A few months ago, a good friend gave me a call. I have gotten to know this friend over the past couple years and he is not a believer. During the call, he asked some biblical and theological questions and each question was thoughtful and incisive, but there was one question that stood out.
“The Christians that I know don’t tell me about Jesus and the gospel. Don’t you think if they really believed in the power of the message, they would share it?”
I paused for a few seconds. As I pondered his question, I realized that generally speaking, he was right. “Unfortunately,” I said, “you are right. Many Christian’s don’t evangelize.” I was thankful for the good discussion which followed.
Many of us would readily admit that personal evangelism is a weakness. While there are many potential reasons for this, the “fear of man” (Matthew 10:26-33) can be placed at the top of that list. We worry about what people think. We fear rejection. And we are well aware that discussions about religion are taboo in our 21st century conversations. However, our conscience and convictions tell us we should be stronger in our gospel witness.
Colossians 4:2-4 is instructive in how to better share the gospel with those around you. “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison – that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.”
Allow me to offer a few comments on this passage, as it pertains to evangelism.
Pray. Evangelism must start with prayer. If you have an unsaved friend then just start praying for them. Try to remember to pray for them every day. This is a great reminder that it is God who saves, not us.
When I was in college, I attended a seminar on “personal evangelism.” The big takeaway was, “if you follow this method and these steps, you are sure to win people to Christ.” What was the problem? According to this school of thought, the power to save is not invested in the living God, but in the method and persuasiveness of one’s words. That is blatantly unbiblical and I am thankful God led me to other resources and teachings that were faithful to Scripture.
God alone has the power to save, which is why prayer is the natural starting point for evangelism.
Ask for prayer. Coupled with your own personal prayers, don’t be afraid to ask believers around you to pray for your unsaved friends. Ask them to pray that God would “open a door for the word,” and that you would have opportunities to share the gospel. While on this subject, would you please pray for my friend? Pray that the seeds of God’s word would take root in his heart.
Be prepared with biblical answers. When your friend does ask questions, be ready. As 1 Peter 3:15 puts it, “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” You don’t have to know every answer to every question, but the better you know God’s word, the more effective you will be in evangelism. Be ready, be prepared, and let the hope that you have in Christ Jesus shine forth.
Share the gospel. This is what is all comes down you. Yes, strive to live holy and godly lives (2 Peter 3:11, Matthew 5:16), but eventually you just have to open your mouth and share your faith. Remember, Christians have the greatest news in all the world! The gospel is attractive. Aim to share it with courage, boldness, conviction, and love.
Evangelism is not nearly as hard as some would think. If you are in Christ, then God has saved you by His grace and has made you an ambassador for Christ. Tell the world there is hope in Jesus name, and trust God to convict and ultimately to convert the lost around you.