If you’re anything like me, witnessing comes super-easily. It seems I can winsomely turn every conversation I have back to the foundations of the gospel, have people laughing, nodding their head in agreement, crying, and saying, “Amen!” within just a few minutes. I quote a verse, and people cry out, “Please, more truth, Ben!” I sing a hymn while walking down the sidewalk, and people never look at me like I’m a freak … Nay, they begin singing along, raising their hands in worship. I just have to encourage them not to close their eyes while they’re walking!
I carry tracts in my pocket, because every time I meet an unbeliever and give them one, they ask me if I’ll baptize them on the spot. I say, “It seems you need to hear about Jesus …” and they immediately respond, saying, “Yes, I’ve been waiting all my life! Please tell me more …” I always have the perfect word to say, the perfect prayer to pray, the perfect timing, and the perfect closing.
No?!? Yeah, me neither. To me, witnessing is tough. It often feels stilted, forced, and unnatural. I never seem to have the right timing. And trying to perfectly remember each point about the gospel, combined with the fact that I’m nervous – that I feel like the other person hates me for bringing it up, that I feel woefully inadequate to share, that I feel like I have no idea what I’m talking about, that I just know that the other person has to be somewhere else and do something else-makes sharing my faith one of the most difficult activities I ever do.
I think we make sharing the gospel too difficult, though. I know I do. When it comes to evangelism, let me offer you three steps to think through.
1. Follow Christ.
That’s what He calls each of us to do, right? You, living the life God has called you to live and being the person God has uniquely gifted you to be – that’s a great testimony to God. Each of us are a walking billboard for the goodness of God and a testimony that God can redeem, right, and set straight a person’s life. You don’t have to be perfect. Nobody expects you to be flawless. (Gasp!) And if you try to portray that to people, you’ll come across as arrogant, hypocritical, and fake. You don’t have to have a perfect testimony, but you do have to follow a perfect Savior. That’s essential.
2. Share your story.
Your story is compelling. Riveting. Life-changing (assuming you actually have been changed). And sharing your faith involves sharing your story. Be honest, transparent, and vulnerable. People will connect with your brokenness more quickly and fully than they ever will your “awesomeness.” Share the mistakes God’s redeeming you from, the sin you’re done with, the bigger picture He’s inviting you into, and the ways His grace is sufficient and His love is captivating.
3. Invite other people into your story.
Build relationships with people. And not just so that you can “get them saved.” Genuinely love people. Invest in them. Be their friend. Listen to their stories. Value them as God’s crowning creation. Look for ways to serve them, expecting nothing in return and with no strings attached. In so doing, you’re inviting them into the story that God’s writing through you. I’m convinced that people want to plug into something that’s bigger than themselves. Inviting people into your story, showing how your story fits into the broader story of God’s redemption of His people, does just that.
This article is an excerpt from the Bible study Engage: A Practical Guide to Evangelism by Derwin Gray, J.D. Greear, Ben Reed, and Rob Turner (a Bible study by Threads). This excerpt is from Session 4, “How do I share the gospel?” by Ben Reed. Ben Reed is a small groups pastor at Saddleback Community Church. You can journey along with Ben at BenReed.net.