Ministry Musings: Making Christ Known (1)

Most people hear the word “evangelism,” and their blood runs cold.  We associate witnessing with speaking in public for the first time before a crowd of thousands. “No thank you.”

But….it doesn’t have to be that way.  There is a very natural and conversational way to make Christ known.  E. Stanley Jones helped me see it, and I have come to call it “conversational evangelism.”  Here is a brief overview….

(1) You alone can sense when someone is ready for this.  It might be during a conversation about life-related things, or perhaps when someone you know is going through a hard time. Never force it.  God works with people naturally.

(2) You simply ask, “Would you consider allowing Christ to help you with this?”  If the person  says, “No,” ask “Why not?”  This will probably take you to some perception about Christians (hypocrites) or the church (only after your money), or maybe a negative view of religion itself.  It doesn’t matter.  Just respond, “I’m not asking you to turn there; I’m asking if you’d be interested in having Christ help you.  There’s a difference.”

(3) If the person is open, continue by asking, “What do you already know about him?”  Likely, it will be something like his wisdom or his love—the fact that he was a great teacher.  You can then ask, “Wouldn’t you agree that this makes him worth paying attention to?”  Often, the person will say, “Yes”—that it makes sense to pay attention to someone you respect or admire.

(4) At that point, you can ask, “Would you like me to help you learn more about him?”  If the person is a friend or acquaintance, he or she will probably take you up on the invitation.  If it happens to be a stranger God has brought you in contact with, there are ways you can promise to stay in touch (e.g. email or phone).

That’s it.   No evangelistic program—no steps to memorize and follow.  Just talking to a person you sense is open to receiving insight or help about something.  Jesus is quite willing to start where the person is and be his/her “helper.”  In fact, that’s one of the main definitions of the Holy Spirit.

It would be good for you to have some things which you can share with the person.  I’d suggest E. Stanley Jones’ book, Victorious Living.  It’s just been reprinted, so it will be around for a while.  It’s a “friendly read” that lovingly moves a person along in his/her consideration of Christ.  You can get it via Amazon.

So….relax and stay receptive to the natural openings God gives you.  Remember, being an “evangelist” is not always bringing a person to salvation.  It’s just about being available to God to share good news with a person who needs it.  It can begin by simply asking, “Would you be open to allowing Christ to help you with this?

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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