Recently, our next door neighbors of two years relocated to another country, leaving their residence empty.
While their landlord was busy making small repairs to rent the place again, our family began to pray that the Lord would send us new neighbors who need the Lord.
Our neighbors are moving in this week.
We’ve not met them yet, and I won’t share details here (to keep it generic).
We are praying along these lines:
- That we’d find common ground with our new neighbors
- That we’d build a genuine and authentic relationship.
- That we’d be part of God’s work in bringing them to Christ.
- That if they don’t have a church, that they would become part of ours.
- That we’d get to invite them to our church.
- That God would draw them to Jesus if that hasn’t happened yet.
Give them a litmus test
We don’t yet know their names, life condition, or anything about them.
They are coming, and we’ve been praying.
I shared that fact in my twitter feed (@EvangelismCoach) which earned this interesting reply:
(Twitter feeds are public, so no need to edit for anonymity).
If you are not familiar with the good person test, it’s a gospel script that utilizes the 10 commandments to diagnose sin, and is a popular witnessing tool for contact evangelism.
By following the script, the evangelist leads a person to the conclusion that they are on their way to hell.
I can imagine the following conversation, script edited for brevity (and a little sarcasm):
Hi I’m Chris, welcome to our neighborhood.
Do you know you sinned? Here is a sin test. . . . gotcha. You fail . . . . you are destined to hell.
Want to have a BBQ with us while our kids play together at the pool?
What is your name?
A question of evangelistic timing
Let me be clear: I believe and share the gospel.
My ministry is dedicated to help people share the gospel with their friends and with strangers.
I even encourage people to memorize a gospel script so that you can share the gospel when it’s time.
I even think the Good Person Test can be a useful discussion tool at the right time and in the right context.
This, however, is not the right time for a spiritual litmus test. Is first meeting the right place to put out this test?
This forward approach with a new neighbor strikes me as very rude.
- Before I even know their names
- Before I even know if they are a Christian
- Before I know anything about our neighbors
- Before I even know where they are in their relationship with God (distant, seeking, hostile, close, follower).
- Before I earn the right to be heard by helping them move in, introducing them to others, serving them in various ways.
They are human beings, not evangelistic projects.
They are my neighbors. They will be my neighbors for at least a year or more, Lord willing, where we can be people of influence for Christ.
They are our neighbors that God calls us
- to love,
- to serve
- to encourage and
- to share the gospel if they are not followers of Christ.
As we experience life together with our neighbors, there will be a time for gospel sharing. But the first welcome is not the time nor place.
When is the right time?
In the next post, I’ll deal with one of the top questions I get in personal evangelism.
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