One of my first introductions to "evangelistic tactics" was a class on the Romans road. If you are unfamiliar with this, it is a series of verses throughout Romans that you can memorize to explain the Gospel. Tools like this one were designed to help us understand how to communicate the Gospel clearly while using Scripture to support what we are talking about.
Many tools like this were helpful in being able to biblicallly lay out the message and call to response in the work of Jesus. One thing that happened though as we promoted these kinds of tools within Christendom is that they can turn presenting the Gospel into a sterile presentation. Then treating the Gospel like a presentation can turn our evangelism into something that we just have to "get off our chest" instead of the loving and truthful call to follow Jesus that it was meant to be.
When I talk with people about sharing their faith there is often a response of fear associated with it. Many that I have talked to have expressed a fear of saying the wrong things or of it making the relationship awkward after that. I believe that many of these fears come out of us having a presentation like mindset when it comes to sharing the Gospel.
As I read through today's reading in Mark 4, one of the things that stood out to me is how indirectly Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God. In the Gospels, he is more likely to share a parable about God than he is to explicitly telling them how everything works. Specifically, in the beginning of Mark 4, he shared with the crowd the Parable of the Sower and instead of explaining it publicly, he leaves the crowd to ponder it and then eventually discusses it more with his disciples in private.
In our minds, I think we would tend to believe that if God himself was walking the earth, he would simply answer all our questions or explain how it all works together, but with Jesus that was rarely the case.
Instead of answering everyone's questions, Jesus would use stories or small pieces of truth to stoke the people's curiosity, to provoke thought, so that they would seek out the truth.
Now this isn't to say as Christians we should begin to speak in cryptic riddles but more to say that should more comfortable helping others to be curious about the things of Jesus. The Gospel is not a presentation to be made, it is God's story of redemption meant to be explored, understood, and believed. Our role in that is to help unpack it for people and show them what it means to be saved by and live for Jesus. Evangelism isn't a slideshow, it is call to intentionally make others curious about the Gospel.
I wonder what would happen if began to view our call to obedience for evangelism in that way. I wonder what would happen if instead of looking for our opportunity to make our points heard we began to love others well and looked for opportunities to connect every life to the person and work of Jesus. I wonder what would happen if we viewed sharing our faith as conversations and not presentations.
I was reminded of this again a few weeks ago, when I met a man who came to Christ because of his group of friends sharing about Jesus with him over a long period of time. He had been closed off to the Gospel but enjoyed the company of the friends. Eventually he began to ask questions. Eventually those friends challenged him to read the Bible for himself. He did and eventually he came to trust in Jesus as his Lord and Savior. For this man it wasn't a presentation that won his heart. It was through the moving conversations of friends that stirred his heart toward Jesus.
As we read today and go out into our world, may we head the call to curious evangelism so that we can love people and invite them to discover Jesus.