The question was common enough—Christians often ask us: What is the best way to witness to a Jewish person?” In this case, the lady who asked me was well dressed, down to hat and gloves, which seemed very proper for the Sunday morning church service. I was the preacher that day, she was a visitor. So, being Jewish, I answered her question with a question; “What is your connection or relationship to this Jewish person?”
After an uncomfortable pause, she said: “He is my husband. I married him while we were both at college.” Though she seemed young and certainly attractive, I gathered it had been a couple of decades since she matriculated and married.
I asked another question: “When did you become a believer in Jesus?”
She replied, “I was a youngster in high school camp, when I answered God’s invitation to trust Christ for my salvation. My parents were believers as well as my brother and sisters. I received a lot of encouragement and have been walking with the Lord ever since.”
I began my answer by saying: “First you need to apologize to your husband for not telling him how much Jesus meant to you. I explained that her apology would put her on a different footing or place where she could seriously relate her spiritual convictions. Then I gave a number of simple suggestions such as those Ceil and I wrote in the book Witnessing to Jews. She received what I told her very well, and I later heard from her that she was discussing with her husband what her faith means to her.
All of our witness ends the same way—by telling how Christ died for our sins and that He rose again the third day according to Scripture. We don’t have to explain the gospel and invite people to receive Him every time we open our mouths, but if our witness does not include those facts and an invitation for them to consider Him, it is simply not evangelism.
Nevertheless, there is no one right way for us to get to the point of stating the gospel facts. How we approach people depends on our relationship to them. Much Jews for Jesus evangelism is to people with whom we have had no previous relationship. We might hand them a tract in a public place, or they might see one of our gospel ads or billboards. But as soon as they respond to what we are saying, we begin to build a personal relationship. We listen to what they have to say and communicate in terms of where they are in their spiritual journey. Then we try to tell them as much as they are ready to hear from us.
When witnessing, some begin their spiritual discussion citing Old Testament prophecies. Some begin with a personal story of what the Lord has done for them. Others jump right into the New Testament which shows vignettes of the person of Yeshua (Jesus) and His teachings.
As much as possible, we urge those who want to witness to find common ground or interests. I remember sitting through a couple of high school football games with a Jewish father who wanted company as he watched his son play on the team. One of my fellow staff members let it slip to that father that I actually disliked football. While I had wanted to minister to him where he was at, this was not exactly common ground. Thankfully, by then the man had already received the witness and was regularly attending our Tuesday night Bible Study. But I never taught that the best way to witness was to begin with an apology or by attending a football game, or any other formula. Your witness is about who Jesus is, but your opportunity to explain His gospel normally stems from your relationship with the person—and along with that relationship, the ability to talk to one another about things that matter.