“Hmmm….like, do you wanna get saved or something?” Let’s be honest, sometimes evangelism gets awkward. You are standing in line at the grocery store, and you sense the Lord telling you to present the Gospel to the person in front of you. What do I say? How do I say it? Should I say anything at all? Will this person think I’m a weirdo?
Those are real questions we may find ourselves asking when doing the work of evangelism. The act of approaching someone can be intimidating and awkward. Nevertheless, we are called to make disciples (Mat 28:18-20) and do the work of an evangelist (2 Tim 4:5). So how can we engage in evangelism without being weird? Here are a few suggestions:
Obedience is the Goal
Recall these verses
“You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me” Matthew 5:11
“Sometimes you were publicly exposed to taunts and afflictions, and at other times you were companions of those who were treated that way.” Hebrews 10:33
“If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” 1 Peter 4:14
Here’s the reality. You don’t really get insulted, mocked, or ridiculed for staying quiet. That kind of treatment happens because you have gone public about your beliefs. Even more so, when you encourage someone to repent and trust in Christ, you may be more likely to be insulted and ridiculed by them. Nevertheless, we should still note that those who are mocked because of their evangelism are always blessed.
As long as people resist the Gospel, evangelism has the potential of being awkward. People may not want to hear what you have to say, but does that mean that you shouldn’t say what needs to be said? The goal of personal evangelism is obedience to Christ and the Great Commission. Even if evangelism puts us in awkward or uncomfortable positions, we must still engage in the work. If obedience is your goal, you are willing to get a little awkward for the Gospel.
Don’t be weird
At times, evangelism may be awkward, but it doesn’t have to be weird. For example, you may struggle with bridging the conversation to the Gospel. Still, there are ways that this can naturally happen in a conversation. Evangelism gets weird when we ignore social cues and surroundings. Let me give you a hypothetical example: Let’s say it’s night time. A single lady is loading her groceries into a car in a dark parking lot; she has a small child with her. Let’s say you’re a male, and you see her across the parking lot. You sneak up behind her and say, “REPENT.” If you do this, your evangelism may move from being awkward to you being sprayed in the face with pepper spray.
Evangelistic encounters get weird when we act weird. We must always be aware of our surroundings and our circumstances when we are evangelizing. If we are not socially aware of what is happening around us and with whom we are talking, we risk being weird. One key to overcoming weirdness is just being polite and friendly.
I suggest recalling the words of the Apostle Paul when he said, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.” A gracious and loving demeanor will go a long way when you are attempting to evangelize. Here are some quick tips for not being weird when evangelizing.
- Strike up small talk (start the conversation about something that people naturally talk about).
- Introduce yourself (this is especially true if you are doing door to door evangelism).
- Ask the person a little bit about themselves without being too intrusive (i.e., You worked here long? Where you from? Etc.)
- Always build a relationship if you can (relationships go a long way!)
Know how to transition the conversation to the Gospel
We established that we shouldn’t be weird, but evangelism can still be awkward. How do I move the conversation from the weather to the resurrection? Again, suppose you have an existing relationship with someone. In that case, the edge of awkwardness erodes. Still, we are not called to present the Gospel only when we have a current relationship with someone. We need to always be ready to share the Gospel wherever we can. Recall what Peter wrote;
“. . . but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”
One method that has helped me over and over is Bill Faye’s Share Jesus Without Fear (you’ll note that I mention it a lot on this blog). Faye suggests a series of questions to transition the conversation into a spiritual discussion. I use these questions all the time, and I have found that it takes the edge of awkwardness off the conversation. It flows naturally and allows the conversation to shift towards the spiritual. Faye’s questions are;
- Do you have any spiritual beliefs?
- To you, who is Jesus?
- Do you believe in a Heaven or a Hell?
- If you were to die where would you go?
- If what you believed was not true, would you want to know the truth?
I am so thankful for Faye’s five questions. It has helped me bridge conversations from small talk to Jesus over and over again. It doesn’t always take away the awkwardness, but it is an excellent way to transition the conversation. I suggest making those five questions your gospel transition questions.
Evangelism may always be a little awkward but remember, it will always be worth it. If you share the Gospel with someone, you will be imparting life-giving words to that person. If they don’t receive the message, you will still be obedient, and the Lord will be pleased with your work. Don’t forget, the person you are communicating with may hear the words of life and believe. Wouldn’t that be worth the awkwardness?