According to the Barna Research Group, after the average believer has followed Jesus for 2 years, he/she has NO relationships with lost persons. He/she knows many but fails to connect with them in any meaningful way. This should not be.
First, people want to be loved and accepted, and that gives us a great foundation for connecting to communicate. Second, teaching to communicate the gospel within that relationship must usually replace simply sharing the facts of the gospel and a call to respond. Those facts are just not recognized or accepted as in the past.
How do we connect with unbelievers after meeting them so that we can communicate Christ to them? Chapters 1 and 2 of John reveal several insights into how Jesus made eternal connections with his first disciples and other lost people. We can transfer these practices to our culture and harness His tactics for building redemptive relationships.
Explore Their Spiritual Interests (1:35-39)
These two unnamed disciples of John shared spiritual interests. John the Baptist pointed them to Jesus who further questioned them: He asked WHAT do you seek, not WHOM do you seek. He built on their spiritual concerns.
Good news! All people have spiritual interests. They’re not always interested in Christ; they may even be anti-Christianity. But don’t be afraid to discuss their religion nor hesitate to ask them to explain their beliefs to you. God created us with spiritual interests; all people have them, and fishers of men can tap them. Remember, ask, listen, and DO NOT attempt to correct. Get to know their religious worldview.
Be Question Oriented (1:35-38)
The first thing that Jesus did was to ask an open-ended question (1:38). This unlocked the door for them to reveal their expectations of the one whom John proclaimed. It’s more important in the early stages of connecting with the lost to ask than to answer. Listen for their worldview, interests, needs, hurts, life expectations and religious beliefs. Try to pick up their passions. As you do, you will learn “eternal contact” points.
Be Hospitable (1:39)
Jesus’ next words were an invitation to His place. It was 10 in the morning, and they spent that day with him. Be hospitable. Use your home, boat, round of golf, or grill to get together with the unsaved. Sitting around your living room, sharing a Coke, or standing around your smoking grill can go a long way toward eternity. Be welcoming and sharing.
Build On Family Ties (1:40-42)
Andrew brought his brother Peter to Jesus who then reached him. You will get to know the family members of your lost friends. These are often good foundations for outreach. Build on them! Cookouts, sporting events, birthday parties – all are good relationship builders.
Network Business Relationships (1:43-51)
Andrew, Peter, and Philip shared a common occupation – fishing. The Lord harnessed their business network to extend His saving work. Capture the relationships you have in the business world and develop them for Christ. Be active in Kiwanis, Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, or your home builders association. Great opportunity is often disguised as a business contact.
Be Affirming (1:42, 47)
Jesus recognized and affirmed the characters of Peter and Nathanael. What a wonderful insight into our King’s personality: he looks for the good in persons and notes it when he finds it. How often do you receive positive feedback at work? It seems that most communication at work is corrective. How refreshing to be an affirming person. Honest, specific recognition of a person’s strengths and positive traits is valuable.
Share Social Events (2:1-11)
Jesus and His men accepted the invitation to a wedding where people partied and celebrated one of life’s greatest pleasures for seven days. You too should join in the social celebrations and events of the lost. Host Super Bowl parties at your house, and invite lost friends. Go to the office Christmas party and be a designated driver if needed. Social events are great for redemptive relating.
Be A Servant (2:1-11)
We all know that Jesus turned water into the best wine ever tasted. But we sometimes forget that he showed that part of his glory (11) is to be a servant. Let’s proactively meet people’s needs. Loan your neighbor a tool. Cut their grass. Keep their dog when they go on vacation.
I have a lost friend who regularly comes to see me because I helped him with some plumbing issues. In fact, he recently walked to my house with an injured leg just to give me a CD and talk. Let’s keep serving others outside the family of God.
To sum up, harness everyday life to make contact with lost persons. These tactics put lost folks at ease for they occur on neutral turf rather than a church building. List your lost acquaintances. Thank God for each, and start praying for your involvement in their lives. Brainstorm on ways to connect.
Imagine the pleasure you will feel knowing that you’re pleasing Christ. Envision the opportunities you will enjoy. Anticipate the growth that you will experience through new relationships and the sense of eternal activity in your fellowship. GO FISH!
Written by Rick Oglesby