Picture this: you are in a conversation with your friend about the struggles in his/her life. You can tell your friend feels increasingly frustrated and lost. You know that the only thing that’s truly going to meet their needs is a relationship with Christ. But each time you invite your friend to church or your bible study, they shut you down immediately. “We all have our own path,” they say to you, and once again, you feel like you’ve missed an opportunity to help them find life in Jesus. But the reality is, your friend is more interested than you might think. If you have a friend who’s spiritual, but not interested in being “religious”, here’s a few things that might help them become curious about finding out about Jesus for themselves—through the source itself.
1. Connect your life to your Bible.
One of the best forms of evangelism is simply believing it for yourself. Before you can show a friend what a vibrant spiritual life with God can look like, you have to actually have one. When you spend time daily in God’s Word yourself, you will naturally be able to speak to the help, comfort and wisdom you’ve found through the stories and direction of scripture. Rick Warren says “we naturally evangelize anything we love.” Find your own love for scripture and discover how easily you begin to speak from what you’ve learned or related to that day—with no strings attached. Nobody likes pressure—but people love intrigue. Help your friend become intrigued by scripture through your own passion for it.
2. Help identify their felt need and present solutions.
The beautiful thing about God’s Word is that it legitimately addresses every need of the human condition. But as human beings, we are often slow to actually pinpointing our needs and the flawed ways we try to meet them. Become a great listener and question-asker of your friend. Help them notice what they might be seeking, and ask them if what they are doing is working. By exposing the gap between who they want to be and who they actually are, you can help your friend move toward their need with an interest for finding answers that they may have not recognized before.
3. Challenge them (gently).
Over time, you may be able to challenge your friend (when they trust you—when you’ve proven to be trustworthy!). A gentle challenge might be something like, “I know you are anxious and trying lots of solutions. Would you be willing to try something different?” A gentle challenge could also be, “I know you are willing to explore spiritual things, but you seem closed off to exploring Christianity. Is there a reason for that?” And then listen, and listen well. Many people have unexplored reasons for why they don’t want to move toward Jesus because of past church hurt. You may be a healing, graceful presence that gives them hope to try again.
4. Meet them where they are without expectation.
One of the marks of true friendship is that we don’t manipulate or deceive each other for selfish gain. If you treat your friend like a competition to win—even if that win is for Jesus—they will feel it. Be willing to meet your friend where they are, with the invitation to finding out more about God through the Bible—but not a hard-sell expectation. Be a person who prays passionately for your friends but waits patiently on your friends.
5. When they are ready–give them specific direction, and follow up.
When the door opens, be ready to open it for them. Give your friend a specific challenge—like reading a Gospel, for instance—and then follow up with them. Helping your friend know where to start in the Bible is as important as providing the invitation. God is seeking his children, urgently and intentionally. And he calls us to be a partner with Him in that work, with great joy. Be a friend who brings people closer to their Father in Heaven through His Word—not closer to a religion, but certainly to a relationship.
Nicole Unice is a pastor, speaker and author of “Help, My Bible is Alive!” a 30-day challenge designed to help people start (or re-start) encountering God through His Word. Find out more at helpmybibleisalive.com or nicoleunice.com