Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to
everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win
the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I
myself am not under the law), so as to win those not having the law. . . . To
the weak, I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men
so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of
the gospel, that I may share in its blessings (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).
Pastor Don is someone who gets things done. Because hes a take-charge kind
of person, when he accepted the call to a new church, he planned a strategy of
evangelism that complemented his personality. He compiled a list of the
toughest, reputedly most hard-to-reach unbelievers in his community. His plan
was simple: Crack the tough cases and the entire town would be on notice. His
church would win its city for Christ.
It was a compelling strategy and entirely suited to the pastors go-getter
personality. But implementing it would require Pastor Don to break from his own
mold, adapting his style a bit. To win over his communitys most hard-to-reach,
Don would need to put their tastes above his own. Not everyone on that list was
going to be bowled over by his trademark no-nonsense style. That approach might
even make his message unsavory to some. No, to appeal to them all, the pastor
would need to adapt his personal style to theirs.
Variety, the spice of life
Taking into account peoples personal styles when presenting them with the
gospel can be the secret ingredient to a successful faith-sharing experience,
according to Phil Tuttle and Jim Heiskell of Walk Thru the Bible
The Apostle Paul practiced that centuries ago (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).
Phil and Jim teach church and corporate seminars on how to recognize,
understand, relate and influence according to personality type. What theyve
learned is that adapting our style to the style of someone were attempting to
influence is usually most effective.
While they shy away from the word sell in terms of the gospel message, they
do recommend seasoning ones style for greatest appeal, citing: We should please
others. If we do what helps them, we will build them up in the Lord (Romans
Before you can adapt yourself to the personality styles of others, you must
understand your own personal style and how it impacts your witnessing
Although God created each of us to be unique individuals, Phil and Jim have
identified four major personality categories. Do you recognize yourself in any
of these people?
Its impossible to ignore the doers of this world. Weve already introduced you
to one, Pastor Don. Hes decisive, hard working and persistent. Challenge is his
When he presents the gospel, hes bold and direct. He gets straight to the
point and issues an invitation without hesitation, anticipating decision-making
to be just as easy for his listener as it is for him.
Don relishes the task of converting the hard-to-reach. The tougher the
better is Dons motto.
But as a doer, Dons personal style sometimes hinders his effectiveness.
Although persistent, hes also easily frustrated when he doesnt see immediate
Hes tempted to move onready to skip over integral parts of the soul-winning
process if he feels its bogging down.
He may be insensitive to the other persons need for more details about
Christianity, becoming too intent on achieving his goal.
High fives all around...Whose enthusiasm will be
remembered more than Peter's in early church history? He possessed all the
characteristics that make an influencer such an endearing leader. Outgoing and
persuasive, he was effusive in his promises and belief that righteousness would
prevail. But Peters weaknesses were glaring, too.
The same Peter who walked on water also sank in fear. The companion of Jesus
who passionately proclaimed his loyalty flatly denied his Lord. It is that
Peter, rash and impulsive, as much as the strong, enthusiastic leader that we
look to in the midst of triumph and failure.
Lets call this woman Isabella. Shes one of lifes cheerleaders, verbal,
friendly, a veritable people magnet. When she tells someone about her life with
Christ, she fairly bubbles. She sketches out the benefits in glowing terms.
The problem with Isabella is she may talk too much and listen too little.
Shes so busy talking as she issues her invitation to accept Christ that she
doesnt even really notice the other persons reservations.
Her enthusiasm is enough for them both, and it can translate into verbal
manipulation. While waxing eloquent on the merits of Christianity, Isabella
fails to outline its stark realities, the cross to bear and the personal
She focuses so much on glossy benefits that, in effect, she
exagger-atesperhaps impulsively promising something that Christ Himself never
Isabellas style is contagious, but it can set up converts for doubts and
disappointment. After committing to Christ, theyll eventually discover that
there is indeed a cross to bearand they may become confused and
On the other hand, the relatorlets call him Rogerlistens intently. A loyal,
reliable person, hes also naturally compassionate and caring.
If Roger has a failing when hes telling others about Christ, it might be
that he listens too much. He gets so worried about offending that he holds back
Hes personally afraid of rejection and fearful of jeopardizing either the
relationship or a future faith-sharing encounter. He especially doesnt want to
come off as judgmental, so instead hes overly tolerant.
Before Roger introduces the subject of Christ with someone else, he does
some soul searching of his own: Do I know this person well enough? Not sure, he
Roger never closes a door on a relationshipand thats a blessing. Because if
Roger ever gets around to leading someone to Christ he may have to be in it for
the long haul. All that listening, relating, tolerating and beating about the
bush takes time.
Youve met Teresa. Shes the orderly one, a connect-the-dots kind of person. Shes
organized and thorough, committed to quality.
Teresa doesnt believe in short-circuiting anything, especially not the
gospel. You can have complete confidence that when she witnesses, her faith
will be presented in a systematic, logical, accurate way.
Of course, that also means that Teresa finds it difficult to stray from her
pre-determined plan of presenting the gospel, because Teresa is not a
spontaneous kind of gal.
Shes prepared for objectionsso prepared that shell raise them herself just
to deal with them as planned.
More than anyone, Teresa cannot tolerate imperfection. Fortunately, the
gospel message is perfect; unfortunately, the people with whom she shares it
are not. And neither is Teresa.
She often feels inadequate in sharing the gospel because she doesnt feel
perfect enough herself. Her own perfectionism makes her critical of not just
herself, but of otherssometimes coming across as judgmental and rigid.
Moreover, Teresa looks suspiciously at almost all methods of presenting the
gospel, prone to think a bold witness just isnt required. After all, the gospel
is so perfect, people should come to her with their questions about Christ
Seasoning to taste
Keep in mind that most of us are actually mixtures of the four major
personality types, although we may have one dominant personal style. If you
recognize yourself in any of those people, youve probably already discovered
some ways to improve your faith-sharing.
But to be more effectiveand truly impact otherswe also must be ready to
adapt our style to our listeners. To do that, we need to be deliberate about
observing our co-workers, neighbors, friends or relatives to learn their
appetites so well know the best way to serve up the gospel.
Confronting the Doer
Remember Pastor Don? Lets take him out of the ministry realm and dub him simply
Person Don, an average unbelieving secularist. Don is still a doer, however; he
likes to command, and hes adept at it. He may be a CEO or supervisor, someone
who takes the lead in getting the jobwhatever it isdone.
When you share Christ with Don youll enhance the gospels appeal by keeping
your message brief and to-the-point.
Show him the results. Don is always looking for the bottom line, so hes
particularly impressed by visible changes in someone as a result of accepting
Christ as Savior.
Be prepared for argument in a conversation with Don. Don does not fearhe
even expects!conflict to be part of the decision-making process, so dont be
daunted by some verbal repartee. If Don is engaged enough to fence verbally,
thats a good sign.
Moreover, Don can take a hard message. Because hes not afraid of conflict,
you can safely point out the shortcomings of life apart from Christ without
doing lasting damage to his egoor your relationship. In fact, a doer who sees
no real need for Christ will not hesitate to reject Him, so be forceful. But
remember, time is valuable to Don, so aim for the bottom line: his critical
need for Christ.
Influencing the Influencer
We find the Isabellas of our world all around us, in sales positions that
demand friendly aggressiveness while coaching winless Little League teams with
unwaning enthusiasm. Isabella is the neighborhood welcome wagon and the one
most likely to stop and chat with a complete stranger in the supermarket about
the attributes of the best blends of coffee.
Therefore, someone like Isabella might respond to an evangelistic event
oriented around a social gathering (think Super Bowl party, high tea, fish fry,
Shes almost always up for a party, so talking to Isabella about the ultimate
party (heaven) should certainly whet her appetite. Let her know that you take
genuine joy in being a Christian.
Because Isabella is so personable herself, shes impressed by others
testimonies. And the more impressive the reputation of those sharing their
faith, the more Isabella is influenced by what they have to say.
Being talkative and impulsive, Isabella might detour any conversation in
almost any direction at any given time, so make sure you cover the important
points of the message. Isabella really does need to know what shes getting
into, even if shes ready to respond emotionally in the heat of the moment to an
invitation to accept Christ.
Furthermore, its over time that Isabella demonstrates true commitment to
Jesus, so plan on doing some intensive follow-up with her.
Relating to the Relator
Door-to-door evangelism isnt usually the best way to approach a relator, unless
you plan on building a friendship from an initial visit.
Theyre not interested in cookie-cutter evangelism; its got to be a blend of
several ingredients: genuine interest in them, a deep level of trust and an
honest sharing of your personal walk with Christ. So forget the rehearsed spiel
and let your heart lead the conversation.
Any evangelistic appeal to a relator must be seasoned with love. Remember
our friend Roger? Loyal, compassionate, caring Roger? Well, unbelieving Roger
is still most impressed with your desire for a genuine relationship with
He needs assurance that you value his friendship more than his making the
desired response. He needs to know that you love him, that youre not just
trying to win him over.
More important, convince Roger that God loves him and through Christ he can
have the ultimate relationship.
Youll need time to lead Roger to Christ. Youll need time to build a
relationship. Then youll need time to talk. This is one conversationor more
likely, a series of conversationsthat shouldnt be pushed or hurried.
Always avoid argument, a very threatening scenario to a relator like Roger.
And strive to keep it simplebut dont be fooled by simplicity in return.
Rogers natural tendency is to acquiesce to your invitation just to keep the
relationship intact. So make sure you encourage him to give a genuine response.
Let him know that your friendship is secure no matter what his decision.
Tantalizing the Thinker
The scientists and analysts of this world expect you to know your Christianity
when you attempt to evangelize them.
They need evidence that you know what you believe and whyand if you can
convey it to them in a logical, systematic presentation, all the better.
Emotionalism isnt the key ingredient to converting a thinker like Teresa. She
Therefore, you may even want to pave the way for an evangelistic appeal by
engaging Teresa on the subject of Christianity in a way that will appeal to
A thinker usually welcomes the opportunity to research and read. Offer
Teresa a copy of Josh McDowells Evidence that Demands a Verdict, for example,
and ask for her opinion.
Be prepared to answer the question: What makes Christianity unique? And be
willing to go in-depth to answer it. Simplicity is not for the thinker. She
likes it complex.
Be aware that grace is an especially difficult issue for the thinkers of
this world. The concept of grace sounds too simplistic to a lover of all things
The idea that salvation is not based on works can be a real mental stumbling
block, so keep hammering away at the topic.
And while you may hope for an immediate response to your invitation, dont
necessarily expect an on-the-spot decision. Teresa will probably need time to
come to terms with acceptance of Christ. She so fears the thought of making a
mistake or poor choice shell need ample time to think it over. But if she
becomes gripped by the paralysis of analysis, help her out and press for a
In any discussion of Christ, every personality type brings strengths and
weaknesses to the table. Once youve identified your own personal style, youll
probably find that you can most easily appeal to someone of a similar
personality type. But seasoning ones own approach to win someone with an
opposite style may be the most satisfying faith-sharing experienceappeasing not
only the appetite of one who hungers for God but also the on mission Christian
who hungers to please Him.
To learn more about the ministry of
Walk Thru the Bible, especially their personality-oriented seminars, Solving
the People Puzzle and Understanding the Love of Your Life, call 770-458-9300 or
Kima Jude is a freelance writer and
photographer living in Montgomery, Alabama.
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC