Confession time. I’m not a natural evangelist, and I always felt a sense of jealousy whenever I would come across a Facebook post of someone who shared the gospel to their Uber drivers because I couldn’t.

Why was I finding so hard to open up to a stranger about the gospel? Why was it that God chose me to preach the gospel to others?

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;

1 Corinthians 1:27

We know that we are called to do whatever it takes to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth. Knowing what Christ has done for His church comforts and empowers us to follow His command and go out into the world. But the reality of this is actually daunting and nerve-racking.

So how did God reconcile us to do the work of an evangelist? We could see this in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23:

For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

To do whatever it takes to bring people to Christ means that we have to make the gospel relevant to them, so that they can experience the saving power of Christ. How? We become them in order to win them.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14

It was through Jesus’ incarnation that we see what it first means to assume the position of another in order to bring them the news of salvation. But here’s the thing: Jesus became like us but still committed no sin. Taking from his example, we can, too, become like the students we are reaching out to without the need to compromise our relationship with God. Here are three points on how we can do that:

1. Study how they think

To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews.

1 Corinthians 9:20

Notice that Paul did not outright go against Judaism. Instead, he studied how the Jews thought and used that as a way to preach the gospel to them. This was effective for Paul especially when he entered into hostile and closed territories.

Studying the way a person thinks enables you to better minister to them. It allows you to better understand the other person, and contextualize the gospel according to where they are coming from. What mindsets are keeping them from having an encounter with Jesus? What past experiences may have clouded their understanding of the gospel?

But in order to really study the way they think, we need to…

2. Spend time with them

Now the best scenario would be that the first student you preach the gospel to would instantly want to give his or her life to Jesus. That, however, is not always the case.

Sometimes preaching the gospel entails that we first take time to build on our relationship with who ever we are reaching out to. While it may take a longer route, spending time with them does have its advantages.

First, it gives you more opportunities to study how they think and how you can best contextualize the gospel to their lives. Spending time may also open up their hearts to receiving the truth of the gospel. Lastly, you give them time to observe you and witness firsthand how the gospel could change a life.

Jesus confirms this truth when he spent time in Zacchaeus’ house (Luke 19:1-10) and hung around tax collectors and prostitutes.

3. Serve their need

To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews.

1 Corinthians 9:20

Paul did not focus on preaching against Judaism.  Rather, he showed that Jesus was the one who completely fulfilled all our different needs. When Paul met a heathen, he did not revile his gods but taught him the true God. He also did not carry with him just one sermon for all the places he travelled to, but adapted his speech to suit his audience.

While the students we reach out to come from different backgrounds and have different kinds of needs, they all point to the need to have a Savior in their lives. As disciple makers, we can’t go on to talking about the Savior, if we do not even know what needs have to be addressed first.  Only then can we point them to their true need: Jesus. Therefore it is essential that we search for and serve the needs of our students before pointing them to the real need.

As long as there is one more soul out there who hasn’t yet heard of the gospel, we will do whatever it takes to bring the gospel into their situation. In following the example of Jesus, we do this by studying how they think, spending time with them, and serving their need that can only be fulfilled and satisfied by the gospel of Christ.