When was the last time you shared your faith with an unbeliever? Unfortunately, if you’re like most Christians, it’s probably been much too long ago – if ever. You may protest that you’re not a natural evangelist, but God calls every Christian to spread the Gospel.
Helping to fulfill the Great Commission can seem like a daunting task. But the God who calls you will also empower you to do it. Here’s how you can evangelize without fear:
* Remember that you can’t fail. Know that God will bless your obedience whenever you share the Gospel with someone – whether or not that person responds. Understand that you are not responsible for causing a person’s heart to turn toward God; it’s God alone who draws people toward Himself. Realize that you may never know how your efforts ultimately affected someone’s life. Even if he or she doesn’t begin a relationship with Christ right after talking with you, you’ve likely planted seeds of faith that can grow into a moment of salvation sometime later.
* Overcome your fears. Don’t worry about not being able to evangelize; trust in the power of the Holy Spirit working through you to make your efforts effective. Remember that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives inside you, so you lack nothing to get the job done. Know that if people reject your message, they’re not rejecting you personally; they’re rejecting Jesus. Be assured that even if you mess up the way you share the Gospel (such as with awkward words or poor timing), God can still use your efforts to accomplish good purposes. Remember that sharing the Gospel with your family and friends is the most loving thing you can do for them. Be willing to take whatever personal risks are necessary to do so. Get to know your coworkers to see if their hearts are open to hearing the gospel, and if so, invite them to lunch, your home, or church to give them the message. Realize that you don’t have to be an expert on the Bible to faithfully share the Gospel’s simple message. Drop your excuses and trust God to help you.
* Pray for God to place people in your path. Ask God to show you which of the people around you He wants you to reach. Get to know where God is working, and decide to join Him. Pray daily for God to give you opportunities to share the gospel.
* Make non-Christian friends. Don’t limit your relationships to just other believers. Realize that God calls you to go out into the world and build friendships with non-Christians that can ultimately lead to their salvation. Never ignore the coincidence of the people God has placed in your life. Reach out to people on the basis of common interests, to pray for them, to serve them, and in any other ways, as God leads you. Remember that you’re limited only by your creativity and desire to please God. Ask God to help you successfully represent Christians through the way you live your life. Strive to be open, vulnerable, caring, honest, courageous, and loving.
* Pray for unbelievers. Be sure to pray for people before you share the Gospel with them. Pray in advance of planned meetings, and for chance encounters, pray silently during the meeting. Make a list of unbelievers to pray for every day – people you know personally, as well as famous people whom God has put on your heart. And don’t forget to pray for yourself as you continue to evangelize. Pray that God will keep giving you opportunities to share His message, that He’ll help you love others, that He’ll cause others to see Christ’s spirit living in you, that He’ll help you be bold, and that He’ll give you the power you need to keep doing His will.
* Be prepared to respond to common objections. Whenever people with whom you’re sharing aren’t yet ready to begin a relationship with Christ, be prepared to address their concerns. Think and pray in advance about common objections, such as these: “I’m not ready.”, “My friends will think I’m crazy if I accept Jesus.”, “What about my family?”, “I’ve done too many bad things.”, “I’m having too much fun.”, “Why does God let bad things happen?”, “There are many paths to God.”, “There are many religions in the world.”, “I’ve always believed in God.”, “There are too many hypocrites in the church.”, “A Christian hurt me.”, “God can’t forgive me.”, “I don’t want to think about it.”, “I’m a good person.,” “You can’t possibly know what truth is.” and “You must think you’re better than me.”
* Ask probing questions. When talking with people, insert questions into your conversations to try to determine how God is at work in their lives and whether or not their hearts are open to Him. Five key questions to ask are: “Do you have any kind of spiritual beliefs?”, “To you, who is Jesus Christ?”, “Do you think there is a heaven or hell?”, “If you died, where would you go? If heaven, why?”, and “If what you are believing is not true, would you want to know?” While someone is answering these questions, don’t say anything in response except “Hmmmmm.” Listen attentively as the person speaks for clues of how close his or her heart is to God.
* Share Scripture. Unleash the mighty power of God’s Word, remembering that faith comes from hearing its message. Ask the person with whom you’re meeting to read these seven key Bible passages aloud to you, in order: Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, John 3:3, John 14:6, Romans 10:9-11, 2 Corinthians 5:15, and Revelation 3:20. As he or she is reading, trust the Holy Spirit to convict the person’s heart. After each passage, ask the person, “What does this say to you?” and watch God at work. Don’t say anything yourself; let God’s Word speak for Him without interference. Simply nod and continue listening.
* Lead to a decision. After sharing the Scripture passages, ask the person five more questions to lead him or her to make a decision about Christ: “Are you a sinner?”, “Do you want forgiveness of sins?”, “Do you believe Jesus died on the cross for you and rose again?”, “Are you willing to surrender your life to Jesus Christ?” and “Are you ready to invite Jesus into your life and into your heart?”. Listen attentively, and after asking the last question, be silent to give the person plenty of time to think. While you’re waiting, pray silently for God to draw the person into a relationship with Him. If the person replies “no,” be sure to ask why and listen carefully, demonstrating love. If the person says “yes,” lead him or her in a salvation prayer and rejoice!
* Begin the discipleship process. Recognize that new believers need help getting them on the path to spiritual growth and a deeper relationship with Christ. Make sure they know that Christ has paid for all of their sins and doesn’t remember any of them anymore, and that Christ lives in their heart. Pray with them and encourage them to talk with God regularly. Ask them who has been praying for them up until this point in their lives, and urge them to visit church with one of those people – or with you. Encourage them to read the Gospel of John. Promise to call them soon to see if the Bible has come alive for them.
Adapted from Share Jesus without Fear, copyright 1999 by William Fay with Linda Evans Shepherd. Published by Broadman & Holman Publishers, Nashville, Tn., www.broadmanholman.com.
William Fay was once a money-driven businessman with Mafia ties who ran a house of prostitution until it was raided by the police. Faced with the threat of jail time, he turned to Jesus Christ for redemption and ever since has been turning others to Him as well. Fay is currently chaplain with the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency, host of the internationally syndicated radio show “Let’s Go,” and resides with his wife in Ft. Myers, Florida.
Linda Evans Shepherd is an award-winning author and a popular speaker for women’s retreats around the United States. She and her family live in Longmont, Colorado.