When Should You Share the Gospel?


When Should You Share the Gospel?

To answer the question, “When is it time to invite a non-Christian into a spiritual discussion or to investigate Christianity?”, let me describe an analogous situation.
Imagine that you are at one end of a very large hotel lobby and you see an acquaintance walking across the other end of the lobby. You call out his name and he stops and turns around to see who called. When he sees it’s you, you motion your hand to indicate to hold up so you could speak to him.

Consider what you would think if, when he saw you moving toward him, he began walking briskly away from you. And what would you assume if, when you sped up your walk, he sped up equally as fast? The answer is obvious. He doesn’t want to speak to you.

This is very similar to what some Christians do in their attempt to start a spiritual conversation. We notice them easing away from us and we begin to go even faster. There is no lack today of non-Christians who are moving away from well-meaning Christians or avoiding them all together.

One day I was at the gym when I got such a call from across the room. It was a member of our church whom I knew, but not well. Unlike my previous story, when I saw him walking toward me, I moved toward him to meet him halfway.

When we got a reasonable speaking distance apart, I stopped – but he didn’t. Instead he took a couple more steps until his face was in a place uncomfortably close to mine. Without pointing out his insensitivity, I merely gradually stepped back to give some separation. I bet you can predict what happened next. You got it. He gradually took a step to the previous uncomfortable distance.

After a couple of inconspicuous gradual steps back and observing his continuous reclaiming of a “too sociable” distance, I decided to make a game out of the situation. I gradually kept stepping back to see where this would end.

I eventually had my back pinned to the wall behind me. We had moved a good four to five yards. When it ended, I was thrilled to be finished with our conversation. And as I departed, I said to myself that I would avoid that man every time I saw him in the future.

Once again, this is what non-Christians do with us as Christians when we get “too close” for their comfort. By this I mean, they begin to avoid us if they are not desirous to talk about spiritual things.

So how do we know if they would have interest? Let’s go back to our analogy. I suggest when you think it “might be” time to have such a discussion, test the waters. While still too far apart to carry on a meaningful discussion (figuratively speaking), begin with a non-threatening comment regarding spiritual things and listen to their response and watch their body language.

If they (in a sense) take a step back, the last thing I would do is to take a step forward. In fact, I would immediately change the conversation (take my own step backward). My hope would be that they would perhaps decide it was still safe to talk with me in the future. At that point I would continue to pray for them and ask God to create another opportunity when perhaps they would have more interest.

If they, on the other hand, take a step toward me, then I would continue in our discussion assuming an interest to talk further about spiritual things.
Perhaps you are hearing me say this and are thinking, “Didn’t you violate your own advice with the man whom you shared the diagram over lunch, while with your friend from your discipleship group?”

My answer to your question is “Yes”. In this case, I took a gamble knowing we were going to be together for quite a while having lunch and that I had assured him that any spiritual conversation would end at his say, as soon as I finished the diagram. In a sense, I felt I had nothing to lose regarding a future opportunity.

I share all of this as a general principle. I would encourage anyone to seek God’s leading in any and all situations knowing that there can always be “exceptions to the rule”.