What kind of people do we need to be to discuss Jesus with our friends?

Hi @Interested_in_Evangelism,

What do you think is most important to be a good evangelist?

There are lots of answers to this question. What I find fascinating is how non-Christians (in the United States) would answer this question. I think it brings humility and kindness to the forefront to ask them their preferences.

Consider this infographic from The Barna Group:

Overall, there’s a sizable gap between what non-Christians are looking for and what they are experiencing with their Christian friends.

Some of the habits we need to develop:

  • Listen to our friends without judgment
  • Allow our friends to draw their own conclusions
  • Don’t force our own conclusions on them
  • Demonstrate interest in their story and life
  • Be good at asking questions

What are some practical ways we could implement these recommendations? What difference do you think it might make?

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This is very helpful to me right now @CarsonWeitnauer looking at what the church is going through in my community now.

Ways to practically apply these may include

  1. learn to wait until the questioner completes his thoughts and expression before commenting.
  2. Present logical argument centering on its positive implications then give room for them to judge the issue.
  3. Be open to hearing their story, ask them a simple but practical question to help the dialogue
  4. Share your own personal stories or experiences with them. We got to have one at least!

The difference it will make is that they will get to trust us when they know that we were once in their shoes, not presenting ourselves as perfect individuals but pointing them to the Grace in Christ Jesus the only pure and perfect one.

Blessings

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I have been in a lot of debates with both Christians and Atheists alike. One thing that I realized as a result of all those talks is that it involves a lot of responsibility on my side of it. I am the only one who can control whether I get angry or impatient, or whether I start allowing my views to become a platform from which I judge those that I am speaking with, something that we must be extremely cautious not to do. Especially in talks with those who are not Christians I have learned that I am not there, typically, to tell them that I believe that they are wrong. I am there to listen to what they have to say and to have the love and respect for them to let them speak what is on their minds and hearts. Even just being patient enough to not interrupt someone, no matter how much you may disagree with them, is sometimes such a powerful witness that we can not even imagine it.

I remember one such discussion that I was having with a group of mixed believers and non-believers, mostly non-believers, and the conversation took its course but the one thing that I remember so vividly from that talk is what was said at the end. One of the people in the group, who was a non-believer, said that he may not agree with all that I had said, but the patience I had demonstrated and my not getting frustrated or heated in my speaking, had made an impression on him. I do not say that to demonstrate how great I am at talking to people, I was and am still very much an amateur when it comes to such things. But I believe that what he said was meant especially for me, it led me to a revelation that I have always kept in my heart. I am not here to change hearts, I am here to plant seeds, it is God who changes hearts and causes people to grow to see Him.

In 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 Paul tells us this, " What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building."

Yes, we need to be patient and loving, we need to be good listeners, we need to demonstrate God’s love in what we say and what we do. However, one of the biggest things that I believe we need to do is step back and take a breath before we speak with anyone, we need to pray for the strength to realize that we are not there to convert someone. While I will be beside myself with excitement if anyone ever stops me during a talk to ask me to pray with them for salvation, I realize that it all starts with demonstrating the changed heart and mind that we are told to embrace. I am there to plant a seed, it may be up to someone else to water it, but it is most certainly up to God to give the growth.

I think that many churches get so locked in on thinking that they have to go out and change people. The fact of it is, we control the change of one person alone, ourselves. Then we become caretakers of the field. We must go out and prepare the ground, we must plant the seed, and water it for growth, but then we must step back and let the master of the field do His work to cause those seeds to grow. Trying to force people into belief will never work. It will only drive them further from ever believing. But if we trust in the Lord and use the gifts that He has given us to reach out and listen to those around us, we will plant many seeds that He can grow in their hearts.

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The three top qualities listed, listens without judgement, does not force a conclusion, allows others to draw their own conclusions reminds me of the way Jesus often spoke to people. They also reflect a certain amount of respect for the person that is unusual and makes a big impression. This sort of respect coupled with real love for the person we are talking to makes a person feel more comfortable about opening up often times. As @mmingus36 indicated, we need to first work on ourselves, our hearts, to allow ourselves to genuinely exhibit these qualities as they do not come naturally to most people. When we desire most to look to God and learn from his Spirit then we are able to better love others this way. And it is when the love of Christ shows in our actions and attitudes towards others that we are better able to implement those good habits.

The difference I think it makes? People enjoy talking to those who are interested in them and allow them to talk without being judged, and you will gain their respect and cause them to be open to conversations with you.

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Good Listeners. Listening and hearing. Listening and caring. Listening and praying. Listening and thinking. Listening and sharing.
All listening puts the other person first.
Their words matter.
When the other person has finished speaking and asks for your response, then trust the Holy Spirit to guide you in your response.
I need His help with this everyday!
Thank God for the Grace He bestows on each and everyone of us.
Kingdom building is at work when we listen to those we are trying to reach and then sharing our conviction in the Good News of Jesus Christ.
God is Good to All.
Fred Proch

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