Overcoming our Reluctance to Share our Faith
This web site approaches the problem of reluctance with the assumption that every Christian has a new nature. The new nature is eager to share the gospel. But many Christians run into blockades when the chance to share comes up.
Moreover, many reading this have a burden of guilt. For years they have heard their pastor say “now go and tell others.” They agree that they should — they even want to – but they know that they often have not done it.
This page is not meant to give you a new nature — you already have one.
This page is not meant to motivate you — your new nature is already motivated.
This page is not meant to add to your burden of guilt — but to lift it.
This page does provide ways for you to remove the blockades you have run into.
Here are some reasons people commonly express as to why they do not share their faith. The suggestions given are meant to show you you that you don’t need to postpone witnessing just because of these problems:
I’m not sure what to say.
These web materials provide guidance for you by showing what Peter and Paul said in the book of Acts when they were talking to non-Christians. When you see what they said, you will realize that they talked about the basics that you already know about. Their approach confirms to you that you already know enough to share the gospel. Their approach is explained at the link called The Salvation Message.
I don’t know how to get started.
There are many ways to shift a conversation from secular matters to spiritual matters without being manipulative. The key is to listen with full attention to what the person is saying. The link called beginning a Gospel conversation provides you with three easy and practical ways.
I’m afraid I’ll offend the other person.
It is true that some people will be offended when they hear that they cannot deserve God’s acceptance, and that Jesus said “no one comes to the father but through me.” Paul wrote that the Gospel is “foolishness to the Greeks.” The fact that someone becomes offended and rejects the gospel does not mean you did anything wrong. In fact, it may be an indication that you presented the gospel clearly — clearly enough that the person rejected it. This offense is unavoidable. It is called the “offense of the cross.”
Our hope is that if someone gets offended, the only reason for the offense would be “the offense of the cross.” Our goal is to try to avoid any other thing that might offend the person. Here are some approaches that lessen the chance of an avoidable offense:
You can introduce the topic of the gospel in a way that corresponds to the person’s needs.
You can explain the salvation message in terms of yourself (not the listener). Instead of saying “you are a sinner,” you can say, “I realized that I am a sinner.” Since the power of God is in the gospel, therefore the power is there whether you explian the gospel in terms of “you” or in terms of “I.” It is the same message.
You can make use of permission questions. “is it OK if I continue?” “Could I tell you how God solved the problem of my sin?”
These ideas are “possibilities,” not rules. In the actual witnessing situation, you may find yourself saying things that are direct or that do offend. That’s why we pray for the Sprit’s guidance as we begin witnessing, and after we have shared, we place the results in God’s hands.
I’m afraid I’ll be rejected.
It certainly is possible that someone could reject you because you shared the Gospel. But if you are the kind of person who shows the reality of God in your daily life, that person would have rejected you eventually anyway. Why not at least make sure the person has heard the gospel before your relationship fades away.
Sometimes we experience rejection, and blame the gospel, but in fact we were rejected for some other reason. Here are some reasons that cause rejection, but are avoidable.
You might bring up the subject at unfitting moments. Some Christians have such a heavy burden of guilt about sharing the gospel that they give the listener the feeling that they are dumping on them just to relieve their own guilt-pressure. When you have faith that God loves the other person and cares for that person’s salvation, then you can relax more and believe that God will open the door for you at a fitting moment.
Sometimes you are rejected because you yourself are being judgmental — that is, you give the other person the feeling that you have already rejected them. Our model for avoiding this is Jesus himself. He had the ability to accept other people without accepting their sin.
I’m afraid I’ll represent Christianity in an inept way — making the person less likely to accept it.
If the person sees that you are a flawed person, who is accepted by God even though you don’t deserve it — you have presented Christianity in a very “apt” way.
They know my failures — they’ll think I’m being hypocritical.
This is one reason some people feel awkward witnessing to rellatives. The relatives know you weak spots, and the times in the past when you have been immoral or unwise.
This need no prevent us from witnessing, because your message is that God has accepted someone like you, who does not deserve to be accepted.
We do not want people to feel that Christianity is for people who are better than others. We want to make sure people know there is only one qualification for being a Christian: you must be a sinner. That is the kind of person that Christianity is for.
They’ll raise an objection that I can’t answer
It is unrealistic for you to think you can answer every objection to everyone’s satisfaction. This problem can keep from being a blockade for you if you re-define your task to be sharing the reason why that particular objection has not kept you from believing in God.
For example, you may not be someone who has kept up with the creation/evolution controversy, who can spew reasons why evolution is inconsistent. But you still can show yourself as a person who believes in God even though there is a controversy about creation/evolution. You can ask to share your reasons why you believe in God.
More ideas are found at the page Principles of Meeting Objections.
How can I find people to witness to?
Start with the people you already know, in your natural relationships.