evangelism, stranger, ethics, qualitative research, norm expectancy


While churches and Christian concerts are typical loci for evangelism, some Christians also broach the subject of faith with strangers they encounter at their health club, at the beach, or while visiting door-to-door. This study draws from 34 stories of “stranger-evangelism” offered by 11 ministers and laypeople who participated in semi-structured interviews. The central finding of this study is that stranger-evangelism contains a rich variety of experiences that are typical of any ministry: sometimes planned (by proclaiming, inviting, programming, befriending, and serving), and sometimes spontaneously. Participants described the fruit of their efforts along a continuum from rejection to interest, and even to conversion. This article discusses the findings in light of scholarship on breaching social norms and addressing power differentials.