To start off the new year, many people establish new goals, whether in the areas they feel completely confident in or in areas where little notice has been taken. A great goal for believers would be to share their faith with more people in the new year. Sharing your faith is key to growing closer to God. Whether you're a rookie or a pro at witnessing to others, we all need reminders of how to share most effectively. Here are some tips on best practices for evangelism.
1. Celebrate this privilege
Romans 10 reminds us that people cannot believe in Jesus unless they have heard about Jesus. It goes on to celebrate those who share the Good News and calls this beautiful. It's also not just an important idea, but it's a command (Matthew 28:16-20). In order to begin sharing our faith, we need to recognize the high privilege and honor it is to share the most important message in the world- the only message that can bring about salvation (Acts 4:12)!
2. Learn a tool and use it
Sure, many of us confidently understand the Gospel and think that evangelism tools and booklets are unnecessary for witnessing. But I encourage you to use an evangelism tool, not just for you to efficiently share the Gospel, but for the people you are sharing with to efficiently understand the Gospel. One reason a tool is valuable is that it allows the person hearing the Gospel to be able to reference back to an illustration, booklet or any other method you are using as opposed to simply trying to recollect different points that you have made and possibly getting confused. Tools help you be concise, to the point and clear. They help us to work smarter, not harder. Some of my favorites are Three Circles, Knowing God Personally Booklet and The Bridge Illustration (using Romans 6:23).
3. Pray for your sphere of influence
Pray every day for three to five people who reflect the people, places and passions that surround you. Keep the list of people in your wallet or phone so you can see it regularly. Make goals of how you will share with them and follow-through that week. Then, make new goals for the next week. Meet with someone over coffee or lunch, share this list with them, ask them to make a list too, and commit to praying for their sphere of influence. People that involve others in their prayer life not only sow more seeds but reap more fruit. Praying for one another is the surest way to encourage one another.
4. Recognize that lost people do not know how to be saved
In Acts 2, Peter preaches to a crowd. How do people respond? Verse 37 says "When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?'” The people were both 1) convicted and 2) confused. Peter responds very clearly "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." The number one difficulty people have when they share the Gospel is that they do not ask for a response. They leave the conversation and when asked, they respond, "No, he didn't decide to follow Jesus today." The question is, why not? Does he know how? Did he know that he could have done that right then? We should not assume people know what to do next. People do not know how to be saved. There is no middle ground. We all stand guilty or innocent. It is your responsibility to clearly ask them to respond by either receiving Christ or rejecting Christ. Because of this, make sure to choose an evangelism tool that includes a call to response.
5. Teach Someone Else How to Share the Gospel
Matthew 28:16-20 commands us to make disciples. I believe that a disciple is made when the goal is for that person to also make disciples. Paul is a great example. Here are four generations being impacted by the Gospel: "And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also" (2 Timothy 2:2). God used Paul to teach Timothy, who taught faithful men, who then taught others. You do not need to be the most skilled evangelist to be able to teach someone else how to share. You can simply have that person invite you and a friend to coffee, share the Gospel and afterward debrief the meeting. We are believers because someone shared with us. If there was a line of people before us, should there not be a line of people after us?
Putti Sok Benner serves as associate director of the Baptist Student Ministry at UT Arlington.