Obnoxious Habits in Personal Evangelism – The out of place transition

Yesterday, I enjoyed a personal day with my family and a few friends.

We checked out of life, drove to the beach, and stared at the ocean for hours, while our children dug the proverbial hole to China.

The conversation among the adults was awesome, as relationships were being strengthened as our families continued to learn about one another.

Confusion Road Sign

In those hours we talked about:

  • Electronics
  • Memories of similar beach trips
  • Vacation experiences
  • Words with Friends
  • Parenting
  • Plans for dinner
  • Our different work experiences.

Praying for an opening

I have been praying for our friends, asking the Lord to provide

I know that God’s sovereignty will provide the opportunity.

At one point in the discussion on parenting, my friend made a point about a particular aspect to parenting:

That is the most important thing in life.

In my mind, I quickly responded:

No, that’s not the most important thing, would you like me to tell you what is?

I’ve had a lot of training in sharing the gospel, and teach a lot of different methods as well.

Many methods teach to look for the conversational opportunity and steer the conversation to Christ.

But in this moment, I chose to remain silent and let it go.

The obnoxious transition

The conversational context would have been entirely inappropriate for this radical departure from the topic at hand.

I would have forced the person into my conversation, rather than continue on the theme we were addressing.

This is the obnoxious transition in evangelism.

It would have been an obnoxious left turn in a otherwise profound conversation on parenting.

In my early zeal, I used to seize any opportunity like this opening in the conversation.

The end result was people got defensive and closed that door.

My forced transitions were obnoxious.

Not a spiritually active moment

A key part of my evangelism teaching on conversation skills is watching for the activity of the Holy Spirit.

When the Holy Spirit opens the doors, transitions to spiritual things are appropriate.

When the Holy Spirit is at work in the conversational moment, a conversational transition is easy to make.

Conversational transitions at this point are not obnoxious.

This conversational moment at the beach was not one of those moments.

I didn’t sense any activity of God in this general life conversation.

Had I forced the conversation with my obnoxious left turn, I would have stepped into my agenda rather than God’s agenda.

Related Resource:

I have a DVD set that focuses on a conversational style evangelism that would help you with:

  • casual conversation between friends
  • causal conversation between strangers

Read more about the Effective Evangelism Conversations in the store.  It is a recording of a live seminar I gave in 2012 and is available on 3 DVDs.

30 Days of Prayer: Day 22 – Tell of His Love

This entry is part 20 of 23 in the series 30 Days of Prayer

Jesus died for me.My faith has found a resting place,
Not in device nor creed;
I trust the Ever-living One,
His wounds for me shall plead.

I need no other argument,
I need no other plea;
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me.
– Hymn, My Faith has found a resting place

 

My hope is in the Lord Who gave Himself for me,
And paid the price of all my sin at Calvary.
For me He died, For me He lives,

And everlasting life and light He freely gives

– Hymn, For me he died, for me he lives

God’s love has worked in your life

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8

Jesus died for you.

His death paid the price for the forgiveness of your sins.

His death and resurrection paved the way for you to enjoy fellowship with God forever.

You have been reconciled to the Father and you can now discover the outrageous  love of the Father for you.

It’s the greatest story every told.

But we fail to tell the story

We think we know the story.

But when we are put on the spot, in some random moment in a spiritual conversation, we grasp at fog.

We stumble for words.

We are not sure where to start.

We start off in one direction, and then change direction in the middle of a thought.

Most of us have fallen short in mastering being able to tell the greatest story ever told.

We might be good at telling stories of how the gospel intersected our life and how we converted to being a follower of Jesus.

But telling people the actual gospel leaves us speechless or disorganized.

Tell the story well

I once challenged a teen in my youth group to tell the gospel story to a friend.

She was nervous about it, but because we had reviewed it often in our youth group, she knew the major movements of the gospel story.

  • God loves us, but sin separates us from God
  • God’s love didn’t leave us without a solution.
  • God demonstrated his love in Christ’s death and resurrection.
  • That if we believe and confess, receive him, we become a follower of Christ.

As her gospel sharing conversation proceeded, even with conversational detours, she confidently moved through them and at the end, her friend simply said:

No one has ever shared it so clearly before.  Now I know what it means when they say “Christ died for me.”

Today’s prayer

I want to share Your story today.  I pray that You would open up a conversational door today with some person or one of my friends who would ask me about my faith in Jesus.

Fill me with a new and deeper appreciation of what Jesus has done in my life.

Grant me the skills to tell Your story without shivering in my boots.

Today’s Action

Find one of the gospel scripts and master it.

For a list of gospel scripts read this post.

I like

Appropriate Silence in Personal Witnessing

I’ve got a few friends who have always been hostile to talking about faith.

Their level of spiritual thirst has been low.  In fact, it’s downright hostile.

We remain friends, but talking about Jesus provokes emotional hostility or an evasive awkward silence.

Other times, they attempt to change the subject.

When I try to open up spiritual themes in a conversation,  or follow a possible avenue of spiritual thirst, the conversation is quickly moved on to another theme.

They are an unwilling conversational partner when it comes to faith.

D*** the torpedoes, full speed ahead

Some evangelism techniques encourage you to plow ahead, in spite of the resistance.

The urgency of sharing the gospel requires you to risk ruining the friendship so that you get the gospel to their ears.

It’s not your job to be polite, they say, but to deliver this message of salvation.

They could die of a heart attack in the next 4 minutes, so you need to be sure they hear the gospel and have a chance to respond.

Or, they say, it’s better to witness like this to a stranger on first contact, so there is no friendship to ruin.

You won’t see this person again soon, so share the gospel without regard to their reaction.

Give God the opportunity to work, they say.

They are not rejecting you, but the message.  God’s word will not return void, so plant the seed.

These are justifications some use to find comfort in the face of such unwanted evangelism conversations.

I have a problem with that

There may be times when personal witnessing in unwanted conversations is appropriate.  But many times, it is not.  It causes more harm than good.

The evangelist must know that he or she is riding a real leading of the Holy Spirit to confront sin or to keep pursuing a conversation when it is unwanted.

Peter didn’t step back in the face of unwanted conversations, and some of his sermons in Acts called hard hearted people to repentance.

The difference is in the working of the Holy Spirit.

Peter knew the Holy Spirit was at work, rapidly breaking the barriers.  He knew that the Holy Spirit was leading him to give such sermons.

But a lot of times, one might dangerously plow ahead in a conversation with an unwilling partner without that leading of the Spirit and cause more harm than good.

Save it for another day.

But Jesus did not answer. So the high priest said, With the living God looking on, you must tell the truth. Tell us, are you the Messiah, the Son of God?” (Matthew 26:63, CEV)

If there was ever a moment to witness, this was it.  Jesus had a a chance to speak directly to who He is.

This was a hostile conversation with Ciaphas.  Jesus knew that Ciaphas wasn’t interested in truth (v.59).

But knowing the heart, Jesus knew this was not the right time.

So he chose silence.

There may be times where you will drop the conversation.

It will not be the right time.

Even if your conversation partner is asking questions, you might discern that their questions are meant to be useless rabbit trails on pet peeves, or talking points that they want to make.

Now my friend is interested

In the last 14 days, there is a spiritual awakening happening in my friend.

Suddenly, there is a genuine openness to reading the Scripture, to prayer, to a relationship for Jesus.

God is working and now my friend’s spiritual thirst is obvious.

Because I’ve respected my friend’s boundaries in the past, because I’ve chosen silence at the other times, I have earned a right to be heard NOW.

I’m excited to see what God is doing in response to years of prayer.

Let me ask you this

Are there other times when silence is a better option?

(Image Credit: USNavy)

Top 10 Church Greeter Guidelines

A church greeter is one of the simplest yet most important positions in the church.

Your  goal is to

  • share a kind word,
  • open a door,
  • offer a handshake or
  • just lend a helping hand to people as they enter the church.

But to pull off an effective welcome consistently, you might want to develop some church greeter guidelines that you can communicate quickly with your team.

10 Rapid Church Greeter Guidelines

Here are 10 Church Greeter Guidelines to keep in mind.

Use these guidelines for your church greeters by copy and paste in an email, or use some of the social sharing features here to broadcast this list.

  1. Show up on time
  2. Always be positive.
  3. Prepare yourself spiritually.
  4. Be friendly to all who enter.
  5. Pray in advance for your ministry.
  6. Show honor and dignity to our visitors and guests.
  7. Pay attention to what needs your visitors and guests might have.
  8. Follow up after the worship service and say good bye with style.
  9. Prepare yourself physically: Good grooming, appropriate clothing, fresh breath.
  10. Notice for ministry opportunities to pray with your guests before they leave.

Remember, your goal is simple and direct: Make people feel welcome at your church!

Take these church greeter guidelines and share them.  Be sure to properly cite your source by a direct link to this article.

Do you lead your greeter ministry?

Chris Walker's Church Greeters 101 now available in printI’ve written a book for leaders of church greeter ministry.

Click on these links to read more (at Amazon).

You can get the 2 DVD Combo Set of Greeter Training DVDs from the store.

Also, see this tutorial on fixing your greeter ministry.

My Top 10 Tips for Personal Evangelism

Looking for practical evangelism tips?

Here is my list of top 10 tips for personal evangelism.

These are not exhaustive, and focus more on preparation skills in prayer and relationship building, rather than actual gospel sharing techniques or methodologies.

These are not in any particular order either. . .

  1. Choose a gospel script.
  2. Build genuine relationships
  3. Discover your story or testimony
  4. Find a way to be a blessing to others
  5. Listen for the nudge of the Holy Spirit
  6. Live Authentically in public and in private.
  7. Learn how to use questions in a conversation
  8. Regular prayer for those who don’t know Christ.
  9. Understand where you are in the process of evangelism.
  10. Practice the gospel script until you are comfortable with it.