Since our house (and the houses of our neighbors) burned down in a wildfire five years ago, we have had the pleasure of closer friendships with neighbors and others in our community. One friend that I’ve gotten to know over these years is a guy named Jim. He and I were getting together every once in a while to catch up. A couple months ago, I wanted to check his interest in moving forward spiritually. I asked, “Jim, what would you think about reading the Bible together regularly?” He quickly said, “I’m not really ready to do that right now.”
But later during our visit, Jim said to me, “You know, I really enjoy our times together and our friendship. I’d sure like to get together once a month for coffee.” Deepening our friendship rather than giving up when he first said “no” to reading the Bible leaves the door open for continued conversations about God and faith when Jim is ready.
Some people see sharing their faith as an event. You come swooping in and make a presentation to someone you hardly know. If it works out, great. If not, you move on.
Now, I’m all for spontaneous interactions about Jesus with people we don’t know. Done well, those interactions can set someone up to have a meaningful conversation with another believer in their lives at a later date.
However, most effective Gospel sharing happens over time, in the context of relationships.
Mark 4:26-29 is my favorite evangelism parable.
“[Jesus] also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground.Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain–first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” (NIV)
We sow and sow, and as the parable says, sprouting happens in God’s time. It’s God’s call on the life of every believer. Get started and learn as you go. It all starts with having friends who are outside the Christian huddle.
Are you sowing seeds of the Gospel with patience in the lives of a few not-yet-believing people? How can we grow in taking the time and patience to sow Gospel seeds?