Sharing our faith can be intimidating, however it is something that Jesus clearly commanded us to do. Studies show that about ninety percent of professed believers admit that they have never shared their faith with anybody. I recently wrote a blog explaining how I believe that the main reason that people don't share their faith is because of fear of rejection. I also believe that many Christians simply feel they just don’t know how to.
Here are ten observations I have learned over the years concerning sharing our faith with others. I don’t pretend to have it all figured out nor do I claim to be an “expert” in this field. I have simply picked on a few tips through trial and error. I have also had the luxury of reading a few books as well as having some really great mentors! So as we go and be obedient to what Christ has commanded here are some things we should keep in mind.
1. Sharing through conversation is best!
I believe that God can use any method, however based on my experience and also feedback from those whom I have talked to, this is the best approach. I am not a big fan of other methods such as handing out tracts or open air preaching, although I am not completely against those things. I worked as a server for over two years and we received tracts all of the time and honestly most people never even read them. Most of the time if I ever give someone a tract it is after I have already had a conversation with them. Like I said God can use anything but I think that engaging someone in a conversation is the more fruitful approach. Also this is the method we see predominantly in the New Testament. Jesus actually sat down and had a conversation with the Samaritan woman, and had meals with outcasts of society. We have allowed the media to portray us as though we are all like the Westboro Baptist crazies! So let’s counter that by actually showing love like Christ did! Let’s put down our picket signs, get off of our stumps, and actually lovingly talk to those whom Jesus has called us to engage.
2. There is power in sharing your story!
Nobody can tell your story better than you can! You may be wondering where to start with sharing your faith. A great place to start is sharing what Christ has done in your own life. People can relate to that very well! We see in Scripture where Paul shared his story several times! You may think that if you came to Christ at an early age and never did drugs or jail time that you really don’t have much of a story to share. However, if you came to Christ then that means you were once spiritually dead and now Jesus has raised you to life! That my friends is powerful and must be shared! If we truly have been transformed by the gospel we should be more than excited to share our testimony!
3. Awkwardness cannot be avoided!
You may say that sharing our faith just gets too awkward and you are correct! Anytime we talk about Jesus things are going to get awkward and that just cannot be avoided. There is something about the name Jesus that really causes a reaction out of people whether good or bad. That is why I can hardly contain myself from laughing when some people attempt to insinuate that Jesus was just a normal man who lived one day but was nothing more. Sharing our faith WILL be awkward I promise but we need to accept that and deal with it! We are talking about where someone will spend eternity! I don’t want to stand before God while giving an account and my excuse for not sharing be that it was just too awkward! Jesus is worth more than that!
4. We don’t always have to have all the answers!
I believe that one of the fears of many is that they will be asked a question that they will not be able to answer. They feel because they don’t have a theological degree or haven’t read the Bible from cover to cover that they aren’t equipped! The truth is that often we will encounter being asked a question that we will not know the answer to. When I experience this I just tell them that I don’t know but I will look into it and get back with them. I also honestly tell them that I don’t have all the answers because I don’t! Most people actually appreciate our honesty and authenticity in this, to say that we are not God and we don’t know everything. We should try to grow and learn as much as we can but also realize that only God truly knows all and we should be up front about this as we witness!
5. We don’t have to control the conversation!
I have learned over the years that sometimes the less I talk while sharing my faith the better! Sometimes our best approach is to just shut up!!! When we talk with people about their beliefs and where they are spiritually we should allow them to talk! Sometimes we treat witnessing like it’s a rehearsed spill and we never allow the other person to talk! Let them talk and that shows them that you actually care about them and it gives you a better idea where they are and you will know how best to direct the conversation! Also if you are willing to hear them out they will be more willing to hear you out!
Often while sharing our faith we are so focused on what we are going to say we don’t listen to what they are saying. While they are talking we need to listen to them instead of just thinking about what we are going to say next. I know I tend to do that in any conversation and have to constantly remind myself to actually listen. Trust me, they will know if we are listening. This goes back to the part about showing them that we care about them by being willing to hear them out. Listen to them no matter how bizarre their beliefs may or may not be. I talked with a guy one time who told me that he believed after we die, we just kind of float away into outer space. He went on for about three minutes explaining this in detail. As crazy as it sounded, he truly believed every word he was saying. Since I respectfully listened, he was willing to listen to me respond by sharing with him the gospel of Jesus Christ!
7. Every encounter will be different!
Every person you will ever talk to will be different and be in different circumstances. Because of this there is really no set way to share our faith. Many just want a specific mapped out plan for how to witness to people and there are many books that offer that. The problem is that people and their circumstances are different so what may work for one person but will not be applicable with another. Also if we approach someone with a pre-planned strategy for what we are going to say it will come across as a rehearsed speech and people will pick up on that, and we will lose authenticity. As I said yesterday, there is something people appreciate about just being real and even vulnerable. Every person we witness to will be different and we should just let the spirit lead us as we talk with them.
8. We should speak truth but have a humble and compassionate approach!
Christians have not done a very good job with this on both sides of the coin. As believers we are still human so we tend to gravitate toward extremes and this is no exception! Many seem to think that to love we must dumb down truth, and others think that in order to speak truth we must be a jerk about it! I am sick and tired of this false dichotomy of truth and love being at war with each other because they are not. We must find a proper biblical balance of both! It is not unloving to tell a person that they are a sinner before a holy God, as long as we let them know that Jesus paid for that sin on the cross because of his love for sinners! The whole point of telling someone about sin is not to point fingers, but to lead into the love of God that was shown on Calvary. Also as we talk to people we need to remember that it is only by the grace of God that we are not in their position. Often we forget this and it leads to a lack of compassion for those far from God. We need to pray that God would remove from us any self-righteous tendencies and replace them with love and compassion for these people that Jesus died for. Our hearts should break for the lost and hurting and should lead us toward compassion for them!
9.We should be prayed up beforehand!
Any method we may have or utilize is pointless if the spirit of God is not at work. We need to pray that God would prepare the hearts of those we encounter and speak through us. I heard a famous evangelist say once that he prays every time he gets on a plane for the person he will be sitting next to. So we should focus less on strategies and more on being on our face before God and ask Him to work through us.
10. Stick with the gospel!
This is straight forward! We should focus on Jesus and His dead, burial, and resurrection! Let’s stay away from politics and behavior modification! Jesus said to go and make disciples, not republicans or democrats! I am not saying that politics are not important, but many see it as synonymous with the gospel and it is not. Also we are not called to dress people up like we think they should look as Christians. We are to point them to the cross and allow Jesus to transform their hearts. We can easily get sidetracked but we should just stick with the simple gospel of Jesus Christ.