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Avoid the Dreaded Evangelism Zone, part 1

“So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.”

The Evangelism Zone is a place where you stop being human. You get tunnel vision and you have to get it right and not mess up and you have no idea what the other person is thinking and you don’t care because this is their eternal destiny and don’t mess up and what if they ask a question I can’t answer. [Gasp for air.]

Ever been there? I have.

So here’s the first of four posts to keep evangelism from becoming an awkward, stilted, and altogether uncomfortable experience for both people in the conversation.

Speak Normally and Honestly

Consider two scenarios. First: you have a co-worker who seems hostile toward Christ. You could try to work around the hostility, or try to cleverly sneak up and spring the gospel on them when they’re least expecting it. But wouldn’t it be better to say something like this?

“You know my faith is important to me, and so is our friendship. I do like talking with people about God, but it seems like the topic is offensive to you. So I don’t want to offend you, but I wonder if you’d be willing to tell me why the topic is offensive to you—if I’m right about that—and if I have offended you myself.” Then stop talking and listen. By doing this you stop strategizing, and become a real human.

Second scenario. I ran into a neighbor and asked her how her day was. Not so good: she had lost her purse, damaged her car, and her refrigerator had just broken. It was an hour after we had said good-bye that I realized that I should have prayed for her and offered to help. I kicked myself for missing the opportunity, but then realized I really hadn’t. I still could go back and talk with her. A lot of times when we think we’ve missed an opportunity, we can go back and start the conversation again. So I did. I took my daughter and knocked on our neighbor’s door. “Have you found your purse yet? I’m really concerned about how your day is going.” After talking for a few minutes, I asked if we could pray for her and the problems of her day. She was deeply touched.

If you feel like you’ve missed an opportunity, maybe you can go back and say, “You know, when we were talking earlier you said…. ” Or “That was really interesting to me, but I didn’t know what to say. But I’ve been thinking about it, and….”

There’s humanness and vulnerability in that. And that’s often when the gospel shines.