Sharing Your Faith Without The Baggage

Evangelism, sharing the good news of Jesus, is central to our mission to Love God, Love people, and make disciples, but all too often we simply don't do it. Why?

Think of it like this, you're enjoying a good steak at a restaurant, you know it's gonna be delicious so you cut off a huge bite and dive right in only to find yourself chewing, and chewing, and chewing, to the point where you are too tired to chew any more and it's still not small enough to swallow. The problem is not that you don't want to eat the steak, but that you took too big of a bite and found yourself overwhelmed.

Sharing your faith is a must for faithful followers of Jesus, but if you are finding it to be a struggle, then perhaps you're trying to take too big of a bite. You may be trying to save other people (not your job), or just the thought of bringing it up of overwhelming. Whatever your roadblock is, I believe breaking down the process into simple steps can help you feel less overwhelmed.

1 - Perceive

Any global missionary you talk to will tell you that all good evangelism starts with people of peace (Matthew 10:11; Luke 10:6). A person of peace is someone who you can already see God working on. Many of us fail from the get-go because we are judgementally looking for people who we think "need some Jesus in their lives." If you start from a place of judgement, looking for the flaws and wickedness in others, then you have already departed from the gospel. Instead look for people of peace.

You will know these people because they already display some or all of the fruits of the spirit (love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control Galatians 5:22-23) which is a sure sign of someone God is already working on. We are invited to be planters of seeds and harvesters of fruit, but the growth is up to God.

So, who is your life already shows these things? Write down their name and what you notice, then move on to step 2.

2 - Pray

Step 2 is always to pray because it's in prayer that we check our own hearts. This is where we listen to what God has to say about this person. Does a scripture come to mind that you may want to share? Do certain feelings come up about them? Do you find yourself getting stuck in the judgmental mud of "they need to get their life straight" where evangelism is more about your expectations for their behavior than it is about your desire to give them the gift of the good news of Jesus?

Let go in this step, this is where you patiently let God reveal his heart to you. It may be a one-time thing and it may be years. Just spend the time considering this person is the presence of God. You can trust that the Spirit will reveal things to you if you spend this time intentionally.

Set aside time to purposefully do this work. Perhaps take a 5 minute walk in silence just for this person.

3 - Pay Attention

This is where your God-given curiosity matters the most. You've identified the work of God in their life already and intentionally prayed for them, so now you need to observe. Notice the kinds of questions they ask. Notice the stories they tell. Notice the pain they're feeling, Notice what brings them joy.

This is a wonderful place for no-pressure questions like "What do you think about church?" or "Did your family have a belief system when you were growing up?"

You also may share stories of your own experience with Jesus, faith, church, etc. and pay attention to how they respond. Do they ask follow-up questions? Do they seem curious or defensive?

The key here is that you are spending time with NO AGENDA. This is not looking for where they are wrong, but looking to know them better because you love them and God loves them. They are worth knowing and loving even if they never come to faith.

If your memory is like mine, you may want to take time to write down some of the things you noticed and then return to step 2 to see if God illuminates anything for you.

4 - Prepare

You've seen an openness, prayed, payed attention, and now you think they may be ready to hear the good news that Jesus loves them, and died to save them from the sin, but you don't know what to do next.
- You may be worried that you can't convince them to believe in Jesus (you're right, and that's not your job).
- You may be worried that you'll seem pushy (you'll only seem pushy if you're being pushy).
- You may be concerned that you'll seem judgmental (this is remedied in step 2)
- You may not know what to say

I've got good news and hard news.

The good news is that you don't need to be a theologian, a super mature Christian, or have any clue what you're talking about to share the gospel. The point is not to convince them of something being right, but to tell the story of your experience. There is no wrong story, it's just your story, and you're not responsible for how they respond to it. So share away!

The hard news is that you may not even know your own story yet. here's a guiding question to get you started... "Why do you follow Jesus?" If you can't answer that question, then focus your time on answering it for yourself. If you can, then that's all you're responsible for.

5 - Propose a Response

Last, but certainly not least, is to propose a response. In step 4 we saw that we are not responsible for their response, but that doesn't mean we leave them out to dry. Don't overthink this one, but be ready to offer them something to do next. Here are some ideas...

- Invite them to dinner to talk about it more.
- Invite them to church next Sunday
- Invite them to your small group
- Let them know who to ask if they have questions/help them seek answers

Your job is not to get them to respond, but it is to help them on their first steps which should always move in the direction of trust, community, and healing.
There you have it. If you take those 5 steps then you will be doing what is yours to do without being pushy, judgmental, manipulative, or unnecessarily offensive. You will be able to stop feeling like you're not doing what you "should" be doing. You will be making disciples and sharing the gospel with your community.

Your church is praying for you as you do this important work, and always remember that you have friends here that want to help in any way we can!

Ryan Rovito

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