Like stepping to the free-throw line with the game point in your hands, there can be that same stomach-churning anxiety when it comes to sharing the gospel. Perhaps for months or even years you have been praying for the opportunity to talk to a friend about Christ, and then, without warning, God opens up the window of opportunity. For once the conversation isn't about work, sports, home improvement or politics. You two are talking about the real stuff of life.
Maybe your friend is living through a tragedy or has a difficult decision to make, and his heart is exposed before you. You know what you want from this opportunity: to lead your friend to Christ. But what does he want from you?
As a "seeker," what is he looking for in this conversation?
Typically he needs the following from you:
- Respect—Maybe he left his wife for another woman, alienated his kids and strayed over the ethical line in his business. Even if you do not respect his past choices, can you respect him? Can you empathize with his situation? Can you love the sinner, but not the sin? If he thinks you're talking down to him, you have just lost the right to discuss spiritual things. In this lifesaving conversation, your friend needs to experience respect.
- Honesty about Christianity's Shortcomings—Maybe he has had a bad church experience and is turned off by hypocrisy or overly aggressive tactics. Maybe he struggles with the dark side of church history or the current televangelist and wants nothing to do with that religion. If you deny the shortcomings of the church, he will think you dishonest or out of touch.
- Realism about the Christian Life—For most people, praying the sinner's prayer does not fix all their problems, but instead introduces a whole new set of challenges. Accepting Christ won't fix their bad marriage, restore relationships with angry children, make their boss more understanding or change lifetime habits. In fact, loyalty to Christ may make some of these conflicts more complicated. But Jesus promises His followers His help. Describe for your friend the times when Jesus has been there with you in the middle of the real-life messes