For some, the most difficult part of evangelism and soul winning in our culture today is simply peaking someone’s interest towards a conversation about Christ. Sometimes we can go weeks, months, and even years before ever establishing a level of interest about the Gospel or about Christ with our co-workers, friends, neighbors, and family. We all KNOW this should not be the case, but regretfully… it is. It has become much easier to talk to them about work, sports, politics, hobbies, or our families. So the question today is, what can we do in our every day life to help steer a conversation towards spirituality? The answer is simple but the journey leading to it may not be; we must let them taste the Living Water.
In John 4, Jesus told the Samaritan woman, “Whoever drinks this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst, but the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life,” John 4:13-14. In verse ten, Jesus identifies this unique water as “living water.” The answer to many of our difficulties in soul winning is found right here in this chapter! If we could just lead someone to take a drink of the living water that Christ offers the water would do the rest… but that is the problem isn’t it? How do we get them to take a drink? How do we get our co-workers, our neighbors, our classmates, our teammates, our friends, and our family to thirst for the living water to begin with?
I believe the best answer can be found in what Jesus did to make this Samaritan woman thirst for the water. Examining Jesus’ methods for soul winning is the greatest thing we could do to help our own success in evangelistic efforts. Jesus’ sole purpose of coming to this Earth was to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10) and, therefore, He offers us numerous examples of soul winning that we can take into our own lives today. The example with the Samaritan woman is what I want to zoom in on for the next few weeks in a three-part study of this passage. Hopefully, we can take away some helpful pointers into our efforts in evangelism.
The first thing that Jesus does to peak the Samaritan’s interest is very simple… He took her by surprise. It has been well documented the disgust that existed between the Jews and Samaritans, and how they were vehemently opposed to one another. So the very fact that He was even in Samaria to begin with was a shock, much less that he spoke to her, and even less than that… He asked her for a drink. Verse nine tells us, “Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.” So this was undoubtedly an encounter she was not expecting to have when she left the village to go collect some water. Never would she have ever, in her wildest dreams, thought a Jew was going to ask her for some water let alone even talk to her. This was the first purposeful and intentional thing Jesus did in the process of winning her soul; He took her by surprise.
If we never get out of the same rut of talking about the exact same things every day with our acquaintances, then how do we ever expect to get to a spiritual conversation with them? We may not have the ability to take them by surprise in the same manner Jesus did with the Samaritan woman, but could we not at the same time have some level of surprise in our encounters with people? Could we make a conscious effort to speak to people who (in our minds) may not be the best candidate for a spiritual conversation? Much like the Samaritan woman, are there not people at your work, school, or every day walk that may not seemlike the greatest opportunity for evangelism? When, in actuality, they are the exact perfect prospect for it? Jesus saw her as a soul, not as a Samaritan. We too need to see our acquaintances as SOULS, not as we may have commonly perceived them in the past.
Another thing we can do to bring a level of surprise to our conversations is to purposefully inject some things into the conversation about our faith, about our congregation, and about the family of God. If you are asked to go to the work Christmas party and you know, for a fact, that most of them are going to be inebriated, explain why you are not going to be participating. If you are asked to work or practice during worship hours, use that opportunity to explain why you need to be at worship. What does it say about us if we think that people are going to run up to us and beg us to tell them about our faith without having shown signs that we have a faith to begin with?
We will never achieve the success in evangelism we seek if we are not willing to change the way we see people, the way we talk to people, and the way that people see us. In order to tell someone about our faith, we have to have proven we have a faith to begin with. Has there ever been someone who went home from their day to tell their spouse or their parents or their family about the strange spiritual encounter they had with you the way that the Samaritan woman went home after being with Jesus? If not, why not?
– Ben Hogan, Minister of Evangelism