I occasionally have the opportunity to equip and prepare groups to share the Gospel. Training of this nature is most effective when it is connected to a real-life application. When we teach toward a tangible, upcoming challenge, the teaching becomes training. For this reason, the best evangelism training is connected to immediate opportunities to put the training into practice. We spend time in the classroom and then we get out on the streets and apply what we’ve learned. My approach in this context is really quite simple; I prepare Christians to take three simple steps to share the Good News:
Ask an Opening Question
Walk up to the person you want to engage and ask the question: “What do you think happens when you die?”
Clarify Their Response
If someone denies the existence of an afterlife, take the time to talk about the reality (and nature) of the soul. If someone accepts the existence of an afterlife (but denies the existence of God), take the time to ask them who or what determines where we go when we die.
Suggest the Christian Alternative
Explain the nature of our sin condition and our need for forgiveness. This may require you to review our failure to obey the Ten Commandments, prior to offering a solution to the problem. The point here is to illuminate our need for a Savior and then explain the plan of Salvation through the Cross of Christ.
Now take a look at the three-step approach. Most of us, when presented with this challenge, are almost immediately filled with fear or anxiety. It’s not easy to share what you believe about Jesus. In order to overcome this fear, I spend a lot of time preparing people to navigate the second and third steps in the process. I talk about the evidence for the soul and the longing we all have for justice and mercy. I train folks to present our need for Salvation and to accurately articulate the message of the Cross. I help them think about potential objections to the Gospel. I used to think that I could eliminate the anxiety by adequately preparing people in the second two areas, but this hasn’t actually been the case. Even after hours of training in these areas, people are still anxious about engaging people with the Gospel.
“If we can just get started, God will take care of the rest. He’ll provide us with the words we need if we are willing to jump the wall.”
It turns out the fear most of us have with evangelism is not in the second or third step; it’s in the first. In fact, most people come back after their first day of sharing and report their fear vanished once they were engaged in a conversation with someone. Most people are excited to describe the interesting conversations they had with people about the existence of God, the nature of the afterlife and the solution to our sin problem. Our fear typically turns to joy (and even courage) once we get the conversation started.
But we’re afraid taking that first step. Think about it. I bet that’s where your anxiety resides as well. As a trainer, there’s not much I can do to help people take the leap, aside from helping them see what’s on the other side of the wall. I typically draw all three steps on the whiteboard and circle the sentence:
This is the wall most of us are afraid to jump. This is really what scares us. But, if we can just get started, God will take care of the rest. He’ll provide us with the words we need if we are willing to jump the wall. So, while the task of sharing your faith may seem daunting at times, dial it down to what really frightens you. I bet your wall is just like mine; it’s all about getting started. If we’re courageous enough to jump the first wall, we’ll find the conversations weren’t so scary after all. It turns out the evangelism wall isn’t all that tall after all.