Are you struggling with how to share the gospel without coming across as weird, awkward, or pushy? Many Christians want to reach their neighbors with the gospel but don’t know the best approach – especially with successful or wealthy individuals. This episode tackles those tough evangelism questions and dilemmas head-on. If you’ve ever felt intimidated talking about Jesus, you’ll want to hear the insights shared here.

The discussion delves into biblical principles around respect, humility, relationship-building, and embodying the incarnational love of Christ. It examines Jesus’ own interactions with tax collectors, the wealthy, and the marginalized – highlighting how he met people with authenticity, not condemnation. You’ll learn a practical framework for having spiritual conversations that open doors rather than putting people off. Powerful examples illustrate how vulnerability and sharing your personal story can be an effective bridge to the gospel.

The guest for this episode is Matthew Morine, a minister who has a gift for relatable, non-cringeworthy evangelism. Matthew preaches for the Castle Rock Church of Christ in an affluent area of Colorado. Despite living among plenty of wealth and success, he has found remarkable inroads for sharing Christ. His tested insights come from real-life experiences in his community.

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Transcript (Credit: Beth Tabor)

Welcome to the Radically Christian Bible Study podcast. I’m your host, Wes McAdams. Here we have one goal: Learn to love like Jesus. How do you share the gospel without being weird, awkward, or icky? That’s what I’m going to talk to my guest, Matthew Morine, about today. Matthew preaches for the Castle Rock Church of Christ in Castle Rock, Colorado. He loves chess, mountain climbing, hockey, and reading, and he is fantastic at sharing the good news about Jesus. 

But before we get to the conversation, I want to read from Romans 10, starting in verse 8. Paul writes, “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they’re sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news.'” 

I hope this conversation is a blessing and an encouragement to you, and I pray it helps all of us learn to love like Jesus.

WES: Matthew Morine, welcome to the podcast, Brother.

MATTHEW: Thank you, Wes. I’m glad to be here.

WES: Excited to have you, Brother. We just got back ‑‑ or you just got home. I just drove across town to the evangelism seminar that they had at Prestoncrest a couple weekends ago, and I sat in your class on evangelism, and I told you offline, and I may say it more than once in this recording, but your class on evangelism was probably the best class, the best message on evangelism that I’ve ever heard, and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I appreciate the thoughts that you shared.

MATTHEW: Thank you, Wes. That’s very kind. I’ll take any positive feedback.

WES: Well, one of the things that you talked about ‑‑ and it was the first time I’d really ever heard somebody sort of frame it this way ‑‑ was that we have this tendency to be really good at sharing the gospel with people that are ‑‑ you may have said at our socioeconomic level, but especially those that are below our socioeconomic level, but we sort of have a hard time, or may just don’t do it at all, share the gospel with people that are above our socioeconomic level, with people that we consider to be rich or people that we consider to be successful. Maybe, first, why is that, and then, you know, what can we do about that?

MATTHEW: Maybe we just have this assumption that, you know, Jesus said it’s so hard for the rich to make it into heaven, so we just think, oh, you know, rich people don’t care, and I think that’s just us kind of bringing our preconceived ideas to it, because if you look at the reality of it ‑‑ and we’re two preachers in this podcast right now, and I would say, very much, I consider myself rich. Like I ‑‑ when Jesus was talking about the rich people, he was talking about me, and I still love Jesus. I came to the Lord. And so I think, as culture has changed, our definition of rich is just anybody who we think makes more money than us. 

One of my dear mentors said he lived with a very wealthy family in Nashville, and he was a foster child, and he said that this family ‑‑ and these are ‑‑ if I was to say the name, everybody in Nashville would know this name. That’s how well off they were. He said the rich people had a TV in their house…until they got a TV. The rich people had two cars…until they got two cars. And so our idea of rich keeps going higher and higher, but we’re not talking about reaching Bill Gates. We’re talking about reaching Bill, our neighbor, who lives in a very nice house right next to our very nice house. And we kind of ‑‑ because of our kind of church dynamics, a lot of our ministries through the years have been benevolence‑based, where we have food pantries, we have clothing drives. Wes, I almost feel guilty to say this, but I’m not driving to any church in this town for food or a used jacket. I’m just not. And in Castle Rock, we are the fifth wealthiest county in the nation. If our strategy for connecting with our community was benevolence, we’d have nobody.

WES: So how do we go about addressing this, and maybe even what Biblical framework do we have? What Biblical ideas? You even brought one out in the class that you taught. What Biblical framework do we have for sort of looking at our neighbors ‑‑ our wealthy neighbors, our successful neighbors ‑‑ and sharing the gospel with them?

MATTHEW: So I had this realization ‑‑ so, you know, I do my class on the woman at the well, and I noticed that everywhere I went, when we talk about evangelism, we always talk about the woman at the well. And I asked myself, why is that? And I realized it’s because we feel comfortable reaching lower on the social hierarchy, and we all have that construct in our mind.  And I thought, we all can go to the woman at the well. You know, maybe she doesn’t have the best reputation in town, she’s not well off, and we’re willing to speak to people that we consider to be ‑‑ you know, I hate to say it, but somehow lower in the social hierarchy. 

So I sat there and I thought ‑‑ in my mind, I said, you know, I’m a poor preacher in Castle Rock. If that’s the case, everybody’s going to try to evangelize me. So I thought most of the people I talk to are ‑‑ they’re all high executives, they’re all well off, they all live in nicer houses, so I better get over this or I can’t talk to anybody. And I thought, who has ever heard a lesson on reaching Cornelius? And then I thought about it, and I was like, I’m going to think about this. I just had this [demonstrating mind being blown], you know, with my bald head, like that’s why the hair’s off. And so I just realized it, and I thought, I’m going to study Cornelius and how do we reach Cornelius? Roman Centurion, very influential, very powerful, and he’s well off enough to be giving alms to the community, so how do we reach him? 

And I came up with a couple principles. One was role reversal. You’re not going to go to Cornelius and say, “Cornelius, do you need food?” He’s going to be like, “No.” In fact, he may be insulted, so that’s not going to work. You’re going to go to him and you’re going to put yourself in the position of weakness. You are going to be the one in need. And a lot of our Christian people ‑‑ you know, as they say in the South, bless their hearts ‑‑ they’re doing good things. Christian people love people. Like, we have amazing churches and they want to do good, but our wealthy people, our socially affluent people, don’t need good. If they need something, they’ll just buy it, so you have to come and ask them for something and you’ve got to partner with them. 

So think about this, Wes. If churches want to reach our communities, what can you do in the community that all people can get on board with? In my community, I’m a tennis coach and I can reach ‑‑ I can connect with non‑Christians who are of the social status middle class, upper middle class, ultra rich, doesn’t matter, and say, “Can you help me develop character in my tennis program and can you help fund my tennis work?” Well, fortunately, rich people play tennis, and they say, “Yeah, I’d love to do that. I want to make a difference in this community. I want to help young people.” But a lot of our ministries in the community have been very kind of Christian‑centric. That means, well, it’s all about just trying to reach them for Jesus, but the way to partner with them is to do good works in the community that all people can get on board with. We don’t usually do that, but that’s kind of your gateway to getting your affluent neighbors into kind of your circle of doing good. So that’s one approach, so place yourself in the weak position. Ask. Say, “You know, I really need some help with this.” They’ll show up to speak to your kids. They’ll give like a good talk about their background, and all of a sudden, now you’ve got reasons to connect and build that relationship over a good work, and I think that’s very successful. 

Another thing that ‑‑ if you look at Cornelius, when Peter shows up, what does Cornelius do to Peter? 

WES: They say that they’re there to listen and learn.

MATTHEW: Yeah, but Cornelius bows down. Like he bows down, and Peter’s like, “Cornelius, get up, man.” I think sometimes people in our communities have more respect for people of God than the people of God have respect for people in the community, and I think the people in our communities have more respect for ministers than sometimes the people in our own congregations. And when we, in our churches, kind of make, like, off‑putting remarks about ministers ‑‑ I’m starting to see a change, because in the community and with the affluent, they say, you know, “In my world, people do a lot of stuff for money. I respect you because you’re doing stuff for a bigger purpose.” They’re so surrounded by materialism and wealth that they’re saying, “I respect the people who got out of this treadmill and are doing something that is not financially rewarding to them.” They’re very complimentary. And so when you partner with them, they’re like, “Hey, I just want to do good.” 

One of my friends, how I got involved in tennis ‑‑ he’s a non‑Christian. Total non‑Christian, doesn’t come to my church, doesn’t go to any church, not interested. He comes to me, and he says, “Can you help build character on our tennis team?” He still saw the values of God as helpful for helping young men and young girls be better citizens, better husbands, better wives, better employees. And so great respect for what I do even though he doesn’t believe in the Lord that I serve.

WES: Wow. When you were saying all this today, and in your lesson a couple weeks ago, my mind went to a couple of different places. One is that I think it’s kind of similar to one of the ministries that we have here at McDermott Road. We also live in a very affluent neighborhood. And I want to be clear. What I hear you saying is that ‑‑ I don’t think that we’re saying that you shouldn’t be reaching out to poor people, you shouldn’t be helping the poor in your community, but that we could ‑‑ we shouldn’t exclusively focus on just helping and reaching those that are poor and struggling financially. But one of the ways that we’ve done, I think similar to what you’re describing, is that we have a trailer here at the church parking lot. It’s actually manned every day of the week by an organization that they collect used goods. It’s kind of like a secondhand‑store trailer. So they collect donations from the wealthy people in our community, things like furniture, things like clothing, all of these used items, and then those used items are sold at their secondhand store, and the church receives the financial compensation for that, and then we take that money and use that to buy fruits and vegetables for people that live in a different neighborhood that are struggling to eat. And so we’re actually partnering with the wealthy in our community to reach the struggling, the hungry in another community. 

And one of the things that ‑‑ as you were talking, it made me think about Philippians 2, so many principles in scripture about considering others more significant than yourselves. It is this showing respect, this mutual respect. And like you said, there’s actually sometimes a great deal of respect that unbelievers have, non‑church people, non‑Christian people have for religious people, even for ministers, but that mutual respect needs to go both ways, and that we need to show that respect and show that deference to other people. I love the idea of putting ourselves in a weaker position and approaching them and saying, “Hey, we need your help and we could really benefit from your help in this area or another.” 

Do you think that we tend to be ‑‑ I know, speaking personally, I think another aspect of this is sort of an intimidation factor that people that have wealth and that have money or, you know, that we would deem to be successful in their career, or whatever area it might be, even just physical beauty ‑‑ I think sometimes there is an intimidation factor, that we have a hard time talking to them about the gospel because we’re just intimidated by them. We feel inferior to them. Do you think that plays an aspect in our hesitancy to reach our neighbors that are a little bit above us in the socioeconomic ladder?  

MATTHEW: Oh, yeah. I think everybody has that basic ‑‑ maybe you get it from high school. You know, somehow the cool kids, you were scared to talk to, and I think we all have that. I think it’s very natural for us. And I love what you guys are doing at the congregation, too. It’s like, in our Christian minds, we’re thinking, you know, the people who have, you know, are going to give, and then we’re going to reach the people in the community and try to share the gospel with those who need the handouts.  But the people who are bringing the stuff, they’re your mission field, as well. We don’t even ponder that thought. You know, rich people are lost, as well, but it’s almost like we assume they’re not interested. And maybe it’s ‑‑ I don’t know if it’s a lack of self‑esteem. I think maybe we just ‑‑ we don’t like the rejection, but that’s why I like to highlight that Cornelius was respectful. The people we talk to who are very successful in their careers or financially or whatever ‑‑ however you measure that, they are kind people. You know, we have almost turned this kind of demonization of wealth in our society, that they’re looking down on somebody. I don’t find that. I think they’re looking for purpose just as much as we are. They’re looking for kind of a bigger meaning as our society has moved away from Christian values, but the value of contributing to this world is human, and when we tap into that, they are receptive to it. If they’re not, they may not have that good heart. We’re looking for the good heart, but I think we almost self‑select. We have said no for them before they had a chance to even respond. 

WES: Maybe part of it is our approach and the approach that we even assume that we have to take. I think ‑‑ I was always told, and I probably always approached evangelism in the mindset that you have to make people feel bad before you can make them feel better. You have to convict them of their sin first. Like that needs to be your out‑of‑the‑gate approach. You need to let them know and convince them that they’re sinners and that they’re bad people and that they need to be saved, and that’s how you need to go about it. And I think that we feel ‑‑ I think because we maybe are already looking down on poor people, we assume that we have a right to sort of put them in their place and tell them that they’re sinners, but we have a hard time doing the same thing to people that we feel like are above us. And so we’re intimidated by them and we don’t want to approach Bill Gates and tell him he’s a sinner because we’re intimidated by Bill Gates, but we’re not intimidated, because we’re actually looking down our nose at our poor neighbor, and we don’t mind telling them that they’re sinners because we don’t care what they think of us. And maybe that aspect of our evangelism ‑‑ maybe that’s backwards anyway. 

So you shared a great story ‑‑ I don’t know if you want to share that today or not, but your story about the bus and your approach sort of in the beginning when you first learned the gospel and how you addressed people and tried to share the gospel with them. Why is that not the best approach, to just try to tell people that they’re sinners right out of the gate?  

MATTHEW: Well, maybe I ‑‑ I didn’t grow up in the church, but somehow I drank the water of shame, because you’re right; I tell the story ‑‑ I go back home from being baptized. I’m going to school every day, and I get on the same bus to head to the campus to go to school, and there’s these two girls that I would see every single day, every morning. And this one day, one of them was telling the other one about how she cheated on her boyfriend, and I overheard this. So I was like, yes, this is my opportunity, because I don’t have to convince her that she’s a sinner; she confessed to it. So I leaned in and I said, “Do you know that fornication is a sin?” And they looked at me ‑‑ and I don’t think Christian people know that non‑Christians don’t

know what that word means. So I defined the word and then I gave them a good talking to. You know, I let them have it. I preached the gospel to them, telling them about how they shouldn’t be sleeping with their boyfriends, and they certainly shouldn’t be cheating on their boyfriends and sleeping with somebody else. Well, the next ‑‑ that afternoon, the friend, not the fornicator, got on the bus. So I thought, okay, the fornicator has a hard heart, but the friend, she’s going to respond to the gospel. She came and sat right in front of me and she chewed me out. “You judgmental” ‑‑ she had a few choice words for me. And, you know, they never spoke to me and you could just tell they hated me. 

And so, in our society, it’s almost like we had this preconception that we needed to shame people into the gospel. Once you give a person ‑‑ that you are prejudging them, judging them, and they feel an ounce of shame, that you’re shaming them, they’re out. They are done. And so I know our church members, Wes, don’t believe in that approach. You know, if you were to ask them, they’re like, “I would never do that,” but it’s almost like the water we have drunk, that we got to convince them that they’re sinners first, and I don’t think that’s the approach. I know that’s not going to work. I want to partner with people and affirm that they are somebody who wants to do good, that wants to do good, and then you influence them by saying, “I want to do good, as well. My motivation is to do good because of Jesus Christ.” At the essence, it opens up this space ‑‑ “What’s your motivation?” ‑‑ and it gets them thinking through it, and then, all of a sudden, they’re kind of more willing. They want to explore, “Hmm, you want to do good; I want to do good. We can partner on this together.” But then, when they start to kind of think through it, they’re like, “There’s more to this than me just doing good. I need to have a bigger purpose.” Because I do think people have that spiritual intuition that they connect with, and that opens continued doors. I think that’s the approach ‑‑ like that’s the wagon I want to be bringing into town. I’m not bringing the wagon of shame.

WES: When you think about most of the harsh ‑‑ there is a time for harsh admonishment, but most of the harsh admonishment that we find in scripture is not for the world; it’s for religious people. Jesus had all of his harsh criticisms for the Pharisees, for the Sadducees, for the people that knew better, and it was the tax collectors, the so‑called sinners, that ‑‑ people were shocked. Jesus is eating with them, which, to your idea and to your point about partnering with, that was seen as partnering with, as being in fellowship with, and people were just absolutely flabbergasted that this rabbi would be partnering with, having fellowship with, eating meals with these people that they had nothing to do with, and then he harshly criticized the religious people. Now, that’s not to say that Jesus didn’t take sin seriously. He did, but he understood that in order to reach these people, you have to love them and you have to show them respect and that you see the image of God in them. 

And I think, so often, we haven’t approached that way, and I think you’re right that so many of our church members, they know that’s not the right approach, but they’ve never been shown another model of evangelism and so they just don’t evangelize. They don’t share the Good News with their neighbors, with their family because they don’t know any other way to do it. They think, “If I’m going to do it, this is how I have to do it. I have to tell them off first,” and they’re not willing to do that, so they say, “Well, I feel guilty about it, but I guess I’m just not good at that. I can’t do that. I’m not going to go down that path.”

MATTHEW: Well, think about ‑‑ this is so Biblical. Like this is the methodology of Jesus. Matthew, tax collector. Is Matthew a poor guy? He is not. You know, if you know one thing about tax collectors, they are taking a little off the top. He is a wealthy man. Okay? As soon as Matthew is called, he chooses to follow Jesus. Jesus doesn’t pull Matthew from his people. Jesus goes to the party that Matthew hosts, and you know, if you’ve been to some of these, you know, well‑off parties, it’s a nice party, like we’re eating some good food. That’s Matthew, and Jesus connects to his group of friends. Pharisees are like, “I can’t believe he’s doing that.” No, he’s partnering with him. 

Zacchaeus. Sees Zacchaeus. What does Zacchaeus do? He’s like, “I’m coming to your house today, Zacchaeus.” Okay. Zacchaeus is like, “This is fantastic. This guy’s going to show up to my house.” And what does Zacchaeus do? “I’m going to give back fourfold of everything I’ve taken.” Who was Zacchaeus? A very wealthy man. And what does Jesus do? He allows Zacchaeus to use his resources to do good for those and to bring more people in. But in both cases ‑‑ we almost never talk about the wealth in the Bible ‑‑ these people were very receptive, very receptive to Jesus. And then when they bend, Jesus is like, “Yeah, let’s use this to continue to build the kingdom and spread the word.” Don’t you love that model?

WES: Yeah. And you’re so right; that doesn’t get talked about very often. And when Jesus does approach these men ‑‑ you know, I think about ‑‑ I was thinking about that scene of Zacchaeus even before you said that, that here he approaches the tree where Zacchaeus has climbed up in that tree. He doesn’t point his finger and wag his finger at him. “You ought to be ashamed of yourself. Do you know how many people you’ve taken advantage of? You’ve robbed so many people. You ought to be ashamed. You’re a horrible person.” He says, “I want to go eat with you,” and that dignity and respect and love that he showed Zacchaeus, it transformed him. It changed him. It drew him into relationship rather than pushing him away. 

And I think sometimes we ‑‑ those that do practice this harsh version of evangelism, I think they ‑‑ sometimes we have a tendency to wear the rejection as a badge of honor, that, “Well, I told them the truth and they didn’t want to hear it, and I did what I was supposed to do,” and we’re pushing people away rather than helping bring them closer to Jesus.

MATTHEW: Well, Wes, it’s because we ‑‑ okay. You know, church members are fantastic people. They love Jesus. They want to share Jesus. But sometimes they go launching in too quickly and they don’t know when it’s time to then take it to the next level. So I always do like ‑‑ it’s kind of like the three levels of interaction, and you have like the first one: Fake. You meet somebody, you get to know them, and it’s just kind of a fake relationship. “How are you doing today?” “Oh, I’m doing great. How are you doing?” “I’m doing great, too.” You know, everybody’s doing great because that’s our society. If I launch into a conversation about your faith, your beliefs, or share my faith, they’re like, “This is icky. This is like ‑‑ I don’t want to be here right now. This is too much. It’s like we’re talking politics. I don’t want to talk about politics.” So you launching in is ‑‑ you’re going to get a written, automatic no. 

So then you wait and then you move to Facts, and that’s kind of on the relationship. You talk about weather, you talk about sports, you talk about your kids, you talk about what’s going on at school, you know, community, just stuff that everybody feels comfortable talking about. And then you think, “Well, should I launch in?” No, no, no. You are waiting until you can express emotion to them, and they have an emotion expressed to you. 

So if you say, “I got so angry last night when my son came home.  He came home late, and I yelled at him. I shouldn’t have been yelling at him, but I was so mad. I told him ‑‑ and I was frustrated with him,” and then you listen to their response. If they say, “Yep, that can happen,” don’t ‑‑ they’re not ready. They’re not ready for that level of interaction with you. But if they say, “You thought you were mad? Let me tell you what I did. I wouldn’t call it anger. I would say it was like pouring Red Bull and Monster on anger because I launched into my boy and I was super mad!” Now you know the relationship can be evangelized. So don’t come jumping in there too quick. Like, slow your roll and say a Feeling. Test it out and see if they give you back a feeling. If you do, that’s when you know you can share your faith. 

Now I’m going to say why. Okay? And everybody’s going to be like that’s the weirdest words I’ve ever said, but it’s because of the Kantian Noumenal/Phenomenal divide. So Wes, in the first century, all knowledge was in one bucket. One bucket. So if I said, you know, “Seuss is great,” everybody would be like, “Okay, that sounds great to me. You know, like that’s fine.” And then if I said to the same guy, “Seuss is great, and 1 plus 1 equals 2,” they’d be like, “You have spoken knowledge,” but that’s not in American society. So Immanuel Kant realized, after the Enlightenment, our society separated knowledge into the noumenal and into the area of the phenomenal. Noumenal is values, ethics, is there love? The phenomenal is the measurements. You know, the sky is blue; water boils at 100 degrees Celsius. So when you switch over into kind of the realm of God, people can feel awkward with it, but if you test it out by sharing a feeling, that’s what you’re doing. Now you know you can kind of take it to the next level with your faith.

WES: This was incredibly helpful. This was probably my favorite part of your class, was this idea of a Fake and then Facts and then Feelings and testing out the relationship to see if you’re at that point where you can share feelings with that person. That was so helpful because it articulated what I think every single one of us have experienced, that either we’ve been the icky, weird person and we have shared our faith and people have treated us like we’re icky and weird, or, more likely than not, we know people like that and we just don’t know why ‑‑ like there’s a level at which we admire them and we think, I wish I could do that. I wish I could get on the elevator and say, excuse me, sir, can I tell you about Jesus? You know, we wish we could do that, but we’re like, ah, I just can’t do that. It seems so weird. It seems so strange. We think it’s noble, to some degree, but at the same time, we realize that it’s just socially awkward, and it’s unsuccessful and people don’t respond well to it. You’re very seldom going to enter into a long‑term friendship, much less teach that person the Good News about Jesus, just through this brief interaction. You are so much better off waiting until you have built some level of rapport. 

And I think, putting it that way, where you’re at the point where you can share feelings with one another, it gives us a really practical litmus test to know am I at a point where I can share about Jesus and it won’t feel like I’m being emotionally manipulative; it won’t feel like I’m being strange or weird or just socially awkward? And I think that’s incredibly helpful, Matthew. Thank you.

MATTHEW: Yeah, I think people like it because we feel like we have very little control in evangelism, and in this way, you kind of ‑‑ when do you have that conversation? When do you start to share your faith? And I wait till Feelings. And it’s just ‑‑ they may not be saying “Where’s water,” but they’re going to be open to it. And so one of the ways I do it is the AIM approach ‑‑ the AIM approach. So I’m Authentic, I try to create Interest, and I talk about the difference that Christ has Made in my life, so that’s my entryway. And so once they express a feeling, I’ll say ‑‑ I’ll try to share something like ‑‑ if it’s a young father, I’ll be like, “Man, I’m really struggling with trying to be a dad. I do not have this dad thing down,” and I’ll kind of just open with that. You know, “Do you ever feel like you just can’t do dadding?” And then the person may kind of be like listening, and they’ll be like ‑‑ if they’ll say, like, “I just feel inadequate,” now I know ‑‑ I’ll say, “But you know what I’ve found? My faith has really helped me with that. It seems like I just ‑‑ I don’t know what it is, but Jesus has made me a better dad. Like I don’t know if that seems odd to you, but it’s really been impactful for me, and I’ve learned like even how to love my kids and express it, and, really, it all goes back to my faith.” Like I remember in my family ‑‑ my family never said I love you. I didn’t hug my dad. But I remember being at the airport, and I was like, I’m going to lean in, and I remember hugging my dad, and my dad’s like super awkward, and I’m like, “Dad, I love you,” and my dad’s like, “I love you, too,” and that was the first time my family said to one another “I love you.” You know why that happened? Because of Jesus Christ.

Now, I’ll share that little story if I think it will connect with them. I’ll go with my AIM approach: Authentic, create Interest, try to connect it to a need that they have, and then I’ll end it with a Made‑the‑difference story. All of a sudden, I have planted a seed in a way that they don’t feel judged. You know, like, hey, that’s just something I’m sharing. But if they’re dealing with that, too, they may sit back and think, hmm. They may go home and, all of a sudden, they may ‑‑ they’re not going to call me up and say, “I’m coming to church,” but I remember when I was a non‑Christian, I was given a Bible, and I remember being at work and I got into some fight or something. I was just struggling. I remember opening up the Bible and reading it. I don’t even know what I was searching for, but I was searching for God, and it opened up that opportunity. They will do that, and then that starts planting that seed, and you’re going to start seeing them asking you little questions every now and then about your faith, and I think that’s how we do it. That’s how we bridge that, and that’s not icky. In fact, the person is like, “Man, I appreciate him sharing that with me.”

WES: Yeah. I love ‑‑ sort of tying all of it together, I love the idea of sharing your story and doing so from a position of vulnerability, where you’re not just sharing a feeling; particularly, you’re sharing a struggle, and I love that you pointed out that it has to be authentic, that that sort of idea of authenticity ‑‑ it kind of has become a buzzword and could probably be used in ways that probably aren’t healthy and aren’t really authentic, but there’s a lot of truth to that, that we can’t be fake. And I think so many of our evangelistic efforts, they come across ‑‑ they at least are perceived as being fake. They seem manipulative. They seem like you’re trying to sell somebody a used car ‑‑ nothing against used‑car salesmen ‑‑ but it seems like you’re trying to twist people’s arm. But when you’re just genuinely, authentically sharing your own struggle with somebody ‑‑ and even going back to the idea of asking for help, not just help like, “Hey, could you help us to reach the poor?” But “Do you have any advice for me? Like I’ve got a 15‑year‑old son, and, man, I’m really ‑‑ I’m struggling to be a dad, and I would ‑‑ I know you’ve got kids.  Any advice you have?” You know, and if they say, “Man, I don’t really have any advice. I’m struggling, too,” you know, then that builds this type of relationship where it doesn’t seem strange or manipulative. It’s real. It’s genuine. It’s respectful. It’s loving.

MATTHEW: Yeah. And there’s camaraderie with that. It’s like, “I’ll tell you what; let’s just try to keep doing this together.” Everybody can get on that page. You know, Christians and non‑Christians, we’re all just trying to figure out this life, and I think once you kind of show that respect, it’s like, “Hey, I’ll take any good insights you’ve got,” and all of a sudden, they’re like, “Hey, I’ll take anything, too.” Two strugglers are always friends. You have never seen somebody who has started freezing, won’t huddle up. And if there’s one fire, strangers freezing no longer are strangers. I will get close to anybody around a fire that gives me advice. Now think about that, that analogy about Jesus Christ. If Jesus is the answer, and we believe that, there’s always room around that fire for mutual strugglers seeking help.

WES: Yeah. And I love that this is not just pointing people to Jesus; it’s actually embodying ‑‑ I keep coming back to Philippians 2 ‑‑ it’s embodying the cruciform life. It’s embodying the incarnation because this is what Jesus did. Jesus didn’t look down from his throne, didn’t look down from the glory of heaven and say, “Hey, y’all need to shape up down there.” He lowered himself. He considered others as more significant than himself. He washed their dirty, nasty feet. He served them. He suffered with them. He empathized with them. And if we’re going to reach people, we don’t need to just tell them a message. We need to embody that message. And I love the way that you’re framing this because it’s exactly what that’s doing. It is loving our lost neighbors the way Jesus loved us, and this is the way Jesus brought us into his family, and that’s what’s going to reach the lost.

MATTHEW: Wes, I’m going to illustrate our method of evangelism. Okay? So my grandmother would make homemade bread. Oh, my grandmother had fantastic homemade bread. She’d make it. I’d live with her, I’d do the chores, I’d look after the cows, and on the way into that house, I could smell the homemade bread. Okay? Now, if I was to write down, you know, on a piece of paper the recipe for the homemade bread ‑‑ I wrote down, you know, flour, yeast, you know, sugar, salt, and I had that, and then I took it and I waved it at you ‑‑ okay. Are you getting hungry yet, Wes? No. You think I’m foolish. You’re not enticed by the recipe; you’re enticed by the bread. 

We have taken the plan of salvation and we have waved it at people and said, “Here’s the recipe. Here’s the recipe. Don’t you want to be a Christian?” And people are like, “I don’t care.” But when you give them the bread of life, when we’re incarnational, when we are like ‑‑ I love how you’re really fleshing out Philippians 2 ‑‑ we’re in there and they smell the fragrance of Jesus on us, they smell the bread on us, they want the bread. We’ve been flapping the recipe, but we haven’t been flapping Christ.

WES: Amen. Well, Matthew, thank you so much. I could talk about this all day. I appreciate you not only having this conversation with me and teaching this class, but thank you for living this out. Thank you for sharing Jesus the way that you do and for helping us to better share Jesus with our neighbors.

MATTHEW: Thank you, Wes. I was looking forward to this, to be on the podcast of Wes McAdams. I told my wife ‑‑ I literally showed up, and I said, I gotta be on this podcast. I said, it’s a big deal. It’s a big deal.

WES: Well, it’s a big deal for me to spend time with you, Matthew. Thank you. Thank you for your work you’re doing in the kingdom, Brother.

MATTHEW: Thank you, Wes.

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