It is the single most dreaded moment in all of evangelism. The ice breaker. You’ve got something which you know needs to be heard, and in fact, must be told. Getting from deliberation to delivery causes some to fear, some to be anxious, and in others, genuine panic. Many methods have sprung up to segway from a secular conversation to a spiritual one. I’m not saying they’re all wrong, but many of them smack of “bait and switch,” and start off a Kingdom conversation with an earthly crowbar.
Sure, there are those who would propose that we must make friends first, or develop a relationship with those whom we want to transmit the gospel message, but this, in reality is only one possible way of many. The obstacles to evangelism and discipleship in most of our everyday lives are numerous. Evangelism requires proximity and opportunity. For most of us, proximity is minimized, and opportunities are few. This is not an excuse, just a statement of reality. Evangelism requires blazing a trail. Granted, the Spirit often goes before us, but sometimes we are the ones the Spirit uses to go before others.
Evangelism that is more focused on transmitting the gospel in a transforming way, and less concerned with the “winning of a soul,” a better representation of a holistic & biblical approach. Five-minute methodologies are often broken at the initiation point. They are flawed at conception. Granted, we all stumble and fumble about trying to get to where we want to be evangelistically speaking. Of course it’s easier when there is an existing relationship or when there is some “history” exists between persons, but this can also serve as an impediment.
When Jesus sent out the 70 two by two in Luke 10, it’s highly unlikely that the people being evangelized were already known to them. Jesus knew well that transitioning from greetings to preaching the gospel of the Kingdom was and could be awkward. He said to “speak peace” over the house. It was a cultural greeting that precipitated certain responses. If the greeting was received and offered back, then Jesus told them to stay in the house and continue there until their welcome was worn out, so to speak.
We’re dealing with two aspects of evangelism here:
1. Bringing the gospel to those who are known among us.
2. Bringing the Gospel to where it’s not known.
It is my contention that both are always in play. There is an intentional going out, and an intentional working within in. No, we are not all evangelists. But none of us are exempt from preaching to gospel to all of creation. (Mark 16:15) None of us are exempt from making disciples of all nations. (Matthew 28:18,19,20) It always comes back to that first awkward moment. Being salt and light in our current circumstances, being of good reputation (Acts 6:1-6), and being a witness (Acts 1:8) can all be done without going to a place different from where we are.
As to the second, bringing the gospel to where it’s not known, it’s never quite that natural. We are compelled to go to strange places where we are not known and initiate a process of injecting the gospel. Injections are seldom, if ever, pleasant. Some would refer to this as “forcing” the gospel, or foisting it upon people. But, like the 70, they weren’t invited either. We have spoken peace over households, met physical needs, played games, and more, but the most common introduction, and the most effective for us, is simply saying “We come with a message from God. Do you want to hear it?” That’s it! It sounds crazy, but the results have been astounding.
How do you get past, get through, and get to the gospel in that awkward moment?