INSIDE: Evangelism isn’t just about telling others about Jesus, it is showing them who He is and what He has done and is doing in our life. Often we have “reasons” why we don’t share our faith, but no matter our circumstances, we ALL have opportunities to share Jesus with others.
Last fall, my husband and I had the honor of participating in a leadership class at our church. I was so excited at the prospect of learning more about how to lead ministry and encourage others in their faith. However, I immediately found myself confronted with a topic that is very uncomfortable for many Christians – Evangelism. Huh? I thought this class was about leadership in the church? Why in the world are we starting with how and why we need to share the Gospel with those outside of it?!
We were given the book Evangelism, from the 9 Marks Building Healthy Churches Series. The assignment was to read it and write a reflection paper with our biggest takeaways. Simple enough, right? Wrong! It was not because the book was hard to understand or didn’t make a lot of really great points. In fact, I underlined, highlighted and made tons of notes in the margins. But every time I sat down to write my reflection, the words wouldn’t come and I would give up. God began to wrestle with me. Why couldn’t I write the paper? To be totally honest, I didn’t like the answer that came bubbling to the surface.
I wanted to write a super-spiritual paper about being hopeful, motivated and encouraged. But the reality was that I felt guilty, prideful and frustrated. And if you are being totally honest, you just might agree with these 3 reasons I don’t tell people about Jesus.
1 – It doesn’t even occur to me!
At the time of reading this book, it occurred to me that I didn’t have any non-Christian friends. I had a few non-Christian acquaintances, but 98% of my interaction with other people was with someone I knew from the church. I did not seek out relationships with people I knew are non-Christians. Of course, I interacted with strangers in public with kindness and thoughtfulness, but I never consciously looked to share the Gospel with anyone. It is not because I thought about it and chickened out. It is because I never even think about it at all!!
The last chapter of the book talks about our responsibility to be representatives of the Kingdom of God. The fact is, I am a terrible Ambassador for Christ. Not because I don’t know the Gospel or can’t explain it, it just never even occurs to me to try!
2 – Don’t I do enough already?!
Besides personal daily Bible study time and the time I spend teaching Bible to my kids, I regularly pour my heart out, exposing embarrassing sin on my blog. Each week, I also mentor a younger woman, disciple with a dear friend and meet with a Ladies Bible Study group. And then there are just my regular duties as a wife, mother, friend and church member. Now I need to go join the freaking PTO or some other organization just so that I can intentionally be around women that don’t go to my church? REALLY GOD?!
It’s not that I would avoid an opportunity to be around non-Christian women, but adding more to my plate would certainly stress out my family! I think this is asking a bit much.
3 – I don’t want to feel fake!
My current season of life is exciting and full of opportunity to pour into other women I am currently friends with, some of which happen to be struggling Christian sisters. I am a product of “1-on-1 evangelism” but that friendship never felt forced. It never occurred to me that this woman befriended me because she was trying to “convert” me. Looking back, I can I remember that she often invited me to attend service, but she never pushed me. Yet it was because of our close relationship that I trusted her in the midst of my collapsing marriage. I took her advice to seek counsel from the pastor and I was eventually lead to the Lord.
So God worked it out, right? He always works it out! If I seek out a relationship with someone that does not go to church with an ulterior motive to “convince them” of something, doesn’t that make the relationship fake?
At the end of the book, here was what I was left with…
What does evangelism look like for a stay-at-home mom whose life primarily revolves around caring for her husband and children? Who is focused on encouraging her friends (who happen to be Christian)? Who doesn’t have loads of time to join groups that will put her in regular contact with non-Christian women?
If my motivation to form relationships comes merely by guilt and not a true conviction, what does that say about my relationship with God? Should I be discouraged? Because, at that point, I really was.
But I didn’t stay there (and you shouldn’t either)
Once I stopped whining to God about how unfair it was for Him to convict me of my attitude, I was able to understand what the book was really getting at. Evangelism cannot be about church programs or a job for just a few who are especially gifted in this area. It must be the way all Christians live out their lives in church on Sunday as well as throughout the week.
We need to see the unchurched people in our community and be intentional about reaching out to them as individuals, but we don’t have to be fake. We just need to love them right where they are. And if we live out what we say we believe about the Bible, we will naturally share who Jesus is and what He has done for us.
It is going to be easy? No.
Do I make a point of starting conversations with moms I meet at story hour every week? Yes. Do I look forward to seeing them again every week? Yes. Do I have any idea if there will ever be a relationship where I will share Jesus with any of them? No.
Is that “enough?” I don’t know but it is a start!
It is awkward? YES!
A couple of months after reading the book, I happened to meet a woman while chaperoning my daughter’s school field trip. We had so much in common and I was excited to hang out with her. And as we sat on her couch, drinking coffee, God gave me the opportunity to talk about the experience I shared in Losing My Mind One Kid at a Time. It was soooo awkward as I tripped over my words while secretly freaking out on the inside. I mean, it was a true story that changed me in a big way but I was wondering if our 2nd coffee date was too soon to be so transparent.
As I drove home that day, I was certain she was never going to want to hang out again. Surely she was going to think I was one of those crazy religious people. I felt so stupid so I just gave it to God. I really hoped He would give me more opportunities to hang out with this woman. If a friendship did blossom, she would already know that God is a huge part of my life. That would make it less awkward to talk about what He continues to do in my life going forward. But if that didn’t happen, it was okay. I had been true to who I was in Christ. It was awkward for sure, but it wasn’t fake.
We are not just called, we are commanded.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always to the end of the age.”Mathew 28:18-20 English Standard Version
These verses were not meant for just the 11 disciples and, later, Paul. They are not just meant for pastors, elders, and missionaries now. They are meant for ALL Christians. And yes, while some are more gifted, more educated and some even called to faraway places, we all have opportunities to share Christ.
Afraid you won’t know what do say? Don’t worry!
I explain in session 6 of the Rejoice in our Suffering audio-devotional, the Holy Spirit speaks for you and does the work in the heart of the person who you are talking to. So we don’t have to worry about sounding awkward or stupid. Heck! Even Paul says how simple his words were to the Philippians, which showed God’s power all the more!
Evangelism isn’t just about telling others about Jesus, it is showing them who He is and what He has done and is doing in our life. When we live differently than the culture, we will stand out. This gives us a natural platform to share. I realized that my reasons for not telling others about Jesus were really just excuses. When I repented for my disobedience, He gave me a boldness I never had before.
Whether you are standing on stage in front of a thousand people or sitting on the floor during story hour at the local library, you are right where God wants you so start telling people around you about Jesus!