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Evangelism for introverts

"Evangelism for introverts" Continued...

Issue: "Autumn books," Oct. 7, 2006

WORLD: You write that we should "meet people where they are and move them one step closer to God." What does that mean in practice?

BECHTLE: Jesus didn't try to turn every encounter into a formal presentation of the gospel. Instead, we see Him meeting people in everyday situations, talking to them about exactly where they were at that point in their lives, and edging them forward to the next level of belief. If I look at each encounter as a God-arranged opportunity, I'll be sensitive to what God wants to do through our conversation.

WORLD: Since you note that writing can be an effective tool of evangelism, what do you recommend for those who prefer writing to talking?

BECHTLE: What we're really talking about is communication. Extroverts tend to communicate verbally, thinking quickly and handling the fast pace of a conversation well. Introverts often think deeper, but it takes longer to formulate their thoughts. That's why introverts often think of the perfect thing to say about 30 minutes after the conversation ends. I've learned that it's OK to say, "That's a great question. You know, I'm not really sure how to answer that right now-I'd like to think about it and get back to you. Can you give me your e-mail so I could send you my thoughts in a couple of days?" That gives me a chance to think through the issue, and formulate a thoughtful response.

WORLD: You write that "extroverts often accuse those who use e-mail extensively of hiding behind their computers instead of having face-to-face conversations"-but how and why can e-mail, blogging, and other computer uses be effective evangelistic tools?

BECHTLE: For some people, e-mail is a tool, not a crutch. They communicate more effectively through writing than they might in a conversation. It's not weaker for them-it's actually stronger. Writing gives introverts a chance to carefully think through their words before delivering them. On the other side, many quiet people can be reached more effectively when they read and contemplate a person's written words than by listening to a verbal conversation.

WORLD: What other "21st-century techniques" do you recommend for use by introverts or others uncomfortable with striking up conversations with strangers?

BECHTLE: The biggest thing is to accept how God made us. Introverts don't need to be "fixed"-they need to celebrate that uniqueness. Once that takes place, there are practical steps we can take to communicate more effectively with others (both in writing and in conversation):

  • Read the front page of each section of the paper each day so you can converse about current events.
  • Ask people about their families.
  • Find out what other people know that you don't.
  • Observe and talk about the details of the environment you're in.
  • Make sure you have a couple of hobbies, and talk to others who do the same thing (common ground).
  • Practice remembering a person's first name during a conversation.
  • Don't try to steer every conversation toward faith; strive to build a genuine relationship that builds trust for future conversations.
Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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