Hey Joon! I feel like you’ve written something about this somewhere before but I’m having trouble finding it. What are some steps to make towards introducing a person to Christ (specifically a friend you’ve talked with about differences in beliefs before)? Thanks!
Thank you for this awesome question and for caring about people. We all know this is a scary topic because it’s one of the most uncomfortable parts about the Christian life. When we evangelize, we feel like we’re being “pushy” or “imperialistic” or “narrow-minded,” but at the same time we want to see people saved — and I understand that suffocating discomfort.
I think the main thing here is that most of us (and I’m not saying you do this) feel pressured to lay out the Gospel with all the correct doctrine and a perfect balance of fear-filled holiness and sugar-gooey grace. I sense a lot of desperation with guys that not only struggle to evangelize, but also have to get every part of it right. It’s nerve-racking.
While I’m all for a clear, complete Gospel, this cannot happen with a three-point systematic outline. It’s too easy to walk up to a stranger, drop a pamphlet in his lap, and tell him, “Think about it.” Again, I’m not saying you’re doing that and there’s probably room for street-preachers and door-to-door witnessing, but even late-night theological conversations are just shortcuts. While a pamphlet or presentation might be technically correct, it doesn’t really show what Jesus is about.
To unabashedly quote myself:
I know how hard it is to talk about Jesus. It’s the most awkward conversation you’ll ever have. If you even say the whole Gospel out loud right now, it sounds like the craziest thing you’ve ever heard. But the Gospel isn’t some ‘speech’ you unload on people and then ‘leave it in God’s hands.’ Blasting people with theology is like serving icing for dessert. Evangelism is your whole life, it’s sharing your home, it’s enduring patiently, it’s being a human being, it’s availability, it’s sharing Jesus through who you are; not perfectly, but passionately. Yes, invite them to church and to that revival and talk about your faith and your testimony, but once you dare to go there, just know you might be rejected immediately, a lot, and aggressively. Except secretly they can’t deny there must be something to it, because you’re not just a billboard: you’re an overflow of a barely containable supernatural miracle.
Real evangelism then is going to be a messy, sloppy outpouring of sharing your heart, passions, experiences, and all your gritty imperfections — in other words, not treating this other person as a project but just sharing life with them and inviting them into your part of God’s story.
The second it is bottled up in bullet points, it’s gone. Evangelism has to be more story than theology, more dirt than doctrine, more hands-on than haranguing, more an adventure than a venture.
In the quiet of this kind of authentic friendship, eventually you’ll find the space to say, ‘Well when I met Him, I was lifeless doing nothing and so prideful and broken and lost, but He changed everything.’ This is not like selling a benefit-package. It’s as if you’re talking about the first time you met a lover, not a lectern, with a soul-baring depth that isn’t locked down by formula but is underlined by the ongoing presence of Jesus in your own life.
The Bible is this way too, and so is Jesus. He never presents doctrine in a mapped-out slideshow, but rather says some things here, does some things there, and brings truth and love in a non-unilateral fashion that paints a whole picture. This is harder than the modern idea of evangelism — but if you really consider it, this is how you and I were introduced to Christ, too.
Maybe I sound painfully postmodern. I don’t know. Some people diss a muffins-and-movie evangelism — “Here are muffins and a movie, let me tell you about Jesus” — but I say, let’s include that too. I just know I have never theologized someone towards Jesus. I don’t even really put a whole lot of “thought” into witnessing, to be terribly honest. It has always just been real talk about the Lord, like he was already woven into my own heart, and that’s what comes out.
To close: I was at a dinner party recently with a few new friends, all neutral non-believers. We shared life stories. I talked about how much of a jerk I used to be, and still am, and how I was dumb, hopeless, and aimless, but then I met someone who knocked me over and set me right, not in some moral sense, but the way a father unconditionally loves his kids. And I shared the horror of realizing that in some crazy way, life was actually all about this Someone, and the missing-ness we all feel is a big clue that we’re made to be in love with this Person. I didn’t say this all at once or exactly like that, but weaved it in here and there, and I saw eyes light up even if it was only for a moment. I don’t know if I said it all correctly nor if I did a good job, but they did keep asking about Him — and I was more than glad to talk about the one who saved me.