Evangelism has its agonizing moments. One of those in when you share the gospel with someone, you sense they understand it and also recognize their need, but their response is, “I’m just not ready right now.” What do you do? I have found several things helpful.
To begin, assure them of your understanding. The one thing you don’t want is for them to think you’re trying to “high pressure” them into the kingdom. The Holy Spirit has to bring them, not you. There may be things going through their mind they need to process that they’re not even mentioning. They need to know as I often tell people, that you’re on their team not on their back.
Having communicated that, graciously remind them of the brevity of life. Nobody’s promised tomorrow, “Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).
Gently remind them it is a decision that should not be put off because no one knows when their life will end. It is also helpful to point out that the longer one puts it off, sometimes the harder it becomes. Satan will do everything he can to deter them from making the most important decision of their life.
Remind them that when they are prepared to come to Christ you don’t have to be there. They can trust Christ in the privacy of their bedroom, kitchen, living room, or underneath a tree in their back yard. I encourage them when they are prepared to trust Christ to tell God in prayer what they are doing but I always remind them that saying a prayer does not save, it is trusting Christ that saves.
I ask them though, “When you trust Christ, will you please call me because I will be as happy as you are to know that we are going to be together in heaven.” That tells them how personally I feel their need to come to the Savior is and how eager I am for them to do so.
- I then ask their permission to call them in a week or two or even a month from now to see where they are spiritually and what thinking they have done. They usually always have allowed me to do so and once again that speaks to the urgency of trusting Christ.
To state the obvious, pray fervently for them that God will bring them to Himself and do so quickly. Your prayers more than anything else are their greatest need.