How to Be Approachable as a Christian Ambassador

Feb 28, 2023 | Blog

You know how Jesus talks a lot about sharing our faith with others, and yet when you’re in the grocery store, the notion of walking up to a stranger and asking about their eternal destiny seems really awkward and maybe even insensitive?

My hand is raised.

For a long time, I thought I was the problem. I gave it lots of different names, but the one I settled on most of the time was just that “I’m an introvert.”

What I’ve learned is that I am the problem, sure enough…

But it’s not because of my personality style, it’s not that I don’t love Jesus enough, and it’s not that I don’t have the Holy Spirit living inside of me.

The problem is I had the wrong motive.

I read what Jesus said — but I didn’t model what he did. Those things are not mutually exclusive; actually, the opposite is true.

They are mutually required. But much teaching and training on the subject of evangelism deals only with what he said — not with what he did.

So, What is Evangelism?

Growing up, I learned that evangelism was:

  • Knocking on a stranger’s door to invite them to church or “go for the kill” and ask them to receive Christ
  • Stopping at every person in the grocery store and asking if they were saved

  • Not going a single day without “witnessing” and telling somebody about Jesus

  • More of the above, just in different contexts…

This never sat right with me, even though the sentiment sounded great and the motive seemed genuine.

“Maybe if you’re an extrovert,” I thought, “But introverts like me need to find another way to make this happen.”

And I still mostly agree with that sentiment. Mike Bechtle has written a fantastic book called Evangelism for the Rest of Us that deals with this topic well.

In brief, he describes how an introvert living into their personality style (while still being sensitive in any given moment to the Holy Spirit) can actually be more effective in the unique way that God made them, even if the results cannot be so clearly seen.

More about that here, if you’re interested.

Also, in those contexts, the concept of “Lifestyle Evangelism” was minimized; sometimes even criticized.

When I look at Jesus’ idea of evangelism, though, a different picture emerges.

How Did Jesus Do Evangelism?

I should say: I still believe that if it works for you to knock on strangers’ doors or interrupt them while grocery shopping, go ahead.

But I would ask you to consider something: Is that really how they would want to be engaged?

Do you answer random knocks at your door? Phone calls during dinner time? Do you like it when people interrupt you at the grocery store to give you a lecture?

Because that’s what it feels like.

Jesus preached the gospel. He was quite vocal. And he never shied away from a challenge. When the Pharisees questioned him, he stunned and astonished them with his answers.

Literally, he left them speechless.

And yet when sharing the good news of the Kingdom with random people, he always did do in the context of service.

This, in my humble opinion, is the “missing ingredient” of evangelism today.

Let’s consider “Lifestyle Evangelism” (living a moral life but never telling people about Jesus) and “Direct Evangelism” (telling people about Jesus but failing to live and serve like him) two sides of a ditch.

There’s a middle ground, you know.

The middle ground is this: “Love and serve people with a genuine heart. And if the opportunity arises, share Christ with them directly.”

As apologists, we love to quote 1 Peter 3:15: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”

Now let me ask you a question: How many people are asking you the reason for your hope?

If you’re like many people I encounter, not many. I know that, as an introvert, the “holy grail” would be for LOTS of people to ask ME about Christ without me having to make the first move.

What about you?

So why isn’t it happening? In the context of 1 Peter, the idea is this: When people see the Christian’s response to suffering and persecution, they will ask what gives them such hope.

In other words — they observe the Christian’s lifestyle and actions and then ask why they live how they do.

This is why Jesus ate with sinners and, as a result, had influence on them.

He didn’t proclaim his message to them and then serve them. He served them, then shared his message.

Becoming Approachable

Ironically, then, the secret to becoming approachable is for you to approach in service of another person first.

And I can tell you already from personal experience, it’s a lot easier to have influence in someone’s life if they view you as a source of value.

This is how God built the universe to work. It’s marvelous to behold. And once this gets inside of you, you will be unable to read your Bible without seeing it.

Again, we must avoid ditches. Love without judgment is a ditch. Judgment without love is a ditch. Love for people without affirmation of sin is the Narrow Way in which few seem to walk.

If you view people for what you can get out of them, it will always be awkward. And maybe you don’t struggle with this, but for me at least, this feeling holds true in the context of evangelism.

When I approach a conversion with the motive of “I’m going to get that person saved!” the motive is not in the wrong place, but the value exchange is.

Of course, I understand what a gift salvation is, but this is a lost, sinful world we are dealing with. Picking up someone’s keys after they drop them is an act of service that will resonate with people well before a gospel sales pitch will.

And if you believe in the sovereignty of God, and he presents you with an opportunity to share the gospel with that person, go for it.

If you believe in the sovereignty of God and an opportunity is not presented to share the gospel with that person, rest in the fact that if the gospel is meant to get to that person, it will.

In short: Becoming approachable starts with the simplest command to read but hardest to implement: Love God, love your neighbor. Truly.

More opportunities to share the gospel will arise if you take more opportunities to serve, first. Show, don’t just tell.

Meet Steve

Meet Steve

Hi, I’m Steve, an author, speaker, and Bible teacher with a heart for exploring God’s Word and God’s world.

I’m interested in the surprising connection between creation, theology, business, and storytelling. We explore those themes and more on this blog.

Be sure to browse the site for faith-affirming articles, book reviews, and podcasts!

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