Sharing my faith. Why am I so hesitant to do it? As a forgiven follower of Jesus, I am so grateful for Jesus’ saving work, the power of the Holy Spirit in my life, and my faith in a good and loving God who helps me live in a broken world. I want to tell others about what God has done for me. I know that God wants me to tell others and yet I am hesitant and fearful. This is an area that needs improvement in my life.
One of my personal challenges for this year is to be more intentional about sharing my faith, having conversations about faith and pointing others to Jesus. Since this is definitely not one of my strong suits, I decided to reach out for some thoughts and advice from a few friends who do this well. Special thanks to Richard Sharp, international trainer and evangelist with Operation Mobilization (and my uncle!), and two anonymous friends for their openness and ideas about sharing your faith, much of this post is a reflection of the ideas they shared.
There are a bunch of great ideas below so to make it more helpful I group them into three categories: attitude, conversations, and relationships.
Understand your shortcomings and pray for help to overcome them. Richard really hit the nail on the head for me personally saying, “My two biggest issues in evangelism: I care more about me than about other people and I care more what people think about me than they think about my Lord.” I don’t know about you but that really hit me, those are probably my two biggest issues. I put my own feelings, my own reputation, my own comfort before the needs of others; before their need for salvation. Lord, help me overcome this selfishness and fear and to care for others more than myself. If you are like me, we need to pray that the Holy Spirit will convict us of this and give us power to overcome this shortcoming.
Understand your responsibility. When it comes to sharing your faith, it is helpful to understand what God has actually made you responsible for. You are not responsible for that person’s decision to follow Christ or not. In Ezekiel 36:26-27 God promises, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” In John 6:44 Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” This should be an encouragement to us! We are not responsible for people’s decision to follow Jesus. We are responsible for sharing the Gospel, the changing of someone’s heart is the work of God.
Find a way that works for you. There are many different strategies and ways to share your faith. This post can give you some ideas, I’m sure there are others, but you want to find the best way for you to share your faith. What works for someone else, may not be the best way for you. Find a way or a few ways that work best for your personality, gifts, audience, and context. “Those who have a way to share Christ, share him more often than those who have no way,” says Richard.
Pray. John 16:8-11 says, “When [the Holy Spirit] comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.” Praying gives us a passion to look for opportunities to share and it just might plow the rocky path, till the shallow soil, and pull up the weeds that prevent the Gospel from bearing fruit in your friends’ lives.
Be patient. We don’t know God’s timing or how he is using the discussions. If your friend is open to continuing to discuss things, then keep up the conversations. You may not even be the one who leads them to Christ, maybe you are just “putting a pebble in their shoe” as Greg Koukl says. Giving them an idea that they can help continuing to think about.
Be a learner and seeker of truth yourself. If your friend asks challenging questions, then you should be challenged to seek and understand the truth for yourself as well. Discussing and defending your faith in Jesus will force you to think about and articulate your beliefs in new ways. This should put you in the position of a learner seeking truth and seeking evidence for your beliefs.
Share how God is active in your life. God promises in Acts 1:8, “You will be my witnesses.” As we go through suffering, the tendency is to hide the pain for fear our lack of answers will betray our faith in God. On the contrary, seekers are watching to see if our faith wavers in the face of suffering. When we are helpless, and God brings his mighty power to your situation, this is an opportunity to give them a front row seat of God’s power, wisdom, and love.
Sharpen your reasoning. Apologetics is the practice of being “prepared… to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15). Research five good reasons to believe in God (cosmological, teleological, moral, existential and Christological arguments) and five facts of the resurrection of Jesus (empty tomb, new teaching, disciples’ reversal, multiple eye witness reports, rapid expansion of the Church). Perhaps you could learn some of the best reasons to begin looking into Christianity. Prepare your testimony and a short Gospel presentation. Then practice with a friend to get them down to a few minutes each.
Use helpful evangelistic tools. Using aids to help open and guide a conversation has been a helpful way of sharing Christ for many, many years. The “Wordless Book” has been used since the mid-1800s by many such as Charles Spurgeon, D.L. Moody, Hudson Taylor, and Amy Carmichael. A newer evangelism aid is “One Wish”, created by Richard Sharp, which begins by asking two simple questions. Simple evangelism aids have helped many believers share their faith with others.
Ask spiritual questions. People are searching for meaning and a depth of living that only Christ can fill. Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them,” (John 7:38). Asking questions helps people realize the lies of the enemy like: we are the result of meaningless random evolution; right and wrong are relative; God is dead or just doesn’t care; and our shameful past makes it too late for us. Richard asks people, “if you could wish one thing from God today for you, what would that be?” and then says a simple one sentence prayer for them. Other examples of questions are:
- What is your religious background?
- Can I pray for you about that?
- Why do you think that is true?
- Why is that so important to you?
- Have you considered what God says about that?
- Would you consider yourself a spiritual person?
Ask questions that can lead to spiritual conversations. You can easily ask questions that will allow you to turn a conversation towards spiritual things. Questions such as “What are you passionate about?” or “What are the most important things in your life?” can help you get to know the person better and open up opportunities to share your own responses.
Make the relationship a priority. The friend you are sharing the Gospel with or discussing the faith should know that you care about them, they are not your “project” and that your friendship isn’t dependent on their response to your discussions. As one of my friends put it, “It’s better to make a difference than a point. Meaning: I’m not trying to win the argument, I’m trying to win them to Christ.”
Serve the lost around you. Lend a hand to a new neighbor moving in. Bring a meal to a co-worker going through medical difficulties. Drive your children’s unchurched friend to youth group. Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven,” (Matthew 5:16). Loving and serving others can open up opportunities to share our faith.
Disciple them. Unchurched friends might not be interested in a Bible study, but they might come to a small group about Spiritual Advice for Marriage, or Parenting, or a safe group to discuss matters of Faith and Reason. Twenty-seven percent of Americans label themselves as “spiritual but not religious”. In Matthew 28, Jesus commissions us to make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey everything he said. Create comfortable opportunities for your friends to interact on spiritual matters.
Invite friends to church with you. Holidays such as Christmas and Easter are times where people seem more open to trying church and the message will be more directed towards seekers. However, the main reason they would go to a social event where they don’t know anyone is your friendship.
Introduce your non-Christian friends to other Christians. This brings other voices of truth into their lives and other examples of Christian living and testimony. As they interact with more Christians they should start to see that there is something different about us that is attractive to them.
I hope these ideas provoke some personal reflection as well as provide some ideas to help you be more intentional with how you share your faith. This is an area I need to improve myself so I am grateful for my three friends for sharing their thoughts and ideas. Thank you for praying for me as I seek to grow in this area and I pray for you that you may also confidently share the love and truth of Jesus with those around you!