The Scriptures attest to the importance of evangelism in the life of the believer and the church: Jesus commissions His disciples to make disciples of the nations in Matthew 28:18-20, Christians went about preaching the Word in Acts 8:4, and part of equipping the saints for the work of ministry involves evangelism (Ephesians 4:11-12). While the most effective forms of evangelism involve Christians bringing family, friends, or others whom they know to Jesus (e.g. John 1:39-51), efforts designed to inform people we do not know about the Gospel cannot be neglected (e.g. Acts 13:15-49, 17:16-34). Let us consider a few forms of such “impersonal” evangelism relating to mass media: table evangelism, door knocking/door hangers, mass mail or advertisements, newspaper columns, television or radio programs, and Bible correspondence courses.
Table evangelism. As Paul visited the Athenian agora (marketplace) in order to share the Gospel with people in the community, so we do well to establish a presence in the “public commons” of our communities (cf. Acts 17:16-21). The “public commons” in the community might be in front of a courthouse, a welfare office, at a bus or train stop, in the free speech area of a college campus, or a booth at a city, county, or state festival. In most such places Christians have the right to set up a table and from it hand out literature and have conversations with the members of the community who pass by. Table evangelism programs provide great opportunities to promote visitation to the assembly in general or for a specific event or participation in a Bible correspondence course or community Bible study.
Door Knocking / Door Hangers. As Peter and Paul went where the people were in order to tell them about Jesus, so we do well to take the Gospel directly to people while maintaining appropriate propriety (e.g. Acts 10:1-48, 13:14-52). Door knocking involves Christians briefly introducing themselves and handing out literature to every house in a given neighborhood; where knocking on doors is impractical or would cause difficulties door hangers can be left on each door. The material could feature introductions to Christianity and the church or invitations to the assembly in general or a specific event, to participate in a Bible correspondence course, or to participate in either a community or one-on-one Bible study. Door knocking and door hanging programs provide opportunities for Christians to get out into their communities to spread the message of the Gospel; they may not be the most effective methods, but the growth of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormonism attests to its value even in the 21st century.
Mass mail or advertisements. Another way of getting the message out over a given area involves mass mail or advertisements. Mass mail is the mailing out of a card to every address in a given ZIP code or other defined area; advertisements involve the promotion of a given method of evangelism and can be done in newspapers, online, or on radio or television. Mass mail or advertisements can be used to promote the assemblies of the saints or a community Bible study or other such things. While mass mail and advertisements demand less manpower they do require far greater financial resources.
Newspaper columns. A consistent column in a newspaper, whether a community’s daily newspaper or a special weekly, can provide a great opportunity to promote the Gospel. The column can be used to provide a Christian perspective on recent events, to explain passages of Scripture, to compare and contrast the views of culture, other religions, and the denominational world with what God has revealed in Scripture, and/or to provide answers to questions submitted by members of the community. Normally there is some financial expense required to maintain such a column but can be well worth the money in terms of interest and exposure in the community.
Radio or television programs. A consistent radio or television program can also be effective ways to reach a local area or community. The substance of such programs would prove similar to that of newspaper columns with the possible added benefit of a “call-in” section of the program in order to be able to directly respond to the questions of the audience. While such shows may attract many who enjoy listening to or watching a variety of religious programs they can also reach people who are interested in learning more about the Gospel and obeying the Lord Jesus.
Bible Correspondence courses. One means of helping people come to a knowledge of the truth so as to be saved involves Bible correspondence courses. A Bible correspondence course program features a series of lessons which an interested participant can study along with Scripture in their own homes at their leisure. When they are finished with one lesson they can return it and receive it back graded along with the next lesson and a self-addressed stamped envelope. Popular Bible correspondence course programs include Truth Books’ Home Bible Study Correspondence Course series, the Hall Jesus the Way series, the Know Your Bible series, and the Hurt correspondence course series. While a Bible correspondence course program can be effectively promoted online via a website, at table evangelism events, and through other mass media approaches, maintaining flyers with the first lesson of the course included at local laundromats may lead to more signups in the local area. Active encouragement, correspondence, and follow-up with correspondence course participants greatly boosts the effectiveness of the program. While there do seem to be many “professional Bible correspondence course participants” out in the world, and a decent percentage of participants will come from other parts of the country or the world, people have come to a knowledge of the truth through a Bible correspondence course and have been baptized, and it provides a great opportunity to involve Christians in evangelism who may not be able to participate in other programs.
These are just some of a number of approaches Christians and local congregations may consider in order to promote the Gospel in their community. Many of them work well together; Christians and their congregations must decide what will work best and be more effective in their communities in light of the financial resources at hand as well as the abilities of those who will participate in such works. May God bless the promotion of His Gospel in communities throughout the world and may many come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved!
Ethan R. Longhenry