Costcovangelism Part 2

 

Continued from Part 1.

Here are three keys to personal, practical evangelism. This isn’t meant as a formula to follow in every single situation, but it’s three things that I find helpful and encouraging for myself.

1. Relationship
2. Relevance
3. Respect

1. Relationship
Cheryl and I have a personal relationship. She rents her garage out to my husband and I. We share a kitchen and a breakfast table and faith in Christ. We identify on many levels. She’s not just my housemate or landlord, she’s my friend and mentor. If she were not my friend, or if we had no experiential basis of trust, I would be skeptical and suspicious of anything she tried to “sell” me.

It’s the same with evangelism—we have to do it from the basis of relationship. I’m not saying we have to become besties with every homeless man on the street before we can talk to them about Jesus—sometimes, a simple friendly introduction will do. “Hi, my name is Hannah. I notice your wrist is in a cast—would you like to be healed?”

It’s the same principle as giving CPR to a stranger—even if they’re not conscious or responsive, you introduce yourself, say you’re going to help them, ask questions to determine their condition, then proceed.

2. Relevance
Cheryl’s Costcovangelism would be completely pointless if she was talking about the price of steak, white bread, Jif peanut butter or Jell-O—because I could care less. They are not items I prescribe to in my lifestyle. They are not relevant.

But because of the relationship Cheryl and I have, she knows the things I use a lot of and how much I spend on them. She is able to relate to me though the things that are relevant to me.

I think I speak for every Christian when I say it’s awkward to start a conversation with a total stranger just to say, “Hey. Have you heard about Jesus?” In church, they try to tell you that it’s simple and it’s easy, to just go out and do it. But apart from relationship, how will you know what is relevant to a person? Without knowing what is important to them, you’re just shooting in the dark with the pickup line of, “Do you know Jesus?”

Which brings me to the third key to practical, personal evangelism:

3. Respect

If you don’t have a relationship with someone and therefore don’t know what is relevant to them, if you start a conversation with the intent of subscribing them to your product, you are a solicitor.

Solicitors are usually slaves of obligation. Nobody likes to be solicited. A 1-800 number on caller ID will either be ignored or received with dread.

What’s the difference between a college student who shows up on your doorstep with a Filter-Queen vacuum, and a college student on your doorstep with a salvation tract? The method is the exact same—and so is the consumer response. An awkward, uncomfortable exchange of introduction transpires, the salesman casts his pitch, and the homeowner smiles uneasily as he or she explains that no thank you, we are not interested, we already have one…et cetera.

Any success on these solicitors’ parts is usually due to pressure or the desperate desire to pacify the poor man to get him to leave—or worse, out of pity.

When Cheryl talks about Costco, she’s not pushy or pompous. She is gentle and respectful. She says her bit and is willing to say no more on the subject unless I show interest and engage in conversation.

It should be the same for sharing Christ. We can’t assume that just because we have access to perfection, that everyone else’s lives are miserable.

______________________________________________________

When I was young in the faith and very zealous, I made this mistake. I looked at my most unchristian friends, felt a wave of compassion, and tagged them all in a note on Facebook telling them they were missing out and that there was great joy in Christ.

Little did I know, one of the people I tagged had just lost her mother. My attempts to evangelize backfired, and I lost a friend because I hadn’t taken the time to get to know her, see what she was going through, and actually relate to her.

There is nothing wrong with zeal.

Psalm 69:9 - Zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.

Jesus Himself was consumed with zeal for His Father’s house. But void of a heart after relationship with individuals, zeal kills.

The Crusades are evidence of this.

Evangelism isn’t about selling a product, it’s about making people hungry.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: