“Most people agree that we are living in divisive and difficult times. What brings you hope in the midst of all that’s going on?” This is an opening line I’ve been using to engage people in dialogue about life, hope and faith. Recently in a conversation with a young man, he told me that his father gave him hope. This began an almost hour long conversation in which I got to know him and was able to share Christ with him. He didn’t bring up faith in his answer, so I asked directly, “Does faith or a belief in God give you hope?” He nodded and shared about his grandmother’s influence on him, “She always goes to church and talks about her faith.” He clearly hadn’t thought much about his own relationship with God. When I asked him what he thought God was like, he didn’t have a clear answer. I told him that Jesus shared a story about what God is like that really stands out. Then I walked him through the story of the Prodigal Son. He was tracking with me as I engaged him with questions about the story. The father running to his son in the story and welcoming him back with a party clearly gave this young man I was talking to new insight into God’s heart and God’s character. He asked me where he could find that story, so I showed him how to download the YouVersion Bible app on his phone and then took him to Luke 15. I shared how God desires for us to all be family, but we’ve got to turn from our sin and believe that Jesus’ death and resurrection are our path to the free gift of salvation and life eternal. He wasn’t ready to take that step, so I gave him my contact info, inviting him to keep the conversation going.
As Jesus traveled throughout the land, he had compassion on the people because they were “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’” Matthew 9:36b-38. Think about the people you encounter in your neighborhood, workplace, school and community. Do they have purpose and direction? Do they have hope and peace? Are they like sheep without a shepherd? Generally speaking, people are open to authentic conversations about hope, about faith and about God. They don’t want a lecture, so we can engage with honest questions and create the dialogue where we can “give the reason for the hope that we have.” (1 Peter 3:15-16).
If you want to be better equipped to share your faith with people, here are a couple of resources to help you:
Nicky Gumbel on evangelism in the 21st century
Everystudent.com – An online resource from Cru
Book: Questioning Evangelism: Engaging People's Hearts the Way Jesus Did by Randy