Tips for Sharing the Gospel with Relatives over the Holidays
The yearend holidays are right around the corner. For many of us that means reconnecting with family members, including those with whom we have shared (or attempted to share) the gospel, but who responded with indifference or even hostility.
This year involves a new set of opportunities and challenges. The main opportunity is that, because of the rapid change and ensuing chaos in our world, people are evaluating their lives and assumptions, including their spiritual beliefs. Your relatives who have been closed to the gospel might now be more open.
However, the main challenge with the holidays this year is that officials are discouraging family get togethers. As a result, you may have to connect remotely with many of the relatives who you would normally see in person.
Whether you connect with your relatives in person or online, how do you re-approach those who have been reluctant to respond to the gospel in the past?
Evaluate past attempts
Before moving forward, it is good to evaluate past efforts. Here are some questions for reflection:
- Was there a particular subject in the discussion that triggered their response (church experiences, political views, etc.)? Could that topic be avoided this time around?
- Is there anything you did or said that might have caused their rejection in the past, over and above the message of the gospel? Were you at all prideful or harsh during the conversation? Did you push too hard? Is there anything for which you need to apologize?
- Review your tone. Did something they said trigger an emotional response from you, like raising your voice, interrupting, etc?
- Examine your motives. Was your main goal to share the gospel or win the argument?
The goal of this is not to beat yourself up, but to learn and adjust for new opportunities.
Pray for them and yourself
When we think of prayer and evangelism, we often think of praying for the other person. While that is important, we also need to pray for ourselves both before and during our interactions. Here are some sample prayers:
- “Lord, help me to be humble and to be quick to listen and slow to speak.”
- “Make me sensitive to your leading, knowing what to say to say and when to say it.”
- “Give me insight into their point of view and the grace to validate it yet respond to it with grace and truth.”
- “May I have the boldness to speak, yet in such a way that conveys my care, concern, and love for them.”
- “Help me, Lord, to draw them nearer to you, not push them away.”
When you pray, take time to think, mediate, and listen to the Lord. He just might give you a fresh perspective or strategy.
Wath the related webinar: Reaching Relatives for Christ
Change your strategy
Consider the points below as you connect with your family members.
- Take time to catch up with them. 2020 has been a rough year and we need to take time to listen and see things from the other person’s point of view.
- Remember, your job is not to “fix” or “straighten out” the person you are talking to. Your responsibility is to love them and point them to Christ.
- As you talk, remember to listen and not just “reload”. If we ignore what people are saying because we are thinking of our next response or tactic, they will turn us off for sure.
- The amount of influence you have with someone is based on the amount of trust they give you. Have you done everything you can to build or reestablish that trust?
- If you have the chance to share the gospel, make your motives clear, that you want them to know the Lord and experience the same peace, security, and purpose you have found in Him.
- If your initial approach to the gospel (entrance to heaven, forgiveness of sins) doesn’t resonate at all with the person, prayerfully consider another approach and ask for God’s guidance.
- If the person is absolutely closed, are you ok with that? Are you willing to end the spiritual conversation well and with grace so that the relationship is preserved?
- Don’t get so focused on the one family member who is closed that you forget to minister and even reach other family members who may not be vocal or hardened. Be sensitive to the Spirit’s direction.
Recalibrate your goal
I think we would all love to see our relatives trust Christ as an immediate result of our conversation with them. However, evangelism, for the most part, is a process which can take time and often takes more than one encounter with more than one person.
Your interactions with them are but a part of God’s work in their lives. With that in mind, be prepared to share the gospel as the opportunity arises, but make your goal each time to move them one step closer to God as a result of your witness
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