Oh no, not another article on evangelism to make me feel guilty.
Few topics make Christians feel more convicted than the topic of evangelism. Many of us (including me) struggle with this spiritual discipline. I often feel inadequate as an evangelist and get discouraged by my efforts. I realize I’m not alone. Many of us are stuck not because we don’t know the gospel, but because we don’t know how to start evangelistic conversations.
How do you share Christ at work? What about at the gym? Or at school? And how about your lost neighbors — what do you say to them?
You probably have the desire. You just don’t know where to start.
One of the best ways to start evangelistic conversations is by asking the right questions.
Below are three simple ones that come to mind.
3 Evangelistic Conversation Starter Questions
Question #1: What did you do this weekend?
Mondays are a day many in the workplace dread. The agony begins on Sunday nights when you think about the traffic you’ll face tomorrow, the emails you have to reply to, and the work you left undone the previous week. It can feel like a trial. But if you’re a Christ follower, Mondays can be a good evangelistic day. You can view Mondays as either misery or missional.
On Mondays, ask your co-workers this question: “So, what did you do this weekend?”
Chances are, they’ll open up to you. Asking people questions about themselves makes them feel loved. And while this doesn’t happen every time, often they’ll return the favor and ask you about your weekend.
That’s when you can — in a non-awkward and graceful way — speak honestly about your weekend plans, and mention your experience at Sunday worship the previous day. The key is to bring up church in some way. It would be helpful if your co-workers know that you’re a Christian who is committed to the local church.
“Oh, my weekend was fine,” you can say. “I went to a party. I hung out with friends. I slept in on Saturday. Oh, and I went to church on Sunday. I go to church every Sunday and enjoy going. You should come sometime.”
Just be yourself. Don’t get weird. The goal is not manipulation. You’re not trying to trap them. Instead, you’re trying to intentionally, prayerfully, and tactfully invite them to church where they should hear the gospel preached.
You may not get to share the gospel with this question. At the very least, your co-workers will know that you’re a church-going folk, which could open up future evangelistic opportunities at some point. At the very best, they’ll take you up on your offer and will come to church with you.
Question #2: How Can I Pray for You?
I was once an evangelism intern at a church (yes, that’s a thing). One of my tasks that summer was to go door-to-door asking people if they needed prayer. Looking back on it, I’m not sure I saw much fruit from this. Nevertheless, interns do what they’re told, and so I went.
I met a guy who said that he had a big financial test coming up. I told him who I was, what I was doing, and asked if I could pray for him. I did. Some days later, he passed his test. He called me to thank me for praying for him and told me he was interested in coming to church. I don’t remember all the details of the story, but I think he actually came.
The Lord used my embarrassing, weak, pitiful effort to get someone to church where he likely heard the gospel and met some godly folk.
All you have to do is ask. Even the most secular people have a hard time saying “no” to free prayer.
Question #3: What do you believe?
At a wedding once I attempted to strike up an evangelistic conversation with a guy I met. I don’t remember everything I said, but I eventually told him I was in seminary and that I was training for ministry. Naturally, then, I asked him: “What do you believe?” He told me he was Catholic, which I respect because I grew up in a Catholic household.
But here is the bold, penetrating question I eventually asked: “What do you mean by that?”
I wanted to see if he even knew what he believed and why he believed it.
By asking this bold follow-up question, we were able to get to the core of what he believed. I think he eventually said, “I don’t know.”
The goal is not to make people feel bad. But the truth is, lots of people identify with a particular religion or claim a religious belief, but they don’t know why. They just say what their parents say. They just say something in the conversation that will prevent them from looking stupid. In a loving way, these unbelievers need to be shown their lostness and need for a Savior. Usually, this happens best in the context of an ongoing friendship.
You want to know what people believe and why they believe it. After you find out what they believe, you can build bridges to share the gospel with them.
I don’t think I shared the gospel with that guy, but I tried. And that’s the point: I actually tried and got somewhere, and the only thing I did was ask questions. You don’t need an MDiv, a church staff position, or a special title to ask evangelistic starter questions. Any Christian can do this. All you gotta do is ask.
I am by no means a good evangelist. I have seen some fruitfulness in the past, but often, I feel discouraged by my lack of effort. The good news is that the pressure is not on me (or you). The Spirit is the one who does the converting. He just invites us on the missional journey. Asking good questions is a good way to get on board.
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