How do you make space for Evangelistic Conversations?

(SeanO) #1

I was reading the below article on tips for evangelism and one of the tips was to ‘adjust your life patterns to make conversations possible’. This tip was challenging to me, so I was curious how you go about this in your life?

For me, I think I simply make space as those conversations arise. Even if I have other things going on, if an opportunity to converse with someone else arises I try to make space for that person in my life. But honestly, I do not go out of my way to make this type of space.

How about you?

(Sarah Malcangi) #2

It’s a challenge. I’ve learned to slow down and a few years ago I started studying philosophy and that has helped a lot too. Good tips in the article.

(SeanO) #3

@SarahMalcangi Yes, slowing down is hard in these very busy days.

How have you found philosophy to be helpful?

(Sarah Malcangi) #4

Well if I’m talking to an unbeliever I ask questions about the meaning of life, how do they do what they believe is true, etc.

It has helped me ask questions about life to that unbeliever. I have found a lot more common ground that way.

(SeanO) #5

@SarahMalcangi That is a helpful point - that philosophy can provide a common ground with which to discuss deeper matters of life with unbelievers

(Olivia Davis) #6

I think that needing to making space for evangelistic conversations is a really great idea! I’ve never really thought about it, but a few ideas come to my mind.
I think one of the best things we can do it pay attention to the world around us. I’m guilty of keeping my headphones in when I’m on an airplane, wandering around a grocery store, or just walking on the street somewhere. When I do that, I’m not actively looking or listening for God to put people across my pathway. I don’t think this means we can never listen to music publicly, but I think that we should try harder to pay attention to others, and the first step may be actually allowing ourselves to be present in the world at the moment.
I think it’s interesting that the article also mentions that we might be spending too much time with other Christians and no getting ourselves out there. I used to have to emphasize this with a small group, because we got to where we were a very happy Christian bubble! I tried to remind us: If what we’re learning about God stays within this group, we’ve missed the point.
I think that might be the key – we should be so full of the spirit and the joy of the Lord that we want other people to experience our God also! If we have an evangelistic mindset, I think that conversations do come naturally – but, as the article wisely points out, we should always be open to seeking out more people to encourage and share the gospel with.
Thanks for making me think about this, @SeanO!

(SeanO) #7

@Olivia_Davis Yes, the Christian bubble can be very hard to break - especially when time is so limited in our hectic lives.

I’ve often wished to be able to take the Christian bubble and invite a few unbelievers into it at a time - to expand the bubble little by little through disciple making.

(Carson Weitnauer) #8

Olivia, I love your idea of simply paying attention to the world around us. I think when we pair that with a lifestyle of abiding in the presence of Christ, we will ‘see’ opportunities that were always there, but that we just hadn’t noticed.

(Olivia Davis) #9

So hard to break indeed! It definitely requires discipline to make time with non-Christians for the sake of the kingdom. I have to watch myself because I’m pretty introverted and can be way too protective of my days off. Something that has helped me is to think about tithing my time, which is a gift in the first place, and spending it forming relationships with other people who don’t know Christ yet – but one day might!

Also, I think it’s great that you have the heart to expand your Christian bubble! I’ve found it happens slowly, but if you pray for new people, God answers – although sometimes (speaking from experience here…) it might require you to stretch yourself a little too. Such is my experience! Always nervous about talking to new people, I once invited a girl to a small group by saying, in one breath, “Hi! Um, do you like to go to church, because I have some girls over at my apartment that eat snacks on Tuesday night and we talk about the Bible and you should come if you happen to be free maybe but no pressure, really no pressure at all ok bye!” God didn’t need eloquence – just obedience. Surprising me (but not God!), she turned up, an answer to my prayer. So definitely pray for new people to invite to your Christian bubble, but also be willing to do what he wants you to do to get there!

One final thought…
I’m also thinking that maybe instead of inviting people into our Christian bubble, we could also try to join them in theirs. Indeed, a passion for golf or music or physical fitness can be just as God-given and holy as a calling to preach. If you find a group of people who need Him, but with whom you share a common interest, relationships emerge that can lead to those God-given, holy, and exciting conversations! And sometimes, you’ll find a believer there who, in between swings, songs, or reps, is doing the very same thing that you are :slight_smile:

(Olivia Davis) #10

Thanks! I love the idea of pairing it with abiding in the presence of Christ…what an important reminder!

(SeanO) #11

@Olivia_Davis That is excellent encouragement and a reminder that God is with us when we step out onto the waves in trust!

Your advice about sharing a common interest reminds me of the relationship between C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, who both loved literature and were friends apart from their faith. Yet through the depth of that relationship Tolkien, with the help of Owen Barfield, slowly challenged Lewis and was used of God as one voice of truth into Lewis’ pre-Christian life.

I think the example that resonates with what I envision best comes from a presentation I saw rooted in the Evangelical monastic movement. The idea is that we go out into the darkness of the world around us not as individuals but rather as a community on a mission. They were so intentional. They would move into dark neighborhoods and places - assess the spiritual state of those whom they met - and set goals with each individual for how they could reach out / allow them to see their community of faith in action. But it was not a Church plant - it was just believers in groups of 5-10 being intentional to demonstrate Christ together to the same group of people.

When I talked about the Christian bubble expanding that is the image I had in mind - though my phrasing left much to be desired :slight_smile:

Thanks again for the encouragement - I am sure many others will be spurred on by your example of faith in action - to step out on the waves and spread the love of Jesus! The Spirit of Christ be with you.

(Helen Tan) #12

I’m benefitting from the great thoughts so far. Just wanted to add that one practical way that I see is through food. Most people in my world find it hard to turn down an offer for a friendly meal where friendships are easily formed (especially when the food is good :)) and conversations flow easily and can be directed towards evangelism.

(SeanO) #13

@Helen_Tan Speaking of food, we should have an RZIM Connect potluck :slight_smile: In all seriousness though, with the disappearance of spaces in the public square for serious discussion on these topics in the West and the rise of PC offense phobia, the meal table, like the camp fire of old, does provide an open atmosphere for sharing stories and life that can nourish both body and soul. Good point!

(Helen Tan) #14

I think tasty food unites! And they are likely to listen politely if they want to be invited back :))

(Carson Weitnauer) #15

Hi @SarahMalcangi,

I wanted to agree :100: with this comment:

It has helped me ask questions about life to that unbeliever. I have found a lot more common ground that way.

People are interested in talking about themselves. :slight_smile: Asking about their life with genuine interest in who they are, how God made them, how they see the world is quite interesting. If it is an interrogation or an “evangelism tactic” than it fails to be authentic and conversational; it backfires and reduces trust. But if we sincerely care, then it opens up new discussions.

What I find is that being open to people as they are, without trying to rush to a gospel presentation, builds trust. Just as I would not want someone to ask me a handful of questions about my life, then tell me about how I need to embrace Buddhist meditation, we extend the same respect to others.

The Everyday Questions curriculum that we offer at RZIM offers extensive training in this approach. I think we need to unlearn a lot of the ways we’ve been asked to approach people as targets and utilize scripts. A basic decency and kindness goes a long way!

(SeanO) #16

Just wanted to share these videos as a further example of how we never know how God is already at work in someone’s life and how boldly befriending them can make a difference - as pointed out by @Olivia_Davis.

I’ve always enjoyed these retellings of Lewis’ conversion - hope you enjoy as well if you have not already seen.

Please share if these videos spur any thoughts as to how we can spark evangelistic conversations!

(Olivia Davis) #17

Thanks so much for sharing these!! I love the example of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien as being people who God connected through their common interests!