There is no precise formula to evangelism. The kind of conversation you have about Jesus with a stranger is probably a lot different than the one you’d have with a family member. Your understanding of a loved one and your shared experience informs the way you talk to them about Jesus, but they can also make you cautious about sharing your faith in a way that doesn’t hurt your relationship.
Hopefully, you’re comfortable having discussions that are spiritually deep and significant … not necessarily the kind of conversations that explain the gospel and press your listener for a decision, but the sort of dialogue that deals with spiritual and moral themes. These deep, casual conversations prepare you for the moment when you ask your loved one to accept Jesus, and that’s the kind of Jesus discussion we’re talking about here.
Be careful about when you have that high-stakes discussion. If you do it at the wrong time, it’s like hitting Reset. You’ll probably need to take a step back and wait for a new opportunity.
Here are some tips for recognizing when it’s time to have the Jesus talk.
Pay attention to the setting
The first thing to be mindful of is whether the background for this talk is going to make it easier or harder. Are there a lot of people around who are going to be a distraction or potentially insinuate themselves into the discussion? Are there people close enough that your loved one is going to be self-conscious about talking openly? Is it really noisy?
As much as it’s possible, find a location that feels comfortable and natural. Walks in nature can provide a beautiful setting, and remind you of God’s closeness. It’s also nice to have a profound conversation where you can look off into the same direction instead of dealing with the awkwardness some people feel in face-to-face discussions.
Is the timing right?
This isn’t a conversation you want to rush, so choose a time when neither of you has to speed off to another appointment or responsibility. It’s hard to have a weighty conversation if either of you is monitoring the time.
More importantly, gauge the timing for them. Do they seem open and vulnerable right now? Look for signs that they’re engaged and ready for this conversation. Are they listening carefully and asking questions? What kind of emotion do you see on their face? Receptivity? Guardedness?
If the moment doesn’t seem entirely right, excuse yourself and pray for guidance. If you feel prompted to forge ahead anyway, try to steer the conversation in that direction in a way that feels natural. But don’t be afraid to let it go and make plans to have a go at the discussion later.
It’s never going to be perfect
Be mindful of falling into the trap of waiting for the perfect moment. The perfect moment is the enemy of the right moment. What you’re looking for is an opportunity that is free from apparent obstacles and distractions. But be careful not to pass up a perfectly good circumstance because you’re holding out for the ideal moment.
Keep praying for your loved one, and ask God to prompt you when the moment is right-and to give you the courage to take advantage of that opportunity.
Cru® and Jesus Film Project® are happy to supply evangelism tools and resources geared towards different ages, cultures and evangelism approaches, such as the Jesus Film Project app, Soularium™, Perspective Cards and additional ideas, to help you share Jesus with others!