I was in a meeting recently, where we were discussing the findings by a team working on an SLI project called, Changing Evangelism. The focus was on giving specific attention to sowing in our evangelistic efforts. Kevin Kneeshaw, CFM ND Greater Northwest Region, mentioned the need for the person we are sharing with to trust the one sharing. I was intrigued by those thoughts and asked if he would share them with you.
I read a great book recently by Doug Everts and Doug Schaupp, some Intervarsity staff in California, I Once Was Lost: What Postmodern Skeptics Taught Us About Their Path to Jesus. The authors set out to determine common thresholds or barriers that postmodern skeptics had to overcome in their journey to Christ. Two thousand believers were interviewed and research found five common thresholds that were crossed as these people became Christ followers. The first of the five thresholds was “trusting a Christian.” This has led to much thought and consideration for me as a Christ follower and laborer with Campus Crusade for Christ. Our culture is rapidly changing and I must consider ways to build trust with people, students and faculty in my life who have yet to come to faith in Christ. As for the other four thresholds, I would encourage you to get the book and enjoy a great read! You can get it at Amazon for $10.
Here are some things that I have learned about building trust. Most of these come from CoJourners.
- Ask good questions. Take time to really get to know someone.
- Ask to hear their life journey, their story. Just listen!
- Pray! Remember that this is a spiritual venture. God is the only One who can change a person’s life. It’s not about how slick you are or how good you are at building relationships.
- Look for a way you can meet a real need that they have in their life. You will only be able to do this if you have been a good listener.
- Acknowledge their barriers to the Gospel/Christ as real and legitimate. Don’t act surprised by the things that keep them from embracing Christ. Remember that all of us at some point had barriers to the Gospel and Jesus.
- Invite them into community. Let them see you having a good time with other Christ followers.
- Be honest, not pushy, with what is most important in your life. If Jesus really is the most important thing in your life, don’t wait too long to share this with them and let them know why Jesus is the most important relationship in your life. How is your life different now after receiving Christ than it was before becoming a Christ follower?
Eric Dellaire, Student LINC Consultant, says that evangelism is a set of learned social skills. We want everyone connected with our ministries to know how to and to be on the look out for ways to share their faith. Evangelism is an essential part of our DNA. We must break these skills down into simple enough steps so that those involved can see themselves doing them. Kevin steps helps do just that.
Some resources that can help.