OceanSide church of Christ
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STARTING AN EVANGELISTIC CONVERSATION
Victor M. Eskew
Paul wrote to Timothy, saying: “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of the Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God” (II Tim. 1:8). In the previous verse, he had warned the young evangelist about fear. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (II Tim. 1:7). Timothy had to deal with both fear and embarrassment as a minister of the gospel of Christ. Fear and embarrassment also seem to be two of the major reasons members of the body of Christ do not evangelize as they should. Another is a lack of knowledge. Members are always asking: “How do I start an evangelistic conversation with another person?” In this article, we want to offer some simple suggestions.
The key is to begin very simple conversations with others. In the Bible, there several examples of simple conversations that led others to Christ. Philip and Nathanael had a brief conversation that brought Nathanael to Jesus. “Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see” (John 1:45-46). Jesus carried on a simple conversation with a woman of Samaria in John 4. It began with some very simple words from Jesus. As Jesus sat at Jacob’s well, “there cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) Then saith the woman unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria. For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans” (John 4:7-9). This woman was eventually convinced that Jesus is the prophet of God. In addition, she brought out the entire city to see the Christ. In Acts 8, a simple conversation between Philip, the evangelist, and an Ethiopian eunuch bring about the eunuch’s conversion. “Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would up and sit with him” (Acts 8:30-31). In each of these examples, there is not a lot of effort put into the conversations. The difficulty lies in the fact that each of them are spiritual in nature. It seems that we can talk about anything to others, except spiritual things.
How can we make our conversations with others more spiritual in nature? First, we can ask very simple questions. Here are a few that we can ask.
1. Where do you attend worship?
2. Do you have difficulty understanding the Bible?
3. What do you believe about…? (fill in the blankwith a particular topic)
4. Where will you be 100 years from now?
5. Do you ever think of life after death?
After asking the question, we need to listen closely to their responses. If they say something that does not harmonize with God’s Word, we can bring a passage to their mind. We do not have to be argumentative. All we are trying to do it cause them to doubt and to plant the seed of God’s Word in their minds.
Second, we can give individuals various things to read or listen to. Tracts, booklets, CDs, and DVDs can be handed to others. Ask the person to read the information and tell you what they think. If they do not agree with something, ask them why they don’t agree. Perhaps you will be able to explain the subject to them after they voice their disagreement.
A third way to get conversations started is by using 3 x 5 cards that have questions or dilemmas on them. Write down three questions on a card and ask a person: “Which of these three questions interests you the most and why?” The questions can be as simple as: 1) Where did I come from? 2) Why am I here? And, 3) Where am I going? Many people have contemplated these three questions. They are the basic questions with which all men must grapple. The questions could be doctrinally orientated: 1) Why are there so many different churches? 2) Can we really know the truth? 3) Is baptism by sprinkling, pouring, immersion, or, all three? When the person picks one of these questions, ask them: “Why did you pick this one?” Then listen. You have just started a spiritual conversation.
You can put a dilemma on a 3 x 5 card for another to consider. Here is one example:
_____ He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved… “(Mark 16:16).
_____ He that believeth and is NOT baptized shall be saved.
The first question is a direct quote from the Bible. The second question is the teaching of many Calvinistic groups. Ask the person to pick the one they believe to be the truth. If they pick the first, they give up their Calvinistic teaching. If they pick the second, they reject the Bible. Again, this exercise is intended to cause doubt and to plant the seed of God’s Word into the mind of the person at the same time. There are many Bible subjects that can be addressed this way.
We have looked at some simple ways to engage others in spiritual conversations. We can no longer use the excuse: “What do I say?” We may now have to confront our fears and our embarrassment. The best way to do this is to move forward even where these emotions have settled deeply upon our mind. Each time we overcome them, the next spiritual conversation gets just a little bit easier. If we do it enough, we will have success. We will eventually lead another person to faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to His will. When we do, we will experience immeasurable joy. We will rejoice almost as much as the Father does when one obeys the truth.