When it comes to talking with our neighbors about Jesus, sometimes we find it hard to get the words out of our mouth. We’re often afraid of any (or all) of the following:
a) That they’ll ask me questions I don’t have answers to
b) That they’ll think I”m a hypocrite
c) That I’ll mess it up somehow
d) That they’ll be offended and it will ruin the relationship forever
If any of those apply to you, congratulations, you are human. It’s normal to feel any of those things. All of those fears can feel pretty powerful in the moment. So how can we overcome our fears to become great inviters? Here are five ways.
- Remember God’s job — and yours
There’s no greater invitation we can make than to invite someone into the Kingdom of God. Yes, that can be intimidating, even scary. But it doesn’t need to be! Our fears can seem pretty big, but their power pales in comparison to the power of God living in you! When know what our job is, and what God’s job is, we are liberated to share widely and freely.
As Bill Bright said, “The definition of ‘successful witnessing’ is to simply share Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leave the results to God.” So relax! Be faithful with your part, and trust God with the rest.
You are his instrument. Remember that you believe because someone took a risk and shared the gospel with you. It’s still God’s chosen method for getting his word out. This is God’s work; we’re just helping him out.
2. Let Your Flag Fly
You have neighbors. You want them to know 1) you’re a Christian; and 2) you care about them. What better way to do both of these in an inoffensive way than to simply let them know you are praying for them? This simple gesture lets your flag fly, but in a way that people almost always appreciate. You can even ask them for specific ways you can pray for them.
Here’s how you can put this into action. Pick a neighbor, and simply text or call them. Right now. Say something simple, like “Hey you just came to mind and I was wondering if there was anything I could pray for you?” Or, “With everything going on in our world, I’m praying for people I know. Any way I could pray for you?” These small gestures can open the door for more opportunities in the future.
3. Be Prepared
Have you ever wondered what to say if or when someone asks you about your faith? Sometimes we make it more complicated than it needs to be. We should “always be ready to give a reason for the hope that we have,” (1 Peter 3:15). But it doesn’t have to be long and detailed. Succinct is often better. Think about it like your “elevator pitch.” What you would say to someone while on an elevator together, before those doors open again?
Write your personal 100-word story that points people to Jesus. You can follow this simple outline:
— “I once was…”
— “Then Jesus…”
— “Now because of Jesus I am…”
It really can be that simple!
4. Tell Your Story
In previous generations, the way we “did evangelism” was through mass communication techniques. This could be through a preaching crusade like Billy Graham’s (where I once served as a counselor), or through blanketing a school or beach by using tracts (which I’ve also done). Campus Crusade’s “Four Spiritual Laws” and “Knowing God Personally” are the preeminent examples of this. They have been used to lead many, many people to faith in Christ. But the things that made them successful also had a flipside. In their desire to reach the masses, they deemphasized the relational component of sharing the Gospel. As mass tools, they treated everyone as if they were basically the same: the same worldview, same questions, and same desires. In less discerning hands, they went from being a tool to a crutch. Instead of memorizing a script, tell your story! This is not more authentic, more vulnerable, and more relatable. Like so many of the people who encountered Jesus in the gospels, relate what Jesus did for you as a bridge to what he can do for them.
5. Start with your friends
It’s long been observed that new Christians often make the best evangelists. Why is that? If more learning = better evangelism, it should be the opposite. But it’s not. New believers 1) know lots of non-Christians; and 2) aren’t shy about sharing. Now plenty of people have talked about “friendship” and “relational” evangelism over the last couple decades. As I mentioned above, we’re reacting to the absence of a relational component in previous methods. “Friendship” and “relational” aren’t bad, but I’ve seen these terms used as an excuse to downplay the actual evangelizing. Relationship is super helpful, but it’s not absolutely necessary and it doesn’t take a long time to get there. Good thing for Zacchaeus, the woman at the well in John 4, and many others that Jesus did not operate this way! We can and should be sharing the Gospel with people who are relationally far from us, even as we build relationships with them.
“Friendship evangelism” where we don’t bring up Jesus is neither friendship nor evangelism!
Just be sure to bring up Jesus with your friends. “Friendship evangelism” where we don’t bring up Jesus is neither friendship nor evangelism! The Good News needs to be proclaimed. Let’s pray for opportunities to share it, and when those doors are opened, walk through!