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?
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.