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For most of us, evangelism doesn’t happen on its own. We hope for opportunities to spontaneously speak about Jesus with unbelievers, but if we wait for complete spontaneity, it may never happen. We also fear being overly scripted or goal-oriented in our relationships with non-Christians.

Yet surely we can find middle ground between waiting passively for evangelism to happen and forcing the gospel into every conversation. Toward that end, Joshua Ryan Butler and Thomas Terry discussed some things to prioritize in order to increase our opportunities for evangelism.

Butler recommends practicing hospitality—something church families can do together—and prayer. He learned the priority of prayer in evangelism from an older man who was always having conversations about Jesus with people around him. The man’s secret was that each week he prayed God would bring him people to speak with, to make him attentive to the opportunities, and give him words to say. And God answered.

Terry urges us not to underestimate the power of intentional engagement. Whether it’s his barber or the barista at his favorite coffee spot, Terry tries to build a relationship over the course of small interactions to the point where he has a relational foundation to share the gospel. In his context of Portland, people aren’t ready to hear about Jesus in the first interaction. “They just won’t hear you,” he says, “they won’t listen to you, and in many cases, they don’t even really know who Jesus is.”

Listen to this episode of The Gospel Coalition Podcast or watch a video.

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