Last time, we discussed three ways to accomplish one of the most practical milestones in the evangelism process, step three: ENGAGE, be ENGAGING, and arrange ENGAGEMENTS. It is during step three that we begin to spend quality time with our neighbor. Many of the steps to follow will rely on a consistent dedication to this. For example, without having first accomplished step three, achieving the very next step can be awkward, weird, and uncomfortable. However, if we truly succeed in step three, the following will be realistic, natural, and logical. Once we have spent quality time with our neighbor, we can now move on to the next phase of the evangelism process… EXPRESSING our faith.
It is one thing to be willing to introduce yourself, build a rapport, and engage with your neighbor… it is a whole different thing to begin expressing your spirituality to them. Most of us do not believe we possess the tact, the acumen, or the aptitude to express spiritual matters with our neighbor. It is a true and accurate acknowledgment that step four is vastly different than the first three. However, we have to begin to steer the conversation and the relationship towards God at some point. Once we have taken the initiative to know our neighbor, build a rapport with our neighbor, and engage our neighbor… it becomes exponentially less challenging to express faith to them. It is when we skip steps one through three when expressing our spirituality is uncomfortable. If we spend the adequate time and effort laying the groundwork and framework of a relationship, expressing our faith is just the next logical milestone.
We must realize the simplicity of this step to understand how achievable, feasible, and obtainable it really is. Expressing your faith does not have to be a lengthy discussion, or anything more than a sentence here or there. In fact, this really is not the time to dive into a long-winded spiritual discourse. Instead, it is as simple as, “Hey, would you mind if I said a prayer for this meal?” Or, “God is good!” Or, “Man, I cannot wait until Sunday!” Or especially, “Is there anything I can be praying for you about?” This kind of attitude will pique their interest and show them there is something different about you. We are not doing this to be better than everyone else; we are doing it to be DIFFERENT than everyone else. This is exactly who we are called to be according to 1 Peter 2:9-10… “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.”
The problem arises when we choose to be no different than anyone else in the neighborhood, at work, at school, in the friend group, or in the family. When we make no distinction to our neighbor that something is intriguing about us, we are simply the same as everyone else in their lives. Expressing our faith may be the very thing that separates us from the interactions they have with everyone else. When we look at the Church in the New Testament, this is exactly what separated them from the world. The disciples and apostles were constantly expressing faith to EVERYONE they came into contact with. Again, remember our goal is not to boil the ocean; it is merely to boil a teapot. Meaning, instead of focusing on everyone in your neighborhood, or everyone at work, or everyone at school, or all your friends… concentrate on ONE. When we commit to this, there is a sense of realistic optimism telling us that THIS CAN BE DONE! Never think that these little expressions will not lead to great things, sometimes it can be the very power of God! Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…”
Most of these expressions we can make amid rapport building or an arranged engagement. Throughout one of these opportunities, all we have to do to accomplish step four is to drop little seeds of spirituality into the conversation. What we cannot do as soul winners is to continue rapport building or spend quality time with our neighbor without ever expressing these simple seeds of faith. When we are guilty of doing this, they become the friend that we have never spoken to about Jesus. When this happens, it might be the case that they change categories from next-door neighbor or co-worker to the friend category. This means we have done a phenomenal job of rapport building and engaging but may have done a horrible job at expressing faith to them, which leads to more substantive matters.
There are a plethora of ways to express our faith. Everyone is going to have his or her own way of doing it. There is no ONE way to express your faith. The key is to find what works for you. The following steps all hinge on us being able to plant these early seeds into the relationship. To ‘express’ literally means, “To convey a thought or feeling in words or by gestures and conduct.” This gives us three different options for how to EXPRESS our faith. We can express through words, express through gestures, or express through our conduct. The choice is really yours to make. Unless we express in the early stages of the process, the chances are, we will not be as successful as we could have been in the latter stages. Making these expressions are the very thing that shows our neighbor that we have our hearts and minds FIXED on God, on Christ, and on His Church. So, just like the old song suggests… “EXPRESS YOURSELF!”
-Ben Hogan, Minister of Evangelism