By Clarence L. Haynes Jr., Crosswalk.com
One of the responsibilities of every Christian is to share their faith. We know this as the Great Commission…go into all the world. Where people sometimes struggle is how to actually accomplish this mission. How do you share your faith? I am a man who likes to keep things as simple as possible, so I want to share with you four simple ways to share your faith.
Before I share with you some things you should do, let me first tell you about some things you should try to avoid doing.
3 Tactics to Avoid When Sharing Your Faith
1. Don't Just Hit and Run
This method of sharing your faith doesn't take into account the person to whom you're witnessing. You are so driven to share the gospel with as many people as possible that you just want to give them the gospel, hope they receive it, and if they don’t—then it’s on to the next person. Always remember, choosing to follow Christ is a life decision. Most life decisions that are real and transformational rarely happen in an instant. I am not saying it can’t, because the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t.
2. Never Bait and Switch
This method is when you invite someone to an event or something under one pretense but your real motivation is different. You tell an unsaved friend you're going to have some friends over for lunch and invite them to join. What you don’t tell them is that prior to lunch you're going to have a Bible study and a prayer meeting.
While your desire to want them to hear and respond to the gospel may be pure, the method is all wrong. Respect people’s time and feelings enough to be honest with them. If it’s Bible study and lunch, let them know. They will respect you more for your honesty.
3. Avoid the All-Out Blitz
This method happens when every time you see this person you always preach the gospel to them. You are always quoting Scripture and telling them about Jesus and their need to repent. Again, while I understand the motivation, this method doesn’t work too well, either. More often than not, this person will begin to avoid you—and that doesn’t help your cause. By the way, they are not avoiding you because they don’t like you. They don’t like what you are doing to them.
Now that we have the bad methods out of the way, here are four simple ways you can share your faith.
1. Be a Friend
There is this saying that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. This is also true of the gospel. How can you talk about a Jesus who loves you but not take the time to care about their situation? If you're going to share your faith you're going to have to befriend people who are not Christians. This doesn't mean that you do the things they do (that you may not agree with), but you have to take an interest in who they are.
One of the things Jesus did often is he ate with the sinners and the tax collectors. The Bible doesn’t give us a record of the nature of all those conversations, but I'm sure he didn’t spend the whole time preaching at them. If you show a person you really and genuinely care about them and their situation, they will be more open to hearing your message of the gospel, because you will have demonstrated your love for them. That can be very attractive.
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2. Take Time to Listen
Maybe now you’re thinking, when do we get to the point where I just tell them they need Jesus? This is the heart of the matter. You want to tell people about Jesus, but you want to present the gospel in a manner where they will at least hear you. When I was growing up in Brooklyn, Jehovah’s Witnesses would ring my doorbell all the time. I've heard Christians say when they rang the bell they would open the door, say Jesus loves you, and close the door in their face. (Shhh…don’t tell my mom, but I heard her do that once.)
The point is...what did that accomplish? Nothing. Wouldn’t a conversation with a person be more effective? What about asking them why they chose this path? What about discovering what their goals and dreams are? I know this feels slow and unproductive, but what it really does is open the door for communication. We know Jesus is the answer to all of life’s problems; so, wouldn’t it be great if you knew their problem—so you can present Jesus as the specific solution to their problem?
You can’t get here without taking the time to listen to people. It may seem tedious and uneventful, but you are creating open doors that lead to open hearts that have the ability to receive the message of the gospel.
3. Be an Open Book
You might feel like many people who don’t think they're qualified to share their faith. Maybe you don’t know a lot of Scriptures. You don’t know the four points for sharing the gospel and this makes you feel unqualified or even disqualified. None of this is true. Do you remember the woman at the well in John 4? (On a side note this is a fantastic example of how Jesus very simply created an open door to share the message of the gospel. I encourage you to read it.)
Here is this woman’s message of the gospel:
Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah? – John 4:29
That was it. No Scripture verses. No four points. No great theological message. Just come see a man. It was her personal testimony of her experience with Jesus that made the difference. The same is true for you. Your testimony matters. People will listen to your story of how you came to Jesus. They may not all agree, but they will likely listen. Most importantly, they can’t take away your experience, so don’t be afraid to share it. You don’t know the impact it will make.
By the way, here is what happened in Samaria because of this woman:
Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” – John 4:39
Your testimony matters, so it’s ok to be an open book. Let people know what Jesus has done in your life. Sometimes that’s all it takes for them to come to faith in Jesus.
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4. Demonstrate the Love of God
One of the reasons people reject the gospel and Christianity is not because of Jesus, but because of his followers.
Unfortunately, we sometimes give Jesus a bad name. Many people’s perception of Jesus is that he is angry, judgmental, ready to condemn you and send you to hell. This is too often how Christians get portrayed. How do you change this? Live a life that demonstrates the love of God. Consider these two scriptures:
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:16
Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. – 1 Peter 2:12
Could it be possible that the advancement of the gospel could be tied to your actions and your good deeds? It sure looks that way to me. With this in mind, here are some questions I want to ask you. If they hurt just say 'ouch,' but just like medicine, they are good for you.
How do you treat your neighbors?
Are you easy to get along with or are you the neighbor from hell?
When was the last time you displayed an act of kindness towards your neighbor?
What do your co-workers say about you?
Are you the difficult employee/manager/boss or are you easy to work with?
Do you make the people you work with feel more confident and better about the job they are doing? Or, do you drive people so crazy that they can’t wait until 5pm so they can get away from you?
Do you drive your kids and family crazy with your attitude all week, but on Sunday sing the loudest and raise your hands highest in church?
The point is: your simple actions, that demonstrate the love of God, can make a huge difference. You can open a door of opportunity that will give you the chance to share the gospel. Here are a few simple ways to demonstrate the love of God:
- Remember people’s birthdays with a card or take them to lunch.
- Call someone and say, I was thinking about you...how are you doing? (Notice I said call, not text, email, or message on Facebook.)
- Send a thank-you card to someone who has done something nice for you or better yet, send an appreciation card to someone who hasn’t.
- Cook a meal and invite someone over for dinner, just to talk and get to know them. If you can’t cook, takeout or drive-through pickup works just as well.
The bottom line is that when you demonstrate the love of God, it can make people open to listening to the gospel because they have seen it in action.
A Final Thought from 1 Corinthians
My last thought comes from 1 Corinthians 3:6-9:
I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.
Some of you might be planting seed.
Others might be watering seed.
Regardless, God makes it grow and brings the seed to life. As you go forth, never forget this. All you can do is plant and water.
In other words, preach and share the gospel and let God do the hard part of saving the soul. The goal is the open door which is really an open heart. If you will simply and honestly care about people, I believe God will open the doors for them to hear and receive the message of the gospel.
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Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, author and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He has spent more than 30 years serving the body of Christ in various capacities and has just released his first book, The Pursuit of Purpose. If you have ever struggled trying to find God’s will, this book will help you discover the different ways God leads you into his perfect will. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.