When you hear the word “evangelism,” what do you think of? Tracts? Door-to-door? Asking someone, “If you were to die tonight, would you go to heaven or hell?” Most of us think about a confrontational approach, where we are trying to force something on someone or convince them of something that they may or may not be ready to receive. It’s like force-feeding a 5-year-old broccoli: it might be good for them, but it’s going to be a fight going down.
This is an unfortunate picture of evangelism, and probably why most churches and Christians don’t actively engage in it or are terrified of it.
I’d like to propose that we turn evangelism from a “sales pitch” into more of a daily practice.
Similar to what we’d do with prayer or scripture reading, a daily spiritual practice of evangelism will turn your heart and mind outward and make you a more willing participant in sharing the Gospel with those in your everyday life.
So…here’s how it works. Every day, you do the following:
1. Ask the Lord, “Is there someone you would have me talk to outside of my Christian brothers or sisters today?” Simple. Ask God Himself if there is anyone He would like you to talk to. Not share the Gospel with. Not convert. Just talk to. It may be someone you know, or it may be someone that you don’t know.
The bottom line is that, daily, you are intentionally asking God to bring someone who does not yet know Him across your path.
This daily activity will begin to open your eyes to all the people around you.
2. Hear His call. The Lord is always calling or nudging us. He sometimes pops a name into our minds, or sends someone directly across our path. If we combine the asking with the hearing, we’ll often see Him at work. If you prayed, “Lord, is there anyone you would have me talk to outside my Christian brothers or sisters today?” and then, 2 hours later, you’re walking down the hallway and the bookkeeper pops up and says, “Hey, how was your weekend?” BAM. God is calling. He is nudging. Sometimes we don’t know what it means, but our best response is similar to the response of the prophet Samuel: “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:10)
3. Obey the nudge. So, now you’ve asked, you’re listening for the call or waiting for the nudge, and it comes. Now what? Obey. To obey is not to rattle off some memorized speech on the depravity of man and the bridge Christ built across the chasm. There’s another simple question you’ll ask. Ready for it? “How are you doing today?” Just that question. Now…the reason for this question is that it is the start of a conversation where they are the ones talking, not you. Normally, they will say, “Fine, how are you?” And this is where you stop and ask again, “How are you, really?” And no matter what their response is, you keep asking questions. Don’t preach, don’t give advice, and don’t stop asking questions. You’ll be surprised where this conversation goes. This is seed planting right here. You’re taking time out of your day to care about someone. This is the spiritual conversation you asked to have this morning when you prayed that prayer. This is it! You did it! You had a conversation with someone about their lives that they weren’t expecting to have. Now, you can offer to pray for them if you’d like, or some of your personal faith journey may come up, but it doesn’t have to. It’s simply that you asked, you listened, and you obeyed. But we’re not done yet.
4. Report this conversation to other believers. Talk about this with your small group or the men in your men’s ministry. We used to call this “testimony” until it became too sensational. But, when you simply talk about how you asked God, you heard God and you obeyed God and had a simple spiritual conversation with someone, it will encourage you and those who are listening. Because as you report, the listeners will…
5. Notice where God is at work in the story. As you share, your small group should be listening to see where God is at work in your life and where He is at work in the life of the one you spoke with. It’s amazing when you hear their feedback on this, because often, they’ll see something you don’t see. You’ll be encouraged and inspired as you see the Holy Spirit at work in the lives of people who do not yet know Him. It will transform your everyday life and you’ll begin to look for God in the nooks and crannies of your daily life.
The experts call this approach “ACORN”:
A – Ask
C – Call
O – Obey
R – Report
N – Notice
I call it the best way to practice evangelism, not as a sales pitch or a one-off activity, but as a daily spiritual practice that anyone can do.
Try it this week.