NOTE: What follows has been adapted from several lessons contained in Alistair Begg’s “Crossing the Barriers” series of lessons in personal evangelism.
“Christ is going after His lost sheep, and He wants to use our lips that they may hear His voice today, and our hands that they may feel His touch. He is the soul-winner. People are not won by us for Him. They are won through us by Him. He can win them without us, just as He can speak to them through the Bible quite apart from anything we might say. But He has chosen to work through us and with us.” – –Leith Samuel
In previous CMF Newsletters we ran a 4-part series about “Sharing Christ in a Hostile Culture”
In Part 1, Be Available, we shared real examples of how doors seem to just ‘open up’ for sharing the message of the gospel, and what can happen when there’s a willing and available gospel messenger ‘on location’. In Part 2, Situational Awareness, we compared our ‘Situation’ as believers in Christ – our status, and true citizenship, with our condition (situation) before repenting of sin and believing Christ. In Part 3, Our Duty, Our Great Privilege, Our Highest Calling, the focus was on understanding the nature of the believer’s role in sharing Christ with the world around us. In Part 4, How’s Your Weep? We talked about maintaining a heartfelt burden for the lost souls all around us.
Now that we talked ABOUT sharing Christ, it’s time to tackle HOW. Hopefully this article will be of help to you.
Concerning his followers, Jesus said, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” Jesus (John 17:15 NIV)
If we to draw a picture of that, it would look like this:
Following Jesus’ model of Christians ‘In Contact’ with the world, think of your gospel audience in terms of long-term and short-term contacts. Long-term contacts could be family, friends, co-workers, or neighbors. Short-term contacts could be those we meet standing in lines, shopping, travelling, bus stops, waiting rooms – people we might not ever see again.
Before you just jump in the deep end of the pool, remember this:
“We should remind ourselves frequently that effective witnessing begins when we are on our knees, not when we are on our feet.” – Alistair Begg
EXPLODING SOME MYTHS
1. IT TAKES A CERTAIN KIND OF PERSON. You don’t have to be a gifted evangelist or a natural extrovert. Think of Jesus’ first disciples. He chose all sorts of men to train and send to the mission field!
2. YOU NEED TO BE A WALKING BIBLE DICTIONARY. Anyone can share how his/her life has been changed by Christ, but it doesn’t stop with a changed life. The changed life testimony leads naturally to the message that discusses our sinful helpless condition before God and the answer found in repentance and believing in the one God sent.
3. I AM PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE TO SPEAK TO EVERYONE. That myth leads to guilt and depression. You will feel compelled to speak to everyone you meet/see! We are to be fishermen, not salesmen.
1. BE NATURAL. Don’t change speech patterns, how you talk, tone of voice or terminology. Use ordinary conversation to move to spiritual matters. Jesus merely showed up at the well to ask for a drink of water. NO evangelical jargon. Using Bible words is not synonymous with sharing Bible truths.
2. BE LISTENING. We learn much about the other person just by listening. Their likes, dislikes, interests, etc. Heartfelt listening shows that you care.
3. BE VULNERABLE. We need to get out of our Christian bubbles. Vulnerability creates opportunity with unexpected parties. Jesus was vulnerable. It wasn’t ‘kosher’ to speak with Samaritan women. As Alistair Begg might ask, “When does the salt help the mashed potatoes?”
4. BE BRAVE. “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. “ (2 Tim 1:7)
The toughest of our non-Christian friends are more scared of us than we are of them, thus their ‘toughness’. Don’t worry about where the conversation might go. You can always stop/pause and continue later. It wasn’t ‘kosher’ to speak with Samaritan women.
5. BE IMAGINATIVE. Seize opportunities to share your faith. What’s the common topic of the day? War, sports, stress, etc. Don’t use the same lead-in every time. Walk on common ground.
6. BE DIRECT. As the Spirit leads, get to the gospel, but you don’t need to use a specific ‘method’. Let the conversation tell you the best method.
No matter what method you use for sharing the message of the gospel, address these three truths, in the order given here.
1. THE HUMAN CONDITION
Things are messed up. Why? Ask questions. What’s in the newspaper? Magazines? Look at the music, dysfunctional families. Why do you think that is? Talk about it.
2. THE BIBLE’S DIAGNOSIS
Suggest that the Bible has a diagnosis. The heart of the problem is the human heart, which needs to change. Have a Bible and open it. Share favorite passages of scripture that speak of the condition of the fallen hearts of all men. You might use Romans 1:18 about God’s wrath, or Romans 3:23 and the fact that ALL have sinned and fallen short pf God’s standard of perfection. And sin brings consequences (Rom 6:23) – ‘The wages of sin is death. You might need to go back to Genesis and the sin of Adam. Just talk about it from the Bible and let God convict.
3. GOD’S REMEDY
Share that Christ died for OUR sins. It was prophesied in the OT and fulfilled in the NT (Isaiah 53:6, Matthew 1:21, John 3:16). Just keep sharing what the Bible simply says.
4. PERSONAL RESPONSE
The truths of the gospel message having already been discussed, it’s time to talk about the need for a personal response. Introduce, without directly asking for a response, the necessary steps.
1) Admit you are a helpless sinner. There are differences in degree of sin, but not the fact of sin. ALL have sinned enough to be condemned and lost.
2) Believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross to be the savior we have admitted we need. 1 Pet 3:18 – Christ died once for all.
3) Receive, by faith, (full confidence) the forgiveness of sin and cleansing from sin.
At this point 3 further questions may prove very beneficial in bringing clarity.
1. HAVE YOU PERSONALLY TRUSTED JESUS CHRIST OR ARE YOU STILL ON THE WAY?
Defines Christian as one who has personally received Jesus Christ and provides opportunity for Yes/No/Still on the way
2. HOW FAR ALONG THE WAY ARE YOU?
Critical point. Satan gets busy. This is where very personal/conditional topics might come into play. If the answer is ‘I want to home and think about it’, remember this might be the only time, hand them something like a tract, possibly. Be sensitive to ‘indicators’.
3. WOULD YOU LIKE TO BECOME A REAL CHRISTIAN AND BE SURE OF IT?
If the answer is yes, go back to the need for personal response.
ADD counting the cost of becoming a Christian. This is where the rubber meets the road. If they are not ready for a ‘revolution’, they are not ready to respond genuinely to the offer of salvation.
If they are ready, lead them to the Cross.
“Dear Lord Jesus, I admit I am a helpless sinner before you, I’ve tried many times and failed. I believe the bible is true in saying Jesus is the savior, I accept the cost, please forgive ME.”