What is the most effective way to (within just a couple of minutes) engage strangers in gospel conversations while handing out meals?
@Kely It is great that you have the opportunity to hand out meals. I think a lot depends on the context in which you are handing out the meals. Are you going door to door? Are you serving food at a homeless shelter? Are the people you are serving strangers or do you see them on a weekly basis? Are you serving with an explicitly Christian organization or a secular charity? Is there a mature Christian who has been serving in this ministry for some time who could give you advice?
There is probably not a one size fits all method - each person and situation is different. Our job is to love them and to ask good questions so that we can understand enough about their story / build enough trust so that we can create a bridge from them to us for both the love and knowledge of God. The leading of God’s Spirit and wisdom from experience both play huge roles.
Everyone connects with food (or has once had that connection). Handing out meals to a stranger with the presumption that he, once he sees that meal, would be connected to it can open the way for the gospel. You could say something like, boy, you know, Jesus used bread to describe his broken body and wine to describe his new covenant. That could start a serious convo especially when the person doesn’t know who Jesus is.
Thank you so much for the quick and thorough response! I am just learning how to engage others in these kinds of conversations so I will keep your suggestions on hand!
@Kely I am glad you found it helpful. I was actually hoping you would answer some of the questions about your audience so that I could offer better insights
I think sharing the Gospel in an appropriate manner requires attempting to identify a few things:
- how much the person already knows / what they already believe
- what is a good next step for them in their faith journey?
For example, consider a few different types of people:
- someone who has never heard a clear Gospel presentation
- someone who grew up in Church but has suffered a great deal of pain and disappointment that has led them to give up on God
- someone who is hostile to Christianity even though they know the Bible well
How you approach the person will be different depending on where they are at - Jesus always shared Himself with different types of people differently. The woman at the well and Nicodemus received very different exhortations and council from the Lord.
A few things that I think would be helpful to prepare you to share your faith are:
- write out your faith story and practice sharing how Jesus has touched you - have a 2 minute version, 5 minute version and 10 minute version
- do the same thing with the Gospel - practice telling the story of creation, fall, redemption and new creation in a short span of time
- think about Biblical stories that could really hold peoples’ attention and make them thirsty for Jesus - practice sharing them in a way that invites further conversation
- be bold! share your faith and learn as you go
Here are a few resources that may be helpful. Pippert’s book has a lot of examples of how she ended up sharing Jesus through her relationships. Francis Chan’s Gospel presentation is a good example of how he chose to share the Gospel in a way that invites the listener to engage Jesus.
Do you have any additional thoughts? These are just my suggestions - what is your own experience in sharing your faith? I am sure we could learn from you as well.
What a great question and conversation starter, @Kely!!! I’m sorry that I didn’t see this question prior to what I’d assume was your opportunity to share food and the gospel. Thankfully, @SeanO and @Rex_krampa were able to give great insight and tools to use.
Living in New York City – where homelessness and hunger are a daily sight AND are juxtaposed against the fast-paced, bustling that is the mighty metropolis – the very real opportunity and need to share the gospel in a few moments is explicit. Typically, one of the primary methods (if not THE method) I use is by taking advantage of the audience and time I’m permitted as an almsgiver in that scenario as an opportunity to deliver the Gospel messsge. Let me explain:
So, on the subway or walking down the street in my city, I see or am approached by people asking for handouts of either money or food or both. The reality is that many people ignore them or have grown so used to the sight of people panhandling that many times they’re overlooked. I’m sure I have, to my regret. It’s a reality of big city life and how seeing/hearing people asking for money becomes normative and it potentially numbs you, sometimes, to the real needs and desperation of people, unfortunately. So,
in those instances when I do stop to engage AND actually give money and/or food…I’ve now won myself an instant audience! Once they see that I’ve agreed to give them something, they’re not going anywhere until they get what I’ve stopped to give. So as I’m getting the money or taking them to get some food or something at the nearest fast food place, corner store, food truck, etc. I introduce myself and ask their name and then proceed to explain to them why I’m doing what I’m doing for them. I explain (lovingly and graciously, of course) that I’m giving them this money or buying them this food NOT because I’m a good person or because they’re even a good person. In fact, I tell them that there’s nothing that they’ve done to deserve this gift of food or money. More times than not, they absolutely agree and affirm all that I’ve said thus far. I then go on to explain that God, also, did something for me that I could never earn and absolutely do not deserve — and that is offering and delivering salvation through Himself via the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for my sin. I tell them that He did this for me because He loves me and because I love Him, I’m doing this act of love for them. I tell them that God loves them and that Jesus accomplished the same thing for them: gave them something that they don’t deserve (redemption, deliverance, salvation, etc) and they only need accept their need and receive His gift.
Now, the reality is that in response to all of this, I’ve never had someone fall to their knees on the sidewalk or in the subway/metro car, hands raised in surrender & repentance and call out to Jesus right then and there. Most times they’re either silently looking at this unassuming guy (me) surprisingly and uncharacteristically talking about God’s love and Jesus’ provision to them…OR they’re just appreciative of the fact that I stopped, talked and gave them something that addressed their immediate need (food, money, etc). I’m honestly not necessarily looking for the “decision” at that moment. Rather I’m looking to faithfully communicate a message of the Gospel while introducing them, at least partly, to the Person of Jesus Christ. Just "one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread.” -D.T. Niles
That’s essentially my Gospel presentation in about 2-3 minutes or less. Practical and pertinent. Oh and by the way, John 3:16 is a good, quick gospel communicator, too!
Hope that adds something. Grace and peace!