Did you ever have any personal evangelism training?
Programs like Evangelism Explosion were widely used in many churches back in the day. Christian Witness Training (CWT) was another.
What I got from much of this programmed training was a little inspiration, but even more frustration. Most of the training that was around gave you one methodology no matter how you were wired personally or how you were uniquely gifted. Many who went through such training felt a sense of guilt over not being able to effectively share their faith using the methods they were taught.
It felt as though there were only two options. Either you were gifted so that such personal evangelism was comfortable for you, or you were guilted into presenting the gospel in ways that were very unnatural for you. If that was the case, you believed the approach you were given in the training was the only way to do it, and you pretty much gave up trying to share the good news at all. Frustrating!
But what if you can bear witness to the good news of Jesus in everyday life in ways that are very normal for you and come very naturally? I've previously written about various ways that you can speak the gospel, so read that post as well. Here are some ideas and actions that I think will help you develop a missional approach to your personal evangelism.
The gospel is good news!
Let me rephrase that…the gospel is the greatest news ever in the history of eternity! And good news needs to be announced. That's what evangelism is, the announcing of good news. When something good happens to you, you can't help but share it. If Jesus giving you a new life, forgiving sin, and filling you with his Spirit for everyday life isn't good news, I don't know what is. Let the gospel captivate you every day in a fresh way. If you're overwhelmed with the grace of the gospel, you will more naturally share it with someone else.
Share the good news out of grace, not guilt.
Sure, we have an obligation to share the gospel with others, but obligation alone is not the proper motivation. You get to share this good news! If your reason for sharing is because you get to do so instead of because you ought to, or have to share, it makes all the difference. Speaking the gospel to someone else is a privilege, something you get to do because of God's grace.
Relationship is the context for effective sharing.
Evangelism approaches that emphasize witnessing to people you don't know or barely know are intimidating for most Christians. Some can do it with little problem, but it freaks the rest of us out. If you have built a trusting relationship with a person, you have earned the right to speak into their lives. I find it's far more effective and more likely to produce lasting results if I share the gospel within the context of relationship. There is built-in opportunity to continue the conversation later. In relationship, the other person can see the gospel at work in your own life. They have the chance to ask questions of you. I think it's better than the "hit and run" technique, or just tossing a gospel grenade into someone's lap.
Stay alert for "gospel pathways."
Gospel pathways are natural opportunities that arise in the course of everyday life where you can speak the gospel into someone's life. Sharing your faith does not require an appointment. You don't have to schedule a time for spiritual conversation with someone. It can happen while you're working on a project together, sitting at lunch, or riding together to a ballgame. The person mentions an issue of concern, a problem, or a question they have. That may be God's opening for you to say something about how the gospel is good news for them in that moment.
So, to sum it up…
1) Let the gospel captivate your heart,
2) Share the good news because you get to,
3) Build trusting relationships, and share the gospel within that context,
4) Watch and listen for natural opportunities to speak the gospel.
So take heart! You can share the good news just being who God designed you to be in the way that comes natural to you. Now you just need to be intentional about it.
What struggles have you faced in sharing your faith with someone? What has helped you to overcome fear or guilt in your witnessing attempts?