I’ve heard it called friendship evangelism. In the Via de Cristo movement there is a phrase to describe it: make a friend, be a friend, bring a friend to Christ. Here’s one story about how that works.
When our older daughter, Beth, was in second grade she asked if she could have a sleep over party for her birthday. Boy we were surprised to find out that the first person she invited was a little boy named Sean who was her friend at after school daycare! We used to joke that it was our first and last co-ed sleepover!
The party was on Saturday and we told all the parents that we would take the children to church with us on Sunday morning and then drop them off at their homes. On the way home Sean just kept saying over and over, “I love that church. I wish I went to that church.” I was touched and told my husband, “He lives right around the corner from church: we could bring him with us every week.” So Terry asked Sean’s mother if he could come with us, and she said yes.
People kept telling Sean how happy they were to see him visiting our church. Sean’s answer was, “I don’t want to be a visitor, I want to be a member!” After some time passed, Sean’s mother and brother showed up at church, too. And then, finally his dad started coming. They became active members, and eventually Sean’s dad was elected President of the congregation. I heard him say that he had been loved into the church by the acceptance and friendship of the people he met there.
Friendship evangelism takes time. It requires listening for the nudging of the Holy Spirit. It means building relationships. For many people, it’s the story of how they became Christians.
How about you? What’s your story?