Why do we believers hesitate to evangelize?

Have you ever met someone who just got a great deal on a new car (the one they REALLY wanted to buy) who didn’t tell everyone they knew about it? Not only do they tell everyone about it, they usually broadcast the news with a tremendous amount of enthusiasm. What’s going on with believers who find it hard to share the gospel? Wouldn’t being spared the wrath of a just God and having received the gift of eternal life toss having bought the car of our dreams under the bus?

Mark Dever, in The Gospel and Personal Evangelism, presents 12 reasons believers hesitate in sharing the gospel, summarized below:

1. Pray.
Our weakness is evangelism is often related to an absence of prayer. When we neglect praying about evangelism we see the task as too big for us, or opportunities too scarce. Mark says if we pray for opportunities we’ll be amazed at the ways God answers.

2. Plan.
Because we don’t plan to evangelize it generally doesn’t happen. Many of us tend to think we are presently too busy, and think time will materialize later. It will not. Make time, develop a plan.

3. Accept.
We have to accept that God has given us the responsibility of sharing the gospel. It is not the calling of a few, not limited to the “gifted.” Mark says, quite dodging your responsibility and make the necessary adjustments.

4. Understand.
Part of the problem for many is a misunderstanding of what makes our evangelism effective. Success in evangelism is related to faithfulness, not fruit. Fruit is the work of God, not man.

5. Be Faithful.
Mark says, “Maybe we are too polite to be faithful to God in this area. Maybe we are more concerned about people’s response than God’s glory.” For many the desire to be polite and not offend people (or in my case, not wanting to come off like a salesman) is an excuse to remain unfaithful to the call of God.

6. Risk.
Some people are shy. We often do not know what a person’s response will be when we present the gospel. In my own recent experience, I fear losing a potential relationship by throwing out the gospel too soon, or too awkwardly. We will often have to risk (a relationship, embarrassment, etc.) in order to be faithful to God.

7. Prepare.
Give your evangelistic work some thought. What potential objection or question might your hear? You are more likely to engage if you have prepared yourself in advance.

8. Look.
Apathy, laziness and busyness can keep us from seeing the opportunities God provides. So can unbelief. Pray for opportunities and then anticipate God’s provision.

9. Love.
If we love people we will seek their good, and this of course includes sharing the gospel with them.

10. Fear.
– of God, not man. When we refuse to share the gospel with others we “are not regarding him or his will as the final and ultimate rule of our actions.”

11. Stop.
Mark says, “We should stop excusing ourselves from evangelism on the basis that God is sovereign. We should not conclude from his omnipotence that our obedience is therefore pointless.” We must affirm both God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility as it relates to conversion and evangelism.

12. Consider.
Pointing to Hebrews 12:3 Mark points us back to the gospel itself. He says that when we aren’t considering the cross of Christ we lose the heart to proclaim the good news. True gospel-centeredness will compel us to evangelize.

I have only one item to add, but not to the above list. These reasons for hesitation in sharing the gospel assume one has a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.  There are many who claim to know Christ and bear His name, but have never met Him. You don’t share what you don’t have.

NOTE: I found the above summary at a Web site here and might need to find the book.

14 responses to “Why do we believers hesitate to evangelize?

  1. Yes you are, Deb! Went to a prayer meeting before breakfast with a couple of Air Force friends – once a month CMF thing we just started here – Another Airforce believer came and brought another Air Force member who cried out to God and profesed Christ for the first time. God is doing great things!


  2. Yes He is…this stuff just makes me heart happy. I will be praying for our new family member, stupid enemy is just having too much of a hay day lately…I’m glad you had such an awesome morning… 🙂


  3. Very cool and a great example of oikos evangelism.

    Many of the people I’ve known recently (I’m thinking of a particular fellowship) that are hesitant to evangelize don’t do it because they feel they aren’t qualified, not knowledgeable enough, that evangelism is really a job for the anointed one – that is the pastor. At most they think evangelism means inviting someone to church so the pastor can do the evangelizing. Something like a “we hook ’em/you cook ’em” model of evangelism…

    There is a doctrine of separation in play at this church so that the young people aren’t allowed to hang out with non-Christians, and many of the adults don’t either.

    It’s hard to evangelize when you’re oikos is only other believers.

    One old guy in particular, was reduced to tears when he realized that for 30+ years that he had been a Believer and avoided “the world” (he was not evangelizing) that the real reason was he didn’t care about other people. There was some enormous pride broken that day, and he has been a changed man ever since. He’s taking baby steps, but now he tries to engage neighbors, people he meets in public places, and so forth.


  4. Depends what you mean by ‘hang out’. Since I’ve been a believer my ‘hang out’ crowd are other believers. There have always been a sufficient numbers of unbelievers in my circle of family, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances, that there has never been a need to ‘hang out’ in order to share the gospel. I would also suggest that many, if not most, activities involved in ‘hanging out’ are not coducive to sharing the gospel message.

    But then you were really vague about your use of the term ‘hanging out’.


  5. I’ve never understood hesitating. I probably should have though, many times.

    I didn’t always have the message down — didn’t understand it well enough myself to be trying to share it. Probably confused a LOT of people, if they were listening.

    But the willingness to share has always been there…maybe it’s just that I like to talk. 😳 😆

    Thanks for the link, Dan! It was very helpful, good reading. 😉


  6. Sorry for the vagueness.

    By ‘hanging-out’ in the context of what I was saying, I meant they don’t know any non-Christians at all. Their oikos is completely Believers – family, school, church, recreation – everything they do is in a Church/Christian context.

    My wife taught a class on “How to Become a Contagious Christian” to adults first, and then to the youth. When she asked about some of the youth’s experiences in evangelism (good or bad) one young man said, “I don’t know any non-Christians – I’m not allowed to associate with them.”

    So, the point I was making is that one of the reasons why this group of people doesn’t evangelize is that they don’t have anybody to evangelize.


  7. If that is true, and I doubt that it is – that everyone they know in their families, church, school, on their block, everywhere they go out to eat, etc. are true believers, it’s still not a bad thing.


  8. Bad keeps using straw men as that against which to argue. He’s not actually saying anything, he is only pointing to extreme examples and saying “bad, bad”, which, as you kind of pointed out Dan, is legalism.


  9. Of course it is not literally true, but such is the doctrine of the pentecostal church. Most of the people we knew did not evangelize, and the main reason was they worked very hard to avoid the world.


  10. As well, Bad, are you sure you want to paint with a broad brush across pentacostalism?

    Are you sure you know what you are talking about? Or is it just your experience within one particular denomination which you are applying prejudiciously?


  11. Hmmm, I noticed BDJ appears selectively, in the “Recent comments” section at my place,but not in individual comments, but in individual comments at other sites.


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