Got Style?: Personality-Based Evangelism

November 21, 2009

Recently, Judson Press sent me a review copy of Got Style?: Personality-Based Evangelism by Jeffrey A. Johnson. The object of the book is to help Christians determine their natural evangelism style and how they can better reach people with the Good News. Johnson, a pastor and American Baptist evangelism leader, incorporates personal experience with research. The primary focus of the book is to explain six different evangelism styles, the strengths and weaknesses of each style, and biblical and other examples for each style. This is a strength of the book over many evangelistic guides that promote and teach only one way of doing evangelism. As Johnson explains about such a one-dimensional approach:

Because evangelism has become associated with something unnatural or forced, it feels uncomfortable and threatening. I never understood why sharing something so good makes so many feel so bad, until I realized that most people are doing evangelism in a way contrary to the way God made them.
Thus, Johnson's approach gives attention to how people's personalities should impact their evangelistic approaches. The six styles he covers are the Assertive, Analytical, Storytelling, Relational, Invitational, and Incarnational. The book ends with an assessment test one can take to determine which style most naturally matches their own personality.

The other major strength of Johnson's book is his fair treatment of each style. Not only does he offer a variety of approaches for Christians to consider using, but he does not promote one style as superior to the others. As he writes:
No one style of evangelism is better than another. It takes all of them to relate fully to the diverse population that lives within our world today.
Interestingly, some of the people he cites as examples for a particular style actually seem to argue that their approach is the only correct way to evangelize. Yet, Johnson finds a way to praise their approach along with the others. Although he holds up a couple people as examples that I am not sure are always helpful to the Christian witness (sometimes those using the Assertive style seem to be too aggressive--but that might be my personality bias showing a bit), he should be commended for trying to find the good and bad in each of these styles. Overall, this is a very practical book for those looking to encourage their church members to become more involved in more evangelism efforts.