I've glanced around the room before telling a joke. Any girls in the room? Any children? Anyone from West Virginia?
Why is it that talking about evangelism with someone present who's not a Christian feels like telling a racist joke?
Q:What do you get if you mix a Cuban, a Southerner and an Agnostic?
A:I don't know, but I wouldn't want him to move in next door!
Talking about evangelism around our unChristian friends is awkward because, if it's done poorly, we communicate a lack of acceptance.
This is a point where you might be tempted to check out, assume I took too much psych (which I did...it's like a drug), and write this off as Rogerian babble. But acceptance is important. God always accepts us.
This doesn't mean that we're not sinners, that we shouldn't expect life-change as we follow Jesus, or that God accepts our behavior. Sin never ceases to be sin, even after we sinners are united to Christ and accepted in him.
How can we speak in such a way that our friends will both be able to hear:
1) that we love, care about, and accept them
2) that we want them to experience radical transformation.
It's easier to have these conversations in our Christian bubbles, to reserve evangelism conversations for Leaders' Gatherings. It's easier, but not - in the long run - wise.
I want my friends to see what my faith is all about. No "bait and switches" with us, brother. I want them to know what they're getting themselves into. When Jesus called his disciples (in itself, evangelism), his invitation linked relationship and evangelism: "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men."
If our evangelism conversations are such that we have to hide them from our friends, something's wrong. Our friends may not understand our conversation (there are some things that just make more sense once you're through the threshold of the kingdom), but they should never doubt that the people of God and, more importantly, the God of the people of God accepts them.
What would it sound like to have a communal conversation about evangelism that we would want to have overheard by the listening world? What would happen if we talked about evangelism in such a way that we didn't have to glance around the room?