Charles Mallory, Assistant Pastor, Motley Free Methodist Church
I believe one of the greatest fears amongst Christians is the one thing we are called to do most often: evangelize! I think the reason most Christians find it so hard is that they have this idea that to evangelize “properly” you must “win them to Christ” on the first encounter.
Evangelism, instead, is not an “all at once” cold-sell approach, but a process of allowing God to work over a period of time through your personality, talents and faithfulness to draw someone into His kingdom.
It is through our constant actions and attitudes that God builds the bridges that allow us to share the Gospel when the opportunity presents itself. It cannot be forced. It must be allowed to come in its proper time and place.
The saying is true: “People will not listen until they have first been heard and people will not care unless they first see that you sincerely care about them.” Because evangelism is a process, we must understand that it may take weeks, months, or years to see someone give their life to Christ.
1 Peter 3:15 tells us to “give the reason for the hope that you have, but do this with gentleness and respect.” The word “gentleness” describes the characteristic of the Christian that trusts God to do the work of changing a person’s attitude toward the Gospel. We aren’t called to win arguments and debates as if God needs us to defend him. That’s not what “winning” someone for Christ means.
Whether it is accepted or met with hostility, we must always be polite and respectful when communicating the good news of Jesus Christ. Our words and body-language must exemplify a sensitive and loving spirit so that others will be receptive to listening to all we have to say.