How I’ve Changed My Evangelism Strategy

Chuck Lawless is Dean and Vice-President of Graduate Studies and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, where he also serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions. In addition, he is Global Theological Education Consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.


I realize this approach isn’t always easy to do (and in some parts of the world, it’s not the best one), but I’ve changed my approach to most of my evangelism. I still most often try to evangelize in the context of relationships, and I do think relationships provide credibility to evangelize. In the past, though, I typically tried to find open doors or create “bridges” to share the gospel – and it increasingly felt like I was trying to sneak in a side door. Sometimes I caught myself not listening well because I was looking for that door.

More often now, I simply ask for permission to tell my story. It’s as simple as this: “You know I’m a follower of Jesus, and one of our commitments is to tell others why He’s so important to us. May I take a few minutes to tell you my story?” Here are some reasons that approach works for me:

  1. I’m upfront in my request. That’s not to say that finding bridges is wrong, however; it’s just to say that I don’t have to spend as much time trying to find that bridge.
  2. If the person says, “yes,” I have a green light to press on. I don’t wonder if the listener is involved in the conversation. He or she gave me permission to speak, so I move forward.
  3. If the person says, “no,” I’ve at least started the conversation. That immediate time is apparently not the best time to talk more, but I’ve taken the first step in the direction of evangelism. Perhaps another time will present itself in the future.
  4. It forces me to evangelize concisely and clearly. I’ve asked for a few minutes. If I’m granted that time, I need to keep my word and present the gospel story with focus and passion.
  5. It often gives me opportunity to talk about Jesus. It’s not always the case that others want to listen, but often they’re willing to do so – perhaps out of politeness to me, or perhaps out of a genuine interest to hear. Either way, I have a wide-open door to talk about Jesus in my life.
  6. It helps me in evangelizing people I don’t know well. I’ve already said that relationships are important, but I don’t think we should evangelize only if a relationship is already in place. This method helps me to talk to people I don’t know, too.
  7. It helps guide me in praying for others. How I pray for the person who hears the story is different from how I pray for someone who isn’t ready to hear it. I can pray with intentionality after these conversations.

I make no claim that this method is the best one or the only one. I’m still learning, and I’d love to learn from you. What’s working in your evangelistic efforts?

Publisher’s Note: Chuck Lawless is a very smart guy. After all, he’s dean of a theological seminary. He’s also very practical. Note particularly how he’s now using more of the Chicken Evangelism approach.

Edgar Olvera Leads a Man to Eternal Salvation

Publisher’s note: Edgar Olvera teaches at Universidad Tecnológica del Valle de Toluca, and Tecmilenio Online.
He also works alongside Eric Martinez to lead a faith filled church in Mexico City. I have served with Edgar and Eric as they minister in faith and love to a wide sector of people. Edgar and his wife Ginny are parents of two children. What follows is a report from Edgar in his own words.

Today, a block from our house we saw a man lying in the street, he was unconscious.

First I reported it to 911, however he started moving and got up. He was confused, and commented that he had emphysema and this happens when he lacks air. I asked him if he needed anything.

He is a person who sells sweets on buses, and he only asked me if I had something for him to eat, so he would not think he would use alcohol or drugs.

I took him to a small dining room that is a few meters away, and I told him about Christ. That Jesus Christ gave himself up for his life, that God forgives him, that Jesus rose again and needs him. He decided to receive Christ and we prayed together. I also prayed for the healing of emphysema.

In the end he gave me a hug and his face changed surprisingly. I saw through his eyes a redeemed of the Lord. I think that’s what is called Chicken Evangelism. Hallelujah!


Edgar Olvera

Chicken Evangelism-21

Chicken Evangelism

Chicken Evangelism

Chicken evangelism — share Christ before you “chicken out!”

David works at a local hardware outlet. He has waited on me before and has always shown himself polite and helpful. Currently, I needed someone to help me load 2 sheets of 5 x 8 drywall. David was the first worker I spotted so I asked him to come help.

While loading, I asked David my favorite starter question, “Have you received Jesus Christ into your life?” David was quiet and pensive for a moment.

“Not yet” he replied, “but I’m getting closer.” (I thought I had talked with David earlier about his relationship with the Savior, but I couldn’t remember for sure.) Most likely, God had been preparing him in a variety of ways.

I told David that I had received Christ into my life, that He had forgiven my sins for all eternity, and was really helping me in my life. I also noted that my life didn’t change right away, but Jesus had come inside me and gradually began to change me.

Then I remembered that while a testimony helps people trust in God, it doesn’t save. The gospel alone is God’s power for salvation. So I gave David a brief gospel message: “Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins. He gave His blood for us. Then He rose from the dead as proof that He was God’s Son. Now He’s offering a free gift of salvation which we can accept in child-like faith — just like a child receives a gift from his father.”

“Do you understand what I’m saying?”

“Yes, I do,” responded David both verbally and with an affirmative nod.

“Is there anything stopping you from receiving Jesus into your life right now?” I asked.

“I want to go to church, but I have to work on Sundays,” he returned. “I want to go to Calvary.”

”That’s a good church. I know the pastor there. But you don’t have to go to church to receive Jesus Christ into your life. You can do it right here in the shade at Menards. If you understand what I’m saying and you want to, you can pray right here and ask Jesus into your life. Do you want to receive Him now?”

David nodded affirmatively.

Go ahead and pray. Ask Jesus into your life. Use your own words. When you’re done let me know.”

No one was around, David bowed his head and I could tell he was sincerely praying. We could hear men talking in another part of the building, but no one with us at the moment. David prayed quite a long silent prayer. Actually, a very long prayer. I began to wonder if he had misunderstood me. Finally, he looked up and nodded.

“Did you ask Jesus Christ to come into your life?”

“Yes, I did,” he replied.

“Sometimes we feel differently, sometimes we don’t. The feeling doesn’t matter. The fact that Jesus Christ came into your life is what matters. Jesus said, ‘I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door – as you just did – I will come into him and fellowship with him.”

David smiled and thanked me twice. He then reached out his hand for a handshake. “It’s nice to see you again,” he said as he walked away.

Chicken evangelism works because God has already prepared many people to receive salvation. The fields are actually white for harvest!


Benjamin Follows God

Benjamin Follows God

Benjamin Follows God

Benjamin is  a young man from the Czech Republic who recently visited in the United States. He gave his life to Jesus Christ the first or second time our son Matthew met him. (That’s Chicken Evangelism — share Christ before you “chicken out!“) Shortly after, Benjamin received the fullness of the Holy Spirit including speaking in tongues. By that time he was already witnessing and sharing his faith. He is a new convert actively making disciples.

We continue to keep in touch. Following are a couple of emails we have received from Benjamin. They are printed exactly as he wrote them.


Hi Mark

We are reading bible daily and that

 enlights our steps.
As the song says ‘There is power in the
name of Jesus.’ – I totally agree.
I’am glad You doing well . . . .
I have actually baptised many souls by fire and a little evangelism.
So far I’am planing to start bible readings at my flat on Prague.
The very testment for me is to live on place where people are smoking, drinking, turning to rebelion against God’s law and I do not feel able to just leave them, because somebody should show them some way. So on it’s testing my faith daily. I had to make some missleading steps with faith to help others so those who belief are now hesitating and it’s hard to rebuild such faith… especially because it seems that I have been helping those who were just lazy.
On the other hand there are at least few guys seriously on my side or better just on their way to Jesus and it’s awesome to see. 🙂
Love in Christ
Benjamin Samson

Hi Mark,

I’m thanking God he cured my addiction on cigarets and thanking You for prayers.
It’s one week I’m out of such circle and can live without such limitation.
God is good.
Have a good time! 🙂
Benjamin Samson
As you can see, Chicken Evangelism works to bring people to salvation. Some of those converts, like Benjamin, will become disciples who will make other disciples.
Chicken Evangelism means to share Christ befor you chicken out. I’m writing a book to tell the stories of men and women who have received salvation through personal evangelism. Currently, there is a revival of personal evangelism rising. Have you tapped in and led someone to eternal salvation through Christ Jesus lately? Tell your story to encourage others.

Fields Are White for Harvest


English Teacher Leads Client to Salvation

English Teacher Leads Client to Salvation























Pubisher’s note: When Jesus announced, “The fields are white for harvest,” (John 4:35), He was giving an oft-overlooked secret for effective evangelism.  Chicken evangelism means “share Christ before you chicken out.” Shelly Stalker is a good example of one who shares faith early in a relationship. 

Shelly’s Story

I recently returned from Oaxaca, Mexico, where I taught English classes for the last 3 years. After settling in Tucson, I started advertising that I was willing to teach conversational English.

Our First Meeting

One Hispanic man met with me about the classes. We will call his name Juan.We conversed and he asked about why I had been in Oaxaca. After I explained that I had been there as a missionary, Juan asked me if I was Christian. I said, “Yes!” Then I responded, “Are you a Christian?” To which he replied “No, I am Catholic.” I asked Juan if he understood the difference and he answered, “No.”

After that, I gave a pretty detailed explanation of grace and how Jesus came to give it to us as a gift and that we can not possibly earn it. We then moved on to other conversation and made an appointment to begin classes the next week on Sunday evening.

Our Second Meeting

The next Sunday evening, we got together and and it wasn’t long before Juan started asking me questions about my faith. He told me his sister was a Christian and that she was different than the rest of the family. I then explained that God wants to have a personal relationship with each of us and that He is my best friend. I talk to God about everything and ask Him for help or guidance throughout my day.

Juan asked me about why there are so many bad things happening in our world if God is really God. I said, there are many bad things that happen in this world, but there are many good things also. God is good and He wants the best for us, but we must make a choice to allow Him to help us. We must make a choice to serve Him and love Him. He is there to help when things go bad, if we are willing to listen and be obedient. It isn’t always easy, but I have joy and peace throughout it all because of Him.

Chicken Evangelism in Action

We sat for a few moments until I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to push a little and ask him the all-important question. So I asked, “Would you like to receive Jesus as your Savior and have Him come into your heart?” Juan said,”Yes!”

So, I led him in a simple prayer asking forgiveness of sins and for Jesus to come into his heart to live and help him. He repeated the prayer after me. The smile afterwards said that peace had now come into Juan’s heart!

Then we began our English lesson!

Demonized Man Speaks “Jesus!”

Demonized Man Speaks "Jesus!"

Demonized Man Speaks “Jesus!”

Demonized Man Speaks “Jesus!”

A demonized man came and sat down at the table beyond us. He was young, cropped with black hair, and dark in complexion. In fact, darkness seemed the aura around him. With face contorted, he appeared angry and slightly unkempt. He walked uprightly supported by a cane. An older man, who we later learned was his father, accompanied the demonized man.

Before the Demonized Man Entered the Restaurant

We were seated at a table in an open door restaurant in Bernal, Mexico. My wife and I, along with our friends, Lino and Cathy Padilla, were enjoying a meal and catching up on the news when the man and his father appeared. Something tugged on my mind to go over and pray for this man. As I continued to discreetly observe his dark demeanor, I became increasingly convinced he was oppressed by demons.

Being rather quiet and reserved by nature, I resisted the impulse to minister with the fellow. We kept visiting with our friends, but the prompting to pray with the demonized man didn’t leave.

I was Scared

To say I was scared is accurate. It is not my nature do do what I kept thinking God wanted me to do. Further, I didn’t know what would happen. Hesitation prevailed, and that was OK with me. At least for a while. But the Holy Spirit is relentless . . . .

The Tipping Point

Our meal was over. I knew I had to go one way or the other: Get up and get out — or get up and go over and talk with the demonized man. The tipping point came when I realized our friend Lino was a native-born Spanish-speaker. He is also a gifted evangelist who may have even seen someone rise from the dead as he prayed for a girl on a street. With Lino around, I decided to go for it.

What Happened as We Began to Pray for the Demonized Man

“May we pray with you?” (That’s a common question for Chicken Evangelists.) I addressed him, more as an announcement than a question. He looked startled, but something in his response suggested openness. We immediately began to proclaim the blood of Jesus over the demonized man.

The War

Some might say, “All hell broke loose.” I prefer to say, “All heaven broke loose!”  I was loud. The neighboring tables emptied quickly. We said to the man, “Say, ‘Jesus!’” The demonized man began to say “Jesus!” as best he could. The young man contorted his mouth and began to try with utmost effort to speak. His one word sounded like, “Jash-sus.” But he was smiling, shouting this one word loudly with mighty effort.

What Happened with the Man?

I don’t altogether know what actually happened with the young man. Was he  delivered in total or in part?  I’m not sure. He spoke only the one word — the name of Jesus. What I do know is a major change took place. He became jubilant! He was happy and excited!

God was glorified in at least 3 ways. I obeyed God. The man became grateful and exuberantly joyful. God chased away a demon.  Moreover, the young man spoke “Jesus!”

I wish we could follow up on this young man. There’s more, but he had made a start. Better, God had made a start.

Why talk with strangers? Why practice chicken evangelism? Because Jesus did. As a matter of fact, nearly all of Jesus’ outreach was with strangers. Check it out. How many times can you think of where Jesus evangelized His friends? Christ is in us, and we’re in Him. By His grace (and it takes grace) we do what He does.

Curiosity Evangelism

Publisher’s note: Curiosity Evangelism — great article. I didn’t write it and I don’t know who did. Nevertheless, it can help a lot of us “chicken evangelists” get started.

Recently I came home to our apartment building to find my neighbor Tanner sitting on the steps having a cigarette. I stopped to talk for a few minutes. I had been thinking that it would be nice to talk with Tanner about faith, but I never knew quite how to start that conversation (a pretty common feeling for most of us, I think).

That night was different, though. I realized that my motivation for wanting to talk with him about faith was not because I should. I really wanted to know about his spiritual life.

In a word, I was curious.
“Do you have any spiritual beliefs? I’m a Christian, and I find that I’m really curious about other peoples’ faith journeys.”
He answered candidly about his past experiences in church, and talked at length about the reasons why he stopped being involved several years back.

As this conversation was happening, I realized that I had just stumbled across a breakthrough in my own ability to talk about spiritual things with people.

If I am genuinely curious about people, if I am interested in their lives, then naturally (since I am a spiritual person) that will mean I am curious about their spiritual lives.
That has led to some really great spiritual conversations with people.

Curiosity is powerful.
When I’m curious about something, I’m motivated to learn about it.
I’m willing to expend energy, or maybe even money, on it.
I spend time thinking about it.
I try to get other people thinking and talking about it.

I’ve found that when I’m curious about a person, that is a big motivator to encourage me to talk with them and figure out where they are in life and where they are spiritually.
So often we hear teaching that we should share our faith with other people, because it’s the right thing to do. Because it’s what we’re supposed to do. Of course that’s true. But I’ve found that the most authentic and meaningful conversations I’ve had about faith were the result of me simply being curious about that person’s life and spirituality.

Most people like to talk about themselves, and a few honest questions about their life can really deepen a casual friendship and open the door to hear their spiritual story.

Who are you curious about?

For stories about how chicken evangelism works, go here.

The Changing Face of Evangelism


Editor’s note: The  following post is written by Beth Seversen. Do you see how it relates to Chicken Evangelism?

Beth Seversen is the denominational leader for evangelism in the Evangelical Covenant Church and a Billy Graham Research Scholar. Beth is currently pursuing a doctorate in Intercultural Studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. She is researching emerging adults and the factors that make churches effective reaching them.


Two critical ways evangelism can adapt to cultural shifts.

This post is part of a series called Amplifying Evangelism. Don’t miss the Amplify Conference on evangelism, June 28-30 at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois.

History recounts numerous missional movements that have sought to reach people far from God through cultural accommodation. The Jesuit mission to China and St. Patrick’s Celtic way of evangelism are two examples of how the missionary church practiced cultural adaptation to further God’s mission.

George Hunter’s 2010 work on the Celtic mission informs us that Patrick and his men engaged the Celtic imagination in presenting the gospel through the creative arts of story and song and drama, adapting their mission to pagan culture to induce Celtic awakening. Similarly, to be effective in the contemporary world, evangelism methodologies in the West are adapting to Western culture shifts. Here are two examples.

Encounter vs. Information

Effective evangelism emphasizes experience over information in an increasingly post-Christian and postmodern context. In previous generations, evangelism methods appealed to reason and then called for a commitment to Christ based on a logical presentation of the gospel.

Some missional communities reverse the order today and find translating the gospel to contemporary cultures is more fruitful when an encounter with God precedes explanation about God. In such contexts, non-Christians are led to experience God before receiving a download of information about God.

Experiencing God may take the form of emotional healing from harm imposed by others or from personal addiction. For instance, Christians ministering at Burning Man (a self-expression and arts festival that annually draws some 60,000 people, many of them millennials) adapt the cultural tools of the festival to reach “Burners” through encounter.

Burning Man is an experimental society and participants dabble in everything from drug-induced altered states of consciousness—often associated with artistic creativity—to consciousness-raising projects. Personal and global transformation are explicit goals of Burning Man, as is taking responsibility in working toward a greater future.

Christian groups at Burning Man provide a “menu” of spiritual experiences to festival participants who show up at their camps. Dream interpretation and heart “massage” are popular among young adult Burners who encounter God through healing and listening prayer while believers help them identify their spiritual blockages, unresolved wounds, brokenness and addictions.

Scripts vs. Spiritual Conversations

Similar to the previous generation’s evangelism methodology of information download, in the past people often relied on formulaic presentations of the gospel. Evangelistic scripts like “The Four Spiritual Laws” and “Steps to Peace with God” were found to be evangelistically fruitful.

The previous Christian generation might assume that their non-Christian audience shared their belief and trust in absolute facts, observations and logic, and therefore tended to approach evangelism with argumentation, evidence and reason. Those assumptions are not always accurate today.

Cultural observers note that as culture shifts to more postmodern ways of thinking, non-Christian audiences no longer assume there is absolute truth, but that truth is biased and facts are socially constructed based on assumption.

What’s more, people today are less interested in being “taught” when they can become “experts” by educating themselves through the Internet. Popular culture emphasizes discovery, journey and narrative over apologetics, debate and persuasion. Today, fruitful evangelism looks more like story than propositional truth, telling God’s story and explaining how our own story fits in with God’s larger mission.

Significantly, younger generations don’t want a script or even a verse—but they do want to converse! Recent studies by Pew Research Center and the American Religious Identification Survey on the “Rise of the Nones” assure us that even those who are religiously unaffiliated generally still believe in God, pray frequently, enjoy community and often care about significant causes like human trafficking—providing plenty of opportunities for relational evangelism and spiritual conversations.

Encounter and story are two ways evangelism is effectively adapting to contemporary culture.


6 Most Influential Evangelism Sites

Influential Evangelism Sites

Influential Evangelism Sites

What are the Top 6 Most Influential Evangelism Sites in My Life? Most of us need help with personal evangelism. If you are like “most of us,” try one or more of these sites. If you’re stuck in regard to personal evangelism, I especially recommend the first or the last of the six.

Alongside the giants in this list, most people have never heard of Evantell. Yet they highly impacted my life and understanding of evangelism. First, they defined the gospel for me like no one else. Based on 1 Corinthians 15:1-6:  “Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead.” Second, Evantell taught me how to biblically pray for the lost.



Campus Crusade

Thank God for Bill Bright. In the 1960’s the hottest training team around was Campus Crusade for Christ. I gained from the training and led numbers of students to Christ. Campus Crusade has expended and adapted to change over the years. Some people may try to tell us, the “old” approach doesn’t work anymore, but don’t let that throw you off. The Four Spiritual Laws still work. The online presence is now called “cru,’ and can be located at


Luis Palau

Luis Palau led an area wide evangelistic campaign in the Quad Cities (Moline, Davenport, Rock island and Bettendorf) some years ago. One line from Dr. Palau’s training  may have wavered, but never left me. “Lord, stamp eternity on my eyelids.” Go to


Billy Graham

Influential because it’s always been there as long as I can remember.  Yet,  I’m including Billy Graham on this list of influential evangelism sites for a peculiar and very current reason. Their follow-up tracts (which appear to be a knock-off of the Four Spiritual Laws) fit into my wallet better than any other. How often I have witnessed with a man and then had no tract to leave in his hand. If you want a good wallet-sized tract, Go to


Outreach Magazine

This is a newcomer to my list. I include it primarily because of the articles by Thom Rainier. Well worth listening to. This author is one of the foremost evangelism and church growth thinkers today. You can access them at



Chicken Evangelism

Do you think I’m joking? Not on your life! Stories impact. This is an influential evangelism site because it tells simple stories of personal evangelism. Where else can you find so many stories of personal evangelism? Or any stories for that matter? I did a search of the top 100 evangelism sites on google. I was trying to find examples – stories, if you will – of personal evangelism. I found only one site in the top 100 with an example of personal evangelism. Many sites talk about evangelism and tell how to do it, but  inspires by example.


Have you got a site that is actually helping lead people to salvation in personal evangelism? Pass it on in the comment section.


If you have led someone to salvation by means of personal evangelism, let the world know. Inspire others by telling your story.



Fun to Witness 1

Fun to Witness

Fun to Witness

In Seattle I was trying to buy gas at a Costco store.  Unfortunately, my card didn’t work.  An attendant came over and offered to help.  With his instructions, the gas began to flow and I was left for the 3 minute fill with a helpful attendant.

“Have you received Jesus Christ into your life?” I queried.  “Yes, I have!” came his cheery response.  “And this job is a result of my faith.  I was out of work and needed a job.  God answered my prayers and this job suddenly popped open.  They selected me and I really enjoy what I’m doing.  I get to help people like you all day long.”

“That’s great,” I remarked.  ”Your faith really shows.”  He helped me in my moment of need and I was able to encourage him.  We parted with the happy satisfaction of being friends and brothers.

Chicken evangelism is just plain fun!