Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty (spiritually thirsty), let him come to Me and drink.” (John 7:37)
One of the implications for us from this verse is that we want to be looking for people who are spiritually thirsty. I refer to them as people who are in “the Red Zone” of their spiritual journey. It is a football analogy that I use for evangelism training.
When a football team has moved the ball down the field so that it is within the opponent’s 20-yard line, that area between the 20-yard line and the goal line is called the Red Zone. They learn very specific plays to get the ball across the goal line.
In life, people often have to travel a long spiritual journey before they come to faith in Christ. They may have had bad experiences, or they may struggle with anger at God, doubt, hypocrisy, skeptic questions, other religions, or other issues they need to work through. But when they finally come to the place where they are open to God, sense something missing in their life, and wonder if Christ can help them, they are in the Red Zone of their spiritual journey.
What God wants us to do is to be looking for people who are in the Red Zone of their spiritual journey and help them cross the line of faith.
For example, I was referred to a dermatologist. During my first appointment with him, he said, “You have a very pleasant manner about yourself. Are you a professor?”
I said, “No. I’m a pastor.”
“Good for you,” he said.
So I asked him, “What is your church background, Doctor?”
“Muslim,” he said. (In my mind, I said, “Shoot!”) Then he said, “But, I go to church too.”
“Really?” I asked.
“Yes. It warms my heart!”
I asked, “What happened for you to start you going to church?”
He said, “I was in a very difficult situation. I didn’t think I could ever get free from it. A Christian friend told me to pray and ask God to help me. He did. I never thought I could get free.”
Then I said, “It sounds to me like God is reaching out to you, Doctor. If you have a minute, I can show you a diagram that explains how to get closer to God.” I drew the Bridge Diagram for him and asked, “Does this make sense? Where are you? Are you ready to cross over?” He was, and he received Christ that day. We have met ten times since then.
Why was that so easy? Because he was in the Red Zone of his spiritual journey.
I ask the question “What is your church background?” to find out where they are today in their spiritual journey. It is not just “What church do you go to?” It’s about how they were raised, but I draw that out to see if they are in the Red Zone today.
Another example is when I went to the bank to get a debit card. I was told I needed to meet with a banker. The banker looked Middle-Eastern with black hair. His nameplate on his desk was Muhammad (I couldn’t pronounce the last name). He asked me a lot of questions and found out I was a pastor, so I asked him, “What is your church background?” He said he and his wife had attended a church two times. I said, “Good for you. I have an app that explains how to get closer to God. When we are done, would you like to see it?” He said, “Yes.”
After a few minutes, he said, “I’m done. Show me the app.” So, I opened up the Share Your Faith app and went through the app with him. He loved it. I asked, “Where are you? Would you like to cross over?” I prayed with him right there and then talked through the ESPN acronym to relay what just happened. He wanted to download the app so he could share his faith with his wife that night.
I wondered about the Muslim connection, so I asked, “What country are your parents from?”
He said, “Mexico. Born and raised.”
“Then how did you get the name Muhammad?” I asked.
He looked at the nameplate on the desk and then said, “Oh, this is not my desk.”
Well, he wasn’t a Muslim, but he was in the Red Zone, and God put us together. By asking the question, “What is your church background?” I found out where he was on his spiritual journey and that he was open to a relationship with Christ.
God bless you.