For many people, the most difficult part of sharing the gospel with someone is starting a conversation. If you are a Christian, you probably know enough about the gospel to lead someone to Christ. Therefore, the problem is not that the gospel is hard to explain, but the problem of starting a conversation that gives most Christians trouble. Let’s go back to the basics and make evangelism easy. Basically, an evangelistic conversation is made up of 5 steps.
- Positive Contact
- Mutual Interest
- The Shift
- Gospel Presentation
- Questions and Answers
Let’s explore them:
Step 1: Positive Contact
A warm connection is as easy as committing a simple act of friendliness. How is your day going? Has the store been busy today? Do you have any weekend plans? These are simple examples of how you can begin opening the way for the gospel.
A good first impression will accomplish a number of things in preparation for a gospel witness. It can grab the person’s attention. Your hearers may quickly recognize the difference between someone who is indifferent and someone who is generous and outgoing. Your attitude toward people will leave a lasting impression which may be the encouragement they need to consider what you say about Jesus.
Remember: Evangelism is a joyful privilege given to us by God Himself, and we can approach it with sincere joy.
Step 2: Mutual Interest
After making a positive contact, the second stage in an evangelistic conversation is finding mutual interest. You may not realise it, but all people have things in common with each other. We all have a hometown, a daily routine, and family or friends. In an evangelistic conversation, this is important as you prepare for the 3rd step, The Shift. This can be done simply by asking the other person a question or two about himself. These questions should be simple and down-to-earth. Showing genuine interest in the life of another person is a great way to reveal the love of Christ. And recognizing your mutual interests is necessary to build a healthy relationship through which you may share the gospel.
Remember: We should make it the goal of our lives to share the gospel with everyone as soon as possible. You never know when an evangelistic opportunity is a person’s last opportunity to hear the gospel.
Step 3: The Spiritual Shift
In every witnessing encounter, there comes a time when friendliness becomes evangelism. This happens when you shift from the natural to the spiritual. The “natural” consists of common ground conversation topics we discussed earlier. The “spiritual” consists of spiritual conversation topics that lead to the gospel. In order for a conversation to be evangelistic, you must learn to shift from the natural to the spiritual.
If someone is wearing a cross, you have an excellent opportunity to begin talking about spiritual things. You could draw attention to the cross, ask what it means to the person, and then explain what it means to you. Another opportunity to shift a conversation toward the gospel is by discussing current events. For instance, you might shift the conversation from a discussion about a war to a discussion about what happens when someone dies fighting for his country. What awaits a soldier after death? As you can see, the logical conclusion is a discussion about eternity.
Another way to shift a conversation from the natural to the spiritual is by asking someone a simple spiritual question. A great question to ask is “Do you belong to a local church? I love my church.” Most people, even if they don’t attend, have a sneaking suspicion that they should be involved in a local church. Asking this question will usually open the door to ask another spiritual question like, “what kind of spiritual beliefs do you have? What do you think awaits us after death? What is required to know God? What do you believe about God?
Remember: All lost people care about eternity at some level and, although you might experience awkwardness, people will appreciate the fact that you are willing to be honest and open about spiritual things.
Step 4: A Gospel Presentation
The gospel message can be broken into four parts; God’s Purpose, Man’s Problem, God’s Solution, Man’s Response. Since before time, God’s desire has been to gather for Himself a people for His own possession. Being a compassionate and personal God, He hardwired us to live in joyful fellowship with Him. Man’s problem is Adam and Eve chose to rebel against God by willfully breaking His commands. This rebellion, known as sin, has been passed down to all people, leaving us at odds with our just Creator. As a result, each person is in danger of being punished for his sin. Knowing that we are incapable of finding our way back, God decided to provide a solution to our terrible predicament. In the greatest act of love ever shown, the God of this universe sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to live a perfect life, die a costly death, and miraculously rise from the dead. All of this was done to accomplish what no man or woman could accomplish. To this day, God is offering to the world the free gift of eternal life. This gift is received by those who respond to God’s offer by placing their faith in Jesus Christ alone. Through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, peace with God can be found. After someone comes to Christ, his life begins to change as he is conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.
Remember: The gospel is a very simple message of good news. While the depth of God’s goodness will never be fully plumbed, the message of salvation in Christ is not difficult to understand or share.
Step 5: Questions and Answers
As you clearly share the gospel with others they will usually respond with questions about the Bible, the world, and salvation. Throughout God’s word, we are encouraged to be ready for these questions. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” Trying to answer these questions may seem a daunting task but just be honest. Always present the answers as ‘My understanding through scripture is…’ and remember that if you don’t know how to respond to a question, the best answer is, “I don’t know, but I can try to find an answer.”
Remember: Lost people will appreciate your honesty when you admit that you do not have all the answers… and even that in itself may cause them to explore scripture for themselves or allow you to invite them to explore it together!