Some Christians are convinced we should try to get to the gospel in every encounter. Go for the gold. Press for the decision. Close the deal. I think the impulse is right-hearted, of course, but it’s wrongheaded for a good reason. Most people we encounter are not ripe for harvest. Don’t get me wrong. Harvesting is critical. There would be no kingdom expansion without it. But there would be no harvesting without good gardening, so without the spadework, there’s no kingdom growth, either.

That’s why when I’m in a conversation I hope will lead to spiritual matters, I never have it as an immediate objective to lead that person to Christ. Instead, I make it my modest goal to try, as I like to put it, to put a stone in an unbeliever’s shoe. I focus my efforts on giving him just one thing to think about. I don’t worry about the endgame, but instead try to do some spadework.—Greg Koukl (from, How to Be a Gardener and Ambassador for Christ: An Interview with Gregory Koukl)