Before we hit the streets and begin telling everyone we meet about the good things that God has done for us, I’d like to offer a word to the wise: Evangelism isn’t like telemarketing. This isn’t about adding notches to the handle of your revolver and you don’t make a commission based on how much merchandise you sell during the dinner hour. In fact, if you approach evangelism with this mentality, you’re probably going to make more enemies than friends. People aren’t stupid: they can tell the difference between when you’re sharing with them because you genuinely care about them and their eternal destiny and when you’re just trying to win another heavenly merit badge. Effective evangelism isn’t just about the message; It’s about the way that message is delivered. Our choice of words, the tone of our voice, and even our body language can convey ideas… and not always the right ones!
This really hit home for me when I was hired to sign people up for a loyalty club at a local store. I expected to receive some rejections, but after a while, I started to get irritated with being told no… even when I was told so politely. It didn’t take long for me to realize that my feelings had nothing to do with what my potential customers were saying, but with what they were doing. As they said, “No, thank you”, some of them would hold out their hand towards me, palm first. Mentally, I was reading this as, “Shut up! You bug me!”
We often send similar messages when we evangelize. Our words may be carefully chosen to reflect the admonition of 1 Peter 3:15 to, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”, but our actions may be conveying just the opposite. And we may not even realize it!
This week, recruit a good friend to help you identify where your delivery could use some improvement. Role play a scenario with them and have them identify words, tones, and actions that make them feel uncomfortable, belittled, or as though you just aren’t interested in what they have to say. Then take the advice to heart. The more distractions we eliminate, the easier it will be to focus both our attention and the attention of others on the message that really matters!