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Conversation called effective tool for sharing gospel among women

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (BP)–Having an understanding of the gospel and being willing to share it lies at the heart of living an on-mission lifestyle, but one of the first hurdles in witnessing to strangers often is just being able to strike up a conversation. And there is perhaps no better model for how to do that than Jesus Christ himself, said Jaye Martin, women’s evangelism specialist for the North American Mission Board.
As part of a series of “HeartCall” evangelism seminars for women, Martin led a workshop on “Conversations that Count” during the REACH ‘99 evangelism and church-planting conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., Aug. 30-Sept. 3. The material was part of a wide range of HeartCall materials developed by Martin over the past two years designed to help women become more evangelistic and teach others to be likewise.
Martin cited Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well as a key example of conversation starting as a means for evangelism. And with women, she said, such conversations are often among the best ways of communicating the gospel.
“Most women tend to be more relational, and it’s easy for them to be able to do that,” she said. “With guys, they usually have to do things to get to know each other. … You don’t see them having a retreat for the weekend.”
Martin illustrated “Seven Cs” of successful evangelistic witness through conversation that Jesus modeled during the encounter with the woman at the well in John 4:4-32.
— Common ground. With Jesus, it was as simple as the fact that they shared a need and understanding of water. With women in a grocery store, a quick glance at the items in a fellow shopper’s cart is likely to reveal something they have in common. “Look over and see what they have in their cart, and say, ‘Boy, that looks good!’ It doesn’t matter what you talk about; you just have to start talking. And then you can insert Jesus into the conversation.”
— Curiosity. Jesus left the woman curious for further explanation, with his references to “living water” that would make her “never thirst again.”
— Concern. “Jesus cared enough about her to help her see that she had a need that only he could fill,” Martin said. “We have to show concern for other people by sharing with them how God can help them through whatever they are going through — how he can bring peace in their life.”
— Change “religion” to “relationship.” When Jesus was asked about the differences in where the Samaritans and the Jews worshiped, Jesus shifted to the more important issue. “It’s not how you worship … it’s the importance of worshiping in spirit and in truth,” Martin said. Debates over peripheral issues should be avoided.
— Confession. Jesus makes the confession that “I who speak to you am He (God).” Christians also should proudly proclaim their spiritual lineage. “You just have to tell them at some point why you’re this wonderful peaceful person that they’re seeing, and that it’s through the Lord’s intervention.”
— Conversion. The woman at the well was changed. Witnesses should stress “conversion is only because of the Holy Spirit, not because of you,” Martin said.
— Challenge. After his encounter resulted in the entire town coming to repentance, Jesus challenged his disciples to anticipate the harvest. Likewise, Christians should be aware of the receptivity to the gospel all around them. “The challenge he gives us is just to open our eyes,” Martin said.
At the most basic level, Martin also offered an acrostic of simple ideas based on the word “NICE” for getting conversations started that can lead to opportunities to share Christ.
— Nature — Comment on the beauty of particular flowers or other parts of nature as a lead-in to a discussion of God’s creation.
— Interests — Like the water at the well or sharing shopping-cart favorites, common interests spark conversation.
— Compliments — Genuine compliments about even simple things create good will. Alternatively, the words “Care” and “Crisis” illustrate how kind words in times of need go far in building bridges to openness to expression of God’s love.
— Everything — Find new ways to express what God has done through simple illustrations. Faith in a chair’s ability to not break when sat upon, for example, can be used to depict faith in God. With a little creativity, other illustrations are out there. “Begin to look for different ways to start conversations with the gospel,” Martin said.
HeartCall materials – including a devotional book, a prayer guide, a four-week study and a tract providing a unified plan for sharing the gospel based on the Heartcall logo — are available through LifeWay Christian Resources, 1-800-448-8032.

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  • James Dotson