Let’s just get it out there: When it comes to evangelism, I’ve got a lot to learn. A lot. And no, this isn’t some kind of teaser to keep you reading so I can tell you how great I am at sharing my faith.
It’s just the truth. Fact is, I mask it well. Most of the people I hang out with are people of faith. I didn’t sit down and plan it that way, but it’s the way it is.
A normal week for me means little or no interaction with those who don’t agree with me when it comes to God. For starters, I go to church on Sundays, then hang out at home. Easy interactions, no sweat.
Monday through Friday? I work with Heartbeat International, where every employee is a person of faith. We have Evangelicals, Catholics, Protestants, everything. Oh, and I work out of my home office in the Nashville area; which isn’t exactly a hotbed of interaction unless my dog wanders in.
In addition, during the year I might take on 50 or more speaking engagements—on behalf of Christian ministries. So, other than flights and rental car counters, I’m surrounded by those who profess to follow Jesus Christ.
These aren’t excuses, just facts. And the fact is, I’m almost always around people who claim to be Christians, rarely around anyone else.
I bring this up because as I explore a 1stFaith on this site, I’m fascinated by the evangelism of the first Christians. They were amazing at sharing the message; you can find my posts about this here, here and here.
So the “good news” I guess, is that I’m at interested in getting the good news out there (note the play on words; that’s free, by the way).
But we know the bad news. As we say in the South, “I ain’t doin’ nothin’ about it.”
The snap answer to my dilemma might be, “You need to be more proactive, Kirk; look for opportunities!” And this would be true.
Or, “Take an evangelism class.” Nothing wrong with this, either.
But something my pastor said recently captured my attention more than the obvious solutions mentioned above: “Listen to the world,” he said. “The world needs to be heard, so we will know how to reach them.”
Then Mark added the kicker. “Try to find out what that other person is hungry for.”
Mark didn’t say, “Be like the world;” he just asked me to listen.
That’s it. It’s important that I seek out what those first apostles taught and emphasized as they reached out to the world. That’s my “evangelism class,” and it’s the best we can find.
It’s also good to look for more opportunities.
But one of Jesus’ finest qualities was his ability to ask questions and listen for answers. He didn’t use crafty techniques he learned from a program; Jesus asked and listened. At the right time, he gave living water. Ask the woman at the well in John 4.
I need to keep learning, trying to best capture the message Jesus and the first apostles shared.
But when it comes to actually putting the message out there, my best “first step” is not technique, powerful wording or knowing how to answer every question.
For me, a proactive approach begins by getting out there and . . . listening. The more I listen, the more I’ll learn what others are looking for. And just perhaps, when someone is seeking more hope . . . I’ll be able to share the story of the hope that is in me.