We’ve all felt it. The sense of guilt overwhelmed us. The pastor brings his sermon to a close, but before he concludes, he gives the congregation one final exhortation. Go tell others about Jesus. He says if Jesus was willing to lay down his life for you, the least you can do is proclaim that message to others. Gulp. As you slouch farther down into your seat and wipe the sweat off your forehead, you wonder if you’re a pathetic Christian because you struggle to share your faith.
It’s not that you don’t want to either — you really do. But you’re scared. You’re scared of people will think you’re that weird Jesus person who’s out of touch with reality. You’re afraid the friendship will end or that you’ll make everything awkward. Have you ever felt this way? Have you ever started a conversation with good intentions to talk about Jesus only to back out later? If so, you’re not alone.
Pastors Get Scared Sharing Their Faith Too
I say you’re not alone because I’ve done the same. I’m a pastor. I have a seminary degree. I’ve studied the Bible a lot. Yet, at the same time, I get scared too. Do all my neighbors know about my Christian faith? Not even close. I’ve had intentions to share my faith, but my intentions often times fail to deliver the goods.
When I was younger, I owned a t-shirt and a hat that said “No Fear.” I wore them together so if anyone ever doubted my bravery after looking at my shirt, they could lift their eyes to my hat and have any lingering doubt removed. Wearing that slogan, however, only demonstrated my fear. It’s a lot like the kid who’s the first to say “Ewwww” when someone asks if they pick their boogers. The emphatic rejection often times reveals the opposite.
I’m fearful of how people will perceive me. And in my experience, just about everyone else is in the same boat. The Bible has a phrase for this — the fear of man.
Advice On Sharing Your Faith
While I struggle with the fear of man, God’s been kind to grow me in this area. I’m far from perfect, don’t get me wrong. Yet, sharing Jesus with non-Christians isn’t as daunting as it once was. And it doesn’t have to be a daunting task for you either if you abide by these principles.
Pray for your lost friends and neighbors consistently. Remember, God is the one who ultimately transforms people’s hearts and lives. Also, pray that God will give you a greater love for them because love compels us to share the Gospel more than anything else. And pray for boldness to share the Gospel despite the fear of rejection.
Personally, I find that when I pray for people to receive Christ, God gives me opportunities to share the Gospel with them in a natural way. Jesus says in Matthew 7 that when we ask God for good things — and evangelism opportunities are good — He will be faithful to give them to us.
A Jesus-juke is when you try to smuggle Jesus into the conversation at any cost. For example, your non-Christian friend might say, “I’ve had a rough day.” To which you reply, “you know who had a rough day? Jesus, when he died on the cross for your sins.” If you want to make things awkward with your friend, Jesus-juking is the way to go.
As I think about evangelism, I think a lot of us feel as if we need to take this kind of approach. Sure, we won’t be as blatantly awkward, but we feel as if we need to look for any crack in the door in order to slip a Jesus foot through it. In my experience, forcing Jesus unnaturally never works.
The days of door-to-door evangelism are long gone. Most people won’t even answer their door anymore, let alone talk with you for fifteen minutes on their front porch. We need a new strategy — one that will be effective. That strategy is cultivating relationships with non-Christians. Invite them into your home. Have dinner together. Have your kids play together at the park. Build a relationship with that person so that they know you care. And as you converse, ease into faith conversations.
As opposed to Jesus-juking, talk about Jesus at natural times. Perhaps they will bring up a difficult situation in their life. Express genuine compassion for them, and then ask them if they’ve ever wondered why this world is so broken? This could potentially lead to a conversation about Jesus dealing with our brokenness. You get the idea, but don’t feel as if you have to force Jesus into every conversation.
Be Ready To Give An Answer
One of the greatest fears we have when it comes to sharing our faith is that we’re afraid we’ll be asked hard questions we don’t know how to answer. For some, this might cause more fear than making things awkward. How do we fix this?
I would encourage you to know what you believe and why you believe it. This, of course, requires a bit of perspiration on your part because no one learns everything they need to know overnight. Read the Scriptures. Go through theology books. Think about the objections others have toward Christianity, and do your best to find the answers. You won’t ever know it all, but you can do your best. Peter says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Pet. 3:15).
You’re Not Alone
If you struggle to share your faith, you’re not alone. You’re not a pathetic Christian either. We all struggle. Pastors struggle. We’re in this together. Yet, by God’s grace, you can grow in effectiveness, though you will need to be intentional in your efforts. No one ever becomes an effective witness by accident. Just like anything else in your life, if you wish to excel, you need to plan to excel. Think about something you are really good at. Now think about how that happened. Chances are, you put a lot of thought and energy into excelling in that area. I would urge you to do the same with evangelism.
You’ll mess up along the way. You’ll chicken out again. It’s ok. God is gracious. He’ll give you more opportunities.
Ryan Leasure holds an M.A. from Furman University and an M.Div. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He currently serves as a pastor at Grace Bible Church in Moore, SC.
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