Church leaders often debate between stressing either personal evangelism or event evangelism. Personal evangelism is one-on-one witnessing. Event evangelism, however, is a type of outreach to the masses where the gospel is publicly proclaimed. These may range in size from very small to very large. Both outreaches are imperative to stress in your church.
In the New Testament, Acts 5:42 tells us, “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”
“Daily in the temple” refers to evangelism done on a daily basis with most likely numerous in attendance. “In every house” refers to home-to-home evangelism. Scripture explains that believers should spread the gospel to the masses and to the individual.
When properly executed, personal evangelism and event evangelism complement each other. For example, consider an unbeliever named Joe. He may have heard the gospel one-on-one, but he has not come to Christ. He later attends an event where someone is preaching the gospel to an audience and once again he hears he needs Christ. Maybe he comes to Christ at that event. Maybe another person witnesses to him one-on-one days later and he comes to the Savior then. In this case, event evangelism and personal evangelism have gone hand-in-hand.
Now let’s look at the example of another unbeliever named Carol. She attends an evangelistic event for the first time and begins to think seriously about spiritual things. Then someone speaks to her days, weeks, or even months later and that believer has the privilege of leading Carol to Christ. Which did God use to bring her to Christ—the event or one-on-one evangelism? The answer is that God used both.
Note that one-on-one evangelism needs to be characterized by grace and truth. A lack of tact, where we try to rush people into a decision, usually hinders our witness. On the other hand, giving the impression that the unbeliever has endless time to accept salvation also harms. The time to come to Christ is now. No one is promised tomorrow. A person practicing grace and truth, who is winsome in his attitude, will find it easier to approach a non-Christian bout coming to an evangelistic event.
In the same way, event evangelism also has to be done well. Personally, I will not speak longer than 30 minutes to an audience. I want to demonstrate sensitivity toward their time. If they are turned off by my message, I cannot take responsibility for that. There is no need, though, to turn them off by my demeanor. Event evangelism done right allows opportunities to talk to people about the message hours, days, or weeks after the event.
If you want your church to be evangelistic, specialize in both personal and event evangelism.