By far, the most common reason why Christians are not actively involved in evangelism is fear. Sometimes we are not even sure why we are so afraid. We just feel this paralyzing stupor that grabs a hold of us once we encounter an opportunity, ask a question, or even when we try to imagine the conversation we are about to have.
This is understandable.
I mean, who would want to lose a friend? Or who wants to look archaic and stupid? And of course, no one wants to be punched in the face. (Ok, I do realize that the last scenario is not likely, but…)
The truth is, we are afraid and simply ignoring this problem will not solve it.
We must deal with it. It might take time. It might take a long time, but little progress is better then no progress at all.
Here are a few tips on how to dissolve your fears.
Believe the Bible
Isn’t this post aimed at believers? Christians, particularly those in reformed circles, are overwhelmed with Biblical resources. We have podcasts, blogs, books, videos, sermons, and conference after conference, followed by even more conferences. This can potentially thin out our faith to the extent that we will not be able to remain in a certain truth long enough for it to form our worldview. I am all for resources, but just finish that book you started! Read it with the mindset of either believing what it has to say or rejecting it! If we read our Bibles at a slower pace, on a deeper level, perhaps even pick up a different version, and give it time to form our convictions about God, humanity, hell, and our Savior, then our faith in Scripture will be strong enough to compel us to share its message with others. Consider that in Romans Paul’s call to action comes only after 11 chapters of deep, essential theological content!
Have you ever seen a teenager who has been granted a driver’s license before obtaining a permit? I know, sometimes I think that there are drivers out there who never had a permit. But typically that’s not the case. A permit is issued for training purposes, in order to prepare safe and confident drivers. When it comes to evangelism, practice is crucial because it forms habits that can help us overcome our fears. Such practice includes observing other people, having others observe you, and helping others evangelize. This is what the church is for (Ephesians 4), so take advantage of it to help you grow in evangelism.
Practice is useless if you are not consistent. Driving your car once a month won’t turn you into a confident driver. Make it your goal to share the Gospel x number of times a week or a month. I find that it is difficult to get back into evangelism after a long pause. The more consistent you are, the more it will become a part of who you are. Funny, but the more evangelism becomes a part of your life, the harder it is to stop.
Consider the context
Every context demands its own approach of sharing Jesus. Confrontational, intellectual, testimonial, relational—they all have a scenario that fits them best and all are present in the Scriptures. No one wants to dread going to work because he feels obligated to preach to a crowd of thousands right off the bat like the apostle Peter did. Neither do I.
In a work environment, it is liberating to look at the example of Jesus with his disciples, and not feel guilty for taking 3 years (if necessary) to develop relationships and talk about the Savior throughout your time there.
Often we may get discouraged because we try to be someone we are not. Spurgeon is great; Ray Comfort is awesome. Dima Zherebnenkov is pretty awesome too. But these men are not you. God designed everyone with a unique personality and temperament. Some are introverts and others are extraverts. Some communicate better through dialogue; others are more effective in monologue. People range from experiential to theoretical, intelligent to basic, etc. Don’t put on yourself the burden of being everything your role model is—unless that role model is Jesus. Understand that even though the command to make disciples was given to all, even the first disciples were a diverse group of people. This also applies to the location where you can evangelize. If the mall is not the right environment for you, then find one where you will be most effective and stick to it.
Love before you speak
I can’t tell you how many times treating a person with love before saying anything made all the difference in my conversations. Love and care for a soul tosses self-preservation out the window and frees us from fear. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” 1 Jn. 4:18