One thing I’ve noticed is that as Christ followers we are generally great at demonstrating the gospel and really bad at proclaiming it. In other words, we have no problem loving on people and being kind to them in the name of Christ. However, when it comes to actually sharing the good news of Jesus we tense up worse than Mike Tyson in a spelling bee.
We want to tell people about Jesus and most know that we should tell people about Jesus, but for an array of reasons we don’t. The reasons range from fear to feelings of inadequacy. It seems that the top evangelism strategy is to invite the lost to a church service or event. And while I do think you should invite your friends to the public gathering, I believe that God has equipped and called you to proclaim the Gospel also in your everyday life.
I believe that we must take individual responsibility for proclaiming the good news at work, at home and in all areas of our everyday lives for the advancement of the Kingdom. The best part is that I believe that when you begin to live as a missionary you find levels of fulfillment and joy you never thought possible. It's awesome to watch someone go from far from God to a disciple of Jesus. It’s truly amazing when God uses you to be a catalyst in that person's life. So, how can you begin to share the good news? I am not an expert, but I do have some thoughts that I have found personally helpful. Here are five of them.
1. Don’t be weird.
Weird isn’t effective. If your evangelism strategy is to knock on your neighbor's door and proclaim, “If you were to die tonight, do you know if you would spend eternity in heaven or burn forever in hell?” Stop it. You are weird! If this is effective for you, God bless you! But, it’s still weird!
Now in all seriousness, for those of you who never proclaim the gospel don’t confuse weird and uncomfortable. Sharing the Gospel may be uncomfortable and likely will be until you get used to doing it naturally. For some, they use discomfort as an excuse to never share the good news and that is tragic.
So Blake, how can I share the Gospel in a natural - not weird - way? Well, I’m glad you asked.
2. Invite others into your life
True friendship is the key to sharing the good news of Jesus in the flow of everyday life. This is why Jesus hung out and ate with the prostitutes and tax collectors. He took the time to treat them as a person rather than a project. Growing up in the church, evangelism always felt like a high pressure sales pitch. We had to share the good news with as many strangers as possible, but that’s not how Jesus did it. He invited people to follow Him. He invited them into His life.
If you have zero non-christian friends, you have a problem. Look for those around you who aren’t following Jesus and intentionally develop friendships with them. Invite them into your life. This looks like having dinner together, hanging out where they hangout, thinking of them, loving on them and all the other beautiful things you do with people who are your friends.
And at the end of the day please remember that people are not projects! They may never follow and trust in Jesus as their Savior and that is okay. You aren’t God. You can’t make anyone believe, but you can love on them, pray for them and proclaim the good news you have found to them in hopes that they one day believe.
3. Tell them your story.
One of my old excuses for never sharing the gospel was that I didn't know enough. I mean, what if they ask me a hard question about evolution or dinosaurs and I blow it? What I later realized is that those things don’t really matter. I am not saying that studying or learning more about those things is pointless. If you are a nerd like me and like to study, go for it! But, those aren’t the questions our faith is trying to answer.
Our faith answers much deeper questions like these:
Why does the world exist?
How did it get so messed up?
How can we fix it?
Or even deeper like,
Why do I exist?
How did I get so messed up?
How can I fix me?
These are huge massive questions we all ask, but often avoid. Even as Christians we don’t want to think about these questions, which is why we talk about evolution or dinosaurs. In reality, those debates make no meaningful impact on the internal and external battles we face. Jesus does.
If you are inviting people into your life and becoming friends with them telling your story will come up naturally. The evangelism gold happens when you can then share how you found the answers to the above questions in Jesus.
These are deep questions that won’t come up in normal conversation generally, but there is something that happens to all of us that causes everyone to ask them. It happens whether you are a Christian or not. What is it? Rock bottom. We all face trials, loss and pain. The difference is that as followers of Jesus we mourn with hope. When your non-christian friend is hurting and hopeless,
they will run to the friend that promises hope even in the midst of tragedy. They will be comforted by the friend who “weeps with those who weep” and will be cared for by the one who loves like Jesus. It will be you who is there to point them to the one hope you have personally found. His name is Jesus.
4. Tell God’s story.
I am not saying that we should only share the gospel with those who are friends. I think 99% of the time it is not only the most effective for evangelism, but also the discipleship that is to follow. By the way, evangelism isn’t separate from discipleship and even Christ followers need to be “evangelised”, or told the good news, but that is for another blog post in the future. However, we should be prepared to share “the reason for our hope” at any moment when the opportunity arises.
There are many ways to do this, but the most natural and effective way I have experienced is to share the God story using the three circle method. You can read more about the three circle method by clicking here.
Awhile back, I was flying to Washington DC and sat next to man from India. He asked what I did for a living and (this time) I was honest. I told him I was in the process of starting a church and that led to him telling me that all religions were pretty much the same. Bingo. Enter the God story. You see our religion is incredibly unique - we are not the same and telling the God story helps highlight this in a natural and compelling way. It answers those deep questions we talked about in thought number 3. It’s simple and with a little practice you can walk through the whole thing in under 2 minutes. Below, is what it looks like when you draw it out on a napkin.
You share how God created all things perfect, sin messed that up, Jesus came to live a perfect life and die as an atoning sacrifice so that anyone who repents and believes/trust in Him would begin the process of being fully restored perfection. It is circular for an important reason, after we trust in Jesus we now follow him into a life of restoring His creation back to the original state through Gospel proclamation and demonstration. It is a life of repenting and believing and encouraging others to do the same.
By the way, I am not sure whatever happened to that guy from India. He was very interested, but the plane was landing and our conversation was cut short. I pointed him in the direction of a good gospel preaching church and often pray for him. Please pray for him also!
5. Invite them to believe and be baptized.
Finally, invite them to believe in Jesus and to be baptized. That’s what the New Testament shows us. I always thought that the “close” was to have the person say a prayer and get all emotional.
That’s not what we see in the NT. People would make the logical choice to trust that Jesus was who He was and did what He said He would and then as the first act of faith they would be baptized.
When you have a friend who is ready to be a Jesus follower and believe in Him for their salvation, you should celebrate and pray with them. Make sure they get connected to the Church, are baptized and then walk with them as they begin the infinite journey of following Christ.
So, there you have it. These are my five thoughts on sharing the gospel. I hope that this has been helpful and enlightening for you!