One of the questions I am often asked as a pastor is “How do I get to the gospel with my co-workers/roomates/etc…?”
There is a lot to be said about this. Some basics include knowing the gospel, knowing your testimony, praying for boldness and opportunity… But I want to share a foundational principle with you:
People’s human experience is ripe with gospel opportunities.
Here is what I mean. We can tend two view conversation with people as operating in two poles, two extremes. One the one extreme we have chit chat, and on the other extreme we have the deep things of the gospel. This is a bit of a false dichotomy. The reality is that conversation really exists on a spectrum from shallow to deep. For the sake of oversimplification, though, let me add a third category between chit chat and gospel: base humanity.
By base humanity I mean taking an interest in people’s experience as common strugglers on this planet. Every person you meet, whether or not they are a Christian, shares a ton of common experience with you. They have hopes, fears, dreams, disappointments, celebrations… To engage people on this level is really just base humanity. To love them, to get to know them, to show interest in them as humans.
Want to get to the gospel? Practice some base humanity with people. Ask them how marriage is going? What they hope for when they graduate? What they would do differently in parenting if they could? What are their greatest challenges in their roles? Why? Ask questions that lie between chit chat and the gospel.
When you do this you have tapped into the human experience which is ripe with gospel opportunities. One the one hand, you have greater insight into them as a human and how the gospel applies to their particular hopes and fears. On the other hand, when they ask you the same questions in return, as they most probably will, you have the opportunity to speak about your human experience and how you find hope and encouragement in the gospel.
Now, you will still need boldness, clarity, courage, love, and ultimately, God’s Spirit to move, but practicing some base humanity can go a long way to opening doors.