What’s your initial response to the phrase ‘personal evangelism’? Perhaps it sounds daunting, overly strategic, or paradoxically impersonal. But what’s your response to ‘sharing life with your friends’? Suddenly, that sounds a lot simpler.
So often we are tempted to cut Jesus short on the great commission. We hear ‘go and make disciples of all nations’ and we freak out, only to write ourselves off as too timid. But we are not honouring God when we ignore the following verse: ‘I am with you always.’ For this isn’t an individual project but rather a personal invitation from Jesus to embark on mission with Him, filled by the Spirit and in community with other believers.
Here are three foundations for seeking to love our friends as we share Jesus with them.
Be generous with your time. Are you finding yourself running from prayer meeting to lecture to basketball practise to labs to CU and then collapsing into bed each evening, barely spending any time with your housemates? Consider slowing down, finding space in your diary to intentionally spend time with non-Christian friends and have room to be interruptible. It is an incredible witness to be ready to drop what you are doing to offer Christ-like comfort to a friend in need.
A generous spirit can also look like inviting friends into your room or house to share food or a drink with them. The best hospitality connects with the whole person, just as Jesus ate with Levi (Luke 5) and fed thousands (Luke 9): engaging with their hearts, minds and bodies allows you to best care for their needs as a human. Being genuine in love is understanding a friend’s emotional, physical, and spiritual needs. The simple act of cooking someone a meal can display Jesus’ offer that ‘whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.’
Perhaps you can now echo the words of City CU student Barnabas (name changed) as he reflected after a talk on using Meals with a Message:
‘I've never thought about evangelism like this before, that I could use food and meal times in this way.’
When we share life with our friends, we naturally share our faith with them too.
Questions can help us to live out the command of James 1:19: ‘be quick to listen, slow to speak’. Listening to our friends helps us move friendships from the superficial to the significant. This movement towards a deeper intimacy naturally spills over into conversations about spiritual things, hopefully landing on Jesus.
A helpful model to have in mind is this: for 1 hour spent with a friend, spend 5 minutes speaking and 55 minutes listening. Questions can facilitate this dependence upon listening and as they open us up to vulnerability and sharing stories with one another.
Some helpful prompts could be:
The conversations that flow can be open and genuine while pointing to Christ. Listening to someone's story is powerful; stories treat people like people, engaging with their hearts.
What’s holding you back from asking a friend to read the Bible with you? Maybe it is that fear of rejection — they’ll be put off or it might jeopardise your friendship. Consider the Bible as your current favourite novel or recent find on Netflix for a moment. Of course you want to share it! And no, it’s not that weird to suggest your friend read with you.
They can either say yes or no. If they say yes, great! If no, this doesn’t stall your evangelism: be understanding and continue to live out the gospel in how you practically care for your friend.
Still unconvinced? It’s worth it. Your friend’s greatest need is to know Jesus as their saviour and friend. Naturally bringing Him into the conversation and inviting them to explore his claims in the Bible is the most generous gift you could give them.
Your first step: PRAY.
Thank you that Jesus came to earth as a man, willing to engage with human hearts on a relational level. Help me to be a bold witness to my friends this week. Thank you that I’m not alone but have your Spirit with me. Give me compassion for my friends and a heart to tell them how your gospel can transform their lives.
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