One of the scriptures that drives our First Impressions Team is Colossians 4:5-6:
Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
While it’s true that Paul was writing this verse in the context of evangelism, it’s also true that the end goal of a weekend First Impressions team ought to be connecting people towards the gospel. That means that every weekend, with every guest, in every conversation, and at every opportunity, we ought to be prepared to flip a switch from parking cars to sharing the gospel. Or from finding a seat to sharing the gospel. Or from pouring coffee or opening doors or taking up offering or handing out pens to sharing the gospel.
We have to remember that it’s not either/or. It’s both/and. We demonstrate the gospel in order to have a platform to proclaim the gospel. We do the tasks of a First Impressions team so that we can do the work of an evangelist. We lay the foundation so we can build a conversation.
Our staff just finished reading Bill Hybels’ Just Walk Across the Room, an incredibly practical guide to living evangelistically in our every day relationships. Here’s his take on Colossians 4:
Look, we can’t bust these doors open – only God can do that. But once he does, we’ve just got to make the message clear to people! Please hear me: you must stop doing damage to the cause! Stop acting unwisely toward unbelievers. Toss out any obnoxious, overzealous, superiority-clad verbiage and actions that push people away! Just – be – wise. Be emotionally and relationally intelligent. Be sensitive. Pray and listen before you preach. Exercise great care when you tell your story, when you tell God’s story.
Walk in wisdom. Be prepared for every opportunity. And watch for God to bust some doors open.