Transcript: Welcome back to another episode of A Clear Lens Podcast. My name’s Nate Sala and I’m glad you’re with us! Whenever I train people to use the first date evangelism method, I also give some quick tips on getting better at using the approach. One of the quick tips that I always suggest that people do is roleplay. That is, they should role play in order to get better at first date evangelism or asking the right kinds of leading questions. Roleplaying is at the very top of the list.

But whenever I mention role playing, there’s this initial moment where the audience gets confused. I get weird reactions. That is, if I’m dealing with a married couple who might be my age or a little bit older, they’ll get this look on their face, it’s almost like I’m asking them to join a swingers club. Because the word role play sort of brings in this idea of pretending to be the mailman to get the romance started.

That’s not what I mean by role play. Or if I’m dealing with teenagers or young adults and younger, it’s almost like they’re thinking in their minds that I’m suggesting they cosplay Magic the Gathering or Lord of the Rings or something. That is not what I mean by role play.

And if that’s the initial reaction that Christians have, I think we need to start introducing this concept more and more in Christian circles. I just don’t think role playing is taken very seriously right now. And that’s unfortunate. Because in the military arena, role playing is vital. In the first responders arena, role playing is essential, even in certain business circles, maybe even in sales, role playing is crucial. I know for me personally, when I went through school for teaching, role playing was a key component of getting better at articulating concepts so that students could
understand.

So what I want to do over the next couple of minutes is just explain what role playing is and give a couple of ways that role playing can benefit Christians. The definition of role playing anticipate situations where you may have conversations about your faith and acting them out with others. So you’re going to think ahead about scenarios that may present themselves in the real world at some point and you’re going to do a run through of those scenarios out loud.

Typically, role playing is accomplished in two ways. You either role play with a friend who is willing to do it; or you role play by yourself. By the way, if you get a friend of yours to role play with you, I would suggest that you get somebody who can think quickly on their feet. Because if you get someone who’s a bit stodgy, maybe a little nervous, you probably are not going to get a fruitful role playing encounter out of that, because your friend’s likely going to run out of things to say fairly quickly. What you want is someone who can think quickly on their feet and give you scenarios and situations that are always fresh and new to deal with, so that you can develop your skills.

But, like I said, if you can’t find somebody to role play with, then I would suggest you simply role play by yourself. You can either, pace across the room, back and forth, and just talk to yourself out loud or you can role play in front of a mirror and pretend that your mirror image is someone else.

Here’s the thing, we all have to do what we need to do to get better at communicating our faith effectively. And role playing, even if it’s by yourself, even if you look like a crazy person WILL get you ready for those real world moments where you need to be on your toes. If you do role play, then you will receive certain benefits and I want to in the last couple minutes give you three of them. Now, this is not an exhaustive list, because I think there are more benefits than these. But here are three that I think are important to note.

Number one, role playing builds confidence. The reason a lot of people get uncomfortable with sharing the faith or even defending the faith is because if you’re not prepared, it’s new and kind of difficult. Especially if you’re really trying your best to be effective. But the great thing about being able to get into a safe environment and running through scenarios over and over is: if you continue to do it over time, your confidence is going to build because the process is going to become easier. As a matter of fact, if you role play enough, you’ll become so comfortable that you can start doing it with your eyes closed, so to speak. That’s because the fear factor largely disappears and is replaced with confidence. The confidence from doing an activity that you’ve done over and over and over again. Familiarity breeds confidence.

Number two, role playing makes you a better speaker. How many of you in the past have wanted to say something profound, but then when you started to, halfway through, you trail off because you’re looking for a word but couldn’t find it. Or what about this? How many of you when you’re trying to speak for the first time, you start and stop and start and stop, stutter and mumble and fumble your way through your message. It almost sounds like an engine sputtering out and dying or something! Ha! And it’s happens to the best of us! And it’s just not pretty.

The reason we do all of that is because we’re not familiar with the message that we want to communicate. But, again, familiarity will breed confidence and familiarity will also make you a better speaker. That is, once you get your message down… and you say it over and over and over again, you’ll find different ways of communicating the same idea. It’ll just come naturally to you. And saying the same thing again and again, to the point where you can actually do it in your sleep, so to speak, is that you’ll stop stuttering and mumbling and stumbling. You’ll stop searching for words and trailing off. Look this is true for me in the classroom. I teach the same lesson over and over again in periods throughout the day. There’s a significant difference between how I get through a lesson in my first period of the day and the last period of the day. It’s because I’ve been through over and over! It flows much more naturally, I don’t forget and trail off… at the end of the day I’ve already practiced saying the same thing over and over.

So, again, the benefit of role playing is that it will make more confident in your message, it will also make you a better communicator. And finally, role playing makes you creative. Now, here’s why I say that: there is something that happens to us when we do a particular activity over and over and over again. You begin to look at the same thing in a fresh and new way.

For example, whenever I would hear skeptics complain that that the Bible is too violent, or God is is too malevolent. And they would always go to Old Testament verses as proof texts to support this. I would always follow them down that rabbit trail; and provide some historical context or an overall apologetics as to why these verses  the unbelievers appear as they do. And I still think that that’s valid. It just really depends on the person. But one day I was roleplaying that same kind of push back with a friend and I was finally able to approach the issue from another angle. I kind of zoomed out a little bit and realized something. What skeptics do when they point out things about the Bible that they don’t like is they’re skipping a primary question in order to focus on a secondary one. And here’s the primary question they need to start off with: Is the Bible true? That’s where they need to begin. Not do I like what happened back in the Old Testament? But is this book even true at all? Because if it’s not true and I don’t like what it says, then it doesn’t matter. But if it is true and I don’t like what it says, it matters big time! 

And I never really saw that until I went over the same issue again and again through role playing. So again, role playing makes you more confident, makes you a better speaker, and it makes you creative.

I’ll end with a quick story. I have a friend who was relaxing on the couch and he heard a noise and realized that someone was trying to break into his house. Now this was pretty frightening, particularly because the intruder was trying to break the window and enter the room where his little baby girl was sleeping. And so my friend raced to the safe to try to get to his gun, but when he punched in the code to open the safe, he failed on three separate occasions. The first three times he failed. It was only on the fourth attempt that he finally was able to open up the safe, get his weapon and chase after the intruder.

The reason that he said he fumbled around was because was not prepared. His hands were
shaking, his his blood was pumping, the heart was beating and he was nervous, he had not practiced ahead of time in order to think clearly through a real world situation that mattered. Role playing can fix that ladies and gentlemen and I strongly encourage you to do it as much as you can!