Some people are gifted speakers. Some people have “golden tongues.” They can talk about anything—sometimes almost nothing—keeping anyone and everyone captivated the entire time.
Every word is so fitly spoken they seem “like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (Prov. 25:11). They go to the store, have three conversations while picking up their milk, deftly show the gospel, invite their new friends to church, and get positive responses. They have a knack for making people feel comfortable, connecting events with the gospel, and telling these once-strangers-now-friends all about the Lord who saved them.
And then there’s me. I go to Wal-Mart, mumble an “excuse me” if I have to, grab my milk, cereal, bananas, and diapers, and head to the self-checkout where I give an employee a slight nod with my head as if to say, “Have a blessed afternoon, and thanks for not talking to me.”
Am I a shy and reclusive introvert bent on giving everyone a cold-shouldered silent treatment?
Not really, no.
I don’t feel like I have to tell everyone everything, or that I have much of anything to say most of the time. I just don’t talk much to most people (though if you give me a keyboard I’ll write you a book).
So was Jesus talking to me when he said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” in Matthew 28:19-20? Yes, very much so.
How does one evangelize? It can come up in different ways—a park, a store, door-to-door, and more.
For me, one particular instance occurred in a coffeeshop with my friend Ben. The day prior to our meet up, he met a transgender girl who goes by the name “James.” They chatted for a little and parted ways. The next day while Ben and I met for coffee, James came up and started talking to Ben. Eventually, James just grabbed a chair and joined us. She brought up a variety of topics: art school, gender and feminist studies, and anime.
(For the ease of writing this article, I referred to James according to her biological gender and what I believe she still is. However, in evangelism, I don’t want to be off-putting right away. I wanted to bring her to Christ, even if that would be slow work. So, to that end, when I spoke with James I used masculine pronouns, referring to her as “he” if I spoke with others in her presence. It would be a slow work to bring her to Christ and get her to realize that she is actually a she.)
About when Ben was getting ready to leave, James mentioned having been inappropriately touched in middle school and, though the details weren’t made clear, it seemed like little action had been taken by the school officials, and the school counselor was of little help with the aftershock James experienced and still seemed to be working through. I knew someone who had a similar experience, and I knew I had to carefully use this connection so that I could share the gospel.
However, there were some other issues in the way.
First, when James gave us this information, the conversation briefly came to a standstill. It was a lot to take in, and we wanted to tread lightly. However, once we got back on track, the conversation began going in another direction.
Second, Ben was leaving. This wasn’t a problem, except that I had previously borrowed his drill, brought it back, and it was in my car. How was I going to bring up this very difficult issue back up without leaving the conversation?
Thankfully, the solution was simple—give Ben my car keys. Then I could turn to James, undeterred by anything else, and I could tell her about someone I knew who had gone through a circumstance very similar to hers.
It was awful. She became depressed, and felt what she refers to as a stone in her heart for a while until she was able to forgive her offenders. Once she did, she no longer felt the heaviness in her heart.
There was much more to say, but there were also things that didn’t need to be said because we both understood. Through it, I was able to point to Jesus. Jesus heals wounds. Jesus frees people. The kingdom and the power of God was seen years ago in that girl’s forgiveness toward her offenders, and it could have been seen again that day in the coffee shop.
James didn’t make a decision for Christ that day, but I was able to share the gospel. I was able to show how Christ worked through the pain of one person, how God’s kingdom was seen on earth through one person forgiving the wickedness of others, and how Christ could and would do it again for another.
Earlier, when Ben said he needed to leave, I wanted to jump ship and leave too. That would have been easy. But I simply couldn’t. I had been praying for some kind of evangelistic opportunity, and this one literally grabbed a chair and sat down beside me. It couldn’t have been any clearer.
Not every conversation goes like this. Some are very awkward. Some are not. Some respond well. Some think they are already saved.
Whoever you are talking to, try to empathize with them. You don’t need to “get them saved” right there. It can be a slow work.
Thankfully, you don’t evangelize alone. The one who tells you to “go” and “make disciples” is the same one who has all authority in heaven and on earth, and he is always with you. Always.
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