March 18, 2015

Why Are We so Afraid of Evangelising Our Female Friends?

A question that I get asked a lot is, “How do you engage women?”

Unless you are one of those rare women who works from home, does all her shopping and banking online, and only talks via text and email then, in some way, somehow, throughout our everyday life, we are engaging with people. Some we even get to know on a deeper level, and they become friends. Obviously, I realise that some people are more socially inept than others but, unless you’re Tom Hanks in Castaway and your only pal is Wilson the volleyball, then we constantly engage with other women.

Perhaps this is a better question: If we are spending time with women, how do we share the gospel with them? Here’s another question worth asking: How deliberate are we being about sharing the gospel whilst we engage the world around us?

Personally, I’m just not one of those people that can sit down with someone and within minutes share the gospel. I’m just not a gifted evangelist. However, just because I don’t have ‘the gift’ doesn’t mean I get a special waiver from sharing the gospel. At some point in life we will get an opportunity to talk about our faith with our friends and colleagues. But, for many of us, we find it hard to get past the vague details about church to the specifics of the gospel. Why is that? Why, if Jesus is so important to us, do we find it difficult to talk about him?

  • Fear—We don’t want to offend. Or, we worry that they may stop being friends with us. What if they ask us a question we can’t answer?
  • Embarrassment—We worry we’ll get it wrong and stumble over our words.
  • Faithlessness—Deep down, there is a part of us that thinks they couldn’t possibly be saved.

The trouble is that really, when we think through what’s at the heart of most of our excuses for not sharing Christ, they are all really about us, not about them and certainly not about the Lord.

Sometimes we can get ourselves into a complete state about what we are supposed to say. We worry how we’re going to fit, “Jesus died for your sins,” or, “Repent, you’re going to hell,” into our conversation over a double shot, chocolate Mocha. That’s the point they usually choke on their coffee and unfriend you on Facebook! If Jesus is such an important part of our lives, then talking about him should be just as natural as discussing our children, the cat, our new boyfriend, our latest diet kick, etc.

Last year I decided I’d join the local gym in an effort to get fit and meet new women from my community. I had been thinking for a while how I was going to engage with women in Niddrie who work and whom I never get a chance to meet. The local gym was my solution. I started a Pilates class. There I met a few women and we got chatting, as you do, about all the usual stuff (work, children, men. . . .). I’d been very intentional and attended the same classes at the same time with the same people. I’d been praying for folks by name as I got to know them better. The Lord has been good, and I’ve had several chats and opportunities to share my testimony. I’ve answered countless questions about my faith and we’ve discussed everything from Christmas carols to world religions. Nothing is forced and, in fact, most of the time the ladies ask me questions. I try hard not to be just another face in the crowd banging away on the treadmill, isolating myself with my earphones in. I’m there to get fit for sure, so I put the work in, but I don’t see it as my primary goal or my special, ‘me time’. In other words, I don’t leave Jesus behind when I sign in. A deliberate life, intentionality lived, can bring amazing opportunities to share the gospel.

The problems occur when we are trying to engage women in an unnatural setting with no connection. What I mean by this is somewhere we don’t work, we don’t live, or simply somewhere we don’t normally spend our time. That’s why, for us at 20schemes, it’s paramount that women’s workers live in the community they are serving.

If we want to engage with women on gospel issues then we ought to consider the following in our life and community:

  1. Do we know where the women in our community spend their time?
  2. What common connectors are there that can help us reach out (same school, we like art and there is a class at our local community centre, a local charity shop needs volunteers, the leisure centre, we live next door to each other)?
  3. What little changes in our life can we make to help us be more intentional about how we engage people with the gospel?
  4. Are we living distinctly different from others (without being a weirdo)?
  5. Are we being deliberate about engaging women (or deep down are you wishing no one looks your way or starts a conversation)?
  6. Do we have any non-Christian friends? Do we share the gospel with them?
  7. What is the real reason we aren’t sharing the gospel? What is it that makes us scared or hold off?
  8. Do we pray for the women we meet by name, asking God to save and give us gospel opportunities?
  9. Do we have an expectation that God will save?

We may fumble, we might not get the right words, and we may even get asked a question we don’t know the answer to. BUT, if we are truly engaging with those around us and have genuine relationships with them, then we need to care enough about them to get over ourselves and grab the opportunities that naturally arise. After all, it's God who saves and softens their hearts. All we have to do is faithfully proclaim.

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