Happy Halloween! This time of year is beloved by kids, and controversial among the Christian community. Should Christians participate? Perhaps it’s a better idea to hand out tracts instead of candy, or maybe even with candy. Today we spoke to Dr. John Leonard, author of “Get Real: Sharing your Everyday Faith Every Day.” In his new book, he discusses the obstacles to evangelism and offers ideas behind how to simplify sharing your faith in a meaningful way. We also asked John to share his take on Halloween. Read on to find out what he has to say about the holiday.
4word: What motivated you to write “Get Real: Sharing your Every Day Faith Every Day?”
John: I wrote the book because we all need help sharing our faith. What my book does is first it doesn’t make you feel guilt about sharing your faith. You can not share the gospel of grace when you are motivated by guilt. Instead it inspires.
It also makes evangelism something everyone can do because it makes it as simple as listening deeply to people as they are talking to you. Sometimes it is doing nothing more than praying for them. This book is not about a method, but it is about the people that God brings into your life and how to have a spiritual impact, over time, in people’s lives. Then it helps you shape the gospel so that it answers the particular questions and circumstances the people with whom you are involved struggle with.
4word: Halloween is fast approaching, and it’s a very unique night in our culture- how can believers take advantage of the holiday?
John: The most frightening thing about Halloween is that most of your neighbors don’t believe in Satan or the existence of demons. I actually speak about Halloween in Chapter 4 – for Christ’s sake be normal. I suggest that we should participate in Halloween because it is the only night of the year we can knock on our neighbor’s doors and they are happy to see us.
If we sit in the back of our homes with the lights on the porch off, the only thing people will think of us is that we are stingy, cheap and rude! Instead, welcome all your guests. Get to know them. Give out lots of good candy. Never give out tracts.
Another thing you can do is have a pumpkin carving party with the neighbor kids, then have the parents over for pumpkin pie. It is things like this that turn streets into neighborhoods, and give people a chance to rub shoulders with you long enough that Jesus might rub off on them. It’s about personal relationships and friendships over time.
4word: What is the biggest misconception about evangelism?
John: Here are a few prominent ones:
1. That you have to tell people the whole story all at once and that they must make a commitment right now. If that happens then you have evangelized. Good evangelism, like good wine, takes time. Give people little bits of truth to think about over time, rather than saying too much too quickly. When we do this we raise curiosity not dampen it.
2. That if you keep talking you will convince people. We make this mistake with family members.
Talk less, live and love people more like Jesus. They remember every word you said to them in the past- your silence will show the message!
4word: Many times we get stuck in our daily routines and don’t see where evangelism fits on a daily basis. How do you counter that?
John: Instead of thinking: “I need to find someone to witness to,” it is better that we let Christ lead people to us. I talk about this in chapter 8. This way we are looking for God to surprise us with the joy of him bringing someone along who is looking for Christ, rather than convincing people who don’t want Jesus, that they should believe in him.
4word: What element is most important for a believer to move from a place of awkward evangelism, to natural, everyday evangelism?
John: Love Jesus and love others, and let the grace of God fill your life so that the joy of the Lord pours out on those around you. You can try to convince people of a message or you can give people the experience of God’s grace.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? The pressure of evangelism goes away when we focus simply on loving others, rather than on what words we are going to use and how we want to say it. Who in your life can you show God’s love to today? If you want to learn more about Dr. John Leonard’s approach to evangelism, click here to order a copy of “Get Real: Sharing your Every Day Faith Every Day” and receive a 35% discount.