Five Marks of Conversational Evangelism
As I once heard a preaching on James 3:1-12. I thought to myself, “I’d be better off not saying anything at all…” But in this prolific text, James is showing us the power of our tongues so that we would use our tongue well, not so that we would fail to use it at all. The broad narrative of Scripture shows us that God is calling us to speak and use our words with kindness for those around us. There are many forms of evangelism, but regardless of how we share, our words are indispensable to the call. We use conversation throughout our entire day to communicate with others. Here are five traits to help us use our words for winsome conversations about Jesus.
ConnectionThere is no replacement in any relationship for authenticity and genuine interest. Open-ended questions are such an impactful way to develop that connection. Find out about what they did on the weekend, whom theyrespect, or how they began living where they are now. Building a relationship takes time and patience with a person. Dr. Larry Moyer wrote an excellent blog here that captures the necessity of patience in evangelism.
CareSin’s effects are rampant. Even if we turn off our phones, news, and computers, we find that our own hearts’ desires are idolatrous. It is safe to assume that at some point or another that grief will be on their heart’s doorstep. Through hospitality, we can sacrificially invite them into our lives as we seek to minister to them. As always, be an active listener. Sometimes though a person’s complaints or suggestions, we can find what they truly value. Continue to ask questions with a gentle vocal tone and welcoming body language.
ContextualizationBiblical contextualization does not change the message. Faithful contextualization requires an informed messenger of their audience. Unfaithful contextualization conforms the Message for the audience. Conversational Contextualization focuses on a bridge to the gospel, not a bridge away from it. As we connect with individuals, we can learn what they are passionate about, what burdens they are carrying, and more about their lives. Consider these examples: As you hear about her stress, you can tell her about how Jesus cares about her days. He cares for each of her daily meetings, difficult emotions, and uncertain finances. Jesus not only cares about her days on earth, but He is inviting you to spend all of her days with Him. As you hear about how he feels as though no one understands, you can share with them about how Jesus willingly stepped down from Heaven to take his punishment. Jesus walked on this earth and completely understands what he is going through. Not only does he understand, but Jesus also wanted to provide comfort during loneliness. Christ proved this by dying a death he didn’t deserve. From these bridges, you can invite them to place their trust in Christ alone.
CandorIf your life is anything like mine, things don’t often go according to plan. Presenting my life through an Instagram filter can demonstrate the wrong message about the Christian Life. In our culture, many struggle with the sizeable gap between how Christians act and who Christ is. For the Church, a good first step forward is demonstrating Jesus as the one who is perfect, not ourselves. While this doesn’t mean we begin to imitate Eeyore, our honesty can be refreshing. We can clarify that while Jesus doesn’t make our lives entirely neat and easy, He provides comfort. He provides hope. He provides Himself.
ContentmentOften, I find my heart scared of people when I see an opportunity to share. “Okay, but they might laugh at me?” “Do I even know what to say?” But the Spirit has used a simple question to pacify my anxious heart: “Ryan, what are you wanting from them that you don’t already have?” All of my acceptance, approval, and affection have been given to me by God through the Son by the Holy Spirit. When I find my contentment being hidden in Christ, I am free to truly love others because I don’t need anything from them. I have all I need as “my cup overflows.” Immediately after the passage about “Taming the Tongue,” James 3:13-14, the author writes the following: Who among you is wise and understanding? By his good conduct he should show that his works are done in the gentleness that comes from wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, don’t boast and deny the truth. Despite the common breaks in our Bibles, James is continuing to talk about proper usage of our tongue along with other concepts. He contends that those with wisdom and understanding should act in obedience, or “good conduct.” In verse 14, he warns our good conduct will be stymied by our own selfish desires. With this in mind, we can pray against such pursuits and for the sacrificial pursuit of others. Awkwardness may come, but so may fruit. Regardless of how our conversations may go, as we are in Christ, we can rest that we have all we need from God who pursues us.
PO Box 703929
Dallas, TX 75370-3929