Sometimes discussions about sharing our faith reveal an uncomfortable truth; many of us don't have relationships with a lot of non-Christians. The longer one is a Christian, the easier it is to spend most of your time with and around other believers. Building relationships with people who don't know the Lord requires some forethought.
Here are some suggestions for creating friendships with folks who need to hear the gospel.
1. Go where the need is
You have a lot of interests shared by people outside of the church. There are civic groups, workshops, classes, and clubs centered around everything from gardening to cars. If you love sports, join a community sports team or coach some little leaguers. Just do it with the purpose of forging new connections.
2. Introduce yourself to your neighbors
According to a recent Pew Research study, only 31 percent of Americans claim to know their neighbors. Getting to know one's neighbors is such an easy way for Christians to begin the work of relationship building.
There are several ways to pull this off:
- Greet your neighbors when you see them.
- Deliver treats to them on holidays.
- Put together a summer barbecue or get together in your home.
- Offer to help when you see them working in their yard.
- Join your homeowners' association.
3. Get to know the people that serve you
Do you have a regular postal worker who delivers your mail? Do you have a favorite restaurant where you could make a connection with a particular server? How about a checker at the grocery store or stylist at your hair salon?
Create a rhythm. Visit at specific times of the day and sit in the same areas. Make it a point to become a regular in establishments where you can create a rapport with particular individuals.
4. Pray for God to bring people to you
If you're serious about making connections with non-Christians, tell Jesus. He's more interested in seeing it happen than you are! Ask Him to create opportunities for new relationships and to open doors for discussions about the gospel.
Once we start praying for these opportunities, it's critical that we keep our eye out for them. If we spend all of our time buried in our phone and not paying attention to people around us, we can miss those divine appointments. This is a two-part process that includes praying for people and then watching for ways Jesus answers those prayers.
Creating legitimate relationships
As we seek to build connections with people who don't know Jesus, it's critical that we don't have a salesperson's mindset. We're not just looking for people to witness to (although sometimes that's what we get), but we're also looking for people to demonstrate Jesus's love to. It's fairly apparent when all we're looking to do is evangelize, but when we create legitimate friendships and show genuine care, trust is created—and trust creates openness.
Don't worry about feeling ready to share your faith. Look for ways to interact with people who need Jesus and pray for willingness to share.