Taking the Initiative

Taking the Initiative


Jesus was never satisfied with just news-weather-sports type relationships. His commitment to people was much deeper. He was always aware of needs – eternal needs. And as God’s Spirit works in each of our lives, these are the issues that will concern us also. Are we willing to take the initiative to meet these needs?


Have you ever had an experience something like this? While you are talking with a friend, the subject of his personal needs comes up (or something else is said that could lead to an opportunity to talk about Christ), and you just stand there with your tongue tied in one big knot. You don’t know what to say. And isn’t this especially true with people you have known for a long time? You can talk about anything except …


In John 4 we have a vivid picture of how to take the initiative when sharing our faith. Jesus became a friend and He casually but definitely turned the attention of the Samaritan woman to her spiritual needs. At the same time Jesus was not heavy and preachy. We certainly do not need to be preachy with our friends either. We can relax. The Holy Spirit is at work in the lives of our friends and we are only His mouthpiece-His communicator. We are God’s messenger boy or girl, and as we witness in the power of the Spirit we can leave the results to God. When Jesus shared, He was casual but definite. He was relaxed and friendly, yet He had a purpose in His conversations . . . to help people know His Heavenly Father.


Not only should we be casual but definite in our witness, we should also be clear in our communication. Do you use Christian lingo or God talk when you share? I have heard Christians enthusiastically try to explain spiritual truth to non-Christians by using terms and cliches such as, praise the Lord, saved, born again, God blesses you and a host of others that the non-Christian did not understand. These terms are meaningful to Christians, but are unclear to unbelievers. As good communicators we need to be fresh and creative in explaining spiritual truth. We can explain what it means to have a relationship with Christ. Then we can explain that this is what is meant by being born again. We need to translate Christian terms.

How would you freshly and creatively explain each of these terms to a non-Christian?

  • born again
  • God Blesses you
  • saved
  • sin
  • grace
  • inviting Christ into your life
  • receive Christ
  • the abundant life
  • fellowship

Talk about these and other terms with your friends.


Relaxing and clearly communicating are important in our communication with others. But what happens if someone does not relax with us, and in fact reacts when we try to share our faith? Let’s look at our story in John 4. In verses 10-14, Jesus turns his conversation with the Samaritan woman from a request for water to an offer for living water-real satisfaction. He turned the conversation to spiritual issues. At first, the woman wanted to challenge Christ’s claim to have the answers to life (vv. 11, 12): “How can you know the truth? No one knows for sure.” This is not unusual. Some people may respond this way, even after we have established a friendship.

Has anyone ever said this to you? How would you answer in a way that would help someone rather than argue? There are three ways we could respond to someone who questions us as the Samaritan woman questioned Jesus.

  1. We could back off, retreat, and give up.
  2. We could react or argue, trying to impress people with what we know.
  3. We can respond positively.

Why do you think it is important not to argue with people when we share Christ? What do these Scripture verses tell us about attitudes as we witness? 2 Timothy 2:23-26; Galatians 5:25,26. Some people are unhappy and dissatisfied with life and they can be a little argumentative, as was the Samaritan woman. But it appears that she did not want Jesus to back off and leave her alone. People who challenge us seldom do. In fact, they are disappointed if we do retreat. “Well, I guess he’s not that convinced himself.” Jesus kept His focus on her real need, not her reactions, and it helped her trust Him.


As we wrap up, here are some suggestions that will help you take the initiative:

  1. Pray specifically for opportunities to share Christ. One of the biggest reasons we don’t share our faith is because we are not spiritually or mentally prepared. We are not really thinking about or praying for our friends.
  2. Look for opportunities. If you have asked God for an opportunity to share then expect it. Your friend may ask a question, express a personal need, or give an opinion, hoping you will respond. Be on the alert. When your opportunity comes be casual but definite. In other words, relax. God is in control. But take the initiative. Take a step of faith. Care about your friend.
  3. Create opportunities. When people were not coming to Jesus, He went to them. This is the most important and exciting part of your ministry. Create opportunities by setting up a special time to eat. Or, invite a person to a meeting or Bible study where Christ will be discussed. Have your friend over for dinner. When creating opportunities, always be very honest as to why you would like to get together. Explain that you have discovered something that has really helped the spiritual dimension of your life and you think it would interest them also.
  4. Consider the immense importance of someone knowing Christ. Don’t take other people’s salvation lightly. God doesn’t. He made the greatest sacrifice of all time-on the cross. Ask God to give you a heart of compassion. Focus your attention on what really matters-eternal values. These Scripture verses will help: Matthew 9:36-39; Romans 10:13-15; 1 Timothy 2:1-4,2 Corinthians 4:16 – 5:10.
  5. Don’t be afraid of failure. It has been said, “He who never fails never does anything.”
  6. Teamwork. Try pairing up with a Christian friend to pray together for those with whom you want to share (Matthew 18:19). Create opportunities together-team evangelism (Luke 10:1).


We have discovered that as we share our faith we should:

  • Take the initiative.
  • Be casual but definite.
  • Relax in the Spirit.
  • Be clear when we use biblical and Christian terms.
  • Do not argue.


For sharing to become a way of life we need to be thinking and planning ahead, focusing our attention and concern on those around us who don’t know our Lord. The more we concern ourselves with the needs of others, the more natural it will be to share Christ.

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What they’re saying about Cru

The 250 Evangelism Ideas For Your Campus is a tremendous resource, consisting of ideas that college students have used to reach out to their classmates. Many of the ideas can easily be adapted to use with high school students. To order this book, check on ebay as it is no longer in print.

The following are some of the great ideas in the book, adjusted slightly so that you could use them to reach high school students.

  • MOVIES/MEDIA-The Damah Film Festival
  • GUYS ONLY-Basketball Tournaments
  • GIRLS ONLY-Topic of Real Beauty
  • REACHING FRESHMEN-Ice cream Social or Surveys
  • SENIORS-College Prep Seminar
  • HOLIDAYS-Christmas Tea/Party or Distribute “Is There a God?” Article
  • URBAN OUTREACH IDEAS-HipHopalypse and More Ideas
  • FREE GIVEAWAYS-Give Free Things Students Enjoy
  • SERVICE GROUPS-Meaningful Service Project
  • HANDLING TRAGEDY-Sharing the Gospel when Difficult Things Happen
  • DIVERSE GROUPS-Host a World’s Religions Panel and More Ideas

Several of the ideas are pre-evangelistic, but they could easily be adapted to include a presentation of the gospel. If you’d like to discuss how to adapt one of these outreaches to fit the interests of students at your school, call and talk to a coach at the Cru Coaching Center at 1-877-gocampus (1-877-462-2678). For further details on how to plan an outreach, search for the article called “Planning and Conducting an Outreach.”

To make these ideas easy to find in the book, corresponding numbers are included.

MOVIES/MEDIA-The Damah Film Festival (#218) This organization has films with themes such as grace, God’s sovereignty, misconceptions of Jesus, favor with God, the need to worship something, and many other topics that lead to further discussion about life and God. These short films provide the starting point for you to facilitate group discussions. In addition, the “Damah Touring Festival” could come to your school. The films are not perceived as Christian so you could ask your school to sponsor the “Tour.” At the end of the school day, your ministry could host a party for further discussion, where student leaders could share the gospel and share testimonies of their own spiritual journeys.

GUYS ONLY-Basketball Tournaments (#164) At The University of Florida, students hosted an all-nighter centered around basketball tournaments and competitions. A talk was given on real manhood and David from the Bible. Someone could share a testimony around this topic and the gospel.

GIRLS ONLY-Topic of Real Beauty (#166 or #168) Host a party for girls and discuss the topic of real beauty and the problem of eating disorders. To help girls understand God’s love for them and how He views them, bring in a speaker like nationally known speaker and author, Nancy Wilson. Your school might even pay to have someone like Nancy come and speak at an assembly at your school. You could host a party after school, like a spa party for example, and have the speaker share the gospel. To bring in Nancy Wilson, author of  “In Pursuit of the Ideal,” see

REACHING FRESHMEN-Ice cream Social (#127) Invite freshmen to an ice-cream social (hosted by your club or by a group of Christian friends). The college students that did this outreach included a plastic spoon with the invitations they handed out. To make this event evangelistic, have three or four upperclassmen talk for three to five minutes each on how to make the most of high school. One of them should share their testimony, explaining how knowing God helps us to make wise choices now and for our future. The others could cover areas such as “how to succeed in high school relationally” (ideas on wise dating, purity) and “how to succeed in high school academically” (maybe giving a few study techniques). There is a great book available called “How To Get Better Grades And Have More Fun” that could be a door prize.

REACHING FRESHMEN-Surveys (#112) Do Freshmen Surveys with all the freshmen. Give those you survey an invitation to a party you are having just for freshmen. Tell them about Cru (or your Christian club) at the party, with a student giving their testimony. Let them know how your group can be a resource to them. Use comment cards so you know who’d like to know more about your group and/or a relationship with God. Search for comment cards and surveys on this site.

SENIORS-College Prep Seminar (#128) To help students prepare for college, you could host a college prep seminar inviting Christian college graduates to come back and teach about college life. At, there is a great program that uses multi-media and humor to help high school students understand the realities of college. At the outreach, have one of the college students share how Christ is guiding his or her life and purpose. Share the gospel and invite students to receive Christ.

HOLIDAYS-Christmas Tea Party (#180) For girls, host a Christmas tea or party to talk about the true meaning of Christmas. People can share their favorite Christmas traditions, and someone can share the gospel, explaining that Jesus is our greatest gift. Search for articles on Christmas outreaches and pre-written messages you could give at the outreach.

HOLIDAYS-Distribute “Is There a God?” Article (#117) At Christmas or Easter, distribute the article “Is There a God?” to five or ten of your closest non-Christian friends and then ask them to meet back for coffee to tell you what they thought of the article. You could ask them four simple questions to help guide your conversation. See the article “Turning the Conversation to Christ”.

Note: There are many great holiday outreach ideas in The 250 book, covering St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Christmas, and Thanksgiving. (See pages 75-79.)

URBAN OUTREACH IDEAS-HipHopalypse and More Ideas

(#85) Try what the students at Morgan State in Baltimore did to reach their friends. They gave step performances and then shared the gospel.

(#86) How about hosting a talent show with an open mic time, including evangelistic poetry and rap? Students at George Mason found this to be a great outreach.

(#87) A 3-on-3 Basketball tournament was held for students at Mississippi State. Every applicant received a package with candy, soda, and the book, “More than a Carpenter” by Josh McDowell. To reach your school, you could also bring in a Christian speaker, maybe a graduate of your school who played college basketball, to give their testimony and the gospel.

(#88) HipHopalypse was an event planned by students at Syracuse University where Christian rap acts performed. One of the rappers shared his testimony and the gospel.

FREE GIVEAWAYS-Give Free Things Students Enjoy (#91) At UCLA, students advertised that they would give out a free drink, called Boba, to students who attended their weekly Christian meeting one week. Boba is a tapioca milk tea, very popular among Asians. Over 100 students attended their weekly meeting. You could adapt this and give out something you think students might enjoy, such as pizza or something more specific to a certain group. One idea is distributing the book “How to get Better Grades And Have More Fun” by Steve Douglas, to National Honor Society students. Call 1-800-729-4351 to order this book.

SERVICE GROUPS-Meaningful Service Project (#131) Students can build relationships and collect community service points all at the same time. Have students invite other clubs or groups of friends to do a meaningful service project together. Encourage students to pray for these friends, asking God for open doors to talk about Him. See “Meeting and Relating to Students” and “Turning the Conversation to Christ” for good questions to ask students about life and to help start spiritual conversations.

HANDLING TRAGEDY-Sharing the Gospel when Difficult Things Happen (#176) At Indiana University, students hosted a coffee house, and a mother came to share her experience in dealing with tragedy. They provided free desserts and Starbucks coffee. As you try this outreach, remember that the gospel can easily be shared by talking about real hope in a world where difficult things happen.

DIVERSE GROUPS-Host a World’s Religions Panel and More Ideas

(#152) Host a World’s Religion’s Panel University of Oklahoma students invited a Hindu, Muslim, and Jewish student to be on a panel with a Christian. Four specific questions were asked of all four groups to help the listeners learn about each religion. After the students shared their views, a catered dinner was provided for those in attendance. A list of questions was provided to help guide their discussion on the topic of world religions. Christian students were trained ahead of time on how to lead the conversations and help explain Christianity. The students aimed to begin building relationships with these students of other faiths in order to further share the gospel in the future.

(#135) Bob Blackford, a national speaker, gave his testimony at Central Washington University on how he contracted HIV through homosexuality. Bob shared how God set him free from the homosexual lifestyle. Why not ask your school if you can have him as a guest speaker, especially if you have a day like “Gay Day” at school (this is happening in some schools)? Or you could just have an optional after school event with Bob as your speaker. There would be cost involved, but the school sometimes will pay for an assembly speaker.

(#137) How do Christianity and science relate? Try hosting an assembly or evening program with a speaker like Fritz Schaeffer who does a program called “Christianity and Science: Friend or Foe.” Use comment cards and surveys to follow up with those who attend to discover their interest in knowing Jesus.

Remember, there are many more ideas in the book, “The 250 Evangelism Ideas For Your Campus.” As you can tell, some are easier to do than others, but all can be adapted to fit your needs. In addition, the book has a list of more great speakers and programs to bring to your school.