Evangelism Jesus' Style
Friday Evening, May 3, 2002
Jesus’ style of evangelism is not about wording everything perfectly so you come across like an intelligent man. That’s what Jesus meant when he said, “Don’t consider what to say or how to say it because My Father will speak through you.” You can really trust in the One that’s real and not counterfeit. You don’t need any man to teach you how to sell used cars or Christianity or the salvation of somebody. The Anointing that’s on you is Real, and you don’t need anybody to show you or tell you what you are supposed to say. All the evangelism techniques of these different movements are nonsense. Jesus wasn’t like that. It was a different thing every time, every single time “not in Jerusalem or on this mountain.” He was just using against them what He was discerning and feeling at that particular moment.
So, whether it’s your boss or a subordinate, just watch for the things you feel, and then have the guts to say them: “I really think I’ve got something you don’t have. I respect you in so many ways. I admire what you’ve done with your career, and your intelligence level constantly surprises me in meetings and various situations. I may never be like that, but I still know there is something I have that you don’t have that is a thousand times more valuable. I think you’ve probably sensed it, too, if I’m not going too far out on a limb by saying that.” That’s one real-life example of something that I said in one situation. However, I would never try to say that again with anybody else unless I truly sensed that same thing again because as soon as you cookie-cutter something and make it a “technique,” then you’ve grieved the Spirit and your words will return void—while His won’t.
What You Sense, You Use
Jump on the things that you’re thinking and feeling and then use them—“What you just said was...” and project what you’re thinking into that situation. “There are some things I really would like to talk to you about, but it’s hard to do that around here. Would you like to golf and maybe talk about it?” You’re not being manipulative, coy, or tricky like some salesman asking him to go golfing so that you can bring something up. You’re inviting him to golf, and he has full knowledge of exactly what you intend to do and why. And then you can just take your time and see if it comes up and if it does, it does. If it doesn’t, you may say, “So, hey, we never got a chance to talk about that; let’s golf again.”
A brother mentioned that he was invited to go on a golf trip to Myrtle Beach with some co-workers. Instead of going, he ended up inviting the guy to go golfing with him and another brother; he put it on his own ground. That’s perfect and it makes a way for opportunities. Anytime you sense yourself saying to yourself: “You know it’s just kind of hard to talk about Real things here. I think it might be better to try to talk when we’re out somewhere else,” don’t assume that your talking to yourself is just you talking to yourself. : ) Assume that God does speak through discernment—an Anointing on you that’s Real and not counterfeit. It may not be an audible voice, but your sense is: “This feels awkward. I’m sitting in a lunchroom full of people and one guy has kind of a big mouth, and I don’t really trust him at all. And another person doesn’t seem to care about anything but himself, but I’d really like to talk to this other person. However, if I say something right now, these guys are probably going to mock and pin him down. Then his pride is going to kick in, and he isn’t going to want to talk either. This must not be the best situation to bring this up in. Maybe I could get him alone or with some other brothers sometime.”
So, when you’re sensing things like that, you need to be responsive. Don’t bring it up there, but while you’re walking out of the lunchroom and the other guys are walking two steps ahead to pay their bills, you could say, “You know I’d really like to talk to you about something really important. I really couldn’t talk about it back there because I didn’t think those guys would really care about it, but I think maybe you would. So, maybe you and I could have lunch tomorrow or meet for breakfast at Bob Evans at 7 tomorrow morning.”
An Audible Voice Versus Being Discerning
The way of being led by the Spirit is very seldom through forced circumstances in which God makes things happen some certain way. I mean look at Jesus’ life and you’ll see that what I’m saying is true. Very seldom does God lead you by an audible voice. Jesus heard very few audible voices in His lifetime (that we’re aware of), and yet, He didn’t do anything He didn’t see the Father doing. That means there must be some different ways to interface other than hearing an audible voice and being forced to do something by a circumstance that is Sovereign. There must be a different interface in order to be the Ultimate Christian, as Jesus was.
So, what I’m saying is you might think that the interface was simply discerning something and then talking to yourself, yet it might very well be the Spirit saying, “Not this, but that.” But if you don’t turn it around and use it and say, “You know, I sense that there is an emptiness inside of you. A pretty intelligent guy named Blaise Pascal said that there is a God-shaped vacuum in every man’s heart and I think you have that. I would really like to talk to you about that sometime with a couple of friends of mine. Do you have the guts to do that?” Even use their competitive nature against them. “Do you have the courage to talk about it? You don’t know how long you’re going to be around here.” If you feel nervous about having that conversation then say that: “Frankly, I’m nervous about having this conversation. You might not want to have this conversation, but I don’t really want to either because I don’t know what I’m going to say to you exactly.” Just use the stuff that you’re feeling, and just keep throwing honesty on the table. Keep laying it on—what you’re feeling and what you’re thinking.
Maybe during a conversation you sense a coldness come over him. Then just say that: “Seems like the temperature at this table dropped two degrees in the last five minutes. You seemed interested, and then for the last five minutes it seemed like you stepped back away from me. Why? What went through your mind five minutes ago to cause you to step away? What were you afraid of? Did I say something wrong, or did you think about the fact that your wife might get mad, or...?” These things will be coming out of your mouth, and although you’re making them up as you go, you’re going to hit right on top of something that you couldn’t possibly have known. That’s called prophetic. It’s an organic, prophetic Life, unlike the, “Thus saith the Lord. Your wife is...” And then they say, “You know what? I’m not married.” That nonsensical view of what prophetic is has just butchered people’s ability to get a hold of the Real Thing.
We don’t trust ourselves. We start believing in the counterfeit, the process and a set of principles. God said to the sons and daughters, the young men, the old men, the maidservants: “I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh. I’ll make My people be a prophetic people.” Basically what we’re talking about here is how to tap what we already are—real time with real situations, whether it’s a boss or a subordinate or a waitress. It’s not a gimmick of: “Let’s see if I can fire up and get the courage to say something spiritual to this waitress.” That’s nonsense. That’s not the Real Thing. It doesn’t mean that God can’t use it on occasion. But in terms of being like Jesus, the Ultimate Christian, it’s far more a walk of listening to the Anointing that’s upon us that’s Real and not counterfeit, and responding out of honesty with discernment.
In many cases, this is nothing more than just saying, “Well, the temperature dropped two degrees at this table in the last five minutes.” A lot of people will notice that (if they’re not too busy listening to themselves yak), but they won’t have the guts to say it, or they won’t think it’s important. So, they’ll try to overcome the temperature drop by talking louder. They will try to be more impressive, or say something more cutting, all the while trying to overcome the fact that they felt that two-degree drop at the table and a little bit of disinterest which wasn’t there a few minutes earlier. They’ll try to overcome that by pressing harder. They kind of discern it, but they don’t use that prophetic insight appropriately by having enough peace in their heart, enough honesty, sincerity, and trust to say, “Why did you back away from me in the last couple of minutes? Did I just imagine that? I mean, I could be wrong. Did I just imagine that you backed away, and now have a distant look in your eye?” And they say, “Well, you know what? It’s not what you were saying, I was just realizing that my daughter has a doctor’s appointment this afternoon and, I don’t know how that’s going to turn out, maybe we can talk later.”
Honesty—The Aroma of Jesus
That kind of honest interaction has the aroma of Christ. It is simply being responsive and honest and discerning, rather than pressing harder or coming up with some tricky gimmick to overcome the obstacle, or just backing away and not really dealing with it by thinking, “Oh, the Spirit will take care of it.” That isn’t how it works either. We are His ambassadors as if God were making His appeal through us. We are part of the equation—the Spirit and the Bride say come. We are part of the equation. To back away and say, “Oh, God will convince them. If God wants to do it, He’ll do it. I just need to love them.” That’s nonsense. It’s not Biblical truth to say, “I’ll just stay back and love them and pray for them, and if God wants to do something He will.” That’s lazy, modern “christianity.”
On the other hand, the aggressive, militant, technique-oriented, pressing, goal setting and hyper type-A personality stuff, also isn’t Jesus. So what is Jesus? It’s just as simple as trusting that you don’t have to consider what to say or how to say it. You just have to be there before the governors and the kings and the judges and, “My Father will speak through you.” How will He do it? Will He take over your larynx, and it will just come out of your mouth? No, you’re just going to say, “I wish you were like me except for these chains.” It just comes out of your mouth because you’re being honest. That’s what Paul felt. It wasn’t a technique. It wasn’t some gimmicky thing that he said. He was just speaking from the overflow of his discernment of the situation, and just being honest with what was in front of him, and come what may.
Saying something like, “You seem empty to me,” is maybe what you are feeling, but you might massage it just the tiniest bit and say, “I want to say, ‘You seem empty,’ but what I’ll say instead is ‘I think I have something you don’t have.’” So, you went ahead and said it anyway, but now he’s laughing at you so he can’t be mad at you for intruding into his space because you made something humorous out of something cutting, and that’s also Jesus’ style. Not to be a comedian, but to be probing in a way that is very attractive. It’s courageous, but it’s not “in your face,” violating the “eighteen inch personal space rule.” You are, but you’re not. It’s attractive.
Honesty—Stating Your Intentions
If your intention is to invite him to play golf so you can talk with him about Real things, then a lot of times it’s best to be honest and say so. Otherwise, it’s awkward and then they’re feeling a little trapped or a little set up if you spring that on them and they weren’t expecting it. They were just looking for a “good old boys’ day out” at the golf course, or whatever you are doing with them. If you spring that on them, they can feel trapped, and it also puts the pressure on you to look for opportunities all day long. “Now can I bring something up?” Maybe he’ll say something about his wife being sick, and then you could sort of force in some comment about, “Well, do you want us to pray about it with you? I mean after all we’re Christians, and you should be too.”
You will just find yourself looking for stuff all the time, and there is a lot of stress in that. But if you know that it is your full intention to talk to him about it, then just say that. If you’ve got to juice up your offer a little bit by taking him to a nice course, just to make sure it is especially attractive and hard to turn down, then do that—that’s ok. But be perfectly willing to say on the front end, “You know, I’m glad you golf. That makes you a four-hour captive audience to some things I’ve been wanting to talk to you about for years now. So, maybe we’ll get a chance to do that. I would like to talk to you about something far more important than business. And by the way, if you don’t want to talk about anything spiritual and decide to back out at the last minute, or if you don’t have the guts to play golf with my friend and me, just don’t give me any song and dance about how you have to mow the lawn or you’re sick or any of that kind of stuff. Just come out and say, ‘I don’t want to talk about my soul.’ At least be honest with me if you don’t want to talk, otherwise, be there or be square and maybe we’ll talk about it if we get the opportunity.” Again, you’re being honest.
Honesty—Taking Away satan’s Tools
Scott Emmersen is just another example that comes to mind. He was a guy that I chased down on a bicycle out in Vermont, even though he had about a full mile head start on me. I was out riding and I saw a big redheaded guy off in the distance—so I chased him down. : ) I had a little bit of time to think while I was trying to catch him, going up and down all those hills. I thought, “Well, what am I going to say?” It was like fishing is for me—what am I going to do once I catch it? I’m not going to eat a fish, so I might as well not go fishing. It was like that with Scott. “Who is this guy? I have no idea. And what am I going to do after I catch him?” But, I caught him and I said, “I tried to catch you because I wanted to talk to you about Jesus.” I just told him that. He said, “Oh. Huh. Okay.” He was confused, but not angry or hostile. So I said, “I don’t have enough breath at the moment to do it, but maybe we can get together soon.” Then he said, “Emmersen with three E’s, the only one in the phone book. Call me.” But I had to decide while I was catching him what I was going to do.
Again, I’ve found the Spirit to be far more active in honesty than anything manipulative. And if I’m afraid of something, I just tell him. “I’m afraid to talk to you about this. I’m a little nervous about it because I feel that you might be hostile or mock, and I’m not in the mood for that right now. I’m a little fatigued at the moment, and I would rather you not mock me, but I decided to go ahead and ask you anyway.” You are just taking all of satan’s tools away from him. They might think, “Oh, I would have mocked, but he just said that, and now I can’t.”
It takes satan’s tools away from him when you just throw it out on the table before it could ever happen. If you think he might mock, say, “I’m afraid you might mock. So, if you’re going to mock, go ahead and get it out of the way. I wish you wouldn’t though because what I want to talk to you about is very important.” That sort of honesty just penetrates. Jesus is the Way and the Truth and the Life. Satan is the father of lies. Everything about reality in Christ has to do with Truth. “You shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set you free.” So, the more honest you can be in identifying your own fears and their potential reactions, and put all those things right out on the table, the less you have to lose.
If you ask a co-worker, neighbor, boss or whomever to talk and they say, “No, I’m really not interested.” Just be honest with them and say, “Well someday you might be, and I want you to talk to me when you are interested. Just remember we had this conversation. We don’t have to talk now, but I think you’ll want to talk at some point, so you know where to get a hold of me, anytime night or day. End of conversation. And don’t even bring it up to me unless you intend to be serious about it. I don’t want to hear it. Until you’re serious, don’t even bring it up.” It’s like, “Huh. You can’t do that to me. Alright, let’s talk now.” But it is so much more refreshing for us and for them.
Again the Spirit of God speaks through the language of honesty and humility. Be as discerning as you can be about how you’re feeling, how they might react, what you want to say and do or what you don’t have words for. You might say, “I don’t have words for this right now, but I really would like to tell you about Jesus. I really don’t know how to start, and I’m not sure how to go about it. Are you interested?” Just being honest is something God can work through. Why? Because Kingdom Principle #1 is: “Lest any man boast.” It just takes all of our ego, shrewd wordsmithing, technique, poise and knowledge away from us, and then God gets the glory. So, the Spirit can afford to invest in a miracle when we’ve taken ourselves out of the equation by being honest. That’s not only true with unbelievers, but that’s true as we relate to each other as well.
Again, back to the situation of being invited to go to Myrtle Beach with co-workers...it might have been honest to say, “There ain’t no way I’m going with seven pagans to Myrtle Beach.” That might have been honest, but it might have been more appropriate to say, “You know I really can’t. It doesn’t seem appropriate for me.” And then when you invite him to go with you and some brothers say, “Hey, to be honest, the reason why I didn’t do that when you asked me, even though I would have enjoyed the Myrtle Beach part, is because all seven of the guys going (as far as I know anyway, and I could be wrong) have a whole priority system that is so radically different than mine. Their value system probably isn’t totally devoted to and saturated with Jesus, and there probably aren’t a lot of barricades in their lives to self-indulgence, foul language and all those things. You at least know me well enough to know that I don’t do those things, but what you probably don’t know about me yet is why I don’t do them. I’m not a nice guy. That’s not why. Ask my wife. : ) I think I would have been a fish out of water, and I would like to invite you into my pond.”
Honesty—Bridging the Gap
Humor and honesty bridge the gap between what you sense, what you feel, what you’ve decided and why you’ve decided that. Bridging the gap with honesty, and there might be a thousand ways to do it, is just the basic way that we function in order that the Spirit would work in the most thorough fashion. So, by being honest with him about what your life is about and inviting him to step into your world, at least he won’t be going into it totally unaware of anything other than golf. That could be okay sometimes, too, but normally that goes nowhere.
Normally, you could invite him to golf ten more times, and all he would think is, “Well, I’ve got my Saturday and Sunday golf buddies, and then I’ve got Bob and his golf buddies. These guys are nice, and I really like them. They are a lot of fun, too—a different kind of fun—but you know, I respect these guys.” And that is about as far as it ever gets. You could golf with him for five years and it wouldn’t ever go past that, normally. It’s like living next door to somebody and they say, “Oh, they’re fine Christians, a little weird, they don’t “go to church,” but I think they are Christians.” But you can live next door to them for years and never get anywhere if you are not careful. So, at some point, you need to look for opportunities to be honest about things, and hopefully you’ll never find a “technique” that works, but honesty is something that will come to us if we’re listening. Those opportunities will come.
The president of our homeowners’ association lives across the street from me. I’ve had a couple of short opportunities with him. He hasn’t “bitten,” but he’s also still fairly warm toward me, so I know he’s thinking about it. I’ve said, “How weird do you think we are, Phil? All these dozens of houses all around you, how weird do you really think we are? What thought comes to you? What do you think about when you see all these people everywhere all the time?” But all he could do was smile and look at me. He had no answer for me, but I planted the seed. I wanted him to know that he has a chance to cross that gap, and that I am inviting him to talk about it. I’m not just wondering what he thinks. If I am wondering what he thinks, I am going to ask him, “I wonder what you think, Phil? Not that I’m all that concerned about it, but I do wonder.” I might say that too, just because that humorous edge is fairly fearless, and it makes a hard thing a little easier. You can smile and add an aroma of attractiveness to it that isn’t this combative “us against them” sort of thing, which they’ll do all by themselves.
Left alone, with no honesty and love and intrusiveness coming across the barriers to shine a light on those barriers, they’ll create those barriers by themselves. They’ll have all kinds of imaginations, and they’ll talk about it among themselves. You’ll have co-workers and other people yakking about you behind your back. Two years later, you’ll hear what they’ve always said about you if you don’t ask that question. If you see a smirk on somebody’s face sometime when you have said something, go for a little walk with them, and say, “You know I noticed this kind of smirk on your face when I said that while we were talking with those four other guys. What were you thinking? I would honestly like to hear what you are thinking.”
“Well, you don’t really want to know.”
“Yes, I really do. Because if you are wrong about what you’re thinking, I’m sure you would want to know, and if you’re right, I want to know. So what do you have to lose? Tell me what you are thinking.”
See, now all of the sudden his heart has melted toward you. He will probably never do that again. He’ll never get involved in a smirky conversation about you with other people because now you’re a person rather than a target. You are a human, and you have feelings. All of us are just targets until we cross that line with a little sensitivity, honesty, humility, love, and courage in a humble way. And the next thing you know his four year old is sick with a 104 degree fever and he’s calling you to pray for his daughter, not his smirky friends.
Avoiding the “Nice Guy” Syndrome
If you start by going down the road of just hoping and wishing a conversation would happen or an opportunity would arise, then you end up just being the nice guy. It never really goes anywhere. There is a way out of that “nice guy” syndrome. You all probably have neighbors, co-workers, bosses, employees, or whomever who you wish knew more about what you are doing with your life. You’ve been around them, in some cases for years, and they know you are a little different, but you’ve never really intruded into their space. Now, so much time has passed that it almost seems like it’s impossible to bring it up. You’ve already got this somewhat cemented-in definition of what your relationship with them is, and anything you might say almost feels a little cheap. You’re afraid they might say, “Well, you’ve known all this for all these years and never said anything to me, so why are you bringing it up now? Do you feel guilty or something?”
You can get caught in these patterns, but again, the solution is—the honesty. “For years I’ve known you and I’ve said almost nothing to you. I suspect you know I’m a little different. If I had to bet, I’d say you probably think that I’m a Christian, and you’ve never heard me cuss and seldom seen me angry or upset or mistreat anyone or speak badly of anyone. I’m glad for all that, but what I really regret and most everyday come in thinking about, is that I never really have talked to you about why that’s the case and what that might have to do with you. I’m kind of heavy about it, to tell you the truth. I’m a little ashamed of myself that I never have really said anything, but it just seemed that it never really worked out. Maybe it was my fault. Maybe it just wasn’t the right timing, and now it is—I don’t know. Maybe I just wasn’t paying enough attention to God to really have done it. Or maybe I was just a scaredy-cat. I don’t really know why, but every day I feel a little burdened about you. I know all these other people, but your face comes to mind when I wish somebody knew. Your face comes to mind when I wish I could talk to somebody. Out of these hundred people that I have cemented-in relationships with, you’re right on top of the list as somebody I genuinely would like to talk to about these things. I know it’s going to seem weird because we never really have spoken of these things, and I feel badly about that, too. So, if you don’t want to talk about it, or if you don’t want to talk about it right now, that’s fine. But, I want to at least crack the door open and say that my life is like this because of Jesus. I really want you to know for a fact that your soul is saved. Just because you’re an American and call yourself a Christian, means absolutely nothing. Jesus said that most people who call themselves Christians are going to hell. So, I don’t want you to be one of those. I don’t really know your situation very well. Would you be willing to meet a couple of my friends and go to Ritter’s or Graeter’s for some ice cream with the specific purpose of just chatting a little bit? If you are going to buy a car, you check a consumer’s guide, don’t you? If you are going to buy a house, you have it inspected and you check the prices of the neighborhood. Before anybody makes any intelligent decision, they do a little bit of research. But we’re all afraid to talk about the most important decision there is: What is your soul going to be invested in? So, frankly, I’m a little afraid to talk to you about it, but I’ll work it out if you will. If you have the guts to try the conversation, then I’ll try to muster the courage to do so, too.”
You’ll find opposition. Maybe even insincere opposition, maybe it’s just too much too fast. They may say, “Well, I don’t know. I hear ya, but I’m not really very religious.” “Well, I’m not very religious either. All right, so if you don’t want to talk now, I’m going to ask you again in two weeks, and by then I expect you to have enough courage to be willing to talk about it all, okay? I’ll give you two weeks to prepare yourself. : ) : )” You can laugh when you say it. It takes the edge off, and then thirteen days pass and you say, “Hey, two weeks up tomorrow, buddy.” Then keep right on walking... : )
That kind of light, real, sensitive, fresh, free kind of conversation just takes all the religion out of it. It takes it right down to who you are, which is all you can be, and you are addressing who they are, and that’s all they can be, and there is no pretense in between. There is no religion, no gimmicks; there is nothing to invite them to. It’s just about them, and you are passing on a consumer’s digest of their life and soul. If they choose to do something with it, then great. And if they choose to do nothing with it, well, at least they are choosing intelligently rather than foolishly.
All of this is a perspective you can have. It works itself out in ten thousand different, very artistic, colorful, and even enjoyable, but certainly peaceful, ways. It takes the pressure off, too—most of it anyway. Once you understand how He does that, it really is a pretty relaxed world.
Building God’s Way
Along with all that, you need to keep in mind that God doesn’t violate His own principles very often. So, if it were a female co-worker, I’m going to say, “Would you like to talk to three or four sisters? I’m not sure if I’ll be there, but there are going to be three or four sisters there.” You are not going to violate God’s principles in order to do God a favor. So, some of that is worked into the picture, too. Generally speaking, even if it were a man you would probably work with others as a team—that’s just God’s way. “Where two or three are gathered, there I am.” “Let every matter be established by two or three.”
So, by and large, I’m not going to be the Lone Ranger evangelist. I’m going to want to involve other brothers and sisters at the earliest possible time. I’m not just going to ransack the whole thing by not building wisely. I’d be careful whom I’d invite to golf and what the timing of the whole thing is. I wouldn’t pick the people that they were most like. They don’t have to be the right color, the right age, have the right education, or have the same interests. Those are not the people I’m going to ask to be involved. Perhaps I’ll ask a brother to go golfing with us who doesn’t even know how to golf, and he’ll just ride in the cart to not embarrass himself. If the other guy values golf, we are not going to drag him down and ruin his day by scoring 150. But on the other hand, I’m going to invite the Right people into the situation so they can do the most good, spiritually. I’m not going to invite the people they are going to be “most comfortable with” or “like the most” or are the “most easy-going.” Forget all that. I want to do some damage to satan’s kingdom, so my choice of people to involve isn’t going to be random, nor is it going to be based on human prejudices and building after the flesh. It’s going to be based on building after the Spirit.
The door they go through is the room that they are going to enter in and set up their house in. So, if they come through the door of “golfing buddies,” they’re not necessarily going to want to talk to people who don’t golf. If they are looking for somebody their own age, and who have children the same age as theirs, and who also home-educate—phooey on all of that. I’m going to invite somebody half their age and somebody twice their age into the situation on purpose just to mess with them, because I don’t want them to build after the flesh. I’m not going to try to attract or lure them after the flesh. It has to be JESUS they are looking for—not “friends” or a “spouse” or “friends for their children”... Because of this, I want people involved in the process in the right stages that have the right gifts, the right focus, and the right maturity to take satan’s kingdom away from him—because that’s what matters. I’m not worried about their comfort, but I’m concerned with doing the Work in their life, and everything else will take care of itself. I’m not going to lure them based on fleshly instinct, like waving a piece of meat in front of an animal, and then seeing if he follows you—that’s not the Kingdom of God. If they want to follow Jesus, it will be on His terms, in His Way. And Honesty and Wisdom is the road to walk them down...Evangelism—Jesus’ Style.