I normally really appreciate Halloween. It provides opportunity to meet our neighbors and help our kids get out of their comfort zone by helping them initiate spiritual conversation about Jesus with others. In return for candy we have the kids give our neighbors little colored thank you notes with verses or tracts. But a couple months before this years Halloween we moved to a rural area where we don't really have neighbors. Unsure of what Halloween was going to look like for us, we went to a local church harvest festival and I was blown away. There was fun, games and of course candy but they maximized the opportunity they had to make Jesus known. As well as all the games, they had a trick or treat street where each station handed out candy and shared a different part of the Gospel. Each station was decorated in relation to the truth they were sharing with the kids. By the end of the candy collecting stations, every kid had a chance to hear the Gospel. It was AMAZING!! I was so proud of a church who prioritized sharing the Gospel and making the most of their time and opportunity.
Conversely there was another church 30 minutes away that also had a harvest festival for thousands of kids. I asked them how it went and if they shared the Gospel through stations (since the previous church was my first exposure to a harvest festival I didn't realize it was abnormal). The answer crushed me. "No, we don't want to bait and switch them. We believe in building relationships first." I've been there. I've said those same exact words paralyzed by fear and doubt trying to justify myself. I've wasted countless opportunities being ensnared by this lie.
In college I was on student staff with a ministry I really respect. My responsibilities were to go into the High School and meet girls so I did and I loved it. I met a whole group of them and would take them to lunch and build relationships with them. Week after week I would spend time with them but never felt quite close enough to start a spiritual conversation. Eventually after a year, when I did feel close enough to some of them, it was way too awkward to bring it up because then we were close friends and I hadn't shared the most important thing with them. I felt deceitful. But there was only a couple I felt that close to, the others I never felt quite close enough to. Friendship evangelism is like the double edged sword that destroys through either feeling too close or never close enough.
The Enemy preyed on my fear of offending and hurting people and fear of what they would think of me as well as my doubt that God can use His Word even if I am not best friends with someone.
It wasn't until I looked around and saw friends leading people (even those they weren't friends with) to Christ and I wasn't even getting into spiritual conversations that I became humble enough to consider the reality that maybe my friendship evangelism ideas were not really in line with Scripture. That same week a friend had shared the Gospel with a girl she barely knew (who was a big partier on campus) in the dorm and she gave her life to Christ. The same week that brand new Christian shared the Gospel with someone else who gave their life to Christ.
I got up enough guts to learn how to share my faith and walked up to someone at our weekly meeting and walked through a Gospel tract in a discussion based way with her. She was interested and the conversation was so normal. My walls of fear and doubt came crashing down.
Not long after that experience I turned around to meet the girl sitting behind me in church and walked through the same booklet with her. I had just met her and she didn't know Christ and gave her life to Christ right then.
So what am I saying? I'm not condoning Bible bashing or forcing people to talk about something they don't want to. (Did you know statistically most people want to talk about matters of faith.) I'm saying that evangelism is just not about us and what we think people will think or feel. It's about starting a conversation (even if you're not best friends with them) and letting God do His thing. It's about fixing our eyes on Him and having enough courage to step out of the boat and start asking questions that lead to the Gospel. It's about bragging about God and what He did for us and leaving the results up to Him.
Here's a helpful visual (from blog.keelancook.com) that shows who the Gospel was shared with in Scripture-if it was friendship evangelism or if it was with strangers.
So can I ask you that if you believe you absolutely need to build a relationship before sharing the Gospel with someone to pray about it? Do you think it's possible that you're making evangelism more about you than about what God wants to do in someone else's life? Are you withholding the most important truth of their life from them for fear of what they will think or feel?
I absolutely hate saying these strong things (there's my fear rising up again!) but here's a freeing truth, you're not in charge of or control of their heart and emotions and God doesn't want you to be. You are called to proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness, to do the work of an evangelist, to be an ambassador for Christ and leave the results up to Him.
Friend, I've been there and at times I still can be for fear still can control and hold my tongue but "Woe is me if I do not preach the Gospel." (1 Cor. 9:16) But when I take initiative in the power of the Holy Spirit to start a conversation my wall of fear comes crashing to the ground and it will for you too.
So if you want to be ready to share the Gospel, have a couple questions in your mind that you can ask someone to help you know where they are and know how to get to the Gospel from there. Here's is a list of 10 questions to help jog your thinking.
Laura, the founder of Missional Women is married and has six kids, two of whom are adopted. Laura and her husband have been missionaries to college students for 14 years serving with Master Plan Ministries where she is the Women's Development Coordinator. Laura has authored 5 books, including an award winning 12 week Bible Study on First Samuel, Beholding Him, Becoming Missional, Reach; How to Use Your Social Media Influence for the Glory of God, A Devotional Journey through Judges, and Discover God's Calling for Your Life. Most recently her resource for Bible studies, The Connect Cards was released by Cru Press. You can find her on facebook, twitter, pinterest, youtube, instagram, periscope, blab and her author site.
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