03. Compassionate Evangelism Copy

Be wise in your behavior toward outsiders by snapping up every opportunity that comes. Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer everyone.

Colossians 4:5-6

What and Why


Everyone loves a good conversation. We love meaningful connection. Students everywhere are hungry for authentic, personal interaction. This is the context we want to create as we speak about Jesus. In such a context, discussion flows naturally.  


What can we do to increase the frequency of this sort of conversation? How can we be wise communicators and attractively present the message? This lesson will help us build both the skills and the mentality that guides us into conversations of deeper connection.


Learning from the Word


Read Matthew 9:36


"Seeing the people,

He felt compassion for them,

because they were distressed and dispirited

like sheep without a shepherd."

What does it mean that Jesus had compassion for the multitude?

What were the needs that he saw that caused him to have compassion?


How can we have a similar compassion?


We become compassionate when we have a heart for the lost like Jesus had.


Read Colossians 4:2-6.

Click for the text

Verses 2-3. Paul asks for prayer. But the prayer he asks for isn’t focused on his personal benefit. He asks his friends to pray for what?


Verses 3-4. Paul expresses his desires about “the word.” This word is the message of the gospel that eventually resulted in Paul’s imprisonment. What are Paul’s desires about this word?


Verse 4. Paul asked his friends to pray that he would communicate as he “ought to speak.” Obviously, if there are ways that one “ought to speak” there are also ways one shouldn’t speak. Paul asks his friends to pray for his communication of the gospel so that it would be done the right way.


What do you think this means?


Verses 5-6. Paul instructs his readers how they are to conduct themselves among “outsiders,” that is among non-believers. He gives two instructions.


Regarding time/opportunities Paul is saying ...


Regarding how believers communicate Paul is saying ...


Evangelism is so important that we, like Paul, should be asking others to pray for us as we share the good news. We want to share Christ wisely, speaking as we ought. These words suggest that we have a responsibility to be prepared to share in a way that is appropriate and effective.


Verse 6. Paul uses colorful language suggesting that as we speak with unbelievers, we should have salty communication.

Case Study



Oana considered herself to be a lonely person. Very few people knew it. She was pretty, smart and appeared to be confident. But inside she wrestled with self-doubt and wounds created by painful relationships.


Victoria was an average student. Not very popular. She worked hard, showed up to class and did her best to connect with as many people as she could. She had never been extremely out-going. But she had plenty of motivation. Last year, Jesus had changed her life. Now, she was praying and reading her Bible. She was learning that God had a plan for her.


When Victoria started to talk with Oana it was just casual conversation. Oana wouldn’t have chosen Victoria to be a student that she wanted to get to know. But Vio (as some call her) had a talent. She seemed interested in Oana and asked good questions. Her positive spirit was a breath of fresh air.


During one of those casual interchanges Vio noticed what others had missed. She thought she saw a shade of sadness in Oana. That sadness did something inside of Vio. It touched her. She started to pray for Oana and looked for more opportunities to connect.


On a beautiful day Vio saw Oana enjoying the sun on a bench and sat down beside her. By now the conversation was coming easy for the two of them. The questions generated a connection that both were enjoying. Vio then took a step of faith.   She said that she was now a happier person than she used to be and that the last year had been one of the best. Oana, let out a sigh and muttered, “It must be nice.” Vio agreed that it was nice. She then said, “Can I tell you what happened?” That day Oana heard the gospel clearly for the first time ever.



This story lacks great drama. There is no major conflict, nor tragedy that led to a turning point. The story is about salt, and being salty in our society.   We are to be salty in the normal rhythm of everyday life.


What do you appreciate about Victoria and the choices she made?


Paul in Colossians 4:6 said that your speech should be “seasoned with salt.” Given that one of the purposes of salt is “adding flavor,” in what ways do you think that Victoria was “salty?”


Connecting with the Truth


We would all like to connect with others the way Victoria connected with Ioana. We want to have a disposition of care that Victoria expressed. We want to be compassionate communicators of the gospel. After all, as we previously observed, our Savior “saw the multitude, and had compassion on them.” (Matthew 9:36)


The evangelist is an explorer


As we develop our skills in evangelism we focus on how we present our message AND how we interact with others. People enjoy a conversation more if they experience love and care. They are sensitive to any discrepancy in our communication. For instance, if we talk about God’s love, but show little of it, they rightly wonder if our good news is legitimate.


An evangelist is deeply interested in the person he/she is speaking with. God loves the person and sacrificed his Son to offer redemption to them. They bear the image of their Creator. God is patiently waiting for them…not wishing for any to perish but to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).


One way to express care and love is to show interest in another person. Sadly, we can invest a lot of our time trying to be interesting (telling interesting stories, using excellent illustrations) but fail to express that we are interested in the other person. In order to express interest, we need to become explorers who ask good questions. We need to amplify our curiosity about the other person. As we try to discern what is important to them and discover their values, we reach out, enabling a real connection to form. As we listen to another person’s story we learn how we might shape our gospel message to address them personally.


Think about three questions you might ask someone because you are curious about who they are. Write your questions below.


Exploring what God is doing in their lives


In addition to showing interest in others, good questions help people tell their story. Everyone is on a spiritual journey that has a past, a present and a future. You can explore where they have been, where they are and where they are going by using questions like the ones below. God can use these questions to help us understand what he is doing in their lives.


Explore where they have been:
     ♦ What was your religious background as a child?
     ♦ How has the spiritual part of life been meaningful to you until now?
Explore where they are now:
     ♦ How would you describe your spiritual beliefs?
     ♦ In your understanding, who is Jesus?
Explore where they are going:
     ♦ Lately, do you think you have been moving toward God, away from God, or staying about the same?


The best explorers are empathetic

Empathy is a powerful force. It draws people together. Empathy can transform two strangers into quick friends.

What did you learn from this short film clip?


Why is a clip like this powerful?


How could empathy affect our work of bringing the gospel to those around us?


Summary of the big idea:


Empathy and inquisitive interest affect relationships. They foster dialog and connection. Few people are hoping for someone to “present information” to them today. In contrast, most people are pleasantly warmed when someone cares enough to ask probing questions.


Taking Action


Your task is to initiate a conversation. During that conversation your goal is to be an explorer with an empathetic spirit and to exercise your God-given empathy and curiosity.


Start by praying that God will increase your compassion and give you genuine love for the person with whom you speak. As you speak, look for ways to connect. Ask questions. Explore this person’s interests and spiritual background.


Your goal is to show love, demonstrate real interest, exercise your ability to ask good questions in order to help connect them to Jesus.


What did you learn through this experience?


What questions helped you generate real connection?


Was there a point in the conversation when you wanted to enhance the interpersonal connection but found it difficult? Reflecting on that moment, do you have any ideas of what you might try next time?


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