Getting to the Heart of What Matters in Evangelism

  • by Adrian Pei

It was one of the worst phone calls of my life.

“Do you know what Christians believe about Jesus?” a high school acquaintance asked over the phone. Then he rattled off statements and Bible verses. He didn’t get to know me. Didn’t ask me any questions. At the end of the phone call, I felt dejected and unmotivated.

He communicated the message of Christianity, but there was no heart connection. I remember thinking, “Why would I want to follow a God who doesn’t know me and doesn’t care about anything in my life?”

Evangelism doesn’t have to be this way. That’s why Epic Movement, a ministry of Cru, created a tool to help build a heart connection with another person and build a heart connection between them and God.

The “What Matters?” tool has eight cards covering concepts like justice, beauty and power – topics that matter to people and cover topics in Jesus’ Beatitudes.

One card, “Heart Over Appearance,” reads: “The world values and judges by external appearance – physical beauty, height and eloquence. But Jesus taught that God looks at the heart first and cares about our thoughts and motives that no one sees. When have you been judged unfairly because of your external appearance? Who in your life knows who you are on the inside?”

Students in Seattle found the “What Matters?” cards intriguing and engaging. After looking at the “Heart Over Appearance” card, one girl shared there wasn’t anyone in her life with whom she could be her “real” self.

A student at the University of Washington shared ways she had felt judged because of her ethnicity as an Asian-American.

“It was so awesome to discuss with this student that God’s heart is to understand people beyond surface level appearances and prejudices,” a Cru staff member said after using the cards with the student. “That girl, who is not yet a believer, told us that she had no friends at UW and we’ve continued to connect with her since.”

“I love how we get to deep things quickly, but the conversation is free to take on many shapes,” another user said. “‘What Matters?’ helps make gospel principles relevant to people’s hearts and lives.”

Another Cru staff member had a conversation with a woman named “Kate.” She was skeptical and challenged a lot of his ideas. However after looking together at the “Strength in Suffering” card and telling his own story of how God met him in the midst of a painful time, Kate mentioned she had a little brother who was diagnosed with bone cancer and that she came from an abusive family.

He said he could almost hear the cry of Kate’s heart asking, “How could a God who loves me allow this to happen?” As Kate was about to leave, she said, “I’ve never had a conversation with a Christian that was this enjoyable.”

What made the difference in each of these conversations? These people made heart connections. People felt known and valued – not only by a Christian, but by the God who that Christian represents. Evangelism is meant to be meaningful and mutually enjoyable, and the “What Matters?” tool can help that to happen.

“What Matters?” is now available in the Cru Store, and you can learn more at www.whatmatterscards.com.


About the Author: Adrian Pei is an innovator, writer and consultant who has served with Cru and Epic (Cru’s Asian American ministry) for over a decade. His name in Chinese means "honest scholar," and he tries to live up to it. Adrian is writing a book about his experiences as a minority in Cru, aiming to be released by IVP Books in 2018. He'd love for you to join his encouragement team at www.minoritybook.com.