Many believers think we should not attempt to share the gospel with someone until we have first built a friendship.
Notably, friendship does give a warmth and credibility to our admonition for their need of Christ.
I always give two cautions, though, about the subject of “friendship evangelism.”
One is that you do need a friendship. But I love the way J. I. Packer says it in Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God:
“With some people, you may establish such a relationship in five minutes, whereas with others it may take months.”
Well said! After all, the “soil” on which we sow the seeds of the gospel differ.
With one person, you could be the first person who has ever approached him about spiritual things. It’s understandable with such a person why you should take longer to befriend him in order to share the good news.
Another person may have had as many as 10 people speak to him about Christ. Because he’s already thought about spiritual things, you’re able to get into the subject much faster.
As you evangelize, you always have to be sensitive to God’s time table. If you are the first of 24 people to bring up spiritual topics, then your time in building a friendship is much more critical than if you are the 23rd of 24.
The second caution comes when you spend too much time building a friendship before sharing the gospel—it becomes harder not easier. You can easily lose credibility.
You might say, “Let me tell you about the most important person in my life”
Your friend could well be thinking, “Why has it taken you so long to mention Him if He is indeed so important?”
All of a sudden you realize that waiting so long hurts rather than helps.
Remember, the issue is always evangelism not friendship. Friendships are always helpful. With some, that friendship may take five months; with others, it may take five minutes.