We’re probably all fairly familiar with the phrase, “Yes, the gospel sounds good, but it’s just not for me.”
Well, I feel the same way about walk-up evangelism. Yes, walkup evangelism sounds good, but I don’t think it’s for me…
I’ve been reflecting on evangelism and my role in it for some time. At uni, I’ve been co-leading a “Reading Mark’s Gospel” training group, teaching students a framework to read the gospels with their friends. I’ve also been involved in organising the mission theme for the campus with another trainee and a small group of students. The mission has taken an apologetic shape. I can get excited about these two things- reading the bible and explaining it are things that I really enjoy.
But I’ve successfully avoided walk-up wherever I can. If you’re not quite sure what that is, it’s essentially walking up to someone fairly random (probably someone who looks like they won’t be mean if you talk to them), introducing yourself and your walk-up buddy, and starting a conversation with the deliberate intention of steering it toward the bible or the gospel. I went maybe three times.
I asked another trainee the other night, after hearing a panel on evangelism, why we push walk-up as a strategy? She gave some quite compelling reasons:
- It refines you, having to get out of your comfort zone;
- You could be one of many in the chain of links that may bring someone to Christ;
- It teaches you to be concise and clear in your explanation of the gospel;
- It’s good practice for telling the gospel, your testimony, or answering apologetics questions;
- It’s a good way to make an opportunity to share the gospel, rather than waiting for a chance.
There are others, I’m sure, but those are really enough to convince someone that walk-up is worth doing. Or they should be. While in my head I agree they are good, I’m still not sure. My reasons against, at least for me (so I admit, they’re probably just excuses), include:
- It’s not the Aussie culture to randomly walk up to someone and talk to them about anything, let alone religion;
- I’m shy and just find it plain hard;
- My strengths, and gifts, are elsewhere, so shouldn’t I build on those?
Yeah, that’s all I can think of, really. Though, my excuses keep getting reinforced when I am able to share my faith quite openly, and more articulately, I think, in conversation with, for example, my dad (we had a chat about law, which lead to talking about the law in the bible, and then how Paul tells the Romans that we are saved by faith, not by law, not that it means we can ignore the law, “rather, we uphold it” Rom 3:31).
Whilst I am still very reluctant to do walk-up evangelism, I’m going to try and schedule it in to my diary, perhaps every couple of weeks, at the advice of another trainee who finds it hard. I have a couple of months to psych myself up before semester goes back. In the meantime, I’ll continue to persevere in the other ‘types’ of evangelism as opportunities come up.