When to Tell Them about Jesus: Exploring How Scripture, Communication Theories, and Modern Day Methods Inform the Christian Evangelist
Christians know what they are supposed to do: Witness to unbelievers. Christians know whom they are supposed to speak about: Jesus. The Great Commission makes their mission and message clear. What is not so clear to Christians, is when to do this witnessing. Should they walk up to every unbeliever they encounter and immediately begin talking about Jesus? If not, when should they start a spiritual conversation? How can Christians transition from the everyday conversations they have with unbelievers to the law and gospel they desperately need to hear? Unless these questions are answered, Christians are left with an assignment, the Great Commission, and an end goal, telling people about Jesus, but no practical way of accomplishing either. This thesis seeks to bridge that gap in personal evangelism by examining Scripture’s teachings about personal evangelism, two relevant communication theories (Social Penetration and Uncertainty Reduction), insights from evangelism literature, and interviews with several experienced WELS evangelists. This paper advocates timing personal evangelism according to the needs of each individual prospect and proposes the acronym CHRIST as a method for determining when to share the gospel with a person.