12/30/15 Robert, Kevin, Fiona 30’s
Part of the fear of reaching out to strangers with the Gospel is one never knows what to expect, such as how people will react or what kind of questions they might ask. When I first began I even thought I might get punched or laughed at for bringing up the subject, and while I still accept that possibility experience has shown me that strangers are much kinder than I gave them credit for. A more realistic concern might be that it can be hard to keep a Gospel conversation on topic. Yesterday I used a “trillion dollar” gospel tract to ask a fellow shopper at Menards the trillion dollar question – “What will happen when we die?” The fellow shopper turned out to be Robert, a very opinionated talker, and he had strong opinions about religion as well as politics and different cultures and you name it. But because I had begun the conversation about religion, it was no problem to listen for a while about his other opinions, and then get the conversation back on the Gospel. However, during one of his many rabbit trails about other topics, two other customers, Kevin and Fiona, joined in, and the conversation quickly focused on politics. How could I get the conversation back on the Gospel, when two of the three hadn’t even joined the conversation for that reason? The answer is simple, and can be used in the middle of almost any conversation – just ask! Sometimes we Christians try to talk about the Gospel in subtle ways, “testing the waters” by dropping small hints to see if people are interested in talking about it. In my experience, it is far better to be open and honest and, yes, bold, and just ask, as I did with Kevin and Fiona – “Hey, I have an interesting question. Robert and I were just talking here about what happens after this life. I’m a Christian from a church nearby, and I believe it’s important to not just talk about our beliefs at church but to get out and see what other people think, so what do you two think about that question?” After an awkward pause, Kevin, a veteran of several tours of duty in Iraq and a very opinionated person himself, joined in and we began a long and robust conversation about the Gospel. Yes, it had its share of rabbit trails, but because I had boldly asked permission at the start, it was no problem to get back on track. Don’t just test the waters, dive in! Once you get past that initial awkwardness, people will appreciate your boldness in taking the lead in a conversation that most are too timid to start for themselves.