Faith Talks: The Compassionate and Conversational Gospel

The truth is that while a good question can open a conversation, a great question can open a soul. Effective outreach flows best from the lives and voices of those who are genuinely interested in others, from those who care the most.

Transition the talk to Jesus.

Outreach is not an argument, but rather a conversation that always ends in an invitation. In sharing our faith it is important to remember that we are called to be witnesses, not prosecuting attorneys. We are witnesses to what Jesus has done for us and what he has done for the whole world through his birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension. Sharing Jesus with people involves sharing his grace and truth with them. Compassionate conversation often creates a place where people feel free to share their challenges, their struggles and their needs. These become opportunities not only to share (or “preach”) Christ, but to practice his ways of love, concern and healing in serving.

This step is about expressing the focus of outreach. And what is the focus of genuine Christian outreach? Jesus. We are simply witnesses to him and to what he has done for us and for the whole world. The most essential part of that kind of conversation is not found in our eloquence, but rather in our sincerity and passion.

One of the most conversational evangelists I have ever met is Dick Foth. Dick ministers Christ throughout the halls of government in Washington, D.C., not so much through programs, but through relationships. Over the years he has developed a simple and relational way to share the gospel through connecting it with something with which we all are familiar and so often find ourselves looking for and in need of: a “place.”

Here’s how he presents the gospel in conversations:

Jesus says:
“I’m going to leave my place.
I’m going to come to your place.
I’m going to take your place.
And then we’re going to go back to my place!”

I love that! It is so simple, yet so clear and poignant. You could use it with any person of any age. The simplest ways of sharing Christ are the best ways. An entire conversation about the gospel can be wrapped around those four simple statements.

Honor the soul you desire to reach.

Doing the work of outreach and evangelism is not a sales pitch or a networking scheme; it is about rescuing souls and lives that are lost, alone and without God in the world. It is about placing a high value on the price Christ paid to win the lost and realizing there must be something so valuable to God about each soul we seek to reach. Regardless of how riddled with sin, struggle and dysfunction a person may be, we seek to redeem and honor the soul God calls us to reach. The best way to “honor” someone is to share with them the way, the truth and the life Jesus offers. This step is about embodying the spirit of outreach. Compassionate conversations help us do so.

Talking to a lawyer from Israel about Jesus that day was one of the most engaging conversations I have ever had. His interest continued for hours, and I found his questions so interesting. Although he did not pray with me to receive Christ in that exchange, he assured me that he would try to read more of the New Testament and to learn more about it. The more I heard his story and shared mine that day, the more I found my heart filling with compassion for him. As it did, I saw this young man less and less as an evangelistic target and more and more as a soul for whom Christ died. I believe he felt Christ in ways he would not soon forget. I’m convinced God ordained the conversation we had that day and even the seats in which we sat. I have often wondered about other conversations that may have followed mine in his life. Who know? It just might be with you or with someone in your church. The question is, when the opportunity comes, will you be ready to respond to it in FAITH?

Robert Crosby
Robert Crosbywww.twitter.com/RCCrosby

Robert Crosby is the co-founder of Teaming Life Conferences and Resources. He trains and consults pastors in creating teaming cultures. Crosby pastored churches in Upstate New York and Boston and conducts Teaming Church and Teaming Family conferences. He is the author of The Teaming Church: Ministry in the Age of Collaboration (Abingdon Press) and is a professor of practical theology at Southeastern University (Lakeland, Fla.). His next book, The One Jesus Loves, releases in March 2014 (Nelson Books). Contact him at Robert.TeamingLife@gmail.com
.com.