Have you heard of “The Way of the Master” evangelism? I hope not. Why? Because “The Way of the Master” is not the way of Jesus. I’m about 10 years too late on this post, but I recently encountered this form of evangelism again, and was just as shocked now as I was ten years ago when I first learned about it. It was started by Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron and is based on a particular understanding of what Jesus is saying in Luke 18 to a rich, young ruler.
So yes, there is some loose connection between “The Way of the Master” evangelism strategies and a misunderstanding of what Jesus does in one or two places in the Gospels. But if we’re basing an entire evangelism strategy off of a few things Jesus did or said, we might as well all go multiply loaves and fishes or get ourselves crucified.
But the main problem I have with “The Way of the Master” is the emphasis on hell. The more I read and study the words of Jesus, the more convinced I am that Jesus almost never talked about hell. That’s right. Even when He talks about “weeping and gnashing of teeth” He is not talking about hell. I’ll explain why someday. But simply from a theological and practical viewpoint, consider what you are telling people when you evangelize by talking about hell. You are saying this:
God loves you so much that He wants to have an eternal relationship with you. And if you don’t want to have one with Him, He’s going to punish you forever in hell.
That’s ominous. What if I came up to you and said, “I would love to be your friend. I want to hang out with you, and go to dinner and basketball games with you. It will be fun. And oh, by the way, if you don’t reciprocate this desire, I will hunt you down and kill you.”
That’s not really a good way to start a friendship. And yet that is what “The Way of the Master” tells you to say. And of course, you only say that after you point out how awful and terrible and sinful they are. So “The Way of Master” involves judging and condemning people before hitting them over the head with the baseball bat of hell.
We cannot threaten people into a friendship with God. This is not the way Jesus evangelized. Ever. The true way of the Master is the way of service, friendship, generosity, self-sacrifice, and love. Without these, you are not following Jesus, nor is He your Master.