Why does sharing about Jesus seem so scary? I remember my college Campus Crusade team preparing to spend Spring Break on the beach in Florida sharing the Four Spiritual Laws with young people. When teammates asked if I was going, I gave an emphatic, “No!” Not because the beach didn’t seem appealing, and not because I didn’t think sharing about Jesus was a valuable use of my Spring Break, but as an introvert, the idea of going up to random strangers to broach a spiritual conversation was terrifying.
A few years later, after marrying my highly extroverted, evangelism-gifted husband, Adam, and moving across the country to intern as church planters, I found myself face to face with that fear again. My husband saw the single mom who lived next door to us come home with groceries. He encouraged me to go out and talk to her in hopes that I'd be able to share about Jesus. I balked, but he stood fast and gently pushed me out the back door, locking it behind me. Yes, my husband actually locked me outside to force me to talk to our neighbor! Well, it turned out that she had zero interest in talking to me. She beelined it into her house, leaving me to knock on my door for my husband to let me in and give him a piece of my mind.
Looking back, my husband and I both laugh at his immaturity in thinking that I was just like him. We laugh at his audacity to force me out of my comfort zone by literally locking me out of the house. Sixteen years have passed since then and I have learned a lot from my husband about starting conversations with strangers around me.
I’ve also learned that evangelism actually works best not through passing out Bible tracts or giving prepared speeches at the front doors of strangers, but through building relationships with those directly around us.
Learn to embrace the awkward.
We often chuckle and say that my husband has the spiritual gift of awkwardness. I could tell story after story of his accidental awkwardness and how it has opened doors to relationships with those around us. Adam doesn’t overthink things. He asks real questions in real-time even if it seems embarrassing to me. People quickly recognize his genuineness and open up to him. He isn’t held back by fear of what others might think. When he says or does something awkward, he will often claim it and laugh over it with whomever. Then, just like that, the walls come down and he has the opportunity to go deeper. I too have learned to embrace the awkward.
Pause to pray with people.
It doesn’t matter where or when, Adam is quick to stop and pray with people. When he was traveling for a particular job, it seemed that every trip resulted in a story of him stopping and praying for someone in need, praying for another Christian who needed encouragement, or praying for someone having a medical emergency in the airport. He would often call and say, “You’re never gonna believe what happened to me today.” I’ve learned over the years that I certainly can believe what happened to him on a given day because I know that he regularly prays for and actively looks for these opportunities.
One of my favorite things that he does on a regular basis is when we go out to eat. After placing our order, he will let the server know that we are getting ready to pray for our meal and that we would love to pray for any needs that they have too. Sometimes the answer is that "they’re good," but Adam simply assures them that we are happy to pray for them anyway. More times than not, the server will stay at the table as we pray, and Adam takes that opportunity to share about Jesus through the prayer.
I have now taken his tradition to my two favorite coffee shops. I’m there every day, usually in the drive-through, but I’ve gotten to know the baristas at the window by name. I often ask if there is anything they need prayer for that day.
It’s a small and simple thing, but I'm learning that it's a consistent way to share the love of Jesus.
Extend the invite and build relational safety.
Adam loves to invite people into our home. He is a chaplain at the local speedway, and for several years we've had intentions of inviting some people from there. But . . . life is busy and we never put it on the calendar. Just days before this past Christmas, Adam slipped on ice at work and fell, causing compression fractures in his back. He spent the holidays in the hospital and New Year's in an acute rehab facility. He had to relearn to sit, stand, and walk assisted by a large clamshell brace. In the blink of an eye, our world was upended. I recall sitting in a room in the emergency department with my husband wondering what all lay before us. Still, there was a sense of calm and peace that whatever the future held, the Lord would be holding us and he had a plan to use this injury for a purpose - to point others to Jesus.
When Adam came home from rehab, we realized that we had an incredible opportunity in front of us. People wanted to see him. They wanted to bring us meals and we wanted to have them in our home to build relationships! We prayed and asked God to help us not waste this unique opportunity. On more than one occasion, when people from our racing community at the speedway reached out to bring us a meal, we asked if they would come and eat with us. Building relational safety with people is a huge first step in sharing Jesus. I love this quote from the book B.L.E.S.S. by Dave and Jon Ferguson:
When you befriend and bless people, they feel relationally safe and want to know your story. Then, and only then, you can tell them how the love of God and Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection have changed you.
B. L. E. S. S.
I was excited as a staff member at Berean when we began walking through the B.L.E.S.S. book together. This book, mentioned above, shares and explains five practical everyday ways to love your neighbor and change the world by sharing God’s love using a simple acronym:
Begin with prayer.
The book itself, with stories from the authors' own experiences, is incredibly encouraging, but I found myself even more encouraged by the conversations with my small group of Berean staff as we gathered weekly to discuss the chapters, pray together for our neighbors, and encourage one another to take small steps on the pathway to B.L.E.S.S.
We're all in this together!
You too can learn simple, practical ways to share Jesus with those around you. I highly encourage you to read the book or, better yet, sign up to participate in the B.L.E.S.S. class right here at Berean. You will have the opportunity to discuss the book, share stories, pray for one another and for your neighbors, and be truly encouraged.
Together, we can make an impact!