One of the hardest aspects of evangelism is starting a conversation. If you master how to start a conversation during evangelism, you will be a great evangelist.
Starting a conversation during evangelism is crucial. How a conversation starts dictates how the entire evangelism session will go.
A good conversation starter in evangelism will make the work of winning a soul easy. I have struggled to start evangelism conversations before. I know the regret you get afterwards.
I spent time trying out many ways of starting a conversation during evangelism. The start to my evangelism conversations nowadays is much better.
In this article, I want to share with you the tips I have learned in the hopes that you will become good at starting spiritual conversations during evangelism.
Asking for a Person’s Attention
Everyone you will approach to evangelize to will always be doing something else. There will always be that voice that asks ‘Should I interrupt this person?’
Ignore that voice.
If you find it hard to interrupt people, understand the following: You are presenting those people with life changing information.
There is nothing more valuable that a person can do than to learn about God. Regardless of what someone is doing, God will always be of higher priority.
I once met two lovers having their private talk. It was intimidating to interrupt their conversation but I reasoned it out.
‘These people are enjoying intimacy with one another. Do they know that what they are experiencing is only a shadow of the real thing?’ I decided to interrupt their conversation and ask them if they know that intimacy with God is better than what they were experiencing.
It turned out that the man barely knows love. The woman sided with me as I pressed the man with questions about love. I didn’t expect that evangelism session to turn out that good.
This goes to show that no matter how intimidating interrupting people can be, things can turn out well. People are more welcoming than you would imagine.
Example of a Phrase to Draw Someone’s Attention
When asking for a person’s attention, I simply say ‘Excuse me! Can I talk to you…’
In most cases, people tell me to go ahead. Quite often, I come across people who ask me what I want to talk to them about.
Such kind of people can be a little intimidating but I normally tell them straight up ‘I want to talk to you about Jesus’
Their immediate reaction when they hear me mention Jesus gives me a clue about their faith. Those who claim not to believe in God normally tell me right away they don’t believe in God.
Some tell me they have other issues to take care of. Whatever the response, I normally decide the next move based on the person’s response.
That is normally the end of my ‘introduction script’.
Determining the Length of the Evangelism Session
Immediately after someone gives you attention, it is important to determine how long that person is willing to listen to you.
Everyone is always busy until when they find something more interesting than what is keeping them busy. Always remember this truth when you go out for evangelism.
In other words, anyone who says ‘I don’t have time’ is simply saying ‘I know of something more interesting than what you want to talk to me about’.
Whatever they call ‘more interesting’ may only be more interesting in their eyes. But that will always happen every once in a while.
The goal is to ask for a minimum amount of time for you to present your case. If the person agrees to the minimum time, pour out your best. If the person is impressed within the short time he gave to you, he will most likely give you more time.
Take the example of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob; the woman was impressed by Jesus within a short time and she ended up changing her plans. The Samaritan woman went to call others to come and see Jesus whose words had impressed her.
The Two Extremes of Starting an Evangelism Conversation
The Lamb Approach
The lamb approach of starting an evangelism conversation is based on the lamb aspect of Jesus Christ. Jesus offered himself as a lamb. This is a gentle approach with its main appeal being compassion.
With this evangelism approach, you start your conversation assuming that the person you are speaking to is broken, poor and needs compassion.
Your main goal is to bring healing and pull up the person. This approach uses affirmations to assure the person that God cares about him.
This is a good approach to start a conversation during evangelism but it has its disadvantages.
Benefits of Starting an Evangelism Conversation using the Lamb Approach
Because this approach of starting an evangelism conversation is gentle, you are more likely to appeal to many people. The average person you speak to has many troubles in his life and is in need of someone to comfort him.
When God sent His Son Jesus, He introduced him as the lamb that takes away the sin of the world. This approach made Jesus appealing to people who were broken and lost in sin.
The lamb approach also minimizes chances of arguments. Lambs are normally quiet even when they are mistreated.
The peace and calm that this start to an evangelism conversation offers is a great motivation to use it.
Drawbacks of Starting an Evangelism Conversation using the Lamb Approach
The lamb approach to starting a conversation during evangelism increases the likelihood of someone mistreating you. Since the approach is primarily gentle, proud people are more likely to demean you.
Apostle Paul referred to this mistreatment when he wrote ‘we are considered sheep for slaughter all day long’. The demeaning you experience is discouraging.
Jesus told us that we are like sheep among wolves. You know exactly what happens when a sheep is found in the company of wolves.
Despite this approach of starting an evangelism conversation having drawbacks, it is encouraged especially for beginner evangelists.
The pain and suffering you experience is not new. We have a great cloud of witnesses who went through the same persecution but they held firmly to their faith.
During the trial of Jesus, he humbled himself. At one point, a guard slapped Him for speaking back to the high priest. Jesus gently asked “Tell everyone in the room the wrong I said and if I said no wrong, why did you slap me?”
To me, that was a great comeback from Jesus. When you are demeaned for being gentle, remember the instance that Jesus was slapped.
The Lion Approach to Starting an Evangelism Conversation
Unlike the lamb approach, the lion approach to starting an evangelism conversation involves being firm with your beliefs. In the Lion approach, you don’t give the person you are speaking to a chance to differ with what you are saying.
In starting a conversation with this approach, you go straight to the point you want to pass across without asking whether the person has time for it or not.
You can go to the extent of warning the person against not listening to you. From the human perspective, this evangelism approach may look like harassment but spiritually it is life-saving.
Advantages of Starting a Spiritual Conversation using the Lion Approach
The lion approach intimidates most people who listen. Unless the person you have approached is violent, the message you want to pass will be heard.
In the lamb approach, if the person you have approached says he has no time, you politely leave. But in the lion approach, you attack any excuse that a person brings up.
If a person says I don’t believe in God, you ask them ‘who told you?’ Then ask them ‘Do you want to deny your creator?’ Pin the person down until he has no excuse to give.
Some evangelists even cut off the person when he is giving an excuse. In the lion approach, if the person you are speaking to starts saying something and you realize it is wrong, you cut them off immediately.
With this approach, you can be sure the message has been received even if the person gets angry at you. By the time you leave, the person will either be fully for God or fully against Him. No middle ground.
Disadvantage of the Lion Approach
The lion approach may have negative consequences if you meet a broken person. Broken people need love. If you present them with judgment, unless they are humble enough to swallow the bitter pill, they may give up the faith.
This approach is a ‘do or die’ situation. Some people who had little faith may completely give it up when they are approached with the lion approach.
But anyway, Jesus doesn’t want lukewarm believers. He says in Revelation that He will spit out all those that are lukewarm.
Jesus uses the lion approach in His word in the book of Revelation. Statements such as ‘I am the first and the last’ don’t give room for argument.
Examples of How to Start Evangelism Conversations
Evangelist: Hello, can I speak to you?
Recipient: Hello, what do you want to speak to me about?
Evangelist: Hi, can I talk to you for a minute?
Recipient: Hi, I am rushing somewhere.
Evangelist: I hope you are rushing to Jesus.
Evangelist: Hi, my name is XYZ. Do you know Jesus?
Evangelist: In Matthew 11:28 He said ‘come to me all who are weary and heavily laden and I will give you rest’. Are you weary and heavily laden?
Evangelist: Have you gone to Jesus to give you rest?
Recipient: I do pray.
Evangelist: Do you feel relieved from your burdens?
Recipient: Yeah, a bit
Evangelist: Why do you think you haven’t found complete rest? Was Jesus lying?
Recipient: I don’t know.
Evangelist: Jesus gives complete rest to people who are committed to Him. Are you devoted to Jesus? Have you given Him your life?
Evangelist: Hi, can I speak with you?
Recipient: No problem.
Evangelist: Jesus loves you.
Recipient: I don’t believe in Jesus
Evangelist: Why do you think people love Jesus?
Recipient: He is some fictional character that people use to console themselves.
Evangelist: In what do you console yourself?
Recipient: I work things out myself.
Evangelist: If I told you an easier way to find consolation, would you take it?
Recipient: What is the other way?
Evangelist: Jesus! Do you know how to get consolation from Him?
Recipient: I told you I don’t believe in Jesus.
Evangelist: Do you want an easier way to find consolation when you are in pain?
Recipient: Of course I want.
Evangelist: Why do you reject the easier way when I offer it to you?
Evangelist: Hi, can I speak to you?
Evangelist: Are you okay?
Evangelist: I want to talk to you about Jesus. Have you heard of Him?
Evangelist: Jesus cares about you. Whatever it is that is bothering you, give it to Him. Okay?
Evangelist: Please go to Jesus. God bless you!
Evangelist: I am a disciple of Jesus. Are you?
Recipient: Yes, I am
Evangelist: When did you become His disciple?
Recipient: 5 Years ago
Evangelist: How did you become His disciple?
Recipient: I believed Him
Evangelist: Did someone lead you through a prayer to give your life to Him?
Evangelist: Did you receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
Evangelist: How has been the experience since you received the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
Recipient: It has been good. I thank God!
Evangelist: Do you pray for people?
Recipient: Yeah, sometimes
Evangelist: I want you to pray for me that God may teach me to be a good evangelist
These are some common responses that you may get from different people when you go out for evangelism. Always remember that some will go well while others may not be as good as you expect.
Either way, keep spreading the word of God.