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The magic 2 year mark

Here’s my top tip for evangelism: it takes 2 years before you have a decent conversation.

At least for average joannas like me, who don’t see themselves as particularly gifted in evangelism. I normally try to introduce the fact that I’m a Christian pretty early on in a relationship – some reference to church or, in my case, study or my future vocation. But even if people are interested at the time (which rarely happens) it still takes a while for us to have another conversation. Because it often takes that long before you have a real conversation about anything significant, not just faith.

Christians are generally pretty share-y people. It’s part of our sub-culture to talk about faith and (often) really personal things. Praying, reflecting on life together, heck, even singing in public, are activities that make us vulnerable but that we treat as reasonably normal. We jump into them without too much thought.

But I think non-churchies take a little more time. And my experience is 2 years. That’s how long it took to start having real conversations when I worked at Target. That’s how long it’s taken in Melbourne too. (Disclaimer: may be shorter/longer. Cross cultural relationships are often much shorter, for example.) I’ve just hit 2.5 years at the gym and the last few months have been a whirlwind of friendships and conversations. I’ve been working out with the same people the whole time but it’s only been in the last few months that we’ve started talked about ‘real’ stuff, including just a little bit of faith stuff.

Having Red Twin here has kicked it up another gear, partly because more people want to talk to us and partly because our future locations (Afghanistan/Tanzania) have come into sharper focus because she’s doing her cross cultural training, so that leads to more opportunities to share what motivates us.

It’s exciting at the moment. The first two years often feel useless – you hardly talk to anyone and when you do, it’s small talk. All you can do is pray (not that that’s useless, of course!) But I’m more and more convinced that just being there as part of the furniture actually does something too.

What’s been your experience? What opportunities are you excited about?

Categories: Tanzanian culture Uncategorized Written by Tamie

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Tamie Davis

Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at

3 replies

  1. I think it can go faster, but I think it takes practice. It must go faster, because there are people coming to Christ in our playgroups, and they aren’t always there that long. 
    One of our leaders is an evangelist, and her intentional question goes ‘so, tell me, what’s been your experience of Christian stuff’. It works. 
    I was never that well thought out, and my conversations have not yet been the ones that are the conversion moment, but me talking about me was never that persuasive, I needed to get people to tell me their stories. And then listen. 
    I really hope that is helpful! Delete me if not =)

  2. Thanks Fiona. It’s helpful to hear about playgroups – it sounds like mum-groups are a really fruitful place where people are looking to connect. We’ve had a young mum in our small group this year and I’ve been amazed at the opportunities she’s had.

    I suspect it takes longer in my experience because my main contact with non-Christians is at the gym where there’s less time to chat and the chances for going out for coffee afterwards are hampered by the amount of sweat! :)

  3. I agree in some ways Tamie. I think that is the time when trust has been built and optimum comfort for broaching difficult subjects happens – and lets face it, if we do discuss the gospel with someone for whom it is alien then concepts such as God’s holiness, anger at sin, topics of God’s position on homosexuality and women roles come up and need to be dealt with lovingly.
    However, I think it depends upon how much time you actually spend with the people, how chatty you/they are, how cunningly you ‘turn’ a conversation and with prayer – I often get surprised at how God springs opportunities upon us if we ask.
    However, I have found it harder since being a mum and I have found the 2 year rule to be more true if you are too busy to get together with someone regularly for actual chat time. I am JUST now really reaping the rewards of some 2 year friendships/aquaintances and although we have talked about God and the bible in the past, at around 1 year we got the real meaty conversations and at about 2 years it was safe to talk about the challenge of the gospel and push a bit about ideas that I knew were difficult for them.
    I also would say I am an evangelist, I get opportunities whenever I ask for them ( do I dare?!) and I can turn a conversation, but it is so much harder when a small person needs so much care and I am interrupted every 2 mins with ‘mama!’ or poos or cries or tumbles!

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