Sharing the Gospel – in 3 Minutes or Less
I recently asked a room full of Christian leaders to share the Gospel as they would to a 10-year-old child 3 minutes before they fell asleep.
Then I asked them to share the Gospel as they would to a complete stranger on the subway who was getting off at the next stop.
The results were a little disappointing to everyone involved.
Most of us prefer to warm up to such things. Most of us would rather share the Gospel gradually, in snips and bits, over an extended period, within a safe and stable relational context.
In general, I think that is a reasonable way to go, but there are also times when we need to be able to at least introduce the Gospel in a limited amount of time.
The two scenarios mentioned above are both real and representative of several situations I’ve encountered in the past.
I’ve had children ask me Gospel questions after bedtime prayers and I have watched the alertness drain out of them like sands through an hourglass as I attempted to say true things about God, about us and about how God has saved us through the person and work of Jesus Christ. I was sitting on the train once reading my Bible when a Hindu fellow in the seat next to me asked me what Christians believed about God. I had two, maybe three stops before I would say goodbye forever to this man so I wanted to say as much as I could in the time that I had — but I quickly discovered that I was not adequately prepared.
Since those two failures (along with several others!) I’ve found great benefit in memorizing a very short statement that captures the essence of the Christian Gospel:
The Gospel is the Good News of what God has done in Christ to secure our salvation.
That statement has 17 words in it and takes about 6 seconds to say. If I’m asked, by a person on the subway or by a patron in line behind me at Tim Hortons, what a Christian believes or what Christianity is all about I will start with that line and then build up from there based on the amount of time that I have.
To the person getting off the subway at the next stop (3 minutes) I would add some version of the following:
The word Gospel means “good news”. It’s pretty important to understand that. The Bible is not a book that tells us what we have to do to earn salvation; it is a book that tells us what God did to earn our salvation. What he did was send Jesus. Jesus did for us what we could never do for ourselves and he paid for what we had done in his body on the cross. God created human beings and intended for them to be ruling creatures. We were supposed to be under God but over everything else. We were supposed to rule over creation under the guidance and authority of God’s Word and to function as conduits for all the blessings of heaven. That’s how it was supposed to be, but unfortunately, the Bible tells the story of how our first parents, Adam and Eve, fell into sin by choosing to rebel against God’s Word in order to become autonomous ruling creatures. Basically, they wanted to be gods unto themselves, deciding good and evil. From that point on, humanity has been on a downward spiral moving further and further away from God and our original design and glory.
It takes 2.5 minutes to say that at normal talking speed, which leaves 30 seconds to answer a question or to suggest a website or a book that could provide further information.
To be clear, I don’t imagine that too many people will be saved by a 180-second presentation of the Gospel — but it could lead to an exchange of email addresses; it could lead to a friend request on Facebook; it could lead to a website or a book or a Small Group. Your 180 seconds could be the seed that is used by God to begin a Gospel journey.