Objective: Focus our evangelism strategies in the workplace on those most receptive to our message.
Focusing on Receptive People and Effective Evangelism
The activity level in a fish population varies. Some fish are inactive and just not feeding. They’re almost uncatchable on hook and line for the moment, but they won’t always be such. Tonight or tomorrow, they might be actively feeding.
Some fish are in a neutral feeding mode and can be teased into biting. Some fish are actively feeding and relatively easy to catch if a fisherman casts near them. Wise fishermen target active fish.
In the Susquehanna River, actively feeding smallmouth bass are often found near rock ridges. Far more so than the river sections between rock ridges.
The Apostle Paul focused on receptive people. In Pisidian Antioch, he shared the gospel with the Jews first. Most of them weren’t receptive to his message.
“Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and declared, 'It was necessary that we first preach the word of God to you Jews. But since you have rejected it and judged yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we will offer it to the Gentiles.
For the Lord gave us this command when he said, ‘I have made you a light to the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the farthest corners of the earth.’” When the Gentiles heard this, they were happy and thanked the Lord for his message; and all who were chosen for eternal life became believers" (Acts 13:46-48 NLT).
Paul ministered briefly in Athens. Only a few were receptive to his message. He spent three years preaching and teaching in Ephesus during his third missionary journey and saw much fruit.
Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth wasn’t receptive to His message. “And so he did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief” (Matthew 13:58 NLT). He spent most of His ministry time where people were more receptive.
How do we do personal evangelism? How do we evangelize our friends, neighbors, relatives, and co-workers who don’t know Jesus? At any given time, most of them aren’t actively pursuing God.
More likely, they’re ignoring or running from Him. If given a gospel tract, they won’t read it. Why should they?
They won't change as long as their life is relatively stress-free and even keel. We must be patient.
Life is like Lake Erie. It might be calm today, but storms appear out of nowhere sooner or later. When the seven-foot waves of circumstances toss about the boat, those aboard begin looking for help anywhere they can find it. Now they’re much more likely to be at least neutral, if not favorable, toward the gospel.
When someone’s life is seemingly under control, leading them to Christ is like trying to sell a bucket of snow to an Eskimo! Our openness to changing our lives is usually related to how much stress we’re experiencing. It's the same with our friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors.
Those who work in a large office can't build relational bridges with everyone. We demonstrate Christian caring to those we influence. We see who responds.
We focus on building relationships with about five persons unconnected to Jesus with whom we’ve some natural connection or common interest. “Unconnected” describes either churched or unchurched people who don’t have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. It isn’t wise for married persons to build close relationships with persons of the opposite sex. Those who fish for that kind often get yanked into the water by the fish!
Over time, our co-workers will experience crises. That can soften their hearts and convince them to make changes. The best way to demonstrate caring is to help meet their needs when they are hurting. We do for them what we’d want someone to do for us in their situation.
We’ve already considered the importance of boldness when discussing preparing to fish. Let’s consider some specific ways to demonstrate courageous faith. One way to identify receptive people is to make faith casts during everyday conversations and see who responds.
Sharing Faith Snapshots and Effective Evangelism
Fishermen locate fish using a search lure they can retrieve quickly to explore much water. The goal is to find patterns of fish location; maybe all the fish are caught in 2-4 feet of water near the shoreline. When fishermen know where the feeding fish are, they often switch to another lure to catch them.
Since about 90% of a stream, river, or lake contains few feeding fish, it’s a tremendous advantage to concentrate fishing efforts where active fish are feeding. We can apply the same principle to fishing at work. Some people are more receptive to spiritual conversations than others.
We can talk briefly (15 seconds or less) but repeatedly with co-workers about the difference our faith makes to our daily lives. For example, “I was anxious about today’s sales presentation until I prayed. Now I am assured that God will help me through it.”
We can share these faith snapshots with believing co-workers and let pre-Christians overhear. We can communicate them directly to pre-Christians.
For example, “Yesterday, when I tried to start my car in the driveway, I discovered the battery was dead. That could’ve happened 100 miles from home. God was certainly watching over me.”
These are short clips of how a believer thinks that help pre-Christian co-workers understand that Christianity is relevant to everyday life.
A caution is in order. We don’t share faith snapshots to explain why we don’t do something. That reinforces the misconception that faith takes all the fun out of life.
For example, if during a social event related to our job, someone offers us an alcoholic beverage and we don't drink, we shouldn’t say, “I’m a Christian, and I don’t drink.” We could say, “I’d prefer coffee, ginger ale, or cold water, thank you.” Sooner or later, some will want to know more about our faith. That’s when we switch lures.
When people want to know more about our faith, our stories of God at work in our life should expand. We should be careful we don’t tell too many at one time.
If our friend has a headache, we give her two aspirin, not a whole bottle! We don’t drop the entire truckload of our spiritual knowledge and experience in one sitting!
In two minutes or less, we explain how God has recently worked in our life. We could explain, for example, several ways God helped us when our grandmother died. We asked for grace to deal with the loss, and God gave it.
Inviting People to Church Events and Effective Evangelism
We can invite those receptive people to low-key outreach events. Not-yet-believing co-workers can develop relationships with believers in our small group or church.
The more Christians they get to know, the more their picture of what it means to be a Christian will be apparent. They’ll discover that many others believe as we do.
These events could include carnivals, bowling outings, car shows, athletic events, bus trips, concerts, drama presentations, fishing trips, etc. We’ll introduce our friends to believers who have similar interests. The next step is to invite our friends to events that can answer their questions and meet their needs. When we sense the time is right, we can ask them to events where they’ll be challenged to commit to Jesus Christ.
Establishing Evangelistic Expectations and Effective Evangelism
Fishermen are more diligent and focused on fishing when they know someone will ask, “How many fish did you catch?” It puts the pressure on.
The author once went fishing with a pastor who announced to his congregation that he was going fishing the following Thursday. He said, “Don’t call me, and don’t ask me what I caught!”
One of the ways to encourage fishing at work is through small group accountability. We get what we expect and inspect. We increase the amount of fishing done at work by periodically evaluating how it’s been going. We could spend part of our Sunday school class or small group time sharing fishing stories from work.
Growing in evangelism requires spiritual growth to make us effective evangelists and create disciples. Only then can we become the leaders that Christ wants us to be.
Spiritual Health Assessment strengthens your spiritual weak points.
ABC of Evangelism prepares you to narrow your focus to reach specific people for Jesus Christ.