Relational Evangelism Is Not About Time

Some people have thought relational evangelism equals befriending someone over a long period of time before sharing Christ. While this certainly may happen, it doesn't need to. The "relational" part of relational evangelism is more about rapport than time. Rapport is basically a connection or an affinity you have with another person. Rapport gives you the ability to insert yourself in another person's life in an area where others would be "off limits." Having known and interacted with someone over time can help with rapport, but not always. Rapport in evangelism can be established quickly and often can go deep into a person's spiritual life.

Gene and Tammy were our neighbors. They lived a few houses down from us. One evening our neighborhood had a cookout in the cul-de-sac near our home. Sitting in lawn chairs and eating burgers Karen (my wife) and I began talking to Gene. I found out he worked for a fast-food chain as a systems analyst. We talked about his work for awhile. Then I asked how he and Tammy met. That became an interesting conversation. They have been married 21 years. I asked Gene what kind of spiritual background he had. He told me he had a military denominational background. I asked, "What's that?" He told me he accepted Christ as Savior aboard ship when in the Navy and was baptized by a chaplain. He assumed his denominational affiliation was "military." He went on to tell us what led up to his converstion. Tammy, his wife of 21 years, looked at him and exclaimed, "I didn't know that!" I then asked Tammy about her spiritual background and at the end, Gene said, "I didn't know that!"

Here you have two people who have been in the most intimate human relationship possible (marriage) and for quite a long time (21 years) and they had not discussed their spiritual lives with each other. Karen and I really had only talked to them for just a few minutes. Rapport was established and on we went into their spiritual lives. Relational evangelism is not about time it's about rapport.

By the way, Tammy was curious about this spiritual experience of Gene's. We were able to share the gospel with her that night.

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