Tag Archives: The Two Minute Relationship

The Two Minute Relationship: Testing the Waters, Diving In

1 Jun

Over the past few weeks, we’ve taken the time to examine a few of the vital social skills which influence our ability to share the Gospel in an effective and timely manner.  We’ve looked at the question, “What’s in a Name?” and considered the importance of taking the time to “Ask, Listen, and Observe”.  We’ve discussed the value of taking the time to “Relate” to the feelings and experiences of others, even though we don’t always handle our circumstances the same way that they do and considered the importance of living “The Life of a Servant”.  This week, we’re going to conclude our exploration of the “Two Minute Relationship” with some discussion on how to test the waters and take the final plunge into a Gospel presentation.  Don’t worry, the waters are friendlier than they may first appear!

You’ve already built the foundation for your relational connection and you know that you and your new “friend” have something in common.  And, if you’ve been carefully listening to their responses and observing their reactions, you’ve probably seen a few subtle cues as to their religious or political leanings (these may not be as “separate” as you’d initially believe).  If they’ve said something specific about their views, all you need to do is pursue their comments with a few more questions.  Approach others with the attitude of a learner and you’ll go far.

In our modern times, we no longer have to travel to the Middle East to meet a Muslim, India to befriend an Hindu, China to encounter a Buddhist, or South America or Africa to meet an Animist;  Many of them are living right next door! They sit beside us in study hall or ring out our purchases at the grocery store.  So once they’ve opened the door, take the time to ask your neighbors, classmates, co-workers, about their culture and beliefs.  Ask to share a meal from their native country.  Learn to say something in their language (yes, “hello” counts!).  Allow them to explain how and why they view the world the way they do.  More frequently than not, you’ll discover that they’re willing to share… and reciprocate by enquiring about your perspective.  You might call this phase of the conversation the “invitation” – it’s the moment when you know you have a clear opening to present the Gospel message.  So dive right in!

Sometimes, however, the “open door” isn’t as clear.  In these cases, you may be able to give it a gentle nudge and see where the conversation goes.  As you talk, take note of religious symbols, tattoos, bumper stickers, and t-shirt slogans.  These give us a glimpse into the lives of others and can serve as quick conversation starters.  Test the waters with an observation and then proceed to a question.  For example, “That’s a really interesting tattoo.  Does it mean something special to you?”  Then listen carefully to the response.

And don’t hesitate to ask the same questions about apparently Christian symbols either! A cross may be viewed as a fashion accessory just as easily as it is a symbol of Redeeming Love.  Whether the person is trying to be elegant or “cool”, their reason for wearing or using a symbol may not be the same as ours and can lead to some excellent opportunities for sharing the Gospel.

I once asked this question of a receptionist who was wearing a very dainty silver cross whether the emblem held any special meaning for her.  She very quickly replied, “Not really… I just like to wear it.  I like the one you’re wearing.”  The result was that her response to my simple question opened up a fantastic opportunity to share with her about the life, hope, and victory found in the One Who died upon the cross! (Commenting on Christian symbols can also have a very positive and encouraging flip side.  Sometimes the person you ask knows exactly what their symbol means.  It gives you a great opportunity to connect with and lift up another Believer, so don’t be shy!)

Don’t be afraid to clearly display your faith either.  Your reactions to people and events can have a profound effect on folks who have seen a lot of counterfeit Christians.  You might even end up on the receiving end of the enquiry!  I once had an exciting opportunity to share with a couple of teenagers in a jewelry store thanks to a belt buckle I wear.  It bears the initials IXOYE, an abbreviation for the Greek words meaning “Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior.”  The clerk saw it and thinking it “really cool”, asked me what it said!

As you learn more about those around you, you will begin to see ways to share Christ that you never even imagined!  Be curious and let the Spirit move!  Even if one specific encounter doesn’t lead to a discussion, it may serve as a springboard – God’s preparation for another encounter later on.

The Two Minute Relationship: What’s in a Name?

4 May

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!

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