How to build common ground when engaging in evangelism.
Evangelism is not just about telling people about Jesus Christ, it is about forging an opportunity to share with them the greatest story ever told. In this Resolute Leadership Podcast, Vince Miller is joined by Bill Mast, director of Search Ministries in Minnesota, and a long time expert in the field of evangelism. Today listen as Bill and Vince share their thoughts on the importance of building common ground in evangelism.
This is Resolute and the Resolute podcast. I am Vince Miller, your founder, and host, and today we’re in a series on evangelism discussing the critical topic of building common ground in evangelism.
Welcome to the program. If this is your very first time tuning in, will. Thank you for joining us. Our mission at resolute is to disciple and developmental lead, so if you’re looking for content for your men’s group or a men’s ministry than you need to stop by our website [email protected] Also, if you want to follow us at any point on social media, of course, you can find us on Facebook or LinkedIn and if you’d like to listen on a consistent basis every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, you can go for sure catch us on all major feeds including iTunes and SoundCloud. But now gentlemen, let’s dive in.
Well, today we are joined by Bill Mast, a long time good friend of mine and also the team leader and director for Search Ministries in Minnesota. I would call Bill Mast a master evangelist. No, he might be humbled by those terms and, but that’s how I think of him. This guy has shared his faith effectively with lots of men over many years and today trains men on how to do that, and so I’m just really excited to have him with us as we learn how to share our faith with other people. Bill, welcome to the show. Thank you. Fence. It’s just great to be here. You know, I, I love being able to sit with you not only because it brings excellent laughter to mind just, but because also our friendship and the years of ministry that I’ve watched out of you that you’ve probably seen me suffer through as well as I’ve been learning and growing.
I’m in today. I want to talk about building common ground because you were the guy years ago who turned me onto a book called Finding Common Ground. Right? Remember that book you gave me? I still have it on my shelf. I do. The author was, was in his Tim Downs and I love the book. Yeah, it’s excellent. I thought, by the way, one of the best books I’ve ever read on evangelism because it gave me the courage to understand that I don’t have to live in all the styles of evangelism that I see in the world today. We talked about this last time, like a proclamation and even confrontational style. This taught me a very special approach to finding common ground with other people relationally and how to do it. And it stepped me through it and made it practical. Right? Um, why don’t you give us a brief overview of Bill? You know you work with men, you work with search ministries that obviously is doing evangelism all the time. You’re meeting with guys who don’t know Christ all the time. Uh, tell us, what does it look like for you as a leader in your ministry to build common with people that don’t know Christ?
Well, it’s going to vary from person to person, but the big picture is I’m trying to find something that they enjoy and move into that world with them. If they’re my neighbor and they enjoy gardening, I’m going to tal aboutk gardening with them because that’s what they enjoy. If it’s a golfer and they love golf, I’m going to talk golfing with them. So I’m trying to move into their areas of preference and comfort and the things that they enjoy a lot. And uh, that’s, that’s the simplest and easiest way that I do is just find out what they enjoy and try to connect with them on that level.
Got It. So you’re, you’re looking for activities that they enjoy doing a, you may have to learn a little bit about some of those activities sometimes I would assume oftentimes do, especially if it’s something like gardening. Yeah. And because I’ve seen you golf, golf, sometimes you thought I was going to make you look good dude. Where’s this going? So I, I love it, but you, I mean, you do that too. I know you take guys golfing, you build relationships with them. Um, I, I know that you do all kinds of activities with, with guys just so that you can build common ground. So it begins with you finding something that they enjoy doing, maybe learning about it and doing it with them. Absolutely. And then take us to the next step. What happens next?
Well, another way to do that, and then I’ll then I’ll go to your question is we need to be willing to ask questions, right? That’s not so difficult. Okay. I might have to ask questions to find out about them and then listen. Well, and then continued conversation by probing that I found, uh, a person, uh, you know, loves history. Well, I’m going to go down the road of history. Tell me what you like to read. What area of history do you love the most and why do you love it? I, I want them to be comfortable with me. I want to be comfortable with them and move into their world as best I can. Um, if, uh, what was your second question again?
Yeah. Then how do you take it to the next step then? Like walk us through like at this point, so you’re building this common ground. Uh, how do you take that toward the Gospel? You know, what does it look like? So we have, we have a guy who likes to golf, you go golfing with. We got a guy who likes history, which I know you know a lot about by the way. And so you, you transitioned that to the Gospel. How do you use those moments to build common ground with another guy so that you can share the Gospel Sport
with them? I’m trying to develop trust, right? Develop some sort of friendship and at some point, I’m going to ask some probing questions. Sometimes they’re not of a spiritual nature. I just may ask conversational questions like, um, you know, what would you do if you won the lottery? Or um, who was your favorite teacher in high school and why? Uh, but after time when I feel like they’re feeling comfortable with me, then I’m going to ask some sort of spiritual related question. And it could be in our first conversation, it might be several conversations down the road, but I might ask a question like, um, uh, may I ask you your opinion about
the question of God? Yeah. Uh, I did. That was one friend of mine, I’d played several rounds of golf with him. We’d had a, had a hamburger afterward and just talked and shared life and I got to know a little bit about him as a younger guy. Um, has a good job. And uh, one day I just a senate email to him saying, hey, I’d love to have lunch. And quite frankly, I just, I’d really love to get your opinion on the question of God. And he shot back an email that said, love, to have lunch. I do want you to know that my opinion on this subject is probably different from yours. There we go. That gives you something to talk about their. Exactly. I said, well, I’d love to hear your opinion. Let’s have lunch. And it lead into a great conversation over lunch.
Yeah. So here, here’s what I hear you saying, Bill, is you take, you take a guy that you have a relationship with you, uh, you build common ground by maybe doing something that he wants to do. You’re not being malicious here, you’re not being manipulative. You’re just building a friendship. Right? And then at some point, you pop a question, yeah, you know, since you are dating, you have a question on this guy and it has some sort of spiritual content to it is what it does. It’s, it’s some sort of spiritual focus where you can get to know not just the things that they do, maybe the person that they are the way they think about life philosophically. And so you’re, you’re beginning to get into deeper conversations. I liked that this guy said, hey, I might disagree with you. So he’s kind of letting you know where he stands.
He does want to have a conversation with you. Tell us now what happened in that specific conversation. Where did it go? Yeah. And by the way, some people don’t want to go down that road. But, uh, in, in, uh, many, many times I’ve asked that question over the years, very few have said no, some do, but the vast majority of people said, I’d love to tell you my opinion because you are asking their opinion. So in this particular case with met for lunch, uh, he laid out the case that he said, well, I’m really a Deist, uh, for though he understood that he did while I was surprised. Yeah. So, as you know, Vince, some of our listeners may not be familiar with the term, but think of this giant watchmaker who wound up the universe, put it into motion, and then kind of walked away and there’s no longer personally involved in his creation.
So that’s where this person was. He didn’t feel that this thing, this person does it, that created everything and he did believe in creation, but he walked away from it. It has no personal involvement in the universe. So we’re kind of on our own and we just had a great conversation for an hour. It didn’t go real far other than that, but it was an open frank conversation. Yeah, that’s good. You know, one of the things that I’ve done, bill, to build common ground with people, uh, isn’t necessarily just asked them like these philosophical questions. You know, one of the things I’ve done to build common ground with people is just asked to pray for them. I know that’s also maybe an approach or some people might call it a tactic, but I have found that that’s really helpful as well, like building a relationship with someone and then calling to mind like issues in her life and then saying, can I pray for you about them?
I also have never been turned down to pray for someone to ask. It is crazy like people now, I would assume there was a guy that I met once in a group who was an atheist and I asked if I could pray in the group and he of course he said yes, but I was surprised about that too. Like I’ve even been even an atheist said yesterday, so I don’t know what that means. Maybe I need to share my faith more, talk with people. I’m praying for people more, but I just thought that it’s profound. Like people will not turn you down on these conversations. Both. We think they will. We think they will. So we avoid building common ground. Maybe because of our own fears of what people might do or might not do, but I gotta tell you we we can build common ground with people.
Right, and these are just some of the first steps. Now tell me this. It took me years bill, to overcome some of these fears that I have about what people will do and what they won’t do. Right. Mostly because I think we live in a society today that that really, I think to some degree shames a Christian worldview. We do live in a culture today where maybe the Christian worldview isn’t broadly accepted, even though many of the other countries out there. To think that we’re an American country that is predominantly Christian. Right. But I will tell you, I have found that more of my issue is internal. To me, it’s my mindset, right? You see what I’m getting at here. I think a lot of building crown has to do with having a good mindset for the people across from us. You didn’t just immediately jump into evangelism, I assure you had to kind of get your mind moving in that direction today.
I would assume that especially because of your work and your ministry with search ministries, which does awesome work to evangelize men and the business sector, that you are constantly on your mind about sharing your faith with other people. Can you give us any wisdom there on how listeners today who are not on new, maybe you have those switch turned off in their mind about sharing their faith with other people. How do you switch that mindset on? I mean, do you wake up in the day, you start praying for people as you go about your day? What are you thinking? How do you do life differently? It helps you adopt a mindset for building common ground and conversations that lead toward
like I think I think it starts with the word of God. When I see Jesus going from village to village, town to town, proclaiming the good news. He is intentional. You know, the son of God could have remained in Nazareth and taken the approach that I’ll just hang out here and if people want to know I’m the Messiah, they can come asking, you know, I’ll, I’ll tell them, but he goes and there’s opposition to him in much of his going so he doesn’t wait. He doesn’t hold it in. And he goes, and when I read the word of and I see that intentionality in the gospels and I see the intentionality of the epistles, the book of acts and the epistles of the apostles and other disciples going forward with the Gospel. That’s an encouragement to me that I, I can’t sit and wait for someone to come to me. I’m commanded to go. That’s it. That’s the great commission, right? Go and make disciples.
Yeah. You know, can I just interject? I think I think bill sometimes maybe part of our mindset is impacted by the fact that we think it’s kind of optional and maybe I’m being a little strong here and, and I think I need to be strong for some, some of us, some of us need to hear this, but it really is not a non option to be a Christian that doesn’t share their faith.
I think you and I are thinking of the same passage in Romans 10. How beautiful are the feet of him who brings good news? And in verse 17, especially where Paul says that faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of Christ. We have good news, right? We, if we had the cure to cancer, we wouldn’t keep it to ourselves, right? And we’re supposed to go tell that good news people are lost. The most frequent word Jesus used the people that didn’t know him her last evening. And, uh, we can be a part of a process. Yes. People might not like it. People might think we’re silly. People might label us, but isn’t that worth the risk of introducing someone to Jesus in spite of us maybe being criticized or labeled right for someone moving from the Kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of light, from being lost to being found and seeing them spending eternity with Christ that’s worth the the concerns and fears or even trepidation I might have from time to time.
That’s where exactly. Yeah. See, and I think as it relates to this topic, Bill, I think that part of being a Christian is to share our faith with the world because we have the greatest news ever, and evangelism is one of those things that we get an opportunity to do here, but not in heaven. And we need to take advantage of the opportunity we have here and take our faith seriously, um, so much so that we’re willing to endure persecution for it. That’s what’s so inspiring about these men in the New Testament, right? They risked it all for the word of God and the story of God. That wasn’t their story. It was the story of Jesus Christ working through an in them and most of them ended up giving their lives for Jesus Christ because they opened their mouth and told the good news of the son of God who came to this world to rescue us from our sin.
It is the greatest story ever told, and the worst thing we could do is wake up in the morning and be ashamed of it. There. There’s another verse from Romans Right here, right, and we need to let the shame go and see that our goliath may be our mindset regarding our faith and that we need to see that God is standing behind us, ready to take us into the battle, charge into it full force and say, you know what? I’m going to tell my coworker. I’m going to tell my family member. I’m going to tell my neighbor about Jesus Christ because my God is so awesome and I’m going to change my mindset about how I view even myself and my identity. I love that Paul, and almost every one of his new testament books started it with his identity for Ipol slave servant. Do loss of Jesus Christ, what does a servant have no other choice but to do the master’s will, and I think we too need to take up that charge. Well, this is great Bill. This really helps us to understand what it looks like to build common ground, to even develop that mindset and take the next step. Is there any encouraging words you have out there for our listeners today that are, that are maybe engaging in building common ground for the very first time? What would you say to the guys today?
I’m thinking of a passage from first Corinthians nine and I’ll read, read part of it. The Apostle Paul says to the Jews, I became as a Jew in order to win Jews later on, he says to those outside the law, I became as one outside the law that I might win those outside the law. So I think there’s a great reminder that Paul has this mindset of moving into his own Jewish community and sharing the gospel in a. In a way that they would understand and the way they understood was using the Hebrew scriptures, the old testament to the gentile, to those who are unfamiliar with the ways of God, he found a way to reach them and when he’s in Athens and as recorded in acts 17 is a great example of that where he appeals to their religiosity and says, I’d like to tell you about this one monument.
You have to the unknown God, I’d like to tell you about him. So he finds common ground with them, but it’s so fascinating to see his perspective and I think we can learn from that were driven by the truth of God’s word. We are led by the Holy Spirit and we don’t need to fear, yes we can be afraid of, but it doesn’t need to, uh, uh, keep us one place. It doesn’t need to keep us backed in a corner. We can, we can move forward with our concerns and fears and as a body of Christ praying for us as we move forward with intentionality.
I love that and I agree with you. I think first Corinthians nine has a lot to say about Paul’s willingness to take things as far as possible so that by all means, he might save some, right, and he was willing to make sacrifices there to save others, and we have to choose to do that as well. The one thing we never want to compromise is we never want to compromise our morals, right? We can’t. We cannot compromise our morals as we build common ground and we cannot compromise the message of Jesus Christ either if we compromise either of those, we weaken the Gospel and we the ability for us to build common ground. So guys, you’ve heard this today and I pray that you’ll just step into it. Move beyond your fears into faith, right? Step out of the boat, into a relationship with Jesus Christ by activating your mouth and sharing your faith with other people and be bold because God’s behind you all the way. I mean this is his word and his message, and by the way, if you endure a little bit of persecution for the sake of Christ, so be it. They’re not persecuting you. They’re persecuting God, that’s who they they’re persecuting because that’s his word and his message, so go out there today and be courageous. Bill, thanks again for being with us left
and that’s the show. Thanks for listening guys. As we close, I want to give you two incredible opportunities. The first one is this, Bill mast, a team leader for search ministries, Minnesota. Each year puts on one or two straight talk breakfast and these breakfasts or opportunity for us as men together around round tables to be served plated breakfast and to allow us the opportunity to invite non unbelieving friends to hear a clear presentation of the Gospel here in a couple of months. They’re featuring Jay Warner Wallace. He is an American homicide detective and an a, a Christian apologist. Now imagine putting those two things together. He has authored several books including cold case Christianity and God’s crime scene in which he applies principles of cold case homicide investigation, too. Apologetic concerns such as things like, does God really exist, and what is the actual reliability of the gospels.
You will be mesmerized by this guy, not just as a Christian, but by the opportunity to bring an unbelieving friend with you, to hear from this man as he presents a clear case for the Gospel and for Jesus Christ. If you are interested in all in coming to this and bringing a non believing friend with you, it would greatly benefit you and this friend’s live. You can find more out about this [email protected], forward slash search. Just type in the word search after our domain name and you’ll find all the information there and you can actually register also as we close. I want to remind you that we got great content for you and your men and your men’s group. You can find this all at our website. Be Resolute, that org and guys, I hope you enjoyed this podcast today, but please know that the time that we spent together is worthless unless you act on it. You just have to do something with it. Pray for our friend. Invite a friend of this incredible event, but do something today by getting off the bench and end of the game and I’ll see you right back here next time for another edition of the resolute podcasts.