- 2 Cor. 5:20 (NKJV): “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.”
- Matt. 10:33 (NASB20): “But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.”
- James 4:17 (ESV): “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
WE’RE ALL EVANGELISTS
“SAY, ISN’T THAT Rodney over there?”
“Hmm, yeah, I think so, why?
The two voices cut into my alone time. I looked up from my computer as I perched on my stool at a small coffee shop round table, sipping coffee and trying to write.
Following their gaze, I spotted another young man sitting at a corner table, hunched over with his back toward us.
“I dunno,” the first man said. “It’s just, like, I don’t think he goes to church, or nothin’, you know? I mean, I don’t know, I just think we should go over and talk to ’im. Whaddya say?”
Getting back to my work, I paid little attention as the two young men near my table slowly walked to Rodney’s table.
WHAT DO YOU SAY?
FORTUNATELY FOR ME, Rodney’s table was far enough away that I was not drawn into their conversation.
I resumed writing, which, ironically enough, was a report on one of several books I had read recently about the importance of evangelizing the lost along with some pointers on how to do it.
Somewhere in the haze, as I pounded word after word, I also wondered how those two young men — both apparently in their mid-twenties — would go about encouraging their friend to “try” church.
Would they take a direct route and hit him with a “Hey, how come you don’t go to church,” or would they “ease their way into it,” talk about sports first, maybe ask about his love life, and then bring up worship?
Whatever approach they tried, I gave them credit for making the effort, knowing that most people, even committed Christians, would have left Rodney alone and skipped the whole thing.
Why We Don’t Evangelize
THE EXPERTS TELL US there are numerous reasons people give for not evangelizing, most of which I understand, even if the Lord might not consider them valid.
A partial list might include:
- Feeling inadequate for the task
- Fearing rejection and humiliation
- Not knowing enough “Bible stuff” to hold a discussion
- Feeling stressed at the thought of approaching someone
- Wrong time, not enough time, wrong venue, too many people around
- Not my job — this is for the pastor or an elder
- Fear of persecution if the person complains
- Considering one’s faith decision a personal matter
- Questioning how to start the conversation
- Fear of offending the person.
How about you? Do any of those items look like your list?
My item made the list: Questioning how to start the conversation.
I’m okay with the topic of faith once I’m started, but steering the conversation over to spiritual matters when we’re talking about secular things seems counter-intuitive. Other words might be “awkward,” “contrived,” “uncomfortable,” or even “impertinent” and “intrusive.”
ASKING POINTED QUESTIONS
EVENTUALLY, MY CURIOSITY forced me to step away from my writing to see how the young men were doing.
It was difficult to follow their conversation since all three faced away from me, but they looked engrossed in whatever topic they were on.
William Fay, a former super-salesman turned evangelist, says he focuses on asking questions, encouraging the other person to talk1.
He says to let the conversation take its course, not to interrupt or argue with them, and don’t debate them, just let them talk until it’s time to ask another question. Plus, he says, listen to their answers.
Here are his suggested questions:
- Do you have any kind of spiritual beliefs?
- To you, who is Jesus Christ?
- Do you believe Heaven and Hell are real places?
- If you died right now, where would you go? Why?
- If what you believe were not true, would you want to know it?
That last question, he says, is to get their permission to take them to God’s Word, which he always carries with him.
Usually, he says, even if it’s just shear curiosity, most people will play along, then he produces a copy of God’s Word, which he has marked up to guide him and his companion through a set script of selected verses.
Just Planting Seeds
FAY SAYS THE KEY is to show the other person the marked-up Bible and let them read the keyed verses out loud. Then ask them to explain what each verse means to them.
He uses these verses:
- Romans 3:23 – “All have sinned.”
- Romans 6:23 – “The wages of sin is death.”
- John 3:3 – “Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Instead of asking them to interpret the verse, he suggests asking them why they think God sent Jesus to die. (I like to add Galatians 2:21 here – “If righteousness comes through the law (good works), then Christ died in vain.”)
- John 14:6 – “I am the way.”
- Romans 10:9-11 – “If you confess your sins, you will be saved.”
- 2 Corinthians 5:15 – “Those who live should no longer live for themselves.”
- Revelation 3:20 – “I stand at the door and knock.”
CLOSE WITH KEY QUESTIONS
WHEN YOU SENSE it’s time to close the conversation, you need to find a way to leave a lasting imprint, especially considering most people will not “come to faith” with the first conversation.
Bill Fay suggests closing with … you guessed it … more questions! Why? Because that approach encourages your friend to think about the material, not just listen to you wind on … and on … and on.
His suggested questions are simple but profound, as well: Are you a sinner, Do you want forgiveness for your sins, Do you believe Jesus died on the cross for you and rose from the dead, Are you willing to surrender your life to Jesus Christ, and, finally, Are you ready to invite Jesus into your life and into your heart?
Those are his suggested questions. I would change the final question to: Are you ready to receive God’s offer of the Holy Spirit, forgiveness of sins, and inexpresable joy? Are you ready to spend eternity with your Creator?
The reason I make that change is that the Bible says no one comes to the Father unless the Father draws him (John 6:44), so, technically, we do not invite Him into our hearts, we receive or accept His offer.
Either way, through the appropriate questions, you are placing the onus on your companion to decide for himself (or herself) how he wants to live and where he wants to spend eternity.
A SCUFFLING OF CHAIRS alerted me to my erstwhile companions, who were standing now, about to leave their table.
Rodney was embracing both men, so however they had conducted their business, they were parting on good terms.
As much as I yearned to learn how their conversation went, I realized at that moment that God’s plan for me was to see where God is working around me and join Him.
In my heart, I said a quiet “goodby” to the three men and prayed, “Lord, show me who You want me to share the Good News with.”
O FATHER GOD, as I meditate on Your goodness and Your faithfulness, I’m drawn to Aaron’s blessing for Israel (Num. 6:24-26 NRSV), “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.” O Lord God, may I be Your faithful servant. In our precious Savior’s name, AMEN
1 William Fay, Share Jesus Without Fear, B&H Publishing Group, Nashville, Tenn., 1999