Last night while doing my daily scanning of blogs, I came across a post from the Resurgence entitled Everyday Evangelism by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis. Great post! I highly recommend reading it before reading my post.
After an insightful, challenging, and informative article they end by saying:
We need to be patient and trust God’s sovereignty while also finding ways to present the gospel at points one and two on our scale of interest in Christ and not just at points eight and nine.
If points 8 and 9 on the scale mentioned are referring to those who are ready and willing to talk about the gospel, then points one and two represent those who do not even think about the gospel, nor really care to talk about it with others. Chester and Timmis then open our eyes to today’s reality by saying that 70% of our population is made up of those who are at points one and two. If indeed most of the population is where Chester and Timmis claim, our typical methods of sharing the gospel are flawed. If this is the case, how do we evangelize the 70%? How do we get those those who never think about the gospel to honestly think about it?
I recently read a book by R. Larry Moyer entitled: Show Me How to Share the Gospel. In his book, he provides a method he calls Plow and Pursue. I believe this method can help us talk with the “one’s” and “two’s” about the gospel, or at least get a few steps closer to having that conversation.
Plow and Pursue
Moyer’s method is simple. He says that when we meet another person, wherever it may be – a party, a coffee shop, grocery store, neighborhood, etc – we should plow into the conversation, enjoying it immensely. As you talk, ask questions in three areas of life:
Don’t ask these questions as a matter of formality, thinking you need to get through these before asking the other person, “Why they believe God will let them into heaven.” Instead, make sure you listen. I mean really listen and enjoy the conversation.
By asking questions centered on their family, job, and background, and really listening, we show that we are interested in them as a person, as well as it allows us to get to know where the person is coming from, how they think, and what their life has been like.
As you listen to them describe their family life, job, and background, you are able to put together an understanding of their worldview, which will be immensely helpful when speaking with them about God and the gospel.
Not only does listening provide you with information to help determine their worldview, but it also gives you hooks by which you may turn the conversation from the here-and-now to the hereafter. Here are a few ideas to help turn the conversation from the ordinary to the spiritual.
8 Ideas to Turn Ordinary Conversation Into Spiritual Conversation
(1) They mention the outdoors, you mention how impressed you are with the Creator.
(2) They mention they have a terrible marriage, you mention how your marriage is going and how spiritual things have been the biggest source of help to you and your wife as you have walked out your many years of marriage.
(3) They mention unhappiness in their job, you ask: Where do people ultimately find happiness? Or why do you think there are so many problems in the world? That question may lead you to ask: Why do you suppose the problems in the world seem to be getting worse instead of better?
(4) They mention an ailing child, you mention it is times like those that really drive you to your knees to pray. You may even pray for them at that moment.
(5) They talk about looking for the perfect job, career, etc, you ask: What in your opinion is the number one thing most people are looking for in their lives?
(6) They mention being unhappy, you ask: Why do you think so many people seem unhappy with life in general?
(7) They mention the future, you ask: What do you think is in store for the future?
(8) They mentioned being worried or anxious, you ask: A lot of people seem worried? What, in your opinion, worries people the most?
What These Questions Do
All of these ideas stem from the three areas mentioned earlier – Family, Job, Background – and are ways to naturally lead into discussions about God, spiritual things, and hopefully the gospel. As well as the personal questions help to show interest in the person, and the spiritual questions help to get them thinking.
What if We Don’t Talk About the Gospel?
Even if your questions don’t provoke a deep conversation about God and the gospel, they at least get your friend thinking about spiritual matters, and that is important. Remember the scale I mentioned earlier and the statistic from Chester and Timmis, which told us 70% of people are a “one” or a “two”. If we can get those who are at a “one” or “two” to do what they normally are not doing – thinking about God – then we can count that as a success.
So, even if you are not able to get into a full on gospel conversation, your questions may cause the other person to do something they have not done in a long time, or even ever, think about God. When that occurs, it is a success, and you are not only one step closer to having a deep challenging conversation about the gospel, but your conversation partner knows that they can talk with you about spiritual things when they have a question or thought.
In my next post in this series, I will provide some questions to help move the conversation even further – from the spiritual to the gospel.
Questions for Reflection
- What type of reception have you noticed in the past when you have taken the time to get to know a person before talking about spiritual matters?
- Are there other bridge topics you can think of besides the outdoors, marriage, job, and children?
R. Larry Moyer, Show Me How To Share the Gospel, 21-25.