Behind much of our past evangelistic methodology has been the conscious or unconscious acceptance of one idea.
“This person’s salvation depends on me… talking… right now.”
I used to think that, but I don’t anymore. Now does that mean I don’t talk? (Have we never met?) Stephanie and I have recently had wonderful and unexpected opportunities to share our experience with the Triune God, how He has changed our lives, and even how to meet Him. ‘Plenty of talking going on here.
But is talk the first essential thing? And more importantly, if I don’t say something, is God out of options? Let’s deal with the second question first.
What is God doing while I am silent? Is He not clearly visible in the world around us, demonstrating His creative genius in every leaf and sunset? Is His Holy Spirit not capable, indeed, necessary to move the hearts of individuals? If I blow an opportunity, does He have no other servants to call on? How big, or small, do we think God is?
But what about actual verbalization of the gospel message? That is a command after all. When do we get around to that? Evangelism seems to mirror a young couple and their first kiss. Opportunity, awkwardness, and mutual consent seem inevitably present. One should force neither a kiss nor a conversation but look for the right moment. And however clumsy or not the execution, success hinges on the other person’s receptivity. Timing and willingness are essential.
One correction about kissing though… Someone leans forward first and risks rejection. There is no promise it will go well. You think it will, you hope it will, but…
The same is true in evangelism
So how do we make somebody listen? We can’t. Only God can move a heart. Logic and reason, evidences and persuasion have their place but that is only presentation. Story after story, passage after passage lead us to the conclusion that it is God who is orchestrating every conversion. We are just players, and supporting actors at that.
We pray, we listen, and say as much as we can say, when we can say it. God is already at work.