Years ago I went to a half day seminar called "Friendship Evangelism." The emphasis was on the importance of cultivating a good relationship with an unchurched person before talking to them about faith and knowing about Jesus.
One speaker said, "I've been building a friendship with this guy for over two years. We've been out fishing, have worked on cars and have gone to some football games. I think I'm real close to bringing up the subject of Jesus."
Two years? That just struck me as a awfully long time. Was there absolutely no talk about church or faith in those two years? No opportunity to say, "I'd love to go fishing with you on Saturday but Sunday is the day for our family to go to church and Sunday school?"
It seems to me that in building a friendship with another person you reveal who you are to that person. If you're a person of faith, then that's something you share and even talk about. You don't have to hit your budding friend over the head with a lot of Jesus talk. But you don't need to hide the fact that being a follow of Jesus is an important part of your life.
In fact, I've found that new friends don't run screaming out the door when church or faith are mentioned. It's my experience that most folks are interested in that part of my life and often have questions about God or Jesus or the church.
Professor David Vallesky, in his book, "We Believe - Therefor We Speak," offers some wonderful advice: Getting close to a person is not evangelism. Telling a person about Jesus is evangelism.
You'd be surprised at the number of people who would be interested in how Jesus entered the story of your life. Often, the people to whom you're afraid to speak about Jesus are the very people who want what you have but haven't an idea about connecting with Jesus. What a blessing it is to be an Andrew and invite a friend to come and learn about Jesus - His love, forgiveness and salvation.
Don't get me wrong. Building a relationship with people who are not of the family of faith is important. We want them to have what we have - a connection to Jesus and the hope of eternal life. Don't be afraid to show and share your faith in Jesus. You never know when someone might say, "Tell me more."