Most of us have a hard time even pronouncing “evangelize,” much less able to practice it in our everyday lives. We crave lessons on evangelism, we wonder how we should evangelize to people at work, at school, or even online, Desperate in our pursuit of knowledge, we pore over books on evangelism to learn how to evangelize to our community.
(Sick of the word “evangelize” yet? Good. That’s the point)
But what if we didn’t have to look that hard to learn how to evangelize? What if we could take a character like Daniel, zero in on his argument to only eat meat and vegetables, and pull valuable tips on evangelism outreach from there? Sound good?
It’s certainly possible. Though at first glance, the story seems to be simply diet-related, the interaction between Daniel and his instructor is really a masterclass in persuasion. The instructor is charged with getting Daniel fit for royal service – including eating all of the King’s favorite meals – and Daniel is firm in his dedication to God’s purity laws. Who’s going to win?
Daniel employs three tactics to win the officer over, all three of which can be used by us as we learn to evangelize.
Normally, we don’t advocate testing God in anything – since testing usually indicates a lack of belief or power inversion – but in Daniel’s case, it was totally legitimate. “Test us now in this,” Daniel argues. “And examine our appearance after ten days” (Daniel 1:11-13). Ashpenaz, his direct commander, took Daniel up on the challenge, and confirmed that they did, in fact, look better than everyone else they enlisted in royal service.
Joshua did the same at the end of the conquest of Canaan: “Serve God…but if it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:14-15). Their charge was to examine Jehovah up against the other “gods” of the day and see which one comes out on top.
We can do the same when we evangelize to others. Ask them to test the commandments of God versus their own lives, and see which one is truly better. If they’re honest, they’ll pick God 100% of the time.
Ask For Permission
Nobody likes to be bombarded. Even when we’re talking about how to evangelize online, nobody wants to be inundated with Scripture after Scripture when they’re just honestly trying to see what everyone’s having for dinner. There has to be a “permission granted” scenario, whether that’s in the form of them agreeing to a Bible study, or not “unfollowing” you on Instagram.
Daniel didn’t barrel right into his dietary restrictions, either; he asked permission. He knew who was in charge, and he knew that – over the long term – the relationship would work better if he worked with the commander instead of against him. By asking for permission first, he got Ashpenaz to buy into the challenge, which resulted in him being persuaded.
When we talk to others about the Gospel, don’t launch into a 30-minute Bible study while you’re discussing the new snacks in the breakroom. Don’t hijack a zoom call to ask if anyone wants to be baptized. Read the room, pick the approach that is most appropriate for that time, and inch towards God. If people feel like the Gospel has been forced on them, they’re more likely to reject it, even if they may have been interested otherwise.
Let the Results Shine
To our knowledge, Daniel never walked in front of the guard bragging about how great he and his friends looked, or how their complexion was superior to everyone else’s. In fact, over and over again, Daniel puts the proof squarely on the shoulders of the trial observers: “Let our appearance be observed in your presence…deal with your servants according to what you see” (Daniel 1:13). Daniel didn’t convince them – the results did.
Most of us have probably heard the famous hymn, “The World’s Bible.” In it, the songwriter talks about how we might be the only Bible the world ever reads, and that people can see Christ by observing our lives. It’s a beautiful sentiment, and one that needs to be repeated constantly. Until we realize that people are not going to be converted by what we say as much as by what we do, then our evangelism efforts will continue to fall short. We can read all the books and listen to all the sermons we want, but our example needs to set the table for what we say.
Learning how to evangelize isn’t difficult; in fact, if we open up our eyes, we can see it happening all around us. Actually doing it is even easier. As long as we have the will to talk to someone about the most important thing in the universe, we’ll never fail.Last modified: January 25, 2021