Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).
The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”
Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.
“Come and see,” said Philip. (John 1:35–46)
John pointed Andrew to Jesus, then Andrew invited Simon Peter, then Philip invited Nathanael, and on and on it went. This was all happening like people talking to someone about a great restaurant, or a new movie, or a great blog or website. Or the way people post about something on Facebook or Instagram. It was such an organic thing. People were sharing about Jesus like gossip over the backyard fence. Natural, real, authentic, conversational.
I remember being in a conversation with a guy I was just starting to get to know. This was several years ago, but it was so typical of countless conversations I’ve had with people. We met because our sons were on the same basketball team down at the YMCA. We would just talk here and there, nothing big, but we were hitting it off and obviously liked each other. I had no idea where this guy was spiritually.
Then, just a few weeks into our relationship, he asked me what I did for a living. Part of me thought, I really wish I could delay that one a few days, because when people find out I’m a pastor some of them start treating me like I’m a third sex. Other people start going back over in their minds all of the things that they’ve said that they probably shouldn’t have. Some are just shocked.
This guy fell into the shocked category, and he said: “Really? No way! You seem so normal!”
And I said, “Thank you… I think.”
Then he just started talking about his church background, and he said, “I used to go to church when I was a kid and I hated it. My mom just shoved religion down my throat, and I haven’t been in years.” He just went on like that, talking about it. There we were having this conversation on the sidelines of our kids’ basketball game, it got into spiritual stuff, and you know what?
It was just so normal and so natural. It wasn’t that big of a deal at the end of the conversation for me to say: “I don’t want to put words in your mouth but tell me if this is kind of what you’re saying. It sounds like you’ve given up on church, and church people, but not on God. Is that fair?”
And he said, “Yes, that’s exactly what it is.”
Then I said: “Well… now this is going to sound really weird… but the church I pastor? It’s kind of a church for the unchurched. It’s full of people just like you who’ve given up on church but not on God. And everyone there will pretty much be in your camp, coming from an unchurched background, and with the same kinds of questions you have. I’d love for you to give it a shot sometime. If you’re game, I’ll meet you out front and walk you around to make sure you’re acclimated. And then maybe we can get some lunch afterward. And that’s a standing invitation. I’m going to come back and ask you again if I don’t see you soon, because I think you’re going to love it.”
It’s so easy to do this. Nothing forced, nothing big, just an invitation. But a powerful one.
The core of evangelism is: invest and invite.
This article on the core of evangelism is adapted from After “I Believe” by James Emery White, order from Amazon.