Evangelism has moved in the last 20 years from being a monologue (one-sided conversation) to a dialog (two-way conversation.)Last week we finished up a good week of doing a lot of evangelism with a volunteer team visiting from Texas. One of the things I observed during the many visits with not-yet-believers is that the times where we conversed, we connected. Our monologue presentations of the Gospel usually ended up rather flat and unfruitful.
There are people all around us who are receptive to spiritual discussions and open genuine spiritual guidance. George Barna sites, “That 62% of American adults consider themselves to be not merely ‘religious,’ but ‘deeply spiritual.’” This means that there is more than a 50-50 chance of getting into some type of spiritual conversation with people who travel in and out of your life. Learning to engage people in a meaningful, spiritual dialog is critical for a spiritual leader...
It is important for a leader to think strategically about their conversations throughout the week. If you don't plan it or make room for it, the likelihood is that it is not going to get done. I agree with Brian McLaren’s statement, “We should count conversations rather than conversions, not because I don't believe in conversions, but because I don't think we'll get many conversions if we keep emphasizing them.” The number of conversations you have is directly related to the number of conversions you will see happen over a year.
What seemed to work best was (after introductions) for one of the visiting volunteers to share their story. We then encouraged the listener to interact with what they had picked up on from the story. By engaging listeners with the story, they were more open to sharing their own stories and struggles. The focus of the conversation quickly shifts from the one sharing, to the listener's own story. Heartfelt matters have a way of coming out when we have set the example by being open and transparent with our own stories. Once heart matters have been addressed it becomes easy and natural to apply appropriate Scriptures, prayer, encouragement, tears, hugs, and to offer an invitation for the person to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. During the week we had numerous people pray to receive Christ, including one entire household.
Many times people are not opposed to the Gospel message; rather, they have some obstacle or issue in their life they believe prevents them from being able to turn their lives over to the Lord. Spiritual conversations which have been initiated by the sharing of our personal stories opens doors for effective evangelism.