Christians of all kinds believe in spreading the message of salvation. While the particulars of the message may vary from one denomination to the next, the intent is the same: to make converts from unbelievers. Evangelism is not always simply preaching, however. There are other styles of evangelism Christians use to share their faith with others, too.
The most visible form of evangelism is proclamation or preaching the Christian message. This can occur in a normal Sunday worship service, or it might occur during special weeknight services known as a revival. Television evangelists fall into this category, as well. Compared to other forms of evangelism, proclamation is less personal, social and intellectual. Billy Graham is perhaps the best-known American evangelist. "USA Today" estimates he preached to more than 215 million people before retiring in 2005.
The defense of the Christian faith through rational discourse is called apologetics. There are a number of types of apologetics, all designed to assist Christians in evangelism. Classic apologetics includes historic arguments for the faith. An example of this is the ontological argument, which states that God must exist because human beings can imagine that God exists.
Evidential apologetics uses evidence from nature and rational thought to convince others that the Christian belief system is true. An example of evidential apologetics is the historical argument. This argument proposes that because various historical events in the Bible are true, the Bible is a reliable source of truth. Because the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is God, that must also be true.
Presuppositional apologetics starts with a person's basic beliefs or presuppositions. The presuppositional apologist attempts to discover the other person's presuppositions and then discuss the logical outcomes of those presuppositions. The apologist then suggests that the other person's world view is unlivable, and proposes Christian presuppositions instead.
Some forms of Christianity place the onus of evangelism on the clergy, focusing on proclaiming the gospel. Others place an emphasis on interpersonal evangelism. In this type of evangelism, a Christian discusses faith with a non-Christian in hopes of bringing about conversion. For some Christians, this means going door-to-door and attempting to talk about religion with the residents. For others, it means discussing faith with friends, family and co-workers. Interpersonal evangelism assumes that it's the duty of every Christian to share their faith directly with others.
Some Christians are naturally outgoing and have little trouble talking about their faith. Others are more reserved, and find it uncomfortable to talk to others about spiritual matters. These Christians may participate in lifestyle evangelism. Lifestyle evangelism is demonstrating love for God and love for others through acts of piety and service. This might include living within the ethical proscriptions of a denomination, giving time or money to charity or simply inviting others to church services and other religious functions.
Many Christian denominations emphasize social action and service as part of their outreach to their communities. Service includes doing good deeds for other people in Christ's name. Examples include serving meals at a local rescue mission, mowing an elderly widow's lawn or helping with cleanup work after a hurricane. While not all Christians see service as an act of evangelism, others see it as one of the best ways to demonstrate Christian compassion and concern.
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