Does that make me a Christian?

Great Evangelistic Starter QuestionsMy wife relates the following story, I’ve intentionally left the details vague.

She’s providing English tutoring a woman from an Asian Country.

This woman is married to a diplomat who works for their nation’s embassy.

This woman comes from a Buddist background, but doesn’t practice any of her religion of her youth.

While tutoring, the conversation turns to occupation.  What do we do for a living?

The conversation naturally drifts towards comparing religions and worldviews.

The question that drew our attention is when this woman makes the comment:

“I seem to be thinking more like a Christian. . . does that make me a Christian?”

The inquisitive nature of the question was a wide open door to talk about how does one become a Christian.

My wife was able to start the conversation on this topic, but the appointed hour had finished and her student had to leave to make another appointment.

Due to the circumstances, my wife didn’t get to finish a full gospel explanation, nor continue the conversation at a later time.  The embassy returned this family to their country of origin.

We have to leave this up to the sovereignty of God that other Christian believers will cross her path and continue the conversation from where we had to leave it.

Cooperating with the Holy Spirit.

This was a conversation where the Holy Spirit had been preparing the way.  Elements in this woman’s life had lined up to meet with my wife and get some clarity on the meaning of being a follower of Christ.

The conversation was natural, during the ordinary course of life.  It wasn’t scripted, nor manipulated, but a evangelism conversation as natural as breathing.

We believe that the Holy Spirit had prepared the way, and this conversation with my wife was yet another piece in the big picture that God is painting in the life of the embassy wife.

While a sense of urgency was felt to share the good news of Jesus and what it means to be a Christian, my wife also felt like the embassy official’s wife was not fully ready to make a decision.  There was missing a lack of the Spirit’s convicting of sin.  To force the matter would have been inappropriate.

To not engage in the conversation about “does that make me a christian?” would have also been inappropriate.

The Lord had orchestrated that my wife and the embassy official’s wife got to speak of this issue and for my wife to bring clarity to the official’s wife thinking process.

My wife was but one link in the chain that God is building to draw this woman to Jesus.

Debriefing the Conversation

She and I had a chance to debrief the conversation and think about different ways to answer the question or ask questions to open the conversation further.

Some questions I like to ask are:

  1. “How did God point out that person to you?”
  2. “Where did you notice God was already at work?”
  3. “What was their spiritual thirst?”
  4. “What would you do differently?”
  5. “What did you share about Christ?”

Coaching Corner

Think about the last evangelistic conversation you had.

What would you do differently if you could do it over again?

The Philip Experiment – Mt Vernon Dunamis

Friday afternoon during the Mt. Vernon Evangelism Dunamis, we had a lab time or a live practicum, based on the Philip and Ethiopian Eunuch story.

We gathered as a group, prayed, and then dismissed to visit various places in Mount Vernon as we felt led or guessed at a leading.

The goal was to have a spiritual conversation with whomever the Lord pointed out to you (a la “Go stand next to THAT chariot”). 

If such a conversation was to be had, it was to help the people you felt led to speak with make another step forward in their spiritual journey.   You might get to

  • plant a seed
  • water a seed
  • harvest a seed

It was perfectly fine if one didn’t feel a particular leading to go somewhere.  It could be simply free time, or remain at the church praying for those who did go out.

Where our little group traveled

During the prayer time I had a vision of a young woman, smoking a cigarette, reading a book, sitting on a chair at the loading dock in a particular commercial center / strip mall. 

The person driving also felt a leading to visit the local community college.

First, we visited the college campus and encountered the pastor for the Chi Alpha student ministry.  We prayed with him, the ministry’s worship team, and for his effectiveness as a campus pastor.  Three out of town pastors on the college campus, blessing a young student pastor.

Then we left and we visited the commercial shopping center where behold, I found the woman, smoking a cigarette, reading a book, sitting on a chair, as pictured. 

I described my vision and my reason for interrupting.  We told her we believed that God had sent us there to pray just for her.  We offered to pray for her and she allowed us to.  If she had said no, I would have respected that boundary.

We felt led to pray about God’s provision in her life and to remind her that God hears her prayer.  Whatever will come of that, who knows. 

Other stories

Many other groups returned with stories of the people they met, prayed with and for, and some had stories where nothing happened, which is fine during a clinical lab time like this.  

Some had deeply meaningful conversations, other simply experienced small talk.  Some encounters occurred on Indian Reservations, in Wal-Mart, or at the local gas station or thrift store. 

The idea is to see the people around you with the Father’s eyes. (See the video Waiting on the World to Change). 

To look for those people that God would underline to you. 

The idea is not to force a conversation, but to watch it unfold, naturally, as you trust the sovereignty of God to lead you to the right person while you are on your way.

Let me ask you this?

Have you tried an experiment like this?  Have you simply taken the time to pray and spend the afternoon looking for whom God might send across your path?  Tell us your stories in the comments below.

Reflections from Enfield CT

Fear Free Evangelism EnfieldI’ve just wrapped up an Evangelism Conference at Calvary Presbyterian Church, Enfield CT, on Listening Evangelism, Evangelism in the Power of the Holy Spirit.

What a great group of people!

Several churches, different denominations, gathering to learn about our approach to Evangelism.

Congregational, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Christian Missionary Alliance, were to name a few of the different streams in the body of Christ.

It was a privilege to have been invited to share on Evangelism.

Experience Personal Evangelism

The high point of the evangelism conference was the Lab Time, based on Phillip and the Ethiopian Eunuch.

This is a feature of our evangelism conferences, where we take one afternoon session, leave the church, and go to the town to do listening evangelism.

When we gather back together, we tell stories of God’s leading and the conversations that happened.

Several gave testimony of praying with people

  • in Wal-mart,
  • at their neighbor’s house, and
  • prayer walks in neighborhoods.

A few reported some deeply significant spiritual conversations with neighbors.

Evangelism Books Resources

For the folks coming to the website after the conference, here are some of the resources I promised to post:

Books:

Video:

Personal Evangelism Coaching Group

Yesterday, I met with fellow blogger Jimmy Kinnaird here in Atlanta to discuss personal evangelism.  We had a great meeting at Starbucks, and it was awesome putting a real face on a real person that I first met because of our blogging interest on personal evangelism.

An idea we kicked around is about an evangelism coaching group.

An Evangelism coaching group is a group that meets somewhat regularly, for people who are passionate and excited about evangelism.

The evangelism coaching group meeting has a simple structure to discuss questions of evangelism practice.  It’s meant to keep the personal evangelistic temperature high, and an evangelism accountability group to make sure we are doing personal evangelism.

Evangelism Discussion Questions:

  1. What has Jesus done with you or for you since we last met? (Noticing the current activity of God).
  2. With whom did you have a spiritual conversation this week?

The follow-up questions are all to debrief a spiritual conversation

  1. How did you notice that it was time to have a spiritual conversation?
  2. How did that spiritual conversation start?
  3. Where is that person’s spiritual thirst?
  4. What questions were raised?
  5. What questions did you ask?
  6. In hindsight, what would you have done differently in that spiritual conversation?
  7. What do you think is the persons next step spiritually?
  8. How can we pray for you in that endeavor?

By having an evangelism coaching group, we can continue to sharpen our skills in personal evangelism.

Is he a PC USA Pastor?

Branded like CattleIt’s always a privilege to do Evangelism Training Seminars in local churches over the course of a couple of days and to watch churches get excited about doing evangelism.

It’s our mission to help you find your evangelism passion and provide training to help you express your faith.

Today is Sunday and I sit in the Branson airport, with some downtime to reflect on this week’s Dunamis Project on Listening Evangelism.

I’ve been with some fine folk at 1st Presbyterian Branson doing the Evangelism Training Workshop on Listening Evangelism.

It covers so many of the topics we cover at EvangelismCoach.

I picked up some great ideas that will find their way into the next evangelism training seminar in Enfield CT this coming weekend.

Is he a PC USA Pastor?

I did the children’s sermon this morning, using illusions with cards to offer a gospel explanation.  After the worship service, the pastor was asked by some visitors if I was a PC USA pastor, with the emphasis placed on the right brand.

I don’t know why that was important to them, but pastor tells me they breathed a sigh of relief when he affirmed my credentialing in the PCUSA.

For this person, I carried the right brand, like a tagged head of cattle, or I was so unusual that I couldn’t have been a PCUSA pastor.

A divine appointment?

After church, we went to Cracker Barrel for lunch, and we asked the waitress, “We’re about to give thanks for our food in a few moments, is there anything we can pray for you about?”

Thinking of Phillip and the Ethiopian Eunuch, this was a moment where we felt God drew our attention to this waitress — “Offer to Pray with her.”

We took the step to obey the prompting of the Spirit and took the risk.

The reward was a deep conversation and a chance to minister to a woman in great need.  I can’t go into her whole story but suffice it to say that it was a divine appointment.

Let me ask you this:

Who can you pray for this week?