Sharing Your Faith Without Being Pushy

My daughters announced to me last week that they were going to downtown Sacramento on Saturday morning with some of their friends to give homeless people coffee and donuts. This wasn’t an official youth group activity; this was just a bunch of kids wanting to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

I asked them, “Are you just feeding them, or are you going to talk with them too?”

This always brings up an interesting response- actually, a polarized response. People, in my opinion are usually ready to do too much or too little. They are either planning on saying nothing, or pelting them with tracts and unsolicited Gospel presentations.

Again… a difficult balance to find.

Where’s the answer?

I’m pondering this a little more than usually at the moment, because the last few days I’ve been adding the finishing touches on the participants’ guide to the new Zondervan/Youth Specialties DVD curriculum I’m writing, teaching young people how to share their faith without scaring their friends away.

The curriculum is almost to the production stage. I asked your input on titles a while back, and this week the publisher made the final choice (UPDATE TO THIS BLOG- they changed the title AGAIN! So this now reflects the new title).

REAL CONVERSATIONS

Then they’re gonna add the subtitle: Sharing Your Faith Without Being Pushy 

(Don’t ask me when the curriculum will be released. I really don’t know. We’re shooting the video in two weeks.)

It’s been a fun process writing this content and trying to find the difference between spirit-led boldness and plain ol’ pushiness. Personally, I tend to be a little less confrontational one-on-one. Knowing that, I sent a copy of this DVD script to my buddy Greg Stier (who I respect greatly) over at Dare 2 Share Ministries (very bold!) and had him take a look at it. He liked it, but encouraged me to make a few tweaks. I agreed on every instance.

Evangelism is one of those bizarre things that so many people do so differently. We’ve all seen the extreme examples: people holding signs that read REPENT THE END IS NEAR, people standing on street corners yelling into bullhorns, people handing out deceptive tracts (a fake $20 bill with a message on the back, “Don’t worry, this is much more valuable than gold or silver…”)

We’ve also seen the polar opposite: sitting and doing nothing, or just feeding people with our lips sealed tightly, except to mutter a questionably accurate quote from St. Francis of Assisi.

Where’s the balance between pushiness and silence?

My wife Lori had a great experience during Easter break earlier this year. She went with our church youth group to the “Tenderloin” in San Francisco to serve with a local rescue mission. This district full of “single room occupancy” residences (dare I say “slums”) has a reputation of drugs, alcohol, and prostitution.

Lori and a bunch of junior higher students went door to door in some of these single room occupancy locations doing “meal delivery.” The concept was simple. They knocked and said, “Meal delivery.” When someone answered the door (usually high, sometimes naked), Lori and the kids would greet the person, shake their hand (these people weren’t used to being touched), then hold out the meal and say, “We have a free meal for you from the local rescue mission.” The people weren’t required to hear a sermon or listen to a pitch—it was just a warm greeting and a free meal, no strings attached.

Most often people were eager to get the free meal and many said thanks. One of the rescue mission workers that Lori was really impressed with—a 18 or 19-year-old kid named Vince—would usually reach out his hand at this point and place it on the shoulder of the person they were visiting and sincerely ask, “Do you have something you’d like me to pray for?”

Lori said that about 80% of the people would share a prayer request. Vince would always say, “Well let me pray for you right now.” And would pray with them in the doorway.

Many of these conversations led to talking about Jesus and his message of love and grace.

Some didn’t.

Funny, I don’t find it necessary to be pushy with the Gospel message… but I don’t find it Biblical to be silent.

Hmmmmm. That balance again!

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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4 Responses to Sharing Your Faith Without Being Pushy

  1. Adam says:

    By far, the most difficult balance to strike. I do find though, that most people could benefit from a little more boldness. Heck those that couldn’t probably wouldn’t listen anyway 🙂
    Have you had the same experience, that people in real life (not just media) typically are more timid?

  2. Fred says:

    I feel there is a big difference between winning those you are in contact with on a daily basis & street evangelism. Witnessing to friends should show our actions meeting up with the words that we share with them, as to not just be preachy or pushy. When talking to someone that you will probably never see again, I feel it’s Search & Rescue time. We go out to the streets every week handing out bottled water & using the gospel soul-winning script (free at revival.com). We offer water, prayer, but most of all Jesus. Year to date we have seen 780 decisions by going out once a week with an average group of 4-5. God is so good!

  3. Rick Nier says:

    Good topic. It’s one we’re actually having church-wide right now where I am at. You’re exactly right about people being polarized on this issue. In act, we’ve had some who wonder why we even ask such stupid questions when they are already willing to give that cup of cold water. It’s almost as if one side were seen as crazed extremists and the other as apathetic almost-Christians.

    I think doing things that will (hopefully) lead to a conversation is a good balance. Because you never know where God will take that conversation.

  4. Welcome Moeng says:

    I am involved in a children ministry evangelism and we have set a target of 1000 children outreach in a township. The only way you will be able to share the gospel of Jesus Christ and not be pushy is to show people genuine love. We have decided to be like the salt of the Katlehong by participating in high impact events in our township. We are very visible and known in the streets for touching lives in the most positive manner. And as a result we have so far touched 400 kids and adults because people feel warm around us. People are eager to listen to us as long as we are relevant and we form relationships.

    The most common pitfall is that some Christians are ignorant about their environment and want to change people without gaining a right to be heard. People are comfortable to listen to you if you are relevant and they can trust you.