Ready to go to the next level in your evangelism (and apologetics and biblical worldview? Sign up for the Think Update, a brief, weekly email with tools and tips to help you explain, share and defend your Christian faith, delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up right here.
When you think about sharing your faith, what comes to your mind?
Do you think about the look on the other person’s face? What is that expression? Is it happy? Angry? Maybe a little confused?
Do you think about the scary proposition of offending someone?
Or maybe you envision yourself getting off to a great start, and then dwindling into awkwardness as you run out of things to say, or answers to your friend’s objections?
Maybe you’ve experienced a similar situation… or maybe the fear of it has kept you from sharing your faith.
Today I want to share some thoughts that come directly from a course called Cojourners.
This is a curriculum developed by the Church Movements team, which I’ve been trained in, and which I’ve adapted for the Think Institute.
Actually I’m currently teaching a Cojourners class at Midwest Bible Church here in Chicago.
Specifically, I want to talk about the subject of evangelism in some broad strokes… and I want to then zero in on one important concept: Why it’s so hard to share your faith. And then I’ll share with you three simple steps you can take to become more evangelistic.
Who am I?
You may not know me at all, or you may know me as your former pastor, or the founder of the Think Institute. Or as Aliza’s husband, or the dad to one of my kids, that maybe your kid is friends with. But in terms of ministry, Who am I? I’m a Christian thinker, biblical apologist, philosopher, founder of the Think Institute, former pastor and current Partnering Church Catalyst with Church Movements, a ministry of Cru City.
That means I partner with churches to help them connect people to Jesus through Gospel engagement and answering objections, and I help them develop leaders in theology and the biblical perspective.
I believe that no Christian should get caught flatfooted when asked for a reason for his or her hope in Jesus. So we offer tools and training to equip and encourage Christians to know, share, and defend their faith.
Here’s another statement to think about:
Sharing your faith can be one of the most terrifying experiences as a Christian… and also one of the most rewarding.
It can be intimidating. Why is that?
We’re going to talk about some of the forces working against our evangelism in a minute, but first, let’s look at:
Positive motivations for wanting to share our faith
Alright, what are some positive motivations we have for wanting to share our faith?
Let’s look at three biblical motivations that complement your answers well.
The love of Christ compels us ( 2 Cor 5:14)
We have faith that the Gospel is the power of God (Romans 1:16)
We have hope that God will disciple the nations! Matthew 28:18-20)
There are other, related motivations:
Genuine love for Christ and others
Our calling as Christians
Our responsibility as ambassadors
Our power to be his witnesses
Our privilege to work with God
Why Evangelism Isn’t a Bigger Priority In Your Life
There are forces working against us sharing our faith.
Alright now, think about this: what are some of these?
Fear: (Prov 29:25) fear of ruining our relationships or reputations, or fear of becoming uncomfortable.
A lack of skill: (Prov. 22:29) being aware that you wouldn’t be able to get very far into the conversation because you just don’t know what to say!
And misplaced priorities: (Matt. 6:23) busyness, lack of relationships with those outside the faith, no desire, and the ever-present American values of relativism, pluralism and tolerance. That great American commandment: you shall not offend.
Now think about this list and ask yourself, which one applies most to you?
The reality demonstrated by research and experience:
73% of unchurched Americans between 20-29 consider themselves spiritual and want to know more about a higher being or God.
89% say they would listen to someone’s beliefs about Christianity in a conversational way
63% say, if it relates to my life now, I’d listen to a message in a church -
58% say if they experience care, would attend a church
In Cojourners, we talk about three foundational principles when it comes to thinking about evangelism. It’s crucial to adopt this way of thinking in order to commit to the three ways to fix your evangelistic lifestyle (which we’ll get to in a minute):
Everyone’s on a spiritual journey
“It was he who created all people and nations and who has “determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live,” doing so in order “that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him” (Acts 17:26-27 NIV).
God is already at work in the lives of other people
His desire is for all kinds of people (not just one kind, who seem to be most receptive to it! (John Samson)) to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4), not wanting any of his people to perish (2 Peter 3:9).
His Spirit is at work in the lives of people today (John 16:7-11). He is convicting the world about sin, righteousness and judgment!
God desires to use you.
He is the Lord of the Harvest who sends out laborers into his harvest field (Matthew 9:37-38)
He has given us the privilege of being “fellow workers” (1 Cor 3:9) with him.
A powerful promise: the Holy Spirit
Jesus promised to give us power to be his witnesses by the Holy Spirit
We can experience the Spirit’s filling and power through understanding these truths:
Jesus promised to give us power to be his witnesses by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8)
The Holy Spirit satisfies us (John 7:37-39; 14:16-17; 1 Cor. 2:12l Eph. 3:16-17; l5:18; 1 Cohn 5:14-15))
We cannot experience intimacy with and enjoy God if we fail to depend on the Spirit (Gal. 3:3; 5:17; 1 Cor 3:1-3)
The Spirit’s power doesn’t eliminate our fearful circumstances or even our fear itself. He gives us the power to speak despite our fears
Three ways to make evangelism a greater priority in your life:
Earlier I mentioned priorities as a force working against evangelism. Well, in light of everything we’ve just seen, here are three ways to make evangelism a greater priority in your life.
Pray for God’s heart. He wants people to be saved! Pray for him to give you a love for people like he has. Jesus commanded us to love one another like he loves us.
Walk in the Spirit. The Spirit is the one who gives life; the flesh is no help at all! (John 6:63.)
Do evangelism! Get out there and do it! Take the first step. “The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way” (Psalm 37:23).
Take your study of evangelism to the next level with these resources:
Listen to the Think Podcast (and remember to leave us a review!)
Get resources, articles and more podcast episodes at http://TheThink.Institute.