Our pastor requested that several of us attend an all-day workshop on evangelism being held at a local church. The speaker’s primary message was that in order for a church to be effective in its outreach, it needed awareness that evangelism was primarily a selling job. The participants were divided into small groups and requested to identify at least three “products” that our church had to offer. A number of worthwhile “features” were identified: a staffed nursery; coffee hour; a new building; even possibility of salvation was mentioned.
The speaker’s next focus was on “making the sale”. Various scriptural passages were identified and expounded upon. As I reflected on how the suggested “sales” pitch would impact me if I were a non-believer, I found my eyes glazing over and I felt more annoyed than enlightened. I sensed that the workshop leader’s approach seemed to be more appropriate for selling a box of soap powder rather than Jesus Christ. The speaker didn’t notice my mental fade out as he droned on and on. I mentally questioned how the citing of scriptural verses would persuade a non-believer, who probably never had a meaningful encounter with the Bible. Several of quotes from D.L. Moody came to mind: “Where one man may read the Bible, a hundred read you and me.” And “What do people learn about Jesus Christ by watching me?” Moody’s observations seemed more geared to reaching out for Christ than the “soap selling” techniques advocated by the speaker.
As I reflected on my own conversion I did not recall any quoting of selected biblical verse but rather quiet contacts with Christians in whom I could sense the living Christ. These encounters occurred over a period of time and prompted me to attempt to assess their secrets. This led me to ask questions and start investigating their source of strength and trying to acquire it for myself. While my conversion was not as dramatic as the Apostle Paul’s, it has grown over the years and convinced me that people listen not so much to what we are saying but rather what we say and do.
What do we share? The opening verses of 1 John suggests what it takes: “We are telling you about what we ourselves have actually seen and heard, so that you may share the fellowship and joys we have with the Father and with Jesus Christ His Son”. Each believer has a faith story and it is his/hers to share; each individual story may be different but is ours to share.
We need to take time to consider our own faith story. Through whom has God’s love touched our life? When have I heard Christ calling, and how do I respond? Where have I seen God at work in my life, and what difference has it made in the way I live? How has the Holy Spirit made an impact on my life? How has He strengthened and guided me? If we are generous in sharing our unique faith journey, we can trust God with the result of the seeds we have sown. We do not need techniques to sell Jesus; because unless He is evident in our words and deeds we will have little chance for any prospective buyers.