Michelle and I were hanging out with some great friends last night for a Birthday party at their house. We played lots of games, including Apples to Apples and Game Cube. Halfway through the night another 10 more people came through. Specifically two guys that were good friends with our friend. One older guy eventually joined us in our game, and Michelle and I continued talking with him as the game finished up.
I could tell he was in a hard time in life and I had an itch to share Jesus with him, but I felt the Spirit urge me not to.
As we continued to talk, he brought up some deep pain & frustration caused to him by Christians and church. The topics went on to be spiritual at times, but mostly good old fashioned concern and interest in his life.
This is an evangelism truth that is rarely mentioned.
The majority of Christians don't need to be taught "when not to evangelize," because they are having trouble with learning "when to" do it. However, a small percentage of Christians who are passionate witnesses can learn much from this subtle truth in Scripture.
Listen to Acts 16:6-7 - "Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas."
In this rare, but beautiful passage, we see God keeping Paul from preaching in certain areas. Typically, this means only for the time, and God will bring you or someone else at a later time.
There is a point, where we as effective evangelists, need to take the next step and allow God to lead us, even when it means not to evangelize.
Here are a few reasons God may be leading us not to evangelize in a certain moment or conversation:
- To keep us from harm.
- To use us somewhere else where there's a more urgent need or where we will be more useful.
- To wait for better time.
- To allow time build a relationship to stand behind our message.