Jon Acuff (of Stuff Christians Like fame) describes what a Jesus juke is, "Like a football player juking you at the last second and going a different direction, the Jesus Juke is when someone takes what is clearly a joke filled conversation and completely reverses direction into something serious and holy." Jesus juking, depending on the severity, can turn a light hearted conversation into a party pooper's paradise.
This is exactly what you DON'T want to do when you are seeking to share the gospel with someone. You want to make a smooth segue into the subject of salvation in a way that the person you are talking with doesn't feel, well, juked or spooked.
Last night on a plane ride home from Houston I was sitting in the exit row with another guy. He worked for the airlines and we talked about his life on the road, his workout routine (we're both doing Insanity) and our families. When we were 30 minutes or so from landing, I was praying about how to turn the conversation spiritual without resorting to the juke. I remembered that earlier in the conversation he gave me some workout videos on a flashdrive to watch. The Holy Spirit used his gift to spark an idea. I said, "Hey, you gave me some videos, I'd like to give you one too."
I gave him the www.lifein6words.com website and told him that on this site he could watch the best spoken word presentation of the gospel I'd ever seen. I told him about my friend Jason Petty (aka "Propaganda") and how great he was at sharing the gospel via spoken word. He seemed genuinely intrigued and opened up to me about wanting to find a church. He told me that he really wanted to get his three year old daughter into church and that his wife wanted to find one as well.
Soon we were talking about the gospel in a very natural way. Before we got off the plane he told me he was really looking forward to watching the spoken word video by Propaganda.
As I reflect back on this conversation I see four things that happened to make a natural segue to the subject of salvation. Maybe these four actions will help you as well:
1. Just start talking.
Introduce yourself and be cordial. Ask questions, listen deeply and be genuinely interested in what they have to say. Ask them questions about what they do for a living and for fun. Talk to them about their family, interests and passions.
2. Look for areas of common interest.
The conversation on the plane really started to ignite when we both started talking about the Insanity work out program. He was really into it and so was I. We compared notes, talked about trying to do Insanity in hotel rooms and how it would was disruptive to anybody rooming on the floor right beneath you. It was here when the ice was broken and he really started to open up and talk.
3. Pray for God to open your eyes to a way to bring up the Gospel naturally.
As we were getting to the end of the flight I was getting twitchy because I hadn't shared the gospel yet. But I didn't want to just grind the gears and yank the steering wheel toward the subject of Jesus (without using the clutch anyway.) So I prayed. As a result, God's Spirit prompted me to remember the videos this guy had given me and that I could use these videos as a way to talk about the Life in 6 Words video.
If you pray, stay dependent on the Spirit and just start a conversation you'll be shocked how many times there are natural salvation segues you can take to turn the subject spiritual in a very natural way. Ask God to open the door and He will. Here's how the apostle Paul put it in Colossians 4:3-6,"And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."
Paul's goal wasn't to puke the gospel onto everyone and juke conversations unnaturally toward Jesus. He wanted his conversations to be "full of grace" and "seasoned with salt." He wanted to be as smooth as possible so that those he was sharing with would really hear the message of the gospel without being turned off by how he brought it up. For a great example of Paul making a salvation segue check out Acts 17:16-34.
4. Don't chicken out at the last minute.
There have been many times in my life where that door of opportunity has been cracked opened and I slammed it shut at the last minute. Whether it was the social awkwardness of dropping the "J bomb" too early on someone or just opting out because of fear, there have been more times than I'd like to admit where I forsook an opportunity to share the good news. Yes, even "the Dare 2 Share guy" chickens out sometimes. I regret those missed opportunities deeply.
So seize the moment when God opens the door and turn the conversation toward Jesus in the most natural way you can. Even if your salvation segues are clunky at first, remember that "love covers a multitude of sins"...and awkwardness.
Love, listen and then take the leap.
But try not juking.