The following is an example of what can happen if you start your Gospel presentation by shining the light in someone's eye who is living in darkness. He can easily make you backpedal if you go into it unprepared. Remember that the Gospel of John says that "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. John 3:19
"Jesus loves you" says the Christian.
"Why" says the non-believer.
The Christian replies, "Well He died on the cross. Romans says that God demonstrates his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
"Ok, so why did he do that? What sin have I commited?"
"All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God!"
"Ok, ok I've sinned so now what?" asks the non-believer.
"Well eternal separation from God"
"What does that mean?"
"Um, well a Christ-less eternity"
"Where would that be?"
"Not a nice place" replies the Christian.
"What are you talking about I'm a good person and if Jesus loves me why would God send me to hell!?!"
You can see that ultimately Jesus' love doesn't make sense because you have to go back to the cross, then after the cross you need to explain why the cross and then finally the punishment for not believing what happened on the cross. So basically you started out with a message of love and have to end up talking about hell, damnation and punishment. You've already established that Jesus loves them so the idea of hell is now unreasonable and doesn't make sense to them. They never shed an ounce of self-righteousness and it is probably worse now. The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. 1 Cor 1:18
To make the cross make sense, start with God's Law. For those not familiar with biblical evangelism, a conversation with a reasonable non-believer would go something like this.
"Hey nice day huh?"
"Sure" replies Don TneedGod
"Hey you know of any Churches around here?"
"I wouldn't know!"
"Oh ok, do you have a christian background?"
"Really? Gotcha. Well would you consider yourself to be a good person?"
"Let me ask you this, have you ever told a lie?"
"Well, um, ya"
"What does that make you?"
"How about stealing, ever stolen anything?"
"What do you call someone who steals?"
"Steeler, no wait a thief"
"Ok ever take God's name in vain?
"Sure who hasn't"
"Sure who hasn't"
"Well Don, that's called blasphemy and by your own admission you are a lying thieving blasphmer and you have to face God on Judgment day. These are just 3 of the 10 commandments. Do you think you will be innocent or guilty on that day?"
"So do you think you will go to Heaven or Hell?"
"Hell I guess"
"Does that concern you?"
At this point you presenting what Jesus did on the cross for the non-believers sins will make sense and he will see that Jesus died on the cross because He loved us. Don't start with the modern gospel and backpedal the rest of the time. Use God's Law lawfully and go on the attack, stepping around issues that aren't relevant and keep your eyes on their conscience. Their conscience is our ally, or spy if you will, inside their camp. Inside their heart. Go for it, appeal to it. Use it to show them their need for salvation. Don't just shine the light in their eyes. Witness the way Jesus did it. Look to the examples Jesus gave us with the woman at the well and the rich young ruler. Jesus used the commandments to show those people their need for Him. Ultimately we are supposed to walk in His ways including the way we evangelize. A good way to start this is by listening to Hell's Best Kept Secret or reading Way of the Master by Ray Comfort. For more info check out DiGoutreach.com, needGod.com, or wayofthemaster.com. If none of these seems to make this click, the following verse about men and women of faith should tell every reason why you shouldn't tell people that Jesus loves them and has a wonderful plan for their life as the main draw to follow Christ.
Hebrews 11:36-37 (New International Version)
36Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 37They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—