A few years ago I read a book titled Coffeehouse Gospel. The main idea in this book is that Christ-followers need to learn the art of sharing their faith in a non-intrusive, conversational manner similar to the type of interaction characteristic of two people sharing a cup of Joe. I think I might have done that today.
I have a been a Christian for almost 30 years. I was a pastor for over a decade. Yet, one of the glaring weaknesses in my walk with Christ is sharing my faith with other people (or at least it feels this way). This has produced everything from shame to embarrassment in my heart.
But, I wonder if I have shared my faith at times that from a naive perspective did not register as an official manifestation of evangelism (points for Christianese). Today was one of those times.
A man from a propane company came to our warehouse. I told him that after next week, I would no longer be working here so he would need to make sure to talk details with the operational manager. He asked, “Are you moving to another metal company?”
I proceeded to tell him that I had taken a professor gig up in Washington state. He asked, “What do you teach?”
“Philosophy,” I replied.
He curiously responded, “Like religion and stuff?”
I told him that philosophy of religion was indeed one area that I loved. After explaining that one of the chief reasons for taking the job was to beef up my resume, I told him that my deeper desire was attain a doctorate in England. I explained that my wife and I are Christians and that to study, think through, and teach regarding the connection (and disconnect) between the Christian faith and various ideas in philosophy are among the great passions of my life. I went on to share that one of my major focuses (what my Ph.D. proposal deals with) is how affluent Christians in the west (that is you and I by the way) totally ignore in a mind-boggling fashion the 20,000 people dying every day in extreme poverty from easily preventable causes. The conversation continued for a bit from there.
What did I do? I used one of my passions, philosophy, to build a bridge to Christ. Though we began the conversation talking about the upcoming move and philosophy, at a later point I was able to state, “We are Christians.” I confessed Christ. Though he did not ask me for more, I opened the door wide for him just in case he did want to talk about Jesus, religion, faith, or life. An opportunity was presented.
It is a lot like chips & salsa. Let someone get a taste for what you are about and see if they order the entire enchilada. This works much better than trying to cram the whole meal down the person’s throat in one monologist maneuver.
This is one of the greatest ways I have found to share Jesus with others. It is a humble approach that creates a safe sphere for that person to ask and respond. It is a lot like fishing. The little comments I made about faith was bait. If he bit and wanted more, I would have responded accordingly. He did not, but that is okay. And, for those looking for a little theological justification for such a method, read Luke 5:1-11.
Anyway, as a result of my passion for philosophy, that propane guy knows that I and my wife follow Christ. I was kind to him, helped show him around, and enjoyed his company. Who knows? He could be a young man that has had horrible experiences with Christians in the past. If nothing else, he will have had at least one positive encounter with someone that loves and follows Jesus.
I think the Holy Spirit can take it from there.