I spent most of the 1980s attending secular colleges where tolerance and diversity trumped truth, especially Christian truth, every time. Needless to say, if I was to stay centered in my faith, I would need to find fellowship with other students who believed the gospel and desired to share it with others. But which group to choose? The best candidates were InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) and Campus Crusade for Christ (now Cru).
Though I respected, and continue to respect, both groups equally, I eventually chose IVCF because it put more focus on friendship evangelism and less on door-to-door evangelism. Whereas the door-to-door method follows a sales model, with the evangelist approaching a stranger and then taking him through a carefully scripted gospel presentation (the booklet of choice in my day was “The Four Spiritual Laws”), the friendship model attempts first to cultivate a relationship with a nonbeliever (who might live in your dorm or attend classes with you) and then introduce the gospel in a more casual and natural way.
At the time, I did not possess any theories about the most effective or most biblical method of evangelism. I gravitated toward friendship evangelism because it better suited my personality and because, well, it “felt” right. Like many other Americans, I’ve always hated the “hard sell” and have quickly (if politely) closed the door or hung up the phone whenever a solicitor has tried to sell me something. If I was going to share the message of grace with my fellow students, I did not want it to sound like a sales pitch. I wanted it to rise up organically from our friendship, or at least from a sense of shared interests and passions.