On the subject of prayer, C.S. Lewis is quoted saying, “It doesn’t change God. It changes me.” Lewis knew that the regular activity of prayer changed how we viewed and interacted with the world and those around him. Cultivating a discipline of prayer provided Lewis an awareness, or attentiveness to God’s activity. Where before he may not have noticed the Spirit of God at work in the world, now he did.
I recently had a conversation with a church planter in the early stages of developing a new congregation. In those early days, in particular, a church planter’s work is predominantly evangelistic. You are intentionally meeting new people, having new conversations and acutely aware of opportunities to invite others into the way of Jesus in new and deeper ways, and inviting participation and collaboration with those you develop a relationship with on this new endeavor. This church planter reflected how such evangelistic opportunities would not have been imaginable when previously pastoring a church, yet now such opportunities seemed to only be increasing week to week.
Of course, whether in a church plant or established congregation such opportunities are always around us. It is simply whether or not we are attuned to see these interactions as possibilities for evangelistic conversation. The opportunity is always there. The question is whether or not we see the opportunity for what it is.
In her book, Unbinding the Gospel, author Martha Grace Reese writes, “[…] evangelism isn’t handing some pamphlet to a stranger. It’s seeing who needs to be prayed for. It’s waiting for an opening in a conversation with that friend […] Like anything else, practice makes it easier to do the next time.” The routine practice of such conversations simply opens us up to even more opportunities for such conversations.
In Surprise the World, Michael Frost quotes Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” If you long to do a better job at having evangelistic conversations the best thing to be done is start having them. You’ll be bad at first but in order to get better you have to be willing to be bad at it to start. Eventually, you’ll get better. In fact, you’ll begin to see further opportunities to have such conversation arise.