using the word "evangelism" one specifically identifies the kind of work done. This is especially good because it guards against brethren being deceived into believing that by making a social visit they are evangelizing. Of course it is possible that some brethren will misuse the word and apply it to a social visit, but we must make every effort to guard against this misuse of it.
Personal evangelism is evangelism relating to, or directed to or aimed at, a particular person. The word "personal" also places the emphasis where it belongs. Not only does it define the kind of evangelism being done, but it places emphasis on the value of the individual soul, as well as the individual responsibility each Christian has to teach the gospel to others.
The Needed Approach
The challenge of world evangelism is almost beyond our imagination. Certainly if we are to be able to take the gospel to every creature the approach most of us have been depending upon must be supplemented by a better one. Thus far we have relied about preaching the word (Acts 8:4). Paul said he taught publicly and from house to house (Acts 20:20}. By using both approaches the gospel had been preached to every creature under heaven within a twenty-nine year period (Rom. 10:18; Col. 1:23).
My friend, when did you last lead someone to Christ? When did you last try? It was John Wesley who truthfully said, "You have nothing to do but to save souls. Therefore spend and be spent in this work."
TRUTH MAGAZINE XIV; 38, pp. 13-14
August 6, 1970