I love to watch people in the mall or the airport. I can't help but be drawn into their movements and interactions in large groups. One group I find particularly amazing to watch is smokers. I think that smokers, possibly more than any other group, are the friendliest people on earth (until you get between them and their next cancer-stick fix.)
I know we've all heard, or heard of this line before: "Hey man... got a light?" It is a universal request that all smokers understand. And oddly enough, I don't know of a time when that request has ever been denied. If a smoker walks up to another smoker, cigarette in hand, with no previous connection or relationship, they will almost always have their request granted. Someone will reach up with a lighter or a match and help them out.
There is no easier or faster way to start a conversation than one smoker asking another for a light. It's the perfect three word kick start that will usually start a conversation. I think this is amazing.
What if we could learn to evangelize like that?
What if we could learn how to walk up to complete strangers and say something or ask for something that would immediately open a door for a conversation? How much more would we be able to impact our world. In order to do this, I think we need to examine what makes the simple request of, "Got a light?" so powerful. In this three word request, smokers can immediately establish three different, yet common, bonds with a stranger:
1. Activity - From the get-go, the smoker that is being approached recognizes that the person asking for a light is going to participate with them in a common activity. They both are going to smoke. Now, granted, this activity is not the best one for you, but it immediately gives them something to talk about.
2. Identity - Both smokers are just that-Smokers. They are both members of the same social group. They immediately have some unspoken bond that unites them together. They can begin to talk about their history, when they started, or how they started; they each have a brand, that gives additional topics of conversation and identity. Finally, the thing that most smokers think about, is when and if they are going to quit.
3. Familiarity- These two strangers immediately have a sense of friendship. They have the same need and/or goal, to smoke another cigarette. This gives an even deeper connection, because now there is a sense of co-laboring for something. They are both reaching for a common goal and can help each other get there. There is interaction and more grounds for conversation and relationship.
If only, we as Followers of Christ, could see the simple truth, we would be more effective in reaching people for Jesus and spreading the Gospel, if we could find ways to establish one or more of these bonds in each conversation.
I firmly believe that we are all called to share our faith and lead people to Jesus. This is not reserved for the preachers, pastors, teachers, and tyrants that beat people with the Bible. It is a common mission and goal that we all share as believers. Instead of looking out on the street and picking a random person to try and evangelize, target your relationships through Activity, Identity, and Familiarity and see if you don't stand a better chance of establishing a lasting conversation, if not a friendship.
"I can learn a lesson from anywhere,
but it's not until I use it everywhere,
that I know it truly works."
-Just a thought.