If you want to watch a Christian sweat, just utter one word:
Most Christians know they’re supposed to witness, share their faith, evangelize, be a soul-winner, bring in the lost, and rescue the perishing, but we spend more time feeling guilty about not doing it than actually doing it. Myself included. We have a litany of reasons why we’d rather step on Legos than talk to someone about Jesus.
- What if they ask a question I can’t answer?
- What if they get mad?
- What if they laugh at me?
- What if I mess up?
- What if …?
Talking about matters of faith is not hard; in fact, I’d say it can be quite easy. We have unnecessarily made it hard. Talking about our relationship with Christ can just flow out of a casual conversation.
Sure, some people can engage a total stranger in a conversation and jump right into the gospel. Good for them, but that’s not me—and that’s not most of us. Some people have the gift of evangelism and it is second-nature for them to engage anyone with the gospel. But what about the rest of us?
Build a relationship. Be a friend first. Get to know the person. I’m convinced a lot of the unchurched can sense when they are nothing more than an evangelistic project to someone.
So what do you talk about if not the gospel? Talk about the things friends talk about: the game you’re watching, your kids, a recent vacation, Superman vs. Batman, whatever. Just talk about life!
Listen. Don’t dominate a conversation. Ask questions and let them talk. We all feel affirmed when people ask us questions and show an interest in us, so do the same for others. Show a genuine interest in who they are.
So when do we get to the awkward part where I jump in and say, “Excuse me, but if you died tonight, do you know for sure you’d go to heaven?”
We’re not going down that road.
So where does the gospel come in?
Hold on. I’m getting there.
Listen for the opening of a door. As you and your friend talk about your lives, an opening will appear that allows you to mention something about your faith and walk with Christ. But the key is to listen—and as you listen, you’ll hear the door cracking open.
Years ago, before I entered the ministry, I was operations manager for a wholesale drug company. Late one afternoon I delivered a hospital’s order for pharmaceutics to the young lady on the order line. It was late in the day, and she proceeded to tell me what she thought of me and this order. I let her have her say and didn’t say a word. As I walked back to the office, another person on the line said to me, “I want to know what makes you different.”
The door opened.
I’ll admit I can be lax in listening and seeking the open door to share a word about Christ. But when I pray and am in tune with Him, those natural openings in the conversation to talk about Jesus are clear. We might think evangelism can be awkward, but there’s nothing awkward about a conversation that naturally turns to faith and trusting Christ.
Let me say it again: Listening is the key to an open door to share Christ. As Leonard Sweet said, “Evangelism is more pay attention than attract attention.”
So let me reduce your evangelistic efforts to this:
- Enjoy a conversation with someone.
- When God creates an opening to talk about matters of faith, take it. It may lead to a full-blown gospel presentation or it could be a seed that takes time to grow. But just step in and see where God takes it.
“Don’t worry about how you should defend yourselves or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what must be said” (Luke 12:11-12).
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One thing I like about Darrell Robinson’s approach in People Sharing Jesus is that he recommends genuinely listening to a person before presenting anything. He likens it to a ship sailing around an island looking for the best place to land. That is the only way you can determine the best “approach.”
Which approach is best? it all depends. You don’t change the gospel to reach someone. You learn which is the best channel to get it to them. See the related post above: https://lynnhpryor.com/2018/09/24/sharing-christ-it-doesnt-have-to-be-scary/ There you can find a link to my book if you would like additional help.