“There was a time in my life that I did not believe evangelism was for me,” revealed Choo Li Min, a Cru campus mentor at Singapore Management University.
“I thought it was just for pastors and missionaries. Not for ‘ordinary churchgoers’ like me.”
That honest confession was how Choo began the second session of Cru’s #READY webinar series, before recounting what changed her mindset.
“When I joined Cru in freshman year, we had basic evangelism training where a quote by Charles S. Swindoll struck me while I was in that workshop: ‘Whatever we do, we must not treat the Great Commission like it’s the Great Suggestion’.”
“I felt pricked in my conscience,” she said. “I knew God was speaking to me.”
Fast forward to today, and her work involves sharing Jesus on campuses; Choo has become who can’t stop talking about Him because God is so ingrained in her life!
To help us in our own journeys, Choo offered a handful of tips from John 4 (ESV) for conversational evangelism.
7 CONVERSATIONAL HACKS IN EVANGELISM
1. Be set apart
Highlighting John 4:7-9, Choo shared that back then, Jews didn’t associate with Samaritans, and that men of Jesus’ status would never publicly speak to women.
“So, Jesus’s willingness to speak to her genuinely surprised her, and this opened up her receptivity to what Jesus had to say,” she said.
Drawing from Jesus’ actions, Choo gave the first hack: to be set apart.
She then listed out several ways to do so:
- Be marked by a spirit of excellence in our work
- Use our words to build up and edify people, not tear them down or gossip
- Make wise and prayerful decisions instead of recklessly doing what feels right at the moment
- Say no to peer pressure and constant comparison
“Many definitely struggle with these. We tend to fade into the background because we’re doing what everybody else is doing,” Choo reflected.
“But Jesus has called us to a different kind of life. We are in this world but not of this world. He’s given us kingdom principles that challenge our faith, but when we follow them, they really do make us stand out in a good way.”
2. Plan entry points
“The shortest route from Judea to Galilee is through Samaria,” Choo continued. “But remember – bad blood between Jews and Samaritans.”
“Jews of the day would rather take a longer and more difficult journey by crossing over to the right side of the Jordan River… but Jesus didn’t do that.”
Choo believes Jesus knew that the Samaritan woman would be at that well, and had planned to meet her there.
She also pointed out Jesus had a conversation prepared. Which leads to the second hack: plan your entry points.
“Just like Jesus planned where and what to say, you can also decide what’s your best way to have a touchpoint with a person,” she said.
Choo then gave an example of how she shared about Jesus to her neighbourhood sundry shop auntie.
She had planned when to visit the auntie, which was during off-peak hours. Choo also made sure to remember information from previous visits, so as to say something like: “Auntie, last time you said you were searching for your shop assistant, how’s that coming along? I’ve been praying for you.”
“I don’t plan out the full script,” Choo clarified. “I just start first and allow the Spirit to meet me as I progress.”
3. Find common ground
Next, Choo referenced John 4:9-15 and said: “This topic of water was a perfect one. Not only was it a genuine need for a tired and thirsty Jesus, but He knew water was an extraordinary need for this woman.”
Choo deduced that the Samaritan woman was avoiding others as she was drawing water alone in hot weather.
Hence, the woman was interested when Jesus spoke of water that could quench thirst forever: “Jesus successfully stirred up an interest in her, through their common ground of water.”
From this, Choo shared the third hack: finding common ground.
Ways to find common ground include:
- Sharing a personal opinion
- Depositing related spiritual truths
- Asking questions
- Drawing a bigger circle to include others with empathy
- Offering to pray for/with them
Besides trending shows or the news, one timely topic during this pandemic would be purpose.
Choo elaborated: “When people are struggling with their jobs and have so much conflict in their homes, they think: ‘What’s my purpose in life?’”
Talking about purpose helps us to share related spiritual truths from God’s word. When we ask how our friends deal with the issues they face, and empathise with their desire for purpose, we make meaningful connections and may even have opportunities to pray for them or meet their needs.
4. Build the right bridge
Going off of John 4:16-18, Choo shared that the fourth hack is to build the right bridge.
Choo suggested that Jesus brought up the topic of the woman’s husband when they were talking about water not to embarrass her, but to confront her sin so that she could turn to Him and get living water.
“The way He talks to Pharisees is different from the way He talks to His disciples,” Choo said. “And to this woman – He came by way of her conscience.”
Choo further shared a resource called the Engel Scale, which asserts that people on different zones of the scale need to be approached in different, specific ways like addressing intellectual barriers to faith.
Resources like the Engel Scale can thus help us to better identify and address the needs of those we seek to share Chris with.
5. Prepare stories
Choo got the hack #5 – prepare stories – not from Jesus, but from the Samaritan woman.
After her conversation with Jesus, John 4:28-39 tells us that the woman went out into the world to share her testimony.
Choo shared: “Notice that this one-minute-old Christian, who had not read the Bible cover to cover, had not been theologically trained, used to avoid talking to people – this same woman became an enthusiastic evangelist and she led others to come to Jesus!”
A firm believer in the power of stories, Choo said that one way to ensure we always have stories to share would be to make a habit of recognising God’s fingerprints in our lives.
She also encouraged attendees to never despise their stories of seeing God work in their lives, no matter how mundane they seem.
6. Get them connected
The next hack? Get them connected.
In her day, the Samaritan woman could literally connect others to Jesus. However as Jesus is no longer physically on earth, there are many other resources we can connect people to.
Apologist Sean McDowell is a great start. Choo personally follows his account on Instagram, and believes it’s a useful resource since McDowell answers sorts of difficult faith-based questions.
There’s also the Alpha Film Series, which Choo uses with students at SMU. Each episode unpacks many Biblical truths, with good discussion questions provided.
Choo also recommended Mere Christianity, recounting how the book helped one of her friends tackle the issue of absolute morality.
Websites like TheChosen.tv and JesusFilm.org which feature engaging shows to help people learn about Jesus are also handy.
Lastly, Choo shared that church events can be wonderful opportunities to connect pre-believers with a spiritual community.
7. Identify Jesus
For the final hack, Choo highlighted one short sentence from John 4:29: “Can this be the Christ?” The last hack is also the simplest: identify Jesus.
She personally applies this hack by intentionally using the word “Jesus” instead of “God”.
“There are many ‘gods’ out there. When you see the word ‘God’, the mental image to somebody else might be another deity,” she explained. “I want them to know I’m specifically talking about Jesus.”
So, for example, Choo makes it a point to say “Jesus loves you” instead of “God loves you.” She also believes Christians should slow down at the most important part of a prayer, the end.
“In Jesus’ name I pray – because in no other name can you pray and have access to God.
“So even slowing down at that part, helping them to hear Jesus’ name, I feel it’s a good practice to have.”
4 ENCOURAGEMENTS FOR THE JOURNEY AHEAD
To wrap up her webinar session, Choo left attendees with four encouragements.
1. Erase the there’s-no-opportunity mentality
Quoting John 4:34-35, Choo counselled against the idea that there’s nothing to be done (in the context of evangelism) just because one is waiting.
“Jesus doesn’t want His disciples to have that mentality,” she affirmed.
“He wants them to see that the harvest is ready right now, and that they ought to seize every opportunity to reach lost souls for Christ.”
2. It takes teamwork
The next few verses in John 4:36-38 tell us that we aren’t doing this alone.
“Let’s say it takes seven times of hearing the gospel before somebody believes in Jesus. Everybody wants to be that seventh person, right?” Choo quipped.
“But somebody needs to be that first, fourth or sixth person – to do the important work of sowing, watering and pruning.
“So my encouragement is don’t despise the spiritual work you’re doing even though it feels like it’s not reaping any fruit.
“Because God can send other people to move them up the Engel Scale.”
When Jesus mentioned her husband, the Samaritan woman diverted the conversation to worship, Choo pointed out.
Jesus graciously let that slide, before patiently starting a new conversation about worship.
“So it definitely takes more than a single conversation to bring someone to Christ,” reflected Choo.
“Don’t give up, keep trying!”
4. The definition of success in witnessing
Choo shared that one definition of evangelism has greatly encouraged her while serving with Cru: “Success in witnessing is simply taking the initiative to share Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God.”
For Choo, this means that if an evangelism attempt doesn’t end with someone accepting Christ into their hearts, we still succeeded as long as we started a conversation and tried our best.
“You may not see that person through their whole life,” Choo said, as she ended the session with a question.
“But while you cross paths, would you make the most of that?”
Sign up for the next #READY workshop HERE! #READY is a Cru Singapore initiative to activate and empower every young adult to share Christ, in tandem with #PublishPeace, our campaign to get testimonies onto feeds everywhere in 2022!
Finally join a Telegram community channel for young adults to journey together in outreach over Lent season here.
- When was the last time you shared the Gospel with someone?
- Is there anything holding you back?
- Based on this article, what is one practical way you can take a step towards obeying the Great Commission?