Sharing your faith does not have to be a weird thing. In fact, the normal Christian life should be one in which sharing the gospel is natural. But we do get sweaty palms and nervous voices at times when the moment arrives to witness to someone. Learning that it is our responsibility to share and God’s responsibility to do the transformation goes a long way in understanding the nature of personal evangelism. God is deeply passionate about the lost. In fact, no matter how much you care about a family member, friend, coworker, neighbor, or people group somewhere in the world, God is more passionate that we could ever hope to be. So, it is why I like to turn to Colossians 4:2-6 to gain the proper perspective on how to engage personal evangelism in our lives.
2 Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving. 3 At the same time, pray also for us that God may open a door to us for the message, to speak the mystery of the Messiah, for which I am in prison, 4 so that I may reveal it as I am required to speak. 5 Act wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. 6 Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.
1. Begin with Prayer
Every opportunity to share the message of the gospel is unique. So, we should begin with pray for numerous reasons. First, we need God to provide the opening. Second, we will not see it unless given discernment from the Holy Spirit. But we also need God’s heart in the circumstance. Just as Paul passionately desired the salvation of his kinsmen (Romans 9:3) and Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41), we need God’s heart in the matter.
As we pray, we should do so with thankfulness. It is with a grateful heart that we realize God’s work for us and through us. Not leaving it there, we can realize that we are not starting at ground zero with any witnessing opportunity. Rather, God has been preparing this person for their encounter with the gospel. We should pray for God’s appointments and our faithfulness to them.
2. Act Graciously
Our lives should never contradict the gospel. As it says next in verse six, we need to be like salt in this world; a pleasant flavor and a preservative. In essence, our lives should be an example of gospel transformation. To do so, we should never be more concerned with winning an argument than we are with winning a person into God’s kingdom. As witnesses, we cannot allow ourselves to be jerks on account of our message. Personal evangelism requires us to speak well of others with whom we disagree and understand their point of view. Misrepresenting them will only cause doubts about our message. Instead, as we are transparent about how God has changed us and we are honest about the ill-effects of sin, then we can be of service to others.
With the advent of email and social media, there are other temptations we must fight. It is not witnessing to hide behind Facebook posts, tweets on Twitter, or a long string of emails. The lost need you in their lives; sharing in the everyday instances that present open doors for the gospel. But they should never be used for evangelistic target practice. The drive-by evangelism that just drops the gospel in their laps and walks away is not true evangelism. It barely reaches the mark of basic courtesy. Instead, live a life filled with grace that includes the lost in your Bible study group and in your social gatherings. Seek ways to serve them so that they can see and hear the gospel.
3. Speak Clearly
Paul felt the requirement to reveal the message of the Messiah; as should we. There is a saying that has floated around that goes: “Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” It has been attributed to St. Augustine but there is no reason to believe he actually said it. Now, it is a good idea to live out the influence of the gospel (as I just wrote about in the second point). But what we must agree to is that it’s always necessary to use words. Someone told me that God is holy, I’m a sinner separated from Him, Jesus has accomplished all that is necessary for my salvation, and I need to trust Him for forgiveness. Everyone who is a Christian has heard the explanation of the gospel. It is always necessary to say it.
As you consider your life as a personal evangelist, keep in mind that there are many ways to share the gospel. You can do it with one verse like John 3:16 or a series of verses from the book of Romans. There are outlines of a few points to presentations that address many deep philosophical issues. But, with every presentation, we do it with words so people can hear the confrontation about God’s holiness and our sinfulness. They need to hear that Jesus was the Son of God, He died, and He rose again. As we witness, it is the opportunity to tell the compelling story of God’s initiative to save us and the need for each person to respond in faith.
You may not feel like you are gifted to evangelize, but the fact is, we are all called to do the work of an evangelist. We are all called to share the Good News with others in word and in deed. My friend Daniel Im shared a great way to think about developing witnessing relationships. In closing let me share it with you so you can seek to BLESS others with the gospel of Jesus.
- Begin with prayer
- Listen to their story
- Eat a meal with them
- Serve them to show God’s love
- Share the story of the gospel