27 Sep, 2016 Would you be an ‘evangelist’ at a show?
It’s not something I’d put my hand up for either – but it’s where I found myself this past weekend!
While I don’t mind talking about religion with anyone – ‘street evangelism’ isn’t something I’ve aspired to. But when I found myself (1) in Melbourne during the Melbourne show, (2) with an evangelist who has helped the ‘good news stand’ at the Melbourne show a few times, while also (3) staying at the house of someone who also helps out at that stall… the writing was on the wall!
But I have to admit that this was also something that I wanted to do. You see – I’ve avoided this kind of ‘evangelism’ for a while now. I’ve limited my outreach to conversations with people I meet in daily life and travel. Stretching yourself now and again is good – and surely communicating in a different context like this would simply be about people skills!
But that doesn’t mean there werent other thoughts going on my head! I mean – would I struggle to start conversations with strangers? Would I end up talking to people who judge me as being judgemental? Would I face angry people? And what if the people I’m in that stall with end up being ‘strange or pushy evangelists’ – leaving me feeling embarrassed by what they say and do?
Well – it was a great experience because (1) it was simply about people skills, (2) the people I was standing there with had them, and (3) the people we engaged with wanted to talk, and there was a lot of laughter amongst it all!
For all the other ‘non-evangelists’ out there let me tell you how it ‘rolled'”: Once ‘stuck’ in that situation, with a couple of simple conversation-starting ideas that the team there used, conversations were easy to start. And once started – well – it was no different to any other conversation I’ve been in. During the day I enjoyed conversations with people ranging from various couples to families to elderly and youth, gays, gay-marriage activists, mslims and a very ‘high church’ Catholic who wanted to convert me to become a follower of the Pope – and I enjoyed them all.
(However, the night before this I did revise a couple of different ‘methods’ of concisely sharing the gospel – because I knew the opportunities would come. This paid off – and I shared the gospel 3 or 4 different ways during the day, which was also a good experience).
What encouraged me?
The time I’ve given to strengthening my own conversational skill-set really paid off! I’m a different person conversationally to even just ten years ago! I was conversationally-challenged in my earlier years – and feared this kind of environment for a reason. I thank God for the learning and change in me!
Questions can diffuse tension – and turn conversations. I was even able to engage with ‘strange’/intense people (which there were some of) in this settings – and still have an enjoyable non-threatening two-way and meaningful conversation!
What can we learn from this?
1. No method of ‘evangelism’ is ever outdated. It’s bad people-skills that are outdated!
2. Many Westerners are more open to spiritual conversations than most church people would think!
3. Intentionality given to learning a few conversational skills really can pay off!
Its food for thought.
FOR A RESOURCE:
Check out the outreach-equipping videos I created – which are free online at https://alltogether.co.nz/equipping-videos-members/
- Note that #6-8 are about conversational skills,
- However ALL are worth learning from. They will give you a ‘tool belt’ for your spiritual conversations!