Hey there, friend.
We know the journey of sharing the gospel is not always a smooth path. Sometimes you come across challenges that make you wonder: Should I keep pushing ahead or try a different approach? That’s where the dance between persistence and adaptation comes in.
Together, we can trust the Holy Spirit to guide us when facing challenges to sharing the gospel. And ultimately, employing these two approaches — persistence and adaptation — you can grow deeper and more meaningful relationships with those you love: mom, dad, son, daughter, friend, neighbor.
Let’s dive into this exciting journey together, drawing insights from the “Noticing” chapter in Doug Pollock’s short book, “God Space.”
Perseverance: embracing patience
Picture this: You’re sharing your faith and, suddenly, you hit a roadblock. The other person is willing to answer your spiritual questions but only with short answers. Or maybe on the soccer sideline another parent seems interested, but phone calls or developments in the game keep distracting them.
It’s in these moments that perseverance becomes your ally. It’s about not giving up. But hey, we understand — it’s not always easy:
- Dealing with roadblocks: Discovering ways to continue the conversation in the context of your relationship is the focus of perseverance. When facing a roadblock like short answers, you could ask a powerful question, “What is an aspect of faith that is interesting to you?”
- Asking God to help: God wants all people to be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4, NIV). So in the soccer example, you can first ask him to remove distractions long enough for you to talk about him with the other person. Then patiently persevere in bringing up spiritual topics and see what happens.
What’s awesome about perseverance? It shows your dedication and authenticity. Your commitment shines through, building a foundation of trust and setting the stage for incredible conversations about God.
Adaptation: embracing change
Switch gears for a moment and think about a different roadblock. The person you’re talking with gets upset discussing “religion” and shuts down. In this case, adaptation rather than perseverance is likely the best way forward. Adaptation is all about being flexible and willing to adjust your approach. But hey, adapting comes with its own set of challenges:
- Stepping outside of your comfort zone: Trying something new can be a bit nerve-wracking. But remember, growth often comes from stepping out of your comfort zone.
- Adapting isn’t failing: You might worry that changing things up means you’re giving up. But adapting shows that you genuinely care about their spiritual journey and not your methods.
Adaptation lets you meet people where they are spiritually and creates opportunity for deeper, more meaningful conversations. Adapting in the example above could be taking the time to show empathy by asking questions with gentleness about their experience with religion. By matching your approach to their needs, you’re showing them that you’re listening and that you value their perspective.
Striking the balance: when to persist and when to adapt
Now, let’s chat about the art of balancing. How do you know when to hold on and when to pivot? Keep these pointers in mind:
- Hopeful persistence: If you sense openness beyond the roadblocks, be it internal or external, then persistence can be your guiding light. In this case, your patience and the respect you show the other person can go a long way.
- Your current approach may not be effective: If your current approach is not increasing your relationship and might even be straining your connection, it’s time to consider adapting. Remember, adapting is not waving a white flag of surrender — it’s about finding better ways to connect. Check out a lesson* in the GodTools app to discover new ideas for connecting.
- Persistence and adaptation can work together: Persevering in the relationship often calls for adapting your approach in the conversation.
*Lessons are only available in the app.
A growing relationship
As you navigate gospel conversations, remember that both perseverance and adaptation have their place. Effectiveness lies in the authenticity of your intentions, the love you show, and your sincere desire to share the life-changing message of the gospel. While you persevere in guiding the other person to explore the person of Jesus, be open to adapting your approach. This openness reflects your genuine care and commitment to their well-being.
In the end, the heart of evangelism lies in building relationships — between you and that person, and between that person and God. You are the guide on the other person’s spiritual journey, the two of you taking steps together toward Jesus. As you look through the practical tips in GodTools Lessons, you’ll find yourself better equipped to strike the balance between perseverance and adaptation. Then you can more effectively invite others to experience the profound beauty of faith in Christ.