When people think of Jesus’ ministry, they often think of Him speaking to large crowds. However, some of Jesus’ most poignant evangelism encounters occurred in one-on-one conversations. In John 4, Jesus spoke with the woman at the well. Examining how Jesus navigated that conversation over 2000 years ago, can help us with our conversations now.
First, Jesus initiated the conversation. St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” Some use this phrase to teach that living the Christian life before others is all that is necessary in evangelism. This is not what Jesus taught or modeled. Jesus not only lived the life, He proclaimed the message.
Second, Jesus broke custom and tradition. Jews typically had no contact with Samaritans. It was also rare for Jewish men to speak to women. Yet Jesus shared hope with her. We need to be careful that we don’t overlook opportunities just because they involve people who are different from whom we’ve ministered to before. Ask the Lord to open your eyes to the people and opportunities you may be overlooking.
Third, Jesus started where she was. He did not assume that she had any knowledge of the Old Testament. He started with something familiar to her, the well and water, and used it to bridge into the gospel.
Finally, notice how Jesus’ words culminated. At the appropriate time, Jesus revealed that He is Messiah (v. 26). The goal of our conversations and relationships needs to be making Him known. He is the point. He is the difference. He is the goal. You may speak with people about many matters, but aim for what really matters, the Lord Jesus.