Laurel Sitton sees evangelism like football.
An analogy she learned while part of an overseas mission, seeing evangelism like football is encouraging students to take courageous steps in sharing their faith with others.
“When the offense goes out to try to score a touchdown, sometimes they’re 90 yards away. They might be able to throw a 90-yard pass and score a touchdown. That’s great, and everyone celebrates,” she says. “But it doesn’t happen very often. That’s kind of what it’s like to get to share the gospel and see someone come to Christ the first conversation.”
Often, people think evangelism means presenting the gospel cold and seeing someone trust Christ.
As Laurel said, that doesn’t happen very often. It can be discouraging when the first (or second, third, and fourth…) attempts at starting a conversation seem to go nowhere, but it doesn’t mean the game’s over.
Knowing they might not be able to always share the gospel the first time they talked with someone, they still value the progress they make, even if it is just one step further.
They call them “Plus One conversations.”
“In Plus One conversations, it’s like the offense goes back out and slowly makes their way down the field getting first downs. So in one conversation you might be 70 yards or 50 yards from getting to share the gospel with your friend,” says Laurel.
“The idea is that you’re one step closer to seeing your friend accept Christ, and you should be able to celebrate that, too.”
The students involved with Cru at the University of Arkansas frequently encourage each other as they pray for opportunities to talk about their faith with their classmates and friends, present the gospel clearly with them and see the Lord reveal Himself to them in His time.
Katie Aist, on staff with Cru at U of AR says, “It’s reshaped our student’s view of sharing their faith. Our students are seeing ‘oh, I can do this. I have a heart to do this because these are my friends.’”
The students challenged each other to list 3-4 people on a card to remember to pray for them. Being intentional and encouraging each other helps them all keep eternity on their minds. As they pray for the people on their list, they keep their heads in the game and take opportunities to share their faith when God brings them.
Laurel recently had such an opportunity:
“I graduate in May, and as I was talking to one of my friends, we talked about the application process. She said she was nervous about getting in, and I could’ve said, ‘I bet you are’ or something. But I felt like the Lord was saying to care for her and take maybe a bit tougher road, so I asked more questions and we ended up having a really good conversation.”
“I think it’s easier to have your heart broken for someone when you’re praying for them specifically,” says Laurel. “Now I’m spending a lot more time praying for people, and the time intentionally praying for them has brought me closer to the Lord.”
Although Laurel, Katie, and the other Cru staff and students still engage in initiative evangelism, praying for people they already have relationships with just makes sense.
“It broadens the vision of what evangelism looks like and translates it to what it will probably look like in the workplace,” says Laurel. As she prepares to graduate, Laurel’s habit of praying for people around her every day will help her continue to live missionally wherever she goes.
Which people has God put in your life for whom you could begin praying? Like Laurel, you can make a short list and as you pray, look for opportunities to care for them and share about your faith with them.