by Jamie Barrett
Finding Creative Avenues
If you are like me, you have run into the challenge of sharing the gospel with others. Evangelism can be a formidable task that leaves us feeling scared and often guilty. Just mentioning the word evangelism may be intimidating. Few other topics leave a Christian feeling guilty and exposed. If you are fearful of talking to others about your faith, that is a good sign! That shows how big this is to you. You should see this as encouragement that you are not equipped for this tremendous task by yourself. You need God's Spirit working in your powerfully. You may have a desire to witness but don’t feel ready. You may have talked yourself out of witnessing, then felt ashamed. You might be asking yourself, “how do I get started?” I want to encourage you with a few creative pathways for evangelism that are natural, inviting, and winsome. Additionally, I hope you come up with some creative ways of your own to engage in delightful gospel talk.
Opportunities All Around Us
Barriers to witnessing are common for Christians who want to be obedient to the Great Commission. One of the big hurdles of witnessing is moving from asking God to give us opportunities to sharing our faith. Instead, we should ask to be sensitive to the opportunities all around us. When we look around, we can identify many ways to engage others with the gospel that you we regularly each week, maybe daily. These are relationships that may lead to gospel conversations. Begin by praying for people by name who you interact with on a regular basis. This may be the teller at the bank, the gas station worker, the person who picks up your garbage, the person who delivers your mail, a coworker, or a neighbor. When you get groceries, avoid the self-checkout line and take extra time to interact with the cashier. If you eat out, get to know the server or person taking your order at the counter. If you have a delivery person who comes to your home or business, leave them some snacks with a note. Try to engage them briefly since they are on a tight schedule. As your relationship develops, invite them to an event or as your guest for worship at your home church. Take genuine interest in people. You might find them responding with appreciation and reciprocation.
Speaking of Jesus
Relationships can stay on the surface without ever progressing to the subject of Jesus. There are a great number of ways to transition to gospel talk that are natural and comfortable. The more you use these transitions, the more natural they will come. Consider Jesus speaking to the woman at the well in John 4. He asked the Samaritan woman for a drink of water. He used provocative statements that moved the conversation along. He was thirsty and longed for actual water. He used his physical thirst to point to her deepest desires. Her pursuit of men leading to several failed relationships was an opportunity for Jesus to reveal what she was pursuing. We can do the same thing in loving, creative ways. It requires a posture of great humility and the love of Jesus flowing through us. People all around us have an insatiable desire for God that they try to fill up with things of this world. Only Jesus can fill our deepest of longings.
Take a Shot
Former professional NHL hockey player, Wayne Gretzky, quipped, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take”. Evangelism is like taking a shot while not knowing if your effort will fail or suceed. Take a shot and see what the Lord can do with your faithfulness. Remember, the Lord doesn’t need you. Yet He chooses to use our faithfulness for His glory! That is always a great encouragement to me when I witness.
What Do You Think About Jesus?
This is a question that cuts right to the chase. Maybe you have trouble getting over the hump in a conversation. You might be in a waiting room, airplane, bus, train, or enduring a long line. This is a great thing to ask people when you have small window of time with someone. It is also a good question to ask those you have known for some time, yet never broached the subject. Either way, most people have an idea of who Jesus is and developed certain thoughts about Him. They may quickly turn the question around on you. That gives you an excellent opportunity to provide the answer you have been preparing. Ask someone this week what they think about Jesus. I would be pleased if you let me know how they respond.
Before you open your mouth, pray for God to direct your steps. Ask for the words to speak. Just before Nehemiah presented his request to King Artaxerxes to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem, the cupbearer to the king offered a quick prayer (Nehemiah 2:4). Likewise, learn to give quick prayers in gospel talk situations. Request the Lord to help you recall verses you have intentionally memorized beforehand. Pray for favor with the people you plan to engage with the gospel. Ask that the Lord would remove obstacles in the persons mind that might block receptivity. Pray that the enemy’s work would be hindered. Share the good news of what Jesus has done in a winsome, personal manner. Then ask for the seed you have sown to grow up to maturity and produce fruit. We are not finished with evangelism just because the dialogue has ended. Prayer plays a crucial role in witnessing as we look to God to do a miracle in the lives of people we encounter.
Leave it In God's Hands
You have done everything you can. At this point, you are like the farmer who has prepared the soil, planted the seed, and watered. The farmer does not stay up all night. The farmer goes to sleep knowing that he can do nothing more. Now it is time for you to leave the results of your labor to God. He can use your efforts to do whatever He wants. It is an act of worship as we watch and see the increase He provides through our faithfulness. God is always the main actor when we engage in gospel talk.