Ed: You start your new evangelism book, Good News for a Change, by suggesting we’ve forgotten that gospel means “good news.” Why is that?
Matt: Once when I was in college, a complete stranger knocked on my dorm room door. As he stood in the hallway, his first words were, “You need to stop smoking pot, stop sleeping with your girlfriend, and come to Jesus.” It took me ten minutes to convince him I had never smoked weed and that my girlfriend lived eight hours away. Finally, I said, “I’m already a Christian.” He threw his arms around me and shouted, “Brother!”
Sometimes, we’re afraid to talk about Jesus because we’re thinking of it like that . . . I have to tell my friends a laundry list of their sins, and then say, “Come to Jesus.” We know our friends won’t like it because that way of talking about the gospel makes it easy to miss the good news.
Ed: Let’s talk about that fear for a moment. I wrote recently about how fear keeps pastors from doing evangelism. Why do you think fear is so prevalent in our attitudes toward evangelism?
Matt: Partly, I think, it’s because too often our motivation in evangelism is obligation. We’ve been told that the guy next to us on the plane will go to hell because we fail to bring up Jesus, so we think, It’s now or never and rush past relationship and straight to, “Will you go to heaven if this plane crashes?” Which, yes, works sometimes because of the grace and power of the Holy Spirit.
But we think of this kind of conversation as ‘normal evangelism’ instead of an exception. We’ve internalized these ideas that (a) No one wants to hear the gospel, so this will be a hard conversation, and (b) I guess I have to do this to be a good Christian.
Ed: The subtitle to your book is How to Talk to Anyone about Jesus. Really? Anyone?
Matt: Everyone likes good news. If gospel really means “good news,” we shouldn’t be surprised that most people will be delighted to talk about it. I’ve shared Christ with Satanists, atheists, Buddhists, and many more, and most of them have said, “I really enjoyed this. I want to talk about this some more.”
The key question I ask myself is, What is good news for this person? Which is to say, there are a lot of life topics to choose from when we start talking to others about Jesus, so I ask myself what will be most interesting, most compelling to the individual I’m talking with. That creates a different sort of conversation than “I have these six things I need to explain to you.”
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Source: Christianity Today