Worth Reading–December 6, 2011
Here’s a helpful post from Harvey Turner at the Resurgence.
How to Talk with People about the Gospel
By Harvey Turner
People Are More Than Projects
The reason why we sometimes fail in evangelism is because people can detect that we see them more as a project than a person. This is true in the context of preaching and one-on-one. People perceive we have an agenda that doesn’t have anything to do with them; it’s just something to get out of them or something to get them to do. Our job is to communicate the gospel, the good news of a perfect Savior who died in the place of sinners, resurrected from the dead, and will one day return. We get to tell people this glorious news, and as we do it, the Apostle Paul gives us insight as to how this is to be communicated.
Colossians 4:6 tell us, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” This gives us three concepts to work with: be gracious, be interesting, and be interested.
1. Be Gracious
Communicate the gospel of grace with the grace that you have received from God and the grace that will be required for them to receive your words. Be kind, be friendly. Don’t get frustrated if they argue, don’t get angry if they don’t believe. “Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). If they have real questions about Christianity, see it as an opportunity to instruct and not an argument to deconstruct. God can use their contentions with Christianity and the gospel to be the very things that bring them back to Jesus. So, be gracious.
“Answer their questions, talk about their issues, but keep bringing them back to Jesus.
”2. Be Interesting
Paul also instructs us that our speech should be “seasoned with salt.” There should some flavor in your conversation. We use salt on food to bring out the flavor of the food, and likewise, we use salt within our gospel conversations to bring out the flavor of the gospel. Be yourself, let your personality come out. If you’re smart, use your intellect (humbly). If you’re winsome, use that to advance the gospel. If you’re funny, use humor. If you’re not funny, don’t use humor.
3. Be Interested
Thirdly, Paul instructs us to “answer each person.” Everybody is different. Each person has different questions, different issues, and different struggles. If we go to them with a canned gospel presentation they’re going to be able to see right through it. Be interested in them and let the Holy Spirit fill you and open the doors as to how you’ll talk about the gospel. Also, be sure that it’s the gospel that you are talking about. Get them to Jesus. Answer their questions, talk about their issues, but keep bringing them back to Jesus. Simply, talk to people about the gospel in a way that respects the person and honors their personhood (they are not a project).