Jan. 27, 2018 at 4 a.m.
A friend of mine and his wife went white-water rafting. Before their trip downriver, their guide gave a safety orientation talk about what to do in case anyone got knocked out of the boat: "Keep your feet up. Stay on your back. Keep your feet pointed downriver. Find the raft, and reach for the extended paddle being offered by me or your fellow rafters."
Everything started out great on their river run. The water was cold. The people were laughing. The sun was shining. They were having fun until the wife got knocked out of the boat. The rough water swept her under and away from the raft. She was out of control and couldn't get air, and she panicked.
The guide leaned as far as he could toward her and extended his paddle for her to grab. He yelled over the sound of the river, "Listen closely! What's the Greek word for paddle?" Of course, the guide didn't say that. He said, "Grab the paddle!" When my friend's wife was in danger of drowning, she didn't need a pep talk, or affirmation, or information, or even an explanation. She needed help.
As believers, we know we are commanded to share the Good News with others (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8), but we often talk about everything except what people need most. Let me offer four suggestions on communicating the Gospel effectively. First prepare the soil. In other words, pray. Ask God to make the heart of your intended audience sensitive and receptive.
Second, reassure your listener that you genuinely value the relationship and what you're about to share will benefit him or her significantly. Third, quickly share personal testimony, including how you came to know that you needed Jesus. Fourth, ask probing questions. For starters, you might ask something like, "If you were to die today, will you go to heaven?"
Regardless of how your listener answers, share the plan of salvation. Don't let the fear of rejection stand in your way. People are downing, and you have the paddle.