“Hi, can I talk to you about Jesus?”
Three things to keep in mind when setting out to do 'walk up evangelism'.
Have you heard of 'walk up evangelism'? The idea behind it is pretty simple - you walk up to a complete stranger on the street, at school, at university, or anywhere else, and talk to them about the good news of Jesus. Sometimes you might get outright rejected, but at other times people will listen, ask you questions, and the conversation could have life-changing results.
But quite frankly, walk up evangelism is usually awkward. That is of course unless you’re one of those gifted few (might I say weird?) who seem to enjoy talking to strangers.
Now, some people doubt the value of walk up evangelism. “Surely it does more harm than good”, they say. “Walk up evangelism may have worked in a previous era, but times have changed!” That may be true, but I’m pretty sure talking to random strangers has always been awkward. And for what it’s worth, my experience has usually been that the ‘good’ outweighs the ‘bad’.
So for all the awkwardness, how do you do walk up evangelism without going crazy? Here’s a few ideas:
1. Trust in the sovereignty of God
Broadly speaking, God will lead you to two types of people. The first group are those that God has been working in for years already. All you need to do is show up, tell them how to become a Christian, and they’re on board. If you get one of these, rejoice! We might say they are ‘ripe for the picking’. The rest (most) are those in whom you will simply be planting a gospel seed. Faithfully do your bit and then entrust them to God.
2. Know what you want to achieve
I have three goals when doing walk up evangelism. First, I want to learn about people. What do they believe and what do they want out of life? Secondly, I want to share the Gospel with them, “for it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). And finally, I want to refine my communication skills. If they don’t ‘get’ the Gospel (intellectually at least), it’s usually my fault not theirs. Walk up evangelism trains me to be clearer when explaining the Gospel.
3. Expect a bit of resistance
Jesus said, “if the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (John 15:18). Walk up evangelism is probably not the best way to make friends. But that’s ok! As Paul says, “If God is for us then who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) That being said, we need to do our best to ensure that if people are offened, it’s not by us - the messengers - but by the message.
So next time you go out for a bit of walk up, trust in God, be clear on what you want to achieve, and expect a bit of resistance. Who knows… God may just send you to pick some fruit!