A friend of mine tells me that he gets tired of hearing Christians say that they can’t possibly share the Salvation Message with someone they’ve just met. The argument is that, “It’s just a bad idea to share the Gospel if you aren’t doing it within the context of a relationship. After all, how would you feel if a stranger walked up to you and started telling you what you should believe or how you should live?” While my friend agrees that the relationship is key, he also says that it only really takes two minutes to develop one.
In fact, connecting with people can be quite easy… if you’re willing to try. This skill is critical to evangelism, because we frequently meet people who we will never see again. While not every Christian is an extrovert who will spend hours standing on a street corner talking to a total stranger, each of us should take the time to learn to develop the type of connections that will allow us to share Christ in a very short period of time without offending or frightening people!
Over the next several weeks, we’ll be looking at a number of great relationship building techniques that will help you make those instant connections with the sales clerks, service providers, fellow students, and folks you’re passing on the street and which may even lead to an opportunity to talk about Jesus and all that He has done for you. This week, we’ll focus on the age-old question, “What’s in a name?”
If we’re honest, many people (not just Christians) find it awkward just striking up a conversation with the person standing next to them in the checkout line or the sales clerk ringing up their purchase. There is this certain hesitancy about what one ought to say and a mild fear that whatever comes out of our mouths will be the very thing that we ought not to have said. The result is that, even if we do have the courage to begin a discussion, it very rarely leads to any sort of relational connection.
For a long while, I struggled with this frustration, until I had the opportunity to watch my Pastor handle the exact same situation. It seemed that he knew the name of everyone he met and entered into every conversation as though they were old friends – something which couldn’t have been the case, since we were going places that he had never been. It didn’t take me long to realize that before he approached anyone, he’d take the time to glance at their name tag. Then, when he addressed them, he did so by name.
The results of this technique were amazing. You could actually see the person’s eyes light up; He wasn’t talking to just any old employee; He was talking to them! The connection was made and a relationship begun.
I gave this a try and was amazed at how quickly my own conversations evolved after the simple use of a name. Instead of engaging in small talk, the people I encountered would start telling me about their family, their plans for the holidays, or the difficulty they were having getting their boyfriend to commit or their landlord to fix their leaky faucet!
It gave me an opportunity to actually learn something about them. Some of them even started remembering who I was when I came back to their place of business. As the relationships evolved (sometimes in just a matter of minutes), I had plenty of opportunities to share about the good things that God has to offer.
My conclusion: it really does take just a couple of minutes to form a relationship and the use of a name is a great place to start!