____________________ We know that salvation is a gift from God that we do not earn. But it is a gift that must be received. And it can only be received with empty hands, but there is a transaction by which what he gives actually becomes yours. And that's the point....
If you’ve ever wrestled with the idea of sharing your faith with those around you, let me assure you you’re not alone.
As an introvert, I’ve spent years of my life trying to fly under the radar and to avoid having awkward or confrontational conversations about faith. Yet when I got serious about my faith several years ago, I felt the Spirit burdening my heart for the lost.
I still think I’m a lousy evangelist, but I’ve learned a few things I think will be a source of encouragement to you in your pursuit to tell others about Jesus.
Two Truths about Evangelism
Before we proceed, let’s get a couple of things out in the open.
1. Sharing our faith is a critical component of the Christian life.
A recent Barna study found that only 64% of Christians believe it is the responsibility of every Christian to share his or her faith with others, a 25% drop from the same question asked 25 years prior.
But the Bible is clear on evangelism. Take Matthew 28:19 for example. Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
And consider 2 Corinthians 5:19-20, which reads, “In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself … and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us.”
These are just two of many passages promoting evangelism. God has entrusted us with the message of reconciliation, and it’s our job to represent Jesus and carry that message to the world.
2. We cannot save anyone.
Salvation is the work of the Holy Spirit. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try our best to lead people to Jesus, it just means the decision is between the person and God. Our job is to present the decision to the unbeliever. It is up to him or her to respond.
Four Things to Help You Evangelize
With those two foundations in place, here are some practical steps for sharing the gospel:
1. Practice Empathy
Just after Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the Lord wept over the city. He knew the devastation that would come because of the messianic misconceptions held by the Jewish people, and it broke His heart. He wept for the people because He had the peace they were looking for, but they rejected Him (See Luke 19).
Effective evangelism begins with empathy. Jesus cried because He truly cared about people. They weren’t just a checkbox on His list or an annoying obligation He had to fulfill. These were real people who needed Him for life.
Prayer could be an item on just about any checklist, but it is especially critical here. Approach God in the following ways and see what happens.
Ask Him to open your eyes to opportunities to share your worldview or invite others to church. Pray for those at work and school whom you know need Jesus. Ask the Spirit to prepare their hearts to be receptive to the gospel. Pray that you will receive the right words to say when the time comes.
3. Live with Integrity
Your lifestyle is the best conversation starter you can ever have. When others might fudge on their timesheets but you accurately record your time, people will notice. When you tell the truth even to your detriment, people will take note. When you show kindness to someone who doesn’t deserve it, others will wonder what’s going on.
When they ask you why you act the way you do, then tell them the truth!
4. Invite People to Church
Inviting people to church is the easiest way to introduce them to Christ. If you’ve been in church for even a little while, I bet you have felt the Spirit move in the service. Your pastor spends all week in preparation and prayer for the service; he is God’s mouthpiece for delivering the gospel.
Some might bristle at this suggestion, claiming that invitation is not evangelism or that doing so is a copout for our personal responsibility to share Jesus.
Invitation isn’t the only way we should share Jesus, but it is a great place to start, especially if you’ve never shared your faith before. Sometimes a simple invite is a way to break the ice to have conversations about Jesus.
Once, I invited a co-worker to my church. He asked, “Why would I go to church?” I told him he could learn more about Jesus, and then we had a conversation about my faith.
Not Sure Where to Start?
1.) Use Your Own Story
Using your own story is one of the most powerful ways to share Jesus.
My wife and I fostered and eventually adopted two boys who had been removed from their parents’ home. When people ask about our experience, I get to use that story as a way to tell them about God and the work He’s done in our lives. Some have told me, “You saved those boys’ lives.” And I like to say, “No, God did.”
Every Christian has a story she can tell. I used to think I had no story since I grew up in the church and I surrendered my life to Jesus at a young age. But that’s just a lie the devil likes to tell to keep us quiet.
As Erin K. Casey wrote in her book, Get Personal: The Importance of Sharing Your Faith Story, “Your story is not really about you; it’s about God. . . Your story is simply a way for people to see God more clearly.”
2.) Use Open
Unlocking the Bible has put together a free website that enables Christians to share the God of the Bible with others. It has 50 sessions that take a comprehensive journey through the Bible story, showing how it all points to Jesus Christ.
Check it out, and consider inviting someone you know to go through it with you!