Can we really fault so many young people for not accepting Christianity when we present it so poorly? Let me ask you a question and see if you can answer it honestly. If you were sitting in a coffee shop (some of you are turned off already) and a young person entered the business, bought a coffee and sat down next to you and asked the question, “tell me why you’re a Christian in two minutes or less” what would you say?
What do we as Christians have to say to a skeptical and jaded society that believes Christians have made a pretty bad job of it? They believe we are judgmental, ultra-conservative, anti-everything, petty and indifferent to the problems that surround us. Then there’s also a large portion of society that has little interest or knowledge in Christianity that they have no idea about what we believe, teach or proclaim. In fact these people could care less about Christianity, and though they are not necessarily hostile towards the gospel they are indifferent to its claims.
Every day we are surrounded by people who have rejected Christianity or are so indifferent that spirituality, as defined by our faith, isn’t even on their radar. Where do we begin?
A quick look at advice for witnessing on the Internet or in Christian literature can quickly leave us not only discouraged but highly confused. One expert advises the long slow approach of befriending a person, leading them out of skepticism and eventually to faith. But how many Christians have the skill set to meet a skeptics objections based on science, philosophy, history and ethics? Another teacher will give the impression that two minutes is adequate to present the Gospel. I am sure that it is possible if the person was totally open and longing for the gospel and we knew how to portray the essentials in such a short period of time.
I have given a great amount of thought to witnessing and how to go about it over the past months but have few answers. One old time pastor once said, “you don’t have to think about it just do it.” Well that is great advice if you know what it is you are to do.
Here are a few of the important things to remember when witnessing as far as I can see.
We should realize that not all people are receptive to the gospel and not all people respond the exact same way to our witness. Most people are non-Christians because they have made a choice to reject Christianity and just because we start talking to them about Christ doesn’t mean they are going to instantly change their thinking.
It takes time for people to grow spiritually and witnessing is a job for the patient. I have been witnessing to some friends for two years now and have seen few clinks in their armor. Other people, however, surprise me and come to Christ with me hardly having to say a word.
We need to know the gospel and understand what is important for encouraging people to accept Jesus into their lives. Some people believe that witnessing is teaching a series of Bible studies and after the people finish the studies they are qualified to join the church. There is nothing wrong with this approach if our goal is to make church members, but it certainly isn’t the New Testament way of sharing the gospel.
It is important for us to settle in our mind what our goals are for the people we want to share the gospel with. Is our goal to make them church members or to lead them to Christ? This is important and can make the difference in how we witness and what we can expect for an outcome of our witness.
In the New Testament Lydia, the Philippian jailor, the Ethiopian eunuch as well as the three thousand on the day of Pentecost came to Christ after a minimum of teachings. They were all presented the grace of God and it was upon that knowledge that they accepted Jesus into their lives and were baptized.
I believe our witness should be about the unconditional love of Jesus that saves us from our sin and guilt and gives us eternal life through faith in His atoning sacrifice at Calvary. When we share our faith we don’t need to share our churches stance on everything from abortion to Christian movies. This is why so many Christians shy away from witnessing. They feel insecure about all the nuances of their Churches teachings and are afraid to make a mistake or misrepresent the church.
Of course our witness will not be what it could be if we don’t ask the Holy Spirit for power and direction in regards to our sharing the Gospel. We also need to pray for opportunities to share our faith. Pray that God will put people in our way that we can talk to about Jesus, and pray specifically for people we know who need to understand God’s love for them.
We need to be authentic in our witness. People need to know we care for them and want what is best for them when it comes to spirituality. We might know all the right words to say but if we are not interested in the person then we honestly don’t have a witness. We are simply giving Bible studies instead of presenting the love of God.
Finally, ask questions of people and don’t be frightened to ask people to respond to the gospel. The more questions you ask of an individual the more they will ask you questions and through your answers you can begin to present the gospel.
If God has placed the desire to tell others about Him on your heart then He will give you the opportunity and ability to do just that. Fear, nervousness and uncertainty are all common emotions when it comes to sharing our faith because it is easy to feel we are intruding on someone else’s space. I’m glad that my sister took the time to invite me to some Christian meetings and it was there I heard the gospel and gave my life to Jesus. You are reading this blog post today because she took time out of her life to simply invite me to go hear the gospel.
You don’t need to be a theologian or a trained Bible student to share Jesus, you just need to have His love in your heart and the Holy Spirit will do the rest. Remember, the Holy Spirit convicts; we just present the gospel.
* Our Christian brothers and sisters in Christ who are being persecuted for their faith need our prayers every single day. Some of their heart breaking stories can be found at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/