This past Saturday morning, while flipping pancakes and sipping on a cup of coffee, I glanced out my kitchen window to find two well-dressed people headed for our front door. My wife happened to be walking past the open front door and greeted the couple in her naturally pleasant tone. “Good morning” the woman replied. “We’re from the Baptist Church right down the street…” My ears perked up. Baptists have not been a usual knock on our door. Now I was interested.
The couple invited us to their church, handed us a pamphlet, and told us the Gospel was inside so we could read it to find out if we were going to heaven or not. Her words were kind but left us puzzled. Was aiming for heaven, like a carrot at the end of a stick, the best strategy to share the Gospel?
To be fair, I have struggled in the past with sharing the Gospel with strangers. I love to talk about the Bible at any chance I get but I have always found it difficult to start conversations with people I don’t know about my faith. For me, there are two main fears.
- I don’t want to be the annoying Christian that forces my beliefs on someone when they don’t want to hear it.
- What if I don’t know my Bible well enough?
Each of these fears is a stumbling block that I have put in front of myself in order to avoid being placed in an uncomfortable situation. Here are some strategies to overcome when that apprehension arises:
What if I Don’t Know my Bible Well Enough?
The Word of God is a reflection of God’s holiness. “Be holy, for I am holy” (Lev. 11:44-45, 19:2, 20:26, etc.). God’s Word shows us who God is while showing us how we are to live. We can always learn more, but how much do we need to know to share the Gospel?
Years ago, as I was preparing for a mission trip that required two months of training, one of the leaders handed me a training manual. The thick books were filled with formulas for our soon-to-be real-life conversations with the individuals we were hoping to evangelize:
- Ask this question with this Scripture.
- They will say this.
- You will respond with this scripture.
- They will bring up this passage as a response.
- Now challenge with this question and move to this verse.
This kind of training did three things. First, it gave me false confidence that I was ready to go on this mission trip because I had memorized so many scripts.
Second, it didn’t set me up for actual conversations. What was printed in my manual was correct, I would start the conversation as directed and the conversation would often go as planned. The problem was when my script ended, the person in real life was still standing there ready to talk. Now I was left without any pre-rehearsed verses to turn to, I didn’t have any more answers. Arguments I had never heard or expected were being waged against me and I didn’t know my Scriptures well enough.
Third, it trained me to debate instead of talk.
I had basically spent two months training to debate these individuals, rather than reach them on a personal level. More than anything else, I was lacking a true grasp of how the Holy Spirit uses our knowledge of the Scriptures in evangelism.
Knowing Your Bible Well Enough to Share the Gospel
There is only one single way to conquer a fear of not knowing your Scriptures well enough: read your Bible every single day. Additionally, you can listen to sermons, podcasts, psalms, etc. to amplify your knowledge and deepen what you are studying. But as far as being fluent in the Word, there are no tricks or shortcuts. If you want to know the Word, be in the Word.
I’ve been fortunate enough to watch Yo-Yo Ma perform three times in concert. Ma is one of the greatest cellists in the world and his concerts don’t disappoint. To the untrained eye, Ma beautifully played notes on a cello. But to those who have played the cello (or any stringed instrument), Ma performed much more than just notes, he played with amazing technique and unbelievable control. He had mastered each note and each measure was its own concert in and of itself. Although Ma may have some natural gift to playing his instrument, reaching the level he has attained in the music world came from years and years of practice. Daily practice for hours each day.
Likewise, should we believe Wayne Gretzky, Tiger Woods, or Michael Jordan could have been the athletes they became if they played their sport once or twice a week for a half hour? No! Dedication is what brings greatness.
Being the Abrasive Christian
Abrasiveness is a heart issue. If you are “sharing the Gospel” in order to win an argument, you will come across as abrasive and eliminate any chance at sparking a genuine conversation about the Lord. Truly sharing the Gospel means talking about the greatest relationship we have and sharing our faith out of love for others and love for Christ, not to win arguments. With this said, I believe if we are in the Word every single day, we become passionate about the Gospel. When you are passionate about something, you talk about it. It is a natural part of conversation even with those you don’t know. When we love the Word and are in it every day it will begin to enter every conversation we have since it is a part of who we are.
Finding Time to Study
The truth is, when we love the Lord and love His Word, we want to talk to others about it. For most Christians in our culture, the biggest obstacle to daily devotions is not a lack of desire to read. It is a matter of time management.
Our relationship with God needs to come first. It should be prioritized before our jobs, our families, our marriages. When we have a solid relationship with the Lord, our families, marriages, and jobs will benefit. If you say that you would like to read your Bible more frequently but can’t, look at your day-to-day life. Look at the places you spend your free time and ask yourself if these things are more important than your walk with the Lord. Observe how much TV you watch in a day, how much social media you’re using and what takes up your days off. If you still don’t have time for the Bible, read with your family, read on your lunch break, or listen to scripture readings on your way to work. You still don’t think you have time, start looking for another job because the Lord should come first.
How to Prepare to Share the Gospel
- Read/Study your Bible daily. This is the most important thing you can do. Download the Bible app (I recommend You Version) and find a good reading plan. Then stick to it. Read with your spouse, read with your kids, and read by yourself. If you don’t have time to read your Bible, make time!
- Try to listen to a theologically solid podcast, sermon, or Gospel-centered audiobook at least once a week. Hearing the Gospel preached beyond the sermon you hear at Church will get you excited to share your faith and will help you deepen the foundation of your belief. The best part is you can listen while you do other things. I listen while I work out or do housework.
- Play “I go back to the Bible.” When I’m talking to someone I don’t know, I like to play a game I made up. I attempt to see how many things I can bring back to the Scriptures without forcing it into the conversation. For instance, I recently met a guy at a restaurant while I was waiting for my takeout. We ended up having a longer conversation than I expected, and during the course of our talk I was able to say, “well, I always go back to the Bible which says…” 5 times (for the amount of time, this was actually a lot). Granted, the guy I was talking to was discussing heavy topics including divorce, child rearing, and finding a new job. So really, he was setting me up to win. Playing this game in my own head constantly makes me think of how Scripture applies to various situations. This, of course, wouldn’t work if you’re talking about nuclear science, Chinese grammar or a number of other topics, but it is a fun game to keep in the back of your head.
- Pray. This one sounds easy but how often do you ask the Lord to bring someone across your path in the day that you can give the Gospel to?
Sharing our faith is something that will become more and more natural as we grow closer to the Lord. Study the Word daily, get excited about your relationship with Christ and your ability to share the Gospel will become much easier.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. (James 4.7–8)
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