The next two weeks we will briefly look at the topic of evangelism. Let’s get some transparency on the table right up front: I would not describe evangelism as one of my gifts. I am what is often referred to as a closeted introvert. This is someone who is an introvert, but pretends to be an extrovert. I am comfortable around those I know, and can appear quite outgoing, but the difficulty soon surfaces in a crowd of people I don’t know well. If I appear outgoing in these environments, it’s because I’m faking it. (There’s something odd there when my intention is to be transparent, but I’m telling you I’m faking it.)
Evangelism and introverts do not go well together. Mention the word “evangelism,” and we often think of the street preacher proclaiming the gospel to a large crowd of hecklers. I’ve been in those environments, and even though I am an onlooker, I can feel the blood draining to my feet as I see the street preacher setting up the box he will stand on and opening his Bible to Matthew 3. Suddenly, like thunder, you hear his voice shouting above the commotion, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is near!” With those words, he launches into a steady stream of preaching designed to draw in a crowd and draw fire from the extroverted atheists in the crowd.
As I thought and prayed about our devotionals for the next two weeks, the pressing issue for me seemed simple: how can an introvert be faithful to the command to make disciples? What does “introverted evangelism” look like?
My Story As An Evangelist
My story might give you some insight. Believe it or not, I found it much easier to be a witness for Jesus Christ before I entered full-time vocational ministry than I do today. About two years before God began to draw me into full-time ministry, I worked for Iowa Public Television. I think it is safe to say most of my coworkers knew I was a Christian, and it was not uncommon for spiritual conversations to happen as part of doing life together. These conversations seemed to naturally flow into the gospel, and into discussions about the Bible.
When I accepted my position with a local church, an interesting thing happened—suddenly, the opportunities to share the gospel in a natural flow of conversation started to disappear. Within two or three years, it is safe to say these conversations ceased altogether.
This doesn’t mean I never had a conversation with anyone about spiritual things or the gospel. The opportunities were still there, but now, working in a church, it felt like it was simply a part of my job. Moreover, I also started to realize there were a lot more barriers than before. Even though I was not a pastor, most people just assume that if you work for church, you are a pastor. The conversations were there, but it now felt like people knew they were talking with “a professional minister,” and their guard was up.
Another unintended consequence of working for a church is that your pool of non-church friends slowly dries up. This year, I am approaching 25-years in full-time ministry. When you live your life in a ministry setting, you soon discover you live in a Christian bubble. Your opportunity to meet friends and develop new relationships with folks outside of your church grow smaller and smaller as the years go by.
In short, this is where the spotlight shines on the introverted evangelist. Now, in order to share the gospel with someone, you literally have to cold call on folks because most of your natural, day-to-day relationships are with believers.
Evangelism for Introverts
In searching for some material to help guide us through the next two weeks, I came across the book, Just Walk Across the Room by Bill Hybels. In this book, Hybels provides four simple steps that will help the “non-evangelists” among us to be actively involved in sharing the gospel.
Be aware of the single greatest gift you can give someone. The single greatest gift Christ-followers can give to the people around them is an introduction to the God who created them, who loves them, and who has a purpose for their lives.
Become engaged in the lives of those around you by living a “3D” lifestyle. This means you choose to Develop friendships, Discover life stories, and Discern appropriate next steps based on the Holy Spirit’s promptings — in other words, live in “3D.”
Learn to become a story teller. Regardless if you are formally “gifted” in evangelism or not, all of us can prepare to engage people in spiritual conversations and do what we can to point people toward faith in God. When conversations take a spiritual turn, it is critical to know how to convey two stories with humility, clarity, and brevity: your own faith story and God’s good news story.
Become focused on Grander Vision Living. What is Grander Vision Living? It’s allowing other pursuits to fall away in order to focus on the priority that is nearest to the heart of God: people. When you choose to pursue the Grander Vision, you will be joining with God in the most magnificent mission imaginable: finding what’s lost, restoring what’s broken, and reclaiming what’s his.
We can summarize this new mind set with a simple prayer request: “May God’s Passion Become My Mission.”
Video Component for this Study
To help you fully engage in this two-week study, there is a video component. You can access the Just Walk Across the Room videos by logging into your RightNow Media account. If you haven’t access RightNow Media yet, this is our online study library that contains thousands of video Bible studies. As an attender of First Family Church or a reader of The Compass, the RightNow library is free for you to use. Here’s some quick links to get you started:
- Learn more about FFC’s Online Learning Library.
- Register for your free user account.
- Login and begin using the videos available online.
I hope you will join us as we look at New Covenant Evangelism, and how even the introverts among us can be faithful to Jesus’ command to “go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:18-20).