I’ve been accosted by “drive by” evangelism.
Situations where an evangelist interrupts my day, shoves something into my hand, and tries to convert me to their God.
Evangelism Drive by — Big-Lots
In the first case, we were late for an event, and rushing to get a birthday gift.
You know how it feels when you are running late and you still have stuff to do.
- Task oriented.
- Get it done.
- Quick decisions.
We’re gazing at the product rack, overwhelmed by the bad options to choose from (which doesn’t help the stress level), when two ladies approach and start making small talk about my kids.
Within 2 sentences they are telling us about their Prophet, and some mystical stuff that just didn’t make any sense.
We’re trying to shop.
They are interrupting our day.
Then my 3 year old announces that she has to use the bathroom.
The missionaries keep talking about the importance of following their leader. I’m thinking — my kid has to follow me to the bathroom.
Did we hear a thing they had to say?
Nope. I can’t even recall the actual conversation, just my foul mood at being held up by some poorly timed conversation.
(I’m not interested in Mormon theology, just showing an example at failed evangelism).
Evangelism Drive-by at Wal-Mart
It’s not an evangelism story, but some the same principle.
This time, I was at a liesurely pace, entering Wal-Mart, where i need a GPS to locate the advil. After I entered the store, looking around to get my bearings, a product pitcher stopped me with a spiel about banks closing, and it only costs two dollars.
I look at her with a deer in the headlights look — “what?”
Noticing my confusion, she continues to tout the benefits of this piece of paper that she’s put into my hands.
She might as well been speaking a foreign language. I’m not even sure what product she was picthing, or even if I had a need for it. She just assumed I needed her product.
Finally, I just said, I’m moving and don’t want it.
Two lessons we can learn from both cases.
1. The timing of both conversations was wrong.
In the first case, I wasn’t thinking about Mormon mysticism, and in the second, i had a headache and needed advil, now.
There is a time to talk about faith, and a time when its not helpful.
2. I didn’t understand the “language.”
In the first story, I didn’t follow what was being said because I didn’t understand either the religious terminology, or in Wal-Mart case, even the subject matter.
I’m a firm believer in sharing our Christian faith with the people we interact with, whether they be strangers or friends. I share my faith with strangers when it seems appropriate to do so.
This is where being sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit helps.
When prompted by the Holy Spirit, the door is already opened, so to speak.
The evangelistic timing is right.
The evangelistic conversation is much easier and appropriate. The deer in the headlight gaze doesn’t happen.
We do need to be aware of our language when we share. Does the person we talk with understand their need for a Savior? Or do we focus on the benefits without connecting them to a need? Do we speak in theological vocabulary, or simple ordinary language.
Let me ask you this?
Think when you last talked about your faith.
Did it go well, or was it a bomb out?
How would you do it differently in terms of timing or content?
Look at these questions for debriefing an evangelistic conversation
Photo Source: Allan Hawkins (I think).
My own Personal Evangelism Teaching on DVD
I have a DVD (or digital download) set that focuses on a conversational style evangelism that would be effective in:
- 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.