Enjoy the journey, share what you have been given, and don’t be creepy.
Have I got your attention?
I figured I would with that title. Now allow me to explain….
Being evangelical means being someone who believes in Jesus, believes in the importance of sharing the Gospel, and believes that we are called to lead others to Jesus. There are good ways of having these conversations, and others just don’t seem very productive. Ha! (How is that for some political correctness?) Let me be clear: There are some really bad ways to evangelize. Just bad. Let’s help each other win with this very important proclamation and do it without “being creepy."
We all have those friends, relatives, or maybe even perfect strangers who attempt to start a spiritual conversation with us when, at some point, it takes a turn. It starts to feel like they are selling you something you don’t want, or maybe they are “dancing” around something they want to say but don’t know how. You know what I mean? By no means am I saying that we should not have those conversations, but it sure would be nice to limit these awkward moments of sincerity.
I was raised in a little Baptist church where legalism was a spiritual gift. It took me a while to learn Grace and how it operates in a believer's life. In my town, everyone knew everybody. It all impacted me. And besides that, I just loved people! As it turns out, I still do. So, when I’m not talking someone’s ear off or enjoying connecting with someone, I’m probably observing someone else’s conversation and the sending/receiving of those messages. I particularly pay attention to the body language that’s taking place. Hang in there with me… don’t get bored yet. All these variables thrown in a pot together and then stirred around a bit probably make me sensitive to these critical conversations.
If there is any conversation I want to make a clear path for and set us all up for a win, it would be the first conversation we are having with someone about Jesus. Maybe it’s a coworker, a distant family member, a server at your favorite restaurant, or that perfect stranger you feel led to talk to. We have all heard the old saying, “You only get one shot at a first impression.”
So here are a few thoughts on evangelism that keep us from being awkward, or at least from being creepy:
Think People Over Tasks
How we start these conversations is essential. It should be a genuine and authentic conversation born from a pure heart. Actually wanting to know the person first goes a long way. Therefore, it’s helpful to first think through the lens of serving. We are called to serve others, not ourselves. Thinking about the person first will help us have that genuine conversation instead of it feeling forced. And this is where there is a lot of potential for “creepiness” or awkward moments. There is nothing to force here. We are only creating opportunities to get to know someone. We are going to be people who are playing the long game here. We want to build a long-lasting relationship that could yield incredible Kingdom impact!
Let’s think crock pot vs. the microwave for all my foodie people out there. It’s just not even a question of which one is better. So let’s not take these first opportunities we get with some incredible people and shove them in the microwave. Everybody wants to be known. The only way to get to know someone is to let them do the talking. Remember, it’s all about building relationships, and relationships just take time.
Good Questions Vs. Rehearsed Intelligent Points
Since we know they want to be known, and we want them to do the talking, that just leaves us with asking the right questions. Questions that get to the core of who they are. “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” Ask about their story or how they might have seen God trying to get their attention lately. Or, if they have gone through some tough times or maybe wrestling with a specific situation, ask them, “What do you think God wants you to know here?” In my experience, that’s an excellent way to get the conversation moving. And just remember, we shouldn’t have any expectations for this conversation except to listen. In our fast-paced lives, some people just don’t take the opportunity to slow down and consider. This is more about joining the journey with someone while they begin to feel the presence and goodness of God! Enjoy the journey.
Check Your Motives
Why do you want to approach this person to talk to them about Jesus? You may be saying, “Well, this is going to be an obvious answer!” But I want you to think about it. Are your motives really about sharing the good news of the Gospel with this person? Or did they just do something offensive or annoying to you, so you say, “They need Jesus!” All joking aside, asking “why?” is always healthy. This can be a true breakthrough moment. If my motives aren’t right, I should wait because I don’t want to do any damage to someone on their path to discovering Jesus.
I want to make sure I’m aligned with the Father and listening to the Holy Spirit. Taking a quick pause to reflect on my own heart will always yield a positive result. Even if it means we wait on the conversation and continue to pray for them.
We are called to make disciples, not numbers. So our biggest desire is to walk with them. Do life with them. Watch them grow. There is nothing like watching the multiplication of a changed life when they share the gift of salvation they have received with others. It truly is the most incredible thing!
So, let’s stay in touch with the people that God is leading us to. Follow up with them over that cup of coffee again and ask them: What’s been a high point in your life since we met last? What’s been a low? Where are you seeing God work in you? Where are you seeing God work in others?
Enjoy the journey!
Share what you have been given.
And don’t be creepy.