Let’s play just one round of a word association game. I’ll say a word and you tell me the first thing that comes into your mind. Here’s the word – EVANGELISM. What did you think of?
For many Christians, it’s the “dreaded E-word.” Their thoughts on evangelism immediately turn towards one of two extremes. For some, they think of a spiritual superstar like Billy Graham. For others, they think of that obnoxious zealot, that Bible thumper who's always pushing God down your throat. For those who think of Billy Graham. They conclude that they could never be like him. For those who think of the obnoxious zealot, they would prefer not to be like him. The result is that most Christians don’t share their faith.
The sad truth is that I think we have made sharing our faith far more difficult that it really is. So let me make it easy. Let me give you a starting point. It doesn’t take a theologian, pastor, missionary or evangelist to start here. This is for everyone. Sharing your faith starts with putting friendliness over function. The first step for anybody in sharing their faith is starting a conversation. Let me give you some real practical helps.
First, you need to be where lost people are. You need to be intentional about spending time in your week rubbing shoulders with the unchurched. I've really tried over the last several months to become more intentional about this myself. Believe me, it is easy for a pastor to spend all of his week inside the church. I've tried to take some of my meetings to places like Tim Horton's and McDonald's and God has already blessed that. I’ve been able to meet people who don’t go to church that I would have never met in my office.
I had a local manager of restaurant come over and start talking to me and the guy I was having a meeting with in the restaurant where he worked. We got talking about his job. He shared that he felt like he had no purpose in his life. I asked him if I brought him a book that showed him how to have purpose in his life, and gave it to him as a gift, would he read it. He said, “Yes,” so the very next day I took him the book.
We have to rub shoulders with lost people. To be intentional about this, I go to the same place for lunch three days a week. Almost every day I've been able to meet an unchurched person I have never known before. Let me say it again, you have to rub shoulders with lost people.
Secondly, smile! Do you realize smiling is an international language? Everyone understands it. For heaven’s sake, smile! I just don’t get Christian who don’t smile. Smile!
Third, be a greeter. I honestly believe that no Christian should ever pass anybody without initiating a greeting. The sad part is that we don't even do that in church. How many people did you walk by last Sunday morning in your church that you have no idea who they are, and you didn't even say, “Hello?” Be a greeter.
Fourth, notice the obvious. If they are wearing a unique piece of jewelry, ask them about it. If they're wearing a shirt that has something written on it, a sports team or school name, ask them about it. If they have kids with them, ask them about their children. If they're pregnant, ask them when they're due (just be sure they are really pregnant before you ask that question).
Finally, ask good questions. What's a good question? A good question has two elements. First, it cannot be answered with a “yes” or “no” answer. If you can answer a question with a “yes” or “no”, then it's not a good question. Secondly, it needs to be a question about the other person. People like to talk about themselves.
Folks, listen, if we're going to get to the point that we're sharing our faith, we have to put friendliness over function. That’s where it all begins.