One of the major struggles with evangelism is trying to get into a conversation with a stranger. Thoughts of what to talk about, how to swing from the natural to the spiritual, and all the awkwardness flood our minds. With that being said, nothing is easier than Picture Taking Evangelism (PTE).
What is Picture Taking Evangelism?
When you are out and about at an event with friends and family you want to get that perfect picture with your besties to literally capture the moment for years to come. The problem with that is sometimes it is almost impossible to do that without someone not involved in your party. You awkwardly extend your arm trying to hold your phone out while trying to get your finger to work to hit the button. It slips or you get a cramp. Take one quickly turns into take five, and the mood extinguished by the frustration of taking that perfect pic. Luckily if you play your cards right, you can find someone who has done this before and is able to get the right shot.
We can love and help our neighbor while honoring God at the same time. PTE in a nutshell is taking pictures of people with their phone or camera in order to provide a service to them and open door to share God’s Word.
How Picture Taking Evangelism works.
In evangelism, everything starts with the senses that God gave us. If you are at an event, take time to observe people taking pictures. Find the places that people gravitate to and take those perfect shots. Throughout history, humans gravitate towards water for sustainability, as well as beauty. Places like Niagra Falls, the beach, cruises, and so on; many people love the water, and is a popular place to be. Wherever there is water, start there.
Preparing to approach.
In order to get the perfect shot and be ready to make the transition from the natural to the spiritual, you have to be prepared to do it as quickly as possible. First, put your gospel tracts in your back right pocket, your go-to’s that you want to start with first. In your left pocket, put your follow up stuff or non-gospel related items. This can be brochures of the event you are at, informational things like maps, historical background or even information on the best restaurants in the area. If you don’t have anything about the event you are at, maybe some gospels of John would be a good choice. Only keep a few items at a time to make grabbing them as simple as possible to limit the fumbling for these items as flawless as possible.
Once you have a good fishing hole, it’s time to cast in a line. When people approach the spot and get out a phone or camera, they will try to get a shot. Some will extend their arm for a selfie; others will have one person take a picture of their friend and then switch. That’s when you move in, but do it quickly.
“I can take that for you if you’d like.” Most of the time people will fumble like crazy getting their camera app up and ready on their phone and hand it to you. Sometimes you can even say, “Would you like a picture together?” “How about celebrating this moment in one shot?” or “You look like a very happy couple, how about I take that for you and celebrate the moment together?”
With care, make sure you have a good hold of the camera or phone. Getting the shot is easy. It’s best not to zoom or expand with the phone, but rather walk closer or further from your target. Place your subjects on one side of the photo with a nice background on the other. It’s good to get a few shots: one vertical, one horizontal, one showing head to feet, and another closer. With that, you can never go wrong.
After I take the picture, I say something nice to say about the picture I took. When I was at Tulip Time around the canal area, I would say, “Now you can make Christmas cards with the photo you took on your European vacation.” When they look at the picture, the background really does look like they are in another country. People are always happy when they see it and are thrilled that you helped them out.
When my friend, Jon, tried this, he used some humor during the shot. He would get closer and closer to the point when you can tell there’s no way you can get a good shot, unless it’s one of their eyeball. People would get a good laugh and make them smile.
Ask them if they live in the area or from around there. If they are not, start with the information in your left pocket with a brochure or information about the area and describe what you are giving them. During Tulip Time we had brochures on the history of Pella, or Pella’s Biblical roots, which shared the gospel on the back. People really enjoyed learning about the area and why the big deal about the event.
If they are from the area, you can ask them if they go to church around town, or introduce a million-dollar bill tract and say, “Thanks a million. It’s great when you get the change.” Use humor as much as possible to lighten up the mood. But either way, give the gospel tract and tell them what it is. “It’s a million-dollar bill and has the million-dollar question on the back.” Now you are into a spiritual conversation.
What if they don’t want you to take the picture?
There are many reasons why they may not want you to take it and none of your business to know why. Don’t take it personal. Simply acknowledge with a, “Sure, no problem. Have a nice day/evening,” and move on.
If I believe I can get away with it I’ll use some humor to get a second chance at it. Sometimes I’ll say, “Don’t worry, I think you can catch me.” As big as I am, it’s kind of true, and people laugh. Other times I will say, “There are two things my wife says I do really well: take pictures and pick out watermelon. It is true. Very few times in my life have I picked a bad watermelon. I learned from the best — Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model, Martha Stewart.
While I was at the edge of the canal at Tulip Time, a woman was very direct that she didn’t want me to take a picture. I prayed in my head that the Lord would give me some wisdom. I said, “Don’t worry, I won’t ask you to take off your shoes and get in the water for a better shot while I take off with your phone.”
She laughed out loud and said, “How did you know National Lampoon’s European Vacation was my favorite movie!”
I responded, “I don’t know, but I know who does. I’ll introduce him to you.” Intrigued, she couldn’t wait for me to take the picture and I had an easy in to share the gospel and introduce her to Jesus Christ.
Be creative and have fun
Humor is always your friend if you use it wisely. It eases people’s minds and lightens the mood. It can get you out of jams and diffuse arguments — not being insulting.
It’s good to be yourself, and find new and creative ways to share the gospel. With this method you can put your own spin on it to be even extra helpful. Instead of saying, “Cheese!” say something that is impossible to pronounce or a word in another language.
Make your own tracts for these special picture taking moments. This can include:
- That the picture is an image of them, but we are made in the image of God.
- How beautiful God’s creation is, and how they are a part of that creation.
- The history of saying, “Cheese!” when taking pictures.
- List of great restaurants in the area, and how food is a blessing of God that we can use to create unique recipes.
If people know you are a local when they are not, it can create an environment to open up a door so they can ask you questions about the area, nightlife, or attractions. This continues the conversation and adds trust and helpfulness in you.
Add your ideas to the comments below. I would love to hear your opinion and stories of how you incorporated this conversation starter tactic in your evangelism outings.
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