Waiting for the ask
We’ve been taught to be far too eager when it comes to sharing the Gospel. They tell us to look for need or emptiness or questioning in someone’s life and then give a persuasive pitch about how Jesus meets the need or fills the emptiness or answers all the questions. They give us strategies on how to deftly turn a conversation to spiritual topics. They talk about keys or signs or openings and exhort us to pounce, to strike while the iron is hot. We’ve become so impatient about sharing the Gospel. We’re peddlers for Jesus, and people aren’t buying it.
Our teachers like to quote 1 Peter 3:15 as a rallying cry to evangelize.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
It makes a great three-point sermon. Be prepared. Know your reasons. Be nice.
The problem is they skip over one small detail, a detail that’s actually critical to evangelism. They pass over the phrase,
to everyone who asks.
When we tell someone about Jesus, it’s too soon. We need to wait for them to ask. Yes, we need to be prepared to share, but they need to be prepared to hear. And what’s the best indicator that they’re ready? When they ASK.
Evangelism is not a competitive sport where telling more people scores us more points. It’s not a race where he who shares the soonest wins. It’s not about changing someone’s mind, getting them to believe what you believe. Evangelism is not about results. It’s not.
Evangelism is about relationship. It’s about connecting with people, and (eventually, when they ask) it’s about connecting people with Jesus. We are ministers of reconciliation, after all. Not ministers of debate.
We’re ambassadors. Messengers. Connectors.
The goal is relationship, restored relationship. Jesus said go make disciples, not go make converts. Disciples follow their teacher. Converts follow doctrine.
Why do Christians get such a bad rap? Why are we stereotyped as obnoxious? Tone deaf? Pushy? Even arrogant? Because we foist our beliefs on people, and we act like know-it-alls. We’re like that friend who’s always giving unsolicited advice. We’ve all been there, sitting stoically at the table nodding our heads to a lecture we never asked for. It’s… annoying. So, please, stop.
Don’t tell. Be patient. Wait for the ask.