A few years ago, I was able to have a Q & A session with author Jeffrey Johnson on his new book Got Style? Personality-Based Evangelism. Below is Part 1 of the interview.
Q: You’ve recently come out with a book entitled, Got Style? Personality-based Evangelism. What was your purpose in writing the book?
The book is the product of nearly twenty five years of ministry. I wrote the book for two reasons. One was to affirm the diversity of God’s creativity as seen in the diversity of the Body of Christ. There is a place for everyone at the evangelistic table where people can share their faith in ways that complement and do not compete with their inherent, divine wiring. Personality based evangelism also acknowledges the diversity of the population outside the church and so presents the Gospel in style-specific ways, literally speaking the language of the personality of the hearer, not just the speaker. Also, I wanted to write a book that embedded evangelism within the context of individual and congregational health and spiritual vitality.
Q: How have you seen sports used as a context to do evangelism?
Most Christians, well over 90%, will have their primary strength/s in one or maybe two personality styles. The many hundreds of church assessments representing many thousands of congregants we have done in churches bears this out. A vast majority (1/3 to 1/2) have Relational and/or Incarnational as their primary and secondary styles…Therefore, since so many people naturally fall within the Relational and Incarational styles with Invitational tucked in between, Sports Ministry is a natural point of connection between these two dominant styles. Sports, either enjoyed as an observer or a participant can be a non-threatening connection between two people or even lots of people, Christian or non-Christian, church based basketball, soccer, and cheerleading programs, for an example. Sports is used as the door by which the Christian gains entrance into the non-Christian’s life and then over time through establishing a relationship, introduces the non-Christian to Christ. People today just won’t come to church anymore on a Sunday morning, but they will come to a sporting event on a Saturday afternoon. And since many sporting events and activities take place over a season, it is a natural time frame in which to build meaningful relationship and necessary respect and rapport.
Q: What would you say to someone who says, “I don’t have the spiritual gift of evangelism”?
I would say, welcome to the crowd! You are in the majority, the vast majority. For the person who has the Gift of Evangelism, sharing one’s faith through introducing people to Jesus, my believed definition of evangelism, comes quite natural regardless of setting or circumstances. It is indicated by high scores across the spectrum of styles. This person with the gift of evangelism is able to not only communicate the Gospel effectively to the non-Christian in a variety of ways, but also has the ability to equip others Christian to do evangelism effectively in compliment to their dominant style(s), especially since the person with the Gift of Evangelism can operate with both confidence and competence in any of the six main, and several sub-styles. Perhaps as many as 4% of Christians have the gift of evangelism. Perhaps. One report said that only 1% of Christians who considered themselves ‘born-again or saved’ believed they had the gift of evangelism. This gift is not to be confused with assertive methods such as Evangelism Explosion, through which all believers may gain some boldness or verbal tools to evangelize. I believe the distinction between the method and the gift is the difference between “a call to evangelism,” that everyone has, and the “gift of evangelism,” to whom only a relative few have been given. Saying there is no such gift, as some do, allows individuals to escape their evangelistic responsibility. “The Bible clearly teaches there is a gift of evangelism, but that is where the clarity stops.” Evangelism is expected of every Christian. It is not an option. How we do evangelism is.