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Workplace Evangelism: Part 4

Author: John Boland
Date: 13.01.2012
Category: Workplace Ministry, Evangelism Training, Unreached People Groups

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Originally Posted in English

                                           MINISTERING THROUGH NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION

How does one minister to people you barley know, between 8 am and 5 pm, so to speak?  People you hardly talk to except at the water cooler and lunch, if that?  Isn’t it frustrating to look around your workplace?  Do most co-workers seem unapproachable and uninterested in things of God? Are they really? How do you know? Is there a way to really read people that well?  Do you just see people at work doing their jobs or are you able to read their relationships, moods and situations?  Are you a good judge of whether someone is sick, sad, happy, experiencing pain, just lost a family member or are content with life? Can you tell if they attend a church or not? In this latest presentation on workplace evangelism, I make the case that each of us, as committed Christians, in order to be effective ministers within our workplace must be able to read the nonverbal messages sent out by others.  How better to minister to people, who you do not know very well, than to read their nonverbal communications? Even God chose to use make nonverbal ways to communicate throughout history in the scriptures[i]  Just in Genesis alone, God used trees, the rainbow, and a fig tree to nonverbally transmit information.

 On their side of the communication network other people let us know what they really want us to understand.  Sometimes, after our conversation, we might perceive it as “hints”.  We realize what they were “trying” to tell us.  Were they were lying to us?  Were they paying attention?  Were they really interested in what is being said?  We can sense hurt feelings, pain and misunderstood messages.   All these and other questions can be answered simply by reading the body language of others and then we can minister more effectively to them based on what we perceive. 


Most dictionaries will define verbal communication as the encoding of messages into words, written or spoken.   In Genesis 11:7-8, God confounded human speech so we would have a hard time understanding one another anyway.  This is why we are having such a hard time communicating verbally.  So what can we expect when nonverbal communication is added into the mix?  Nonverbal includes anything we don’t write or say.  It is said that we communicate in this manner (nonverbally) anywhere between 65[ii] to 92[iii] percent of all our messages.  So it is reasonable that we struggle to understand simple verbal and nonverbal messages when they are in combination in our own language, not to mention when these signals do not agree; or when they come across two or more culture and language lines.

God knows that nonverbally we transmit much about our motives because of the seven things which the He hates and considers vile (Proverbs 6:16-19).  Four of the things He lists are nonverbal: 1) arrogant eyes [facial expression]; 2) hands that shed innocent blood [actions without words]; 3) a heart that devises wicked schemes [body language expressing motive], and 4) feet that are quick to rush into evil [attitude].  The others are verbal: 5) a lying tongue; 6) a false witness; and 7) and those who stir up conflict.

Keywords: nonverbal communication workplace evangelism

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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down rome_15 (0)
United States

Like others have posted, I have worked in retail for years.  I always felt that it would come off wrong if I just started sharing my faith with someone without really getting to know them.  Building relationships with the people that I worked with was the best thing for me.  I was able to show them Christ in my everyday actions rather than preaching to them about something.  I agree with others who have said that without nonverbal components to our ministry, then our ministry will not be as effective.

Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down mah6515 (0)
United States

I have worked in the retail at various points throughout my life since I was 16. Each time I worked with plenty of non-believers. My biggest fear was that I would overstep my boundaries and make them uncomfortable talking about Christ. Because of that, I resorted to nonverbal communication. Since then, I have realized how imperative this form of communication is to ministry. If our ministries do not have nonverbal components, I do not think we will be as affective.

Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down usoteysh (0)
United States
@ mah6515:

I worked in retail for 6 years and God always put people in my path to minister and witness to. One man asked "if I was afraid to witness and minister to people at wortk. I replied "no" because my employers are not in charge , god is. I believe that there are no chance meetings. god puts people in your path for a reason, season, or purpose.

Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down cvaughn15 (0)
United States

I feel like I have a gift for recognizing nonverbal communication.  Lots of times people hide away that which they don’t want others to see.  If we are going to live life together we need to be aware when people are stuggling whether they say so or not.  But it’s also important not to over-analyze every single thing.  Like most things in ministry, it’s a tightrope walk!

Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down rushing777 (0)
United States

I have been a bivocational pastor most of my life. Mostly I worked in retail, at a small store in a mall. All of us were tight knit employees, like family even! So there was lots of verbal communication. However, I wholeheartedly agree that body language is so important, and not always easy to keep positive. But I tried to always show with my body that I was present, happy to be there, and willing to help. And they noticed!

Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down tonydebarrio (0)

This is really cool. But please don’t stay too much in the nonverbal. If you are going to reach people you have to open your mouth sooner or later. It’s better sooner.  Muslims, sects, cults, new age and so on, are not interested in this kind of approach, somehow they are making huge impact in people’s lives.  

Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down John_Boland (0)  
United States
@ tonydebarrio: I understand your position. However, if you can read the body language of other people it helps not only to develop a relationship but opens up an avenue to ministry quicker. As you expressed the idea of verbal communication, I agree! From my series of writings I make a case that both are necessary for effect workplace evangelism.

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