I remember a model of evangelism that felt like a sales pitch.
I would attend a seminar and learn the newest script for evangelism. The idea is that I would learn a series of conversational steps that would help people
- See their need for Jesus
- Make a decision to follow Christ
- Repeat a prayer after me.
- Sign here for follow up.
- All in less than 30 minutes.
The script was “the powerful new tool,” and it was meant to help you “share your faith” and confidently prepare you to “lead people to Christ.”
If we were truly honest with ourselves, in the practice of your life did it ever work?
Not in my life.
I never really latched onto that sales pitch. Most of the readers of this blog never latched on to that model as it felt forced, maybe dishonest and turned Jesus in a product marketing.
Life doesn’t fit the script.
In the last few days I’ve had to deal with customer service people in various businesses.
In each case, my need was not “in their script.”
- Company A sent me to at least 4 departments today on the telephone, because no one could answer my question. That was after going to 3 different departments yesterday. I wasn’t permitted to speak to a supervisor because they didn’t have the power to get out of their script.
- Company B simply said “I don’t cover that situation — you can’t be our customer anymore.” I’ve been their customer for 11 years and now they don’t want me anymore.
I did not fit their script. They didn’t have an answer for my questions. They didn’t have a solution for my need. Their scripts didn’t have a place for me.
This is the problem with scripts when they are positioned as the “one true way” of doing evangelism.
Human beings and life conversations can’t all fit into a one size fits all scripted evangelism presentation. Humans have so many different needs, so many different starting points, so many different questions.
I don’t teach complicated scripts in any of my evangelism seminars.
Rather, I help people learn how to listen to the Holy Spirit for the right place, right time, right words. I don’t have a script I follow because each person and each conversation is unique.
What then are the role of Gospel Scripts?
The gospel scripts that I like are all simple presentations of the gospel that are useful at an appropriate point in a relationship. They address different needs but ultimately get at the Need to Follow Jesus.
In my life, I haven’t found that any of my conversation partners are at the same starting point the gospel script is at.
The scripts assume
- that a person recognizes the consequences of sin.
- that the person is ready to deal with a spiritual need.
- that a person is seeking for a relationship with God.
Philip and the Eunuch
Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch had a ‘chance’ conversational encounter. Yet in that encounter, the text says that
“Beginning from that point [where the Eunuch was reading],
Philip went on to explain the good news about Jesus.”
Notice that Philip began where the eunuch was.
The eunuch was dealing with
- grammar issues with pronouns,
- frustrations with reading a foreign language, and
- perhaps his own disappointment in not finding what he was searching for in Jerusalem.
Philip spent time talking with the eunuch at that point. A point unique to the eunuch’s spiritual journey.
So many scripts want to “begin from their own point.”
Yet not every conversation is at that starting point.
- It often takes a series of conversations to get there.
- It takes listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit
- It takes good questions that open new conversational lines.
- It takes some skill in noticing life themes and linking them to spiritual needs.
Evangelism Scripts such as the Four Spiritual Laws, Bridge, or others are handy once a person has gotten to the starting point of the scripts.
Being familiar with an evangelism script can help you comfortably explain the gospel when the moment presents itself in a natural manner.
Getting to that point? There is no script for that.
From Golf to God
He refers to a great article called Gospel Connections in Suburbia.
It deals with how to bridge a conversation from the subject at hand to the subject of the gospel.
Can you go from golf to God?
There is a list of 8 topics that are great conversational topics and an example of a conversational bridge is given for each (I encourage you to read the whole entry).
1. Corruption, evil and sin.
Spencer’s podcast picks this up and points out that to make such transitions, one requires three skills
- Relational Conversations — Casual life conversations with friends
- Ability to see connections between the mundane and the spiritual
- Make the transition from the mundane to spiritual in a natural way.
Part of doing this is developing the skills of
- Making use of good questions
- Making use of good observations.
Start to Notice
In your own conversations, start to ponder how the mundane can be bridged towards the spiritual. I’m not talking about ketchup on fries representing the blood of Jesus. Rather, listen to the heart cry in the culture.
- What is being looked for?
- Why are people passionate about politics and what does that say about order in the world?
- Why are people willing to sacrifice their marriage for a moment of personal pleasure?
- Can you hear the spiritual need behind the conversation?
- What is the question behind the question?
Let me ask you this?
Taking a cue from the original blog post:
Do you have some useful conversational bridges?
I invite you to elaborate in the comments.