I have trouble sharing the gospel. When I want to share it (either to a believer or a non-believer), most of the time I end up saying nothing and feeling guilty. I know my lack of confidence (is it gonna come out right?) and fear what others may think of me (which I know is sinful) have something to do with it. If I do say something, I get uncomfortable and it doesn’t come out the way I wanted it to, even after asking the Holy Spirit to help me. Why does sharing the gospel feel unnatural to me?
You know, I was nodding my head the entire time I was reading this question: because every Christian ever has felt the same exact way. I’ll dare to say that as a “professional Christian,” I still feel this way sometimes. So I’m totally with you on this and I got much love for you for confessing the whole truth.
If anyone is really all that confident in evangelizing, it could be false confidence derived from “good technique” or polished apologetics, neither which actually care about living breathing people. Please allow me to suggest some things about evangelism to set the record straight.
1) Almost every single sermon I’ve heard on evangelism uses guilt and shame to motivate you: and this will never work.
Sunday morning, you get your Bible and notepad and you’re ready for that hot bread of the Word. Then the first thing out of the pulpit’s mouth: All of you suck at evangelism, and here’s nineteen reasons why. Suddenly you’re scrambling to get all nineteen points, analyzing how much you suck at this, and then you determine not to suck by gritting your teeth and unfolding the Evangelism-Cube-Pamphlet available at the He-Brews coffee bar in the lobby selling the pastor’s latest book.
When you actually go to evangelize and your only motivation is, I have to do this, then you will always fall short of some arbitrary standard. You’ll beat yourself up over words missed, words twisted, or arguments lost. Well then of course you’d feel terrible about evangelism. The bar has been raised so high, it’s suffocating you.
We need to hear how to evangelize and understand why we would actually share our faith. If this is coming out of a manic panic to do our religious duty, we will faceplant every time. So brush off the guilt; that won’t help, so we’re done with that.
2) When we evangelize, we are communicating a crazy message that requires God’s power.
Please also know that the Gospel is straight-up crazy. Nothing less than the miraculous eye-opening power of God will compel someone to consider it.
Think of it: So this Jewish, homeless, virgin carpenter was crucified and got up out of the grave like a zombie to forgive your sins and flew to Heaven but he’s coming back to earth one day with his head on fire and a sword out of his mouth to judge the human race.
At first glance, you yourself would never have believed such a thing, much less devoted your life to it. So you might want to breathe out a bit and understand: this is a difficult message, you might not say it right every time, and you’ll be rejected right out of the box.
People hate rejection, which is why we sort of hate evangelism, and I want you to be ready for it. I always feel awkward when I share the Gospel. But that’s okay, because it means you’re probably doing it right.
3) Which brings us to: God saves; not us.
We can only love people. It’s okay if someone does not have ears to hear the Gospel the first time, or the tenth time, or the hundredth. Share it with the knowledge that you are communicating a wildly scandalous truth that only the Holy Spirit can bring to life. Say it and leave it. Your life then will be the proof that this message actually saves people.
4) Lastly, tell your story.
If you are only thinking, It’s evangelism time! —you might become one of those insensitive doctrine-nerds that overcomplicates things while aggressively firing off apologetics to “win” people.
But you are a real human being with a story, dealing with other real human beings who have stories. So: What is your story? How did God save you? Maybe you went to church your whole life, and then suddenly God knocked you out of the pew into His total grace and you started feeding the homeless and reading to blind kids. Or maybe you were doing black tar heroin, punching cops in the face while throwing puppies out of a moving vehicle, and Jesus uppercut you in your soul. Either way, you were saved. You have a testimony.
If your motivation is how God’s grace saved you, then evangelism will become a much more natural part of you. You’re simply just sharing your life. You will also be able to listen to other peoples’ stories instead of jumping right to doctrinal orthodoxy: because you care about them, just like God cared about you. Then you’re inviting other people into God’s incredible narrative.
The truth is, everyone is looking for this Heavenly Father with an eternal purpose who constantly loves them. People are NOT looking for a rehearsal of the Romans Road or the Four Spiritual Laws. If you can get really get a grip of what God saved you from and what He saved you to, you yourself will be excited about what God is doing, and others will know. That’s true evangelism. You are allowed to milk your testimony for all it is worth. And even if you “mess that up,” you’ll still be a real human being with flaws like everyone else. No one is looking for perfection. They are looking for passion.