10 Un-Awkward Ways to Evangelize
I once met a 20something guy who shared his experiences evangelizing to the people sitting next to him on every flight he took around the country. He was pretty well-traveled, so he reached quite a few people this way – people that he might otherwise have never met. I was instantly envious of the confident, care-free yet intentional way he approached evangelism.
As my charming friend made a life-changing, eternal impact, I put my hoodie on, earbuds in, and shut my eyes – tuning out everyone and everything. Flying is not my favorite. Even if my fellow passengers desperately wanted to know Christ, they likely couldn’t even get my attention with a jackhammer drill or a pie in the face. I wanted to avoid awkward, superficial conversations and get from point A to point B as quickly and efficiently as possible. But in the process, was I neglecting my God-given mission?
Reflecting on my hesitancy for sky borne evangelism, I think my main roadblock is my desire to not be pushy or awkward. “To each his own” or better yet “You do you” has become our society’s mantra, and as a Millennial, I go with the flow.
And perhaps, in my case, a plane is not the best scene for evangelism. Even so, as challenging as it is, evangelism facilitates spiritual growth. Not to mention the eternal impact of saved souls. So how can it flow more naturally and not feel so forced and awkward? Here are 10 approaches to organic evangelism.
Prayerfully approach evangelism
Faith is 3-D. It is upward (you and God), inward (you and the Holy Spirit), and outward (you and others). The most effective evangelists are not necessarily the most charming. They may even be soft-spoken, yet they are filled with the wisdom that only comes from 3-D faith. Before they go outward and attempt to reach others, they have a strong connection upward and inward. Prayer is absolutely essential to organic evangelism. Pray for boldness, strength, opportunities, and the words to share God’s love.
Recognize that it’s not all on you
No matter the situation, if you approach it thinking that success or failure depends on you and you alone, you add so much unnecessary pressure to an already stressful situation. Nowhere is this truer than with evangelism. In reality, when you believe in the transformative power of God’s love and His desire to have a relationship with His children, it makes sense that God has a vested interest in your evangelistic endeavors. Whether you plant a seed or harvest the fruit, it is ultimately God working through you. And remember that in your weakness, He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-11). That should take some of the pressure off!
Imagine if you went to the doctor’s office with a list of questions and concerns, but rather than listening to you, the doctor launched into a discussion of malaria in Africa, prescribed some medication for you, and sent you on your way. It sounds silly, but all too many people approach evangelism in this way – talking first instead of listening. But you won’t know how God is already at work in an individual’s life without taking the time to listen. Remember, God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason! When evangelizing, listen twice as much as you speak.
Make it a conversation
Each time you evangelize, it should look different. Why? Because each person has unique needs and is at a specific point in the journey of faith. It is not necessary to have a one-sided speech prepared. Instead, engage the individual in a conversation. Remember that evangelizing is not the same as giving a testimony of faith. As with every conversation, there is a give and take and a back and forth.
Know your story
Identify the highlights of your own faith journey and how God has worked in your life. Try to keep it under 5 minutes, leaving out unnecessary detail. This short testimony may be invaluable when someone asks you why you believe. But be sure to ask about their story before launching into yours.
Keep in mind that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). While each person may struggle with a unique set of temptations, nobody is immune to sin or its devastating effects. So leave the judgment at home. It won’t serve you well as you evangelize. Pray for a humble heart, recognize your own weaknesses, and try to see others through God’s compassionate eyes.
Admit that you don’t know
A common downfall is the unwillingness to admit that you don’t know. Most people can see right through uncertainty and would much prefer if you tell the truth. In reality, faith is a complex topic, and it is not a sign of spiritual immaturity to take a step back and do a little research before answering. Others will appreciate your humility and willingness to learn and grow.
Stay away from cheap grace
In 1937, German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer coined the term “cheap grace” to refer to the message of forgiveness without repentance. Today, there are mega-events with new baptisms by the thousands as people hear the transformational message of forgiveness. But few people are there to disciple these new Christians beyond baptism. Remember that the ultimate goal is not simply a confession of faith or baptism. Evangelism is a long-term commitment to walk beside someone in faith, helping to navigate sin and repentance.
Meet people where they are
While it is crucial to have a strong Christian community, be sure that you spend time with non-Christians in their element as well. Whether it is a coffee shop, gym, or bar, meet them where they are – not where you want them to be. To evangelize effectively, the apostle Paul became like a Jew to win Jews and like a criminal to win criminals (1 Corinthians 9:20-22). Pray for strength as you reach out to others wherever they may be.
If necessary… use words
And last but not least, we have Saint Francis of Assisi’s wise advice: “Preach the gospel. If necessary, use words.” His point? Live your life in such a way that people notice God’s love radiating from you. It’s easier said than done, and that’s exactly Saint Francis’s point.