Evangelism. A word that inspires a shudder in believer and non-believer alike. One, out of fear of becoming “that guy” in your friend group and for the other a fear of having to talk to “that guy” in your friend group. (shout out Sam Chan!)
It’s preached from the pulpit that its something we must do and in general most would agree. But through no fault of their own the messenger on the pulpit has likely been far removed from the working, studying, family world of their congregation for years if they haven’t been in ministry since they were young.
I’ve still got a lot to learn, but here are a few short lessons I’ve learnt in my meagre attempts at drawing those around me to God.
People before “Projects”
I cringe writing this because I’ve definitely described people as the latter. When we see people as “projects” objects that simply have behaviours we can change combined with a gospel message we miss the point.
Those around us can sense an underlying agenda, if you’re only friends with someone so you can “get them to church” it’s no better than those texts you get when a friend gives their gym your phone number. Awkward and uncomfortable.
We see them as people first, because we are more alike than we’d like to admit. What seperates us is the grace of God and we didn’t work for that. When God was patient with us in our own salvation, so can we with others.
People see more than they hear
Your colleagues and classmates will see your faith more than they hear about it. If you’re comfortable about speaking about how wonderful church is on a Sunday, but spend the rest of work day grumbling, there’s a disconnect there. Most likely their vision of the church is what they see in the media, and that has not been great in past few years.
We live with a good and holy God by us all the time, doesn’t mean things won’t awrt but we are able to carry ourselves differently because his grace is with us.
Curiosity is your best friend
A good question will both disarm and invite further conversation. In our eagerness or awkwardness to share our faith we can try to force a question about faith. More often than not it can feel about as natural as those ads that sell life insurance.
It’s when we start listening and caring about the person in front of us that conversation will alight. As you grow to know each other better, then deeper questions of life will emerge and you can ask things about faith and worldview.
You really have no control
The best piece of advice I’ve gotten is that, “we can’t do anything about someone else’s salvation.” That’s God’s job.
We’re people that love instant success and seeing a friend come to know God is one of the greatest we can have. But salvation isn’t the only victory. Showing people that Christian’s aren’t just those “hateful, misogynistic” people on TV, that we have well thought out faith, that we’re not all Ned Flanders does a lot more than you think.
Our role is to be Christlike in their lives in hopes that by knowing us they will draw closer to God and through the mystery of faith a new person will emerge, renewed in Christ
How to Talk about Jesus (Without Being That Guy): Personal Evangelism in a Skeptical World - Sam Chan
Tactics - Grek Koukl
Questioning Christianity – Dan Paterson & Rian Roux
Justin Sayson is a freelance journalist living on the Sunshine Coast. From about sport, music, faith or anything else, he’s always keen to discover more about the world around him. You can see more if his writing on justinsayson.com