My recommendation is, instead of trying to convince someone they need to come to Jesus, or to shame them into attending worship, or castigating them for being “heathen,” try a different approach. Listen to them.

Have you ever known exactly what someone needed to do in order to accomplish a certain task? Did you tell them they were doing it incorrectly and then explain what they needed to do?

Depending on the situation and the person, the intervention may have been well received. On the other hand, there may have been strong resistance and resentment.

It is important for us Christians to share the good news of Jesus Christ, how he can, will and does forgive sins. It is important for us to demonstrate the love he has for all his children.

But how do many react when a zealous Christian tells another person what they must do to receive eternal life — without even knowing anything about that person? They shut them down.

Personally, I am offended when someone starts witnessing to me and telling me I’m a sinner and need Jesus in my heart. The truth of the matter is, I have Jesus in my heart. I believe fully my sins are constantly being forgiven. And if he had bothered to ask, I would have told him this right upfront, and we could have prayed together for those that he would meet who didn’t know Jesus.

Many years ago in my ministry, I literally went door to door to meet people and invited them to come to worship.

After introducing myself, I would ask if they attended worship services anywhere. If they said yes, I offered a word of encouragement and blessing, tell them I was looking only for those who didn’t have a church home, and walked on.

If someone replied that they used go to church but didn’t anymore, I would respond with, “However the church may have hurt you, I would simply ask your forgiveness.” When people stop attending worship, it is often because of something that was done or not done, said or not said.

My response usually caught people off guard. It allowed them to stop and think just a little bit about why they were bitter toward the church.

Sometimes I was invited into a deeper conversation. Most often the person simply said, “Thank you.” I would invite them to come to worship for a special Sunday celebration we were having, and then move on.

It was not an easy task. I was laughed at, chased by dogs, had rocks thrown at me, and was even cursed at.

My recommendation is, instead of trying to convince someone they need to come to Jesus, or to shame them into attending worship, or castigating them for being “heathen,” try a different approach.

Listen to them. Find out where the hurt is. Be the instrument through whom the love and grace of Jesus Christ can flow.

The Rev. Mark Broadhead is pastor at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview.