Tim Keller’s top 10 evangelism tips

A while ago on our elder retreat we listened to a talk Tim Keller gave at Lausanne. As part of that talk he gave 10 tips to help our lay folk in their evangelism. They were so helpful I wanted to put them down somewhere, so here they are:

  1. Let people around you know you are a Christian (in a natural, unforced way)
  2. Ask friends about their faith – and just listen!
  3. Listen to your friends problems – maybe offer to pray for them
  4. Share your problems with others – testify to how your faith helps you
  5. Give them a book to read
  6. Share your story
  7. Answer objections and questions
  8. Invite them to a church event
  9. Offer to read the Bible with them
  10. Take them to an explore course

What Keller also advises is that we (generally) start with 1-4. If people are interested and want to talk more you can move them to stages 5-7. If they’re still interested go on to stages 8-10. Sometimes people will want to go straight to 10, but often people start from way back and need some time to think and discuss things in a non-pressured way. We often think that only stages 8-10 count and invest all our energy there. TK suggests that to get people at stages 8,9,10 you have to put the work in at 1-4. Sometimes you’ll have to keep going round the loop multiple times.

TK suggests to leaders that we should aim to get 20% of our folk doing this (of course it should be 100% but let’s be realistic). If we do, we’ll see a steady stream of conversions over the long term, and sustainable church growth.

57 Replies to “Tim Keller’s top 10 evangelism tips”

  1. Thanks do much for the article. I have been really blessed by this sharing from Keller. God has spoken to me on how to reach out to my brother and friends through this. Thanks!

  2. No 9 is heavy undervalued in this list. The Bible is the prime, full and only ressouce to bring someone to Christ. All the other elements shows, that we value our relations as humans, that we take their concerns serious, that we do not see them as objects to our evangelism, but when it comes to bringing someone to faith, we are fully dependend on the Holy Spirit in his work through the uniqeness of the Gospel.

  3. None of this is found in Scripture! This is the reason why we have false converts lining up the pews, because we are dressing up dead corpses and not giving them the gospel. Notice no where in Keller’s “Top 10 List” is anything about the gospel? Why do we avoid the power of God which is the preaching of the gospel?

  4. These could more rightly be called 10 Tips for doing anything but evangelism, or 10Tips for a humanistic approach, or 10 Tips for not trusting what the Scriptures teach about evangelism. Evangelism is sharing the gospel as a spoken message.
    from 9Marks:

    Evangelism is telling others the good news about what Jesus Christ has done to save sinners.
    In order to do this you must tell others that:

    God is holy (1 Jn. 1:5). He is the creator of all things (Gen. 1:1).

    All people are sinners who deserve God’s righteous, eternal wrath (Rom. 3:10-19, Mark 9:48, Rev. 14:11).

    Jesus Christ, who is fully God and fully man, lived a sinless life, died on the cross to bear God’s wrath in the place of all who would believe in him, and rose from the grave in order to give his people eternal life (John 1:1, 1 Tim. 2:5, Heb. 7:26, Rom. 3:21-26, 2 Cor. 5:21, 1 Cor. 15:20-22).

    The only way to be saved from eternal punishment and be reconciled to God is to repent of sin and trust in Jesus Christ for salvation (Mark 1:15, Acts 20:21).

    Evangelism is telling others this basic message.

  5. This is pretty sound. I do 1-7 all the time whether at work or on the streets. People do not have a problem when you ask them a lot of questions about their faith or their thoughts on religious matters. Usually, they will reciprocate and ask you about your faith which opens the door for a good exchange. The only other thing I would add is, Focus and refocus on the Gospel. I’ve been in lots of conversations that have gotten side tracked by seemingly important conversations but it is really fruitless. While questions about the Bible and various secondary issues might be important, we are trying to get people to hear and understand a clear presentation of what Jesus has done and how that impacts them. So I answer questions or listen to problems thinking about how the cross impacts them and swim for the gospel.

  6. To those criticizing this article. I hope you can see that you have merely misunderstood it. You are absolutely right, this doesn’t tell you how to do evangelism, or even tell you what evangelism is. But neither was it meant to. This is “evangelism *tips*”. Ie little practical ways for you to do your evangelism. In other words, it’s already assuming you know what evangelism is, know the Gospel, and want to be able to effectively share it… “but how do I do that?” some may ask. Well, here’s some tips…..

    Let’s not be negative and critical. These are, after all, some very helpful *tips* on how to reach out.

    For example, a great way to get onto the topic of the Gospel (thus providing you an opportunity to effectively share it), is to ask others about what they believe (tip #2). Awesome!

    This isn’t hard to understand.

    Maybe you need to repent of your critical nature since it’s both unhelpful, and misguided.

  7. Saying things like “This is good, but what about “share the gospel with them”? I was surprised to not see that on the list” is a bit silly.

    It’s like wondering why a users manual on how to use a new camera doesn’t tell you to “use the camera”. It’s because it goes without saying…. doesn’t it? Isn’t this just kinda obvious???

  8. Seriously people, these are tips, I think it’s a given that the Gospel core is the center of evangelism. I just assumed that as I read the tips.

  9. Ok people come on! Of course Keller means for the gospel to be given. Duh. What he is trying to address is some way to respond to a person in your life who thanks you for your presentation and then says no thank you. What then? Keep doing the same thing over and over. See definition of insanity. If you still want to woo this person to Christ, you will want to have fall back positions and other methods to soften up and open up her spirit. Why not use your own life as a demonstration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ at work in a human??? His tips are ways to love those in the dark with God’s unconditional love and nurture them towards the light. Evangelism is so much more than closing the deal. Even if you happen upon someone who instantly responds to your presentation of the Gospel, I would wager that there were many before you that sowed what you “just” reaped.
    Read any Keller book and you will be overwhelmed with his high view of Scripture and the Gospel!!! In addition to this he has a sense of where human beings in this culture really live in their minds and spirits. That is why he can woo so many to the true and explicit Gospel. See The Reason for God by Keller. God has worked mightily through him in Manhattan of all places so that his church thrives. He does not dodge the truth but presents it so becomingly that Jesus is seen not the fallen human being presenting His good news. Finally, this list makes sense to those who would love those they extend the Gospel to.

  10. Pingback: Nick’s Top 6 |
  11. To those who can’t find Gospel in this list:
    I think No. 6 “Share your story” is very personal and to the point — how God saved you. Here’s Gospel — start with your personal salvation and then show them the bigger picture how God intends to save the whole world. I have no problem with this list. Very good points!

    1. Hi,

      for those who requested the audio link my fellow elder informs me it is here: http://sermons.redeemer.com/store/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&product_ID=19290&ParentCat=6
      It is one you have to pay for I’m afraid and I think I must have mistakenly understood it to be from his Lausanne addresses – I’m now not sure it was. My mistake – apologies. It’s worth the money to listen to though – it really was excellent. Every blessing.

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