- Someone knocks on your door. They are dressed immaculately, carry a Bible, and have pamphlets in tow. They smile big, and never go away.
- Two people sitting down with open Bibles. One is going through a scripted witness story and a list of selected Bible verses, all with the goal of getting the other to pray the “Sinners Prayer.”
Talking about faith does not have to look like that. Talking about faith is most effective when it is done naturally. It should be arise from authentic relationship and sincere care. Evangelism is not about meeting quotas, filling churches, or meeting budgets.
It is about sharing with someone the good news of Christ in your life. You don’t have to be pushy to talk about your faith, but as a Christian, it is imperative that you do it. The most effective way the Good News can be spread is by regular people talk to others. If you’re not talking about your faith with others, then I’m not sure you have it. Jesus told us very clearly to go into the world and make disciples, and it is clear that not enough of us are doing that.
Part of the problem is those first two images I described. In both, the problem is that they are too goal-oriented. They borrow from hard sales techniques and come off as pushy and manipulative. No one likes a door-to-door salesman. No one likes getting unsolicited phone calls, and no one likes being steered into submission by a slick presentation and well-crafted script.
Yet both of those techniques have some merit. It is important to be willing to step out from time to time and take a risk. Someone going door-to-door has submitted themselves to a grueling day of rejection. Yet they do so in the name of Christ and are strengthened. We can learn a lesson from that. Talking about faith does not always bear obvious and immediate fruit. The only way you can be in relationship with someone is if you risk being rejected.
It is also important to know your story. Every Christian should be able to articulate why they believe what they believe. You should be able to have a coherent answer for the question, “Why are you are you a Christian?” Again, if you can’t answer that question, then I’m not sure you are.
Christians should also know that the understanding of salvation lies in Scripture. It is not about picking out a few passages to lead you on some road to heaven. It is about understanding the narrative of redemption, forgiveness, healing, community, and service. The Bible gives us a foundation on which to stand, and a narrative in which to live, not a strict and narrow path to follow.
So take the best of these two approaches: boldness and preparedness, and apply it to more authentic situations:
You are talking to a co-worker, and they express sorrow over a death, or tell you that they are struggling with a spouse, sickness, friend, etc. You hear their story, and in the midst of a relationship of trust and friendship you add, “I’ll pray for you.” Suddenly you have introduced God into the conversation. The conversation might end there, but it is unlikely that the person will be offended or feel manipulated. The conversation might also take off from there, and the Holy Spirit may lead it in new, miraculous, life-giving, and life-transforming directions.
Or how about this, someone at work asks you what you did this weekend, and you say, “I went to church and the pastor gave a really interesting sermon,” or “I went and helped at a free car wash to help end malaria.” Those things might spark a longer conversation about mission, worship, and service.
It doesn’t take a Bible, a script and a pamphlet. It takes an open heart, an open mind, and an invitation to an open door.