Once you do this, you'll have confidence to speak to most people about the Gospel. Dr. D. James Kennedy's strategy was to have his people ask certain questions of the prospect, designed to determine where the prospect's confidence was placed. Was it in the finished work of Christ, or his own works and performance? After practicing this 28 days, these will be "hard-wired" into your brain.
"Have you come to the place in your spiritual life where you know for certain that should you died tonight, that you'd go to the 'Good' place, not the 'Bad" place'. "
[Pause, let them think about it and give you an answer ...]
"In other words [person's name], if you stood before God, and He say to you 'Why should I let you into my Heaven, what would you say to Him in that day?"
[Pause, let them think about it and give you an answer ...]
"Would you mind if I shared with you what the Scriptures say about this?"
[If prospect says 'yes', pull out your tract or series of Bible verses, and read them together with your prospect.]
Tip #2: Follow the "Ladder Method" for Meeting New People
This technique is helpful in starting conversations with a stranger if you're doing outreach evangelism at community events, malls, public-access street corners, bookstores and parks, beauty salons, etc.
Think of a conversation as the rungs of a ladder. Start the conversation by putting up the first rung. Say something for starters. It could be anything. For example, notice something about the person's clothing or something he's doing and simply make a comment: "Nice sweatshirt. Do you mind if I ask you what you paid for it?"
If he answers with anything more than silence or a clipped response, try another "rung". For example: "That's a great price. But it's amazing what people will pay for clothes these days."
Now, if the prospect puts up the "third rung" by answering in a conversational way, then you answer as well with the "fourth rung" with something that will carry the conversation forward. But if he answers in a clipped way or with a one-word answer, just end the conversation and move on, because he's showing you he's not interested in talking right now. You're not trying to witness to him yet or talk about God; all you're trying to do at this point is see if he's at ease enough to have a conversation. Ladies with ladies and men with men will have the best results with this, generally.
Tip #3: "Follow the "F.O.R.M" Method for Meeting New People
An alternative to the "Ladder" Method is the "Form" Method for meeting new people in evangelism. "F.O.R.M" stands for Family, Occupation, Recreation and Message. Most people are comfortable enough talking about at least one of these things with a stranger. But rather than asking a total stranger about his interests, begin by telling him about yours. Family example: "I noticed your boy's playing with a Power Ranger. By boys are 10 and 12. They can't get enough of Power Rangers." If the prospect answers, then you'll have a brief discussion. Try to move on to another of those four F.O.R.M choices: "I noticed your Roofer's Union jacket. I used to be in Local 633 out of Scranton, but that was years ago. How long have you been in the Roofer's Union?" Next, Recreation is an option. In fact, you may even want to start there: "Noticed your Packers jacket. They're doing great this year, aren't they? Almost had a chance to go to a home game."
At any point, your prospect may decide he wants to talk to you further on his own. After 10 minutes, he will feel like he knows you well enough to be more friendly. When discussing "F", "O" or "R", be sure to mention that you attend church but don't dwell on this, just move on in the conversation. But before you both part, segue into "M", the Message by using the 3 Diagnostic Questions.
Tip #4: Have a Tract in Your Pocket and Know How to Use It
Certain gospel tracts are especially designed to be used in face-to-face witnessing. Carry at least two of these. When you speak to your prospect, don't just leave him with your tract; interact with him, using the gospel tract to do it with. Ideally, give one to him and hold one in your hand. Go through the included verses with him point-by-point. Remember, you're the one relating to the person, not your piece of paper. The witnessing Christians is called "an epistle [letter] of Christ ... written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the Living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart." (II Cor. 3:3). Your prospect needs to hear you speaking God's words. Ask him questions, digress from the script a bit, and then get back "on point". Most importantly, practice using the tracts you'll carry in your pocket so that nothing in them is unfamiliar to you. If you express confidence in what you're saying your prospect will sense that. Finally ... stay away from Campus Crusade's literature: their tracts are too Arminian, and are written with the view that Christ paid the penalty for EVERYone's sin, regardless of whether that person comes to Christ or not. That doctrine is simply not correct. Used a Reformed or Calvinistic tract instead.
Tip #5: "Point of Transcendence": How We Talk to People We Already Know
One way of breaking the ice with people you've known for a long time but have never tried to witness to is called Point of Transcendence. Something that is transcendent "transcends" or goes beyond the sense realm of this world and points to God. It could be anything really, since all creation points to God and "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handiwork." (Psalm 19). It could be the beauty of nature that shows forth God's beauty; or the predictability of the seasons that show forth God's faithfulness, or peoples' sense of morality, of "right" and "wrong" that points to a moral Law-giver. St. Paul used a Point of Transcendence when he spoke to the Greeks of Athens (Acts 14:17; Acts 17:24).
Here's a simple example of how to use this:
Non-believer: "Isn't nature amazing?"
You: "Yes. It seems to show an intelligent design, doesn't it? How do you manage not to believe in a Creator when nature is so amazing?"
Tip #6: How To Respond to the "Stumper" Question: (Just Be Honest!)
A lot of people fear doing personal evangelism because they may be challenged by someone who asks them a question they're not prepared to answer, but feel that they should be! Example: "How can you believe in the God of the Bible when evolution is an established scientific fact?" Another example: "How can you claim that the Adam and Eve story, with its genealogies is factual when the age of the earth is over 4 billion years old?"
Honestly, I've rarely if ever been asked these questions, and I do college campus evangelism! But when I've been challenged in an area I'm weak on, I use a very clever ploy: (Here it is: ready?)
I tell 'em the TRUTH! I tell them I don't know, but that I'd like to get back to them with an answer, and would they give me their contact information? When your prospect asks you a "stumper" question, he either wants to "blow you off" and is not interested in spiritual things; or he really wants to know. If he really wants to know, then your temporary ignorance in answering will not cause a problem. What it will cause is an opportunity to talk further.
Tip #7: Evangelism is Done by More Than One: Use Your Pastor or Elder
Consider the way evangelism was done in the Bible: usually done through pairs and teams. (Mark 6:7) (Luke 10:1) To be an effective soul-winner, it isn't necessary to bring someone to a verbal confession of new faith in Christ all by yourself. Refer them to other people, especially your pastor or church elder. If all you do is bring your prospect to a church function or guide him to someone more experienced than you, you're still doing the work of an evangelist. To use a sports example: not every basketball player is expected to shoot for the basket. Passing the ball for a layup shot is just as valuable to the team's effort.
Tip #8: The Purpose of a Meeting ... is Another Meeting!
Many people have been outside of church for so long that they feel uncomfortable to even visit your church. For that matter, a person from another faith or denomination (for example: Roman Catholic or Jewish) has a major cultural hurdle to overcome just setting foot inside your church door! When you initially meet with that kind of person, make sure you arrange at that meeting to meet again. Agree on a time and a place. If necessary, you can have your friend meet other members in a "less-than-formal"/"less-than-worshipful" setting: for example: a "pot-luck" supper, a community outreach where your church is represented, a cell group, a home bible study, a church picnic, etc. The more your prospect meets with and is comfortable around welcoming church members doing social things, the easier it will be for him/her to either speak to your pastor or attend a worship service. (gold)
Tip #9: Don't Try to "Make the Sale". (You Want a Disciple, Not a Decision.)
One of the problems with modern (and distinctly "American"!) evangelism is the emphasis on the "sales pitch" angle. Many Gospel tracts over-emphasize the benefits of knowing God at the expense of the dire command He gives to all people to repent and flee from the wrath to come. Re-read the accounts of conversions in Acts, and you'll see what I mean. In addition, the modern emphasis on getting a verbal decision out of a new prospect to "receive Jesus in your heart" is not at all biblical. It is not reflected in the Biblical accounts. This language is simply not used, and there's a reason for that.The old adage "Disciples, not decisions" holds true today. Significant numbers of people who agree to "pray this prayer" simply do that; but remain unconverted, because to them it's just words. If you do nothing more than leave your prospect undecided or torn between asking Christ to save his soul or not, do not "try and make the sale". Get the person's contact information, and offer to continue the conversation later.
Tip #10: Pray for the Person and the Opportunity to Share
There are two kinds of people you're going to share the Gospel with; those you know already and those you've just met. Pray and trust God for an opportunity regarding those you already know, but by "opportunity", don't be so concerned about the ideal set of comfortable circumstances. That rarely comes. Have a pro-active mindset and simply seize whatever opportunity God gives you.
For those you've just met, what's helped me is simply "taking myself out of the way". Don't focus on you or your performance. You're likely going to make mistakes if you're unpracticed at this. But God can still write straight with a crooked stick. When I'm talking to the person I'm usually praying verses like: John 3:30: "He must increase, but I must decrease", (John the Baptist's prayer.), or Christ's promise to his disciples about answering for their faith before rulers: "But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you." (Matt. 10:19)