If, before we get our hands on people, we recognize God’s hand is already on them, we tend to be less patriarchal and preachy. Our evangelistic efforts then look more Socratic than posturing. C.S. Lewis described himself as “a fellow patient in the same hospital who, having been admitted a little earlier, could give some advice.”
We Christians tend to be better at telling people what they should believe rather than taking time to listen to what they already believe. We’re like the mechanic that rushes into working on the car before hearing what’s wrong with it. As foreign missionaries in a post-Christian culture, rather than merely bombarding them with words, we’re more effective if we begin by listening to those we’re befriending.
It’s better to ask questions than to give answers to questions they aren’t asking. How else can we know what the Spirit is already doing in them? And how else can we speak to them more and at them less? A good rule of thumb is to lead with listening and proceed with Jesus.
– Originally published in Reaching Rahab: Joining God In His Quest For Friends