Top Ten Evangelism Mistakes, Number Four
Neglecting to Build Relationships
A couple of years ago, our church planned to have a picnic in one of our city parks. We decided to canvass the neighborhood and invite people to join us. As one of our members was handing out flyers, he struck up a conversation with one of his new neighbors. As he described the picnic to her, she smiled and her eyes lit up. She even offered to supply some of the food. But as soon as she noticed the stack of flyers my friend was holding in his hands, her expression turned from excitement to dismay. In that instant, she realized that he was not only inviting her, but the whole neighborhood. She imagined that her new friend was extending an invitation directly to her, but she likely ended up feeling as insignificant as a used piece of gum.
She did not come to the picnic.
Everyone wants to feel special; no one wants to feel like “one of the crowd.” Jesus understood the value of relationships. He was the kind of person who would jump into shark-infested waters to save a minnow from being eaten! His life was dedicated to demonstrating his love to others by entering into relationships with them. Relationship was so crucial to Jesus’ mission that he selected twelve men with whom he could personally invest three years of his life. As a result of his relationships with them, millions of people are followers of Jesus.
Too often, we have assumed it is easier to recite a scripted conversion speech than develop relationships with unbelievers. On the contrary, our research revealed that most people are influenced to become Jesus followers because of close relationships with believers. Further, in most cases it takes over a year for someone to be led to Christ.
If we want to be serious about fulfilling the Great Commission, we need to be prepared to devote ourselves to developing long-term relationships with unbelievers. This requires us to initiate sincere relationships with others. It also demands that we invest our time, patience and commitment to the process of making disciples.
Who do you know that needs Jesus, and how can you build a relationship with that person?