No matter who you are, evangelism in the United States today can be hard.
Jill Fuhs teaches evangelistic skills to college students at Big Break, a week-long conference offered by Cru during spring break. In her training she’s focusing more and more on developing communication skills. She frequently refers to a quote she recently heard.
“Our posture towards people has become as important as our message.” – Barry Warren, creator of Perspective.
She remembers a conversation with a girl who said she had decided after her sister died that God didn’t exist. Though she didn’t tell Jill this in an emotional way, Jill knew this was an emotionally weighted conversation.
So she chose to “answer emotion with emotion and logic with logic.”
Evangelism is both an art and a science. Jill believes the science has to do with using evangelistic tools and the art is how we relate to people.
Here are 8 simple principles taught at Big Break that you can use as you engage with friends, colleagues, family or neighbors:
- Avoid “communication spirals.”
This is term refers to situations such as a family member coming at you with a jibe. When that happens, you’ll be tempted to respond in kind. By responding with humility and grace, it’s more likely the other person will respond positively.
- Remember 4 key questions:
- Why do they believe it?
- What do we have in common?
- What’s my next step?
- Meet people on common ground.
Jill suggests we often zero in on our areas of disagreement with others. Why not pave the way for a better conversation by starting with the areas of agreement?”
- What barriers to faith can you help remove?
Christ is going to be a stumbling block for some people, but we want to remove other obstacles wherever possible. So think about eye contact, posture, tone of voice and asking yourself “Am I really listening?”
- Be prepared for when a spiritual conversation gets stuck.
The simplest way out of a dead-end is usually to ask “tell me more.” This puts the emphasis on you understanding the other person, rather than them absorbing what you’re eager to tell them.
- Have realistic expectations for your conversations.
Just simply having a positive interaction with a Christian may move someone closer to Jesus.
- Try using the Perspective tool.
- Present the gospel as a series of questions.
When using a tool like Knowing God Personally turn the points into questions such as: “What do you hear, when I say, ‘God loves you and wants to have a relationship with you’?”
The principles taught at Big Break can be applied in any walk of life.
But remember, they are like the elements in a Swiss army knife – don’t expect to use them all at once.
And no tool or technique can replace a relationship of trust with the person you are reaching out to, or your need to depend on Jesus for the results.