How would you feel about walking up to a stranger and asking them about Jesus?
As a fresher, I remember learning how to do this. My Relay Worker took me around the university and we started conversations with random students lingering in the lobby, with the aim of sharing of the gospel. After that, I developed a real love for first contact evangelism.
For the past six years as a Staff Worker, I’ve been encouraging my students in Swansea to engage in it, too. We always start by gathering together around the Word, just for a few minutes. We share fears and feelings, encourage one another with Scripture, pray for each other and the students we’ll meet and then go! Wholly dependent on God as we share the good news.
During this time, I’ve seen many different ways of starting conversations…
We found that a great way to start talking with others is simply by asking an apologetic question, like one around suffering. Posing the question to get people’s thoughts works wonderfully, because the unbeliever is hearing the gospel and the Christian has to think about the questions being put to them! (Top tip: if it’s during a mission week and you are running events, use the one that will be answered at the event that day).
During my six years, I’ve seen a change in the most common or popular objections to Christianity on campus. So sometimes I’ve taken students out and we simply do research, using an opening line like this:
‘We, the Christian Union on campus, want to make sure that the events we are putting on, and the questions we are answering about faith, are those that the students care about or are actually asking. So, do you have a minute for me to ask you a few questions?’
The friendly students are often more than happy to chat, at which point we introduce ourselves and ask who they believe God is, whether they have opinions on Christianity and if they’d be interested in exploring the evidence for Jesus’ life.
Part of being a Staff Worker is helping CU students think creatively about engaging others with the gospel. First contact is a great place to let all sorts of ideas be put into action.
Not only are these tools helpful to engage with students, but it also gives the CU members something that may give them a little more confidence in starting conversations.
'I’m just so encouraged that it’s not anywhere near as hard or as scary as I expected.’
Recently, again as restrictions have been lifting, the new Swansea CU committee have wanted to get out and give first contact a go before term ends. To my surprise, the freshers this year paired up with an older student and didn’t want any prop or tool; they were happy to simply walk up to people and start a conversation about God. After this, fresher Archie said ‘Meg you’ve totally changed my view on doing first contact evangelism. I wasn’t really up for it this morning, bit nervous as well, but I genuinely really enjoyed it. It was great to do with a more experienced student, took the pressure off a bit. But I’m just so encouraged that it’s not anywhere near as hard or as scary as I expected.’
Virtually every time we go out and do this as a CU, we will always leave having arranged to look at the evidence for Jesus with some we’ve spoken to. Recently, a Greek orthodox student, two Muslim students and a fresher called Rachel (name changed) all expressed a desire to explore the evidence, so they will be reading Uncover Mark in the coming weeks.
Praise God for students who boldly engage in first contact and grow in their faith and love for the Lord as a result! It’s been wonderful seeing so many students grow in their ability to defend the faith, respond to great objections and invite strangers to consider the evidence by studying the Bible together.
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