By Ashley Unzicker
I recently took an evangelism course. Not knowing what to expect, I imagined quirky evangelistic techniques coupled with age-old, gospel-sharing recipes guaranteed to bring about soul-winning results.
Much to my surprise, the course was less like a course and more like a worship service. The professor passionately preached “the story” from beginning to end.
Techniques were peppered throughout his teaching, but the bulk of his class brought attention to the one worthy of worship, Jesus. At the pinnacle of our awe and wonder, the professor sent us out armed with zeal and an arsenal of evangelistic tools.
Each person in the class was given four hours to share the gospel with one person in our city. Out of 30 students, maybe three of us returned having completed the exercise.
Each student shared his or her results with the class and, although 90% didn’t complete the assignment, we were overflowing with joy.
You see, for most, simply acknowledging a stranger verbally was completely out of the norm. Saying “hello,” was our success.
We live in a text-driven world. Spontaneous, real-life conversation and nuance are things quickly moving into the past. Instead, we’re assaulted by heavily-opinionated, rapid-fire quips—All. Day. Long.
We’re losing an art that’s valuable in society—the art of conversation.
A common theory is more training is necessary to help boost our evangelistic efforts. Is the problem in our techniques? Maybe. Could it be simpler than that? I think so.
I love evangelism training: Romans Road, 3 Circles, the Bridge Diagram, etc., but without the ability to strike up a conversation and keep it going, there’s no space to use the helpful evangelistic techniques we’ve been trained in.
I humbly offer a few simple suggestions to get you from “hello” to “in the beginning…”
1. Remember the Gospel.
When the evangelism professor shared the story of redemption, it fueled our souls. We couldn’t help but be fired up to go and share!
Regularly remind yourself of what you’ve been rescued from and Who you’ve been rescued to. The fuel for evangelism is timeless and universal, crossing all cultures and generations.
2. Be a Regular.
Whether it’s a coffee shop, a park, or a class at the gym, become a regular. You can be recognizable as well as approachable. A progression of small steps will make initiating a conversation less daunting.
It may look like:
1st encounter: Make eye contact and smile.
2nd encounter: Say, “Hi.”
3rd encounter: “Hey, I’ve seen you around. I’m Ashley.”
As a regular, you can take your time to build trust with the people around you. No sudden movements are necessary.
3. Observe and Listen.
Be on the lookout for something to ask people about: something they’re wearing, something they’re doing, what they’re eating, etc. Listen well.
Remember, every person, place, and thing can be an on-ramp to the gospel. Why? Because every non-Christian, place, and thing is in a fallen state; not yet redeemed.
But we know the One who can remedy it all. Pray the Holy Spirit will help you pick up the cue.
4. Understand the gospel is only Good News to those who recognize they’re in a Bad News Situation.
Social media outlets can be like modern day fig leaves used to hide and cover up our mess. But in the real world, people are typically waiting for someone to care enough to help uncover their pain.
When Jesus went to the temple, he didn’t immediately share the good news. He listened and asked questions. And we must do the same.
As people share, be asking the Holy Spirit to reveal their spiritual location as well as help you connect the gospel to their situation. This may mean you share something about yourself and how you found hope in Christ.
5. Be flexible.
Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape. Try not to be married to one evangelistic method. After much listening and waiting, let the Spirit lead you to what best fits the conversation.
Remember, you’re not thwarting the mission of God if you choose the wrong strategy, so don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t go perfectly.
One of the first people to share Christ with me did a terrible job, like really, really bad, but God blessed their obedience and used it in my life. Get up and try again.
6. Prayer is our primary strategy.
I’ve saved the best for last. Paul prayed God would provide an open door for the Word. Every day, pray God will:
- put lost people in your path
- help you engage
- guide your conversations
- give wisdom in how and when to share the gospel
Each of us can do these things. The problem isn’t that the gospel makes conversation awkward; it’s that we’re too awkward to engage in conversation in the first place.
We know the story. We need to put ourselves in a position to communicate it.