Many of us have been saved for years and yet we have failed to share our faith with others. Sometimes not even with our own family members! And yet Jesus commands us to do just that. To some of us, the thought of witnessing to total strangers can be very intimidating. But actually sharing our faith with others is very easy, and it can even be great fun! Once you simplify it you will find that sharing your faith is the most exciting thing you have ever done! Sharing our faith with others is simply talking to people about a special person you know who has sacrificed his life so that you could live. I’m sure that those whose lives were saved by one of the many brave New York First Responders on 9/11 have no problem sharing their experience even years later with total strangers on the streets. How much more should we share our salvation experience with people at work, in cafes, shops, restaurants, banks, airports, or wherever people are?
God does not expect us all to be another Billy Graham speaking to thousands of people in different countries. We can speak to people of every religious background, every skin color; from people of high position in society, to the homeless, to convicts awaiting execution. Because evangelism is simply one beggar telling another beggar where there is food! Witnessing is so easy that even a child could do it. In fact, children make excellent evangelists! There are no special rules, and everyone has a different personality. And God can use all our different personality types in to spread His Gospel message.
Some basic concepts on how to share our faith
We need to keep in mind that nobody can lead a person to accept the salvation message of Jesus Christ, only the Holy Spirit can do that. All we can do is to go out, in complete submission in God’s Spirit, and allow God to do His work through us. There is no other way to succeed. Start with someone easy; an ideal first subject would be a nice person who goes to your church, but is not actually born again. (Believe it or not there are lots of them!) And you may want to write down important scriptures that pertain to salvation inside your Bible. Once you feel comfortable witnessing to people in church, you can move out to the highways and hedges.
Where did Jesus do His evangelism? Did Jesus conduct His evangelism in the synagogue on Shabbat? Maybe, but it’s not recorded that He did. In fact, Jesus spoke to people wherever they were, and usually one on one. As he was walking along the shoreline, Jesus saw Peter, James, and John fishing and spoke to them right then and there. He didn’t invite them to come to synagogue where they could hear an amazing teaching about God and meet some very nice people who would accept them just the way they were. No! He spoke to them himself! And it didn’t matter to Jesus who they were or what they did. Jesus spoke to Matthew as he was collecting taxes. When Jesus saw Zacchaeus up in a sycamore tree he spoke to him while he was still in the tree, not in a church! When some men were about to stone the woman caught in adultery, Jesus didn’t condemn her but spoke to her about repenting from her sin! Jesus even spoke to the repentant thief on the Cross!
Jesus sent out 72 disciples, (not 12 as is commonly supposed) and he didn’t send them to have evangelistic meetings in synagogues: “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you.” Luke 10:1-6.
Jesus sent his 72 disciples out into the villages and towns to minister to the people in their own homes, or on the streets of their neighborhood. And he has commanded us to go into the world in the same way! Do not expect the world to come to your church to be saved! Jesus told us to go into the world to meet people. Jesus and His disciples did not conduct evangelistic meetings in the local synagogues but went to the surrounding villages, in market places, and in people’s own homes and streets! They didn’t bring the people to church but took the church to the people! Do not try to get the unsaved people to your church.
“This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Ask the priests what the law says: If a person carries consecrated meat in the fold of his garment, and that fold touches some bread or stew, some wine, oil or other food, does it become consecrated? The priests answered, “No.” Then Haggai said, “If a person defiled by contact with a dead body touches one of these things, does it become defiled?” “Yes,” the priests replied, “it becomes defiled.” Then Haggai said, “‘So it is with this people and this nation in my sight,’ declares the LORD. Whatever they do and whatever they offer there is defiled.” Haggai 2:11-14
Some insist that they invite unbelievers to church so they can hear the Gospel. To them I say, “Repent of your laziness!” In the scripture passage above I compare it to hugging a pig or a skunk after you have showered and gotten ready for church. Will the pig or skunk become sweet smelling; or will you become stinky? Inviting unbelievers to church is not what scripture or Jesus recommends and it doesn’t work as well as going to the people. And if you’re concerned about how some people might react to you remember Jesus promises that, “If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you.”
Where to witness:
Airports: People are bored at airports, and often have an hour or two with nothing to do other than drink coffee and keep an eye on the flight monitor. So it’s rather easy to strike up a conversation with someone there.
Convenient stores and Supermarkets: Stores are wonderful places to witness. Just talk to people; talk to other customers waiting in line; or standing in the produce isle; or talk to the cashier as they bag up your groceries. They will talk back if you show an interest in them!
Restaurants: Ask the waiters and waitresses what they recommend from the menu and order it. Then ask them if they’re having a good day. When they return to check on you ask them other general questions. When they return to your table for the last time with your bill you can ask, “Are born again?” (And make sure to leave a generous tip.)
There are many questions that you can ask people and if you are smiling and obviously look like you are sincerely interested, most people will answer. An opening line might be: “How was your day at work today? Looking forward to the weekend? Happy the day is over? The second question you can ask is: “What do you do for work?” And the third: “What would you do if you could pick your job?” By asking these ice breaker questions we are getting a person to talk about work; something that, if they are on their way home, is something that is still on their mind. It’s not important that they answer in a long sentence or a short one, your aim is to get a response so you can get to the next question. Because if you ask a person what they do for work, what they do for fun and if they have family that they live with, the person will answer the questions and after a pause they will usually ask you something. When they ask you, this gives you an opportunity to share your faith. Flow with the conversation. Don’t freeze up. This is a total stranger and it doesn’t matter if you strike out. The more people you speak to the more practice you will get. The more practice you get the better you become.
Just let the conversation flow. One of the keys to keeping a conversation moving is asking questions. Ask them about their profession. Ask them if they are happy. Ask them about their family. Ask them question after question. Questions are the key. You can always move a conversation along with questions. When I was in sales I found out whether it’s about their job, or home, or kids, people love to talk about themselves. I asked a lot of questions and I made a lot of sales.
Have simple stories that can express your faith in short sentences
Once you engage in a conversation with someone they might ask, “What do you do for a living?” “I enjoy my job in sales,” I tell them. “But the money I earn helps me to fulfill my true passion.” “What that?” They’ll ask again. “Part of the money I earn goes to buy food and clothes for homeless shelters. And helping others helps me have a closer walk with God. Do you have a faith in God?”
Watch for an opportunity to share your involvement in a ministry. When they ask, tell them what you do for a living, but then add that you get the most satisfaction from that ministry. Many times little sentences are simply bait that you are throwing out. If they ask you more about what you have just said, then you go deeper into your faith and you can share more of the gospel with them.
Take an interest in the people you talk to
People generally like people taking an interest in them. So take a sincere interest in every person you meet and their occupations. Take the time to listen to their answers and questions. The more polite you are, the more polite they will be when you speak. People love to talk about themselves and they love to be given the opportunity to share things with people and get things off their chest. Witnessing is not pushing your faith on a person; it’s just taking an interest in a person. Many times a conversation is too short to share even a little sentence that expresses our faith with a person. Don’t stress about it. Just ask the Lord to bless the person. God knows what he wants to do with you and the other person. The questions that come to your mind are most often the questions God wants you to ask. And God will prompt you by His Spirit what questions to ask. The more you start conversations, the more practice you will have and the better you will become. The more you flow with the Spirit, the more you will be able to witness.
Be a seed planter
Some people need over 20 positive encounters with Christians before they are saved. Try to be one of the 20 some encounters that people need. Give them that positive push toward God. The Word of God is good seed, but the fruit of the Spirit is good seed also. You should try to let every encounter you have leave the person in a better way than when you met them. The more people you can encounter, the more seeds you can plant. Who are we to know what good God can bring from a positive comment to someone on their way home just after having a bad day at work that day? Who knows how many people are just so depressed that they can’t seem to go through the motions anymore and your comment brings them some light. Plant seeds, but let God make it grow!
How to get people to talk to you
Go out of your way to make a good impression on strangers. Sometimes at the checkout at the local store I’ll let someone go ahead of me in line, even if they have more items than I do. Once or twice the customer in front of me came up short and I paid the balance for them. It’s amazing how willing people are to talk once you’ve done something nice for them. There are tons of people that you can bless and start conversations with that are stuck behind a counter or in a long line at the grocery store. God may have set it up just so you can share your faith with them.
Fast food restaurants are also great places to witness. People in a line of four or five deep have a few minutes to wait before they are served so you can ask the person behind you: “How is your day? Just on a break from work? Or say with a laugh, “I’m watching my weight so I’ll limit myself to only 1,000 calories for lunch today.” and you’re off into a conversation.
Most important of all, be a praying person
Ask the Lord for divine encounters each day. Ask the Lord to order your day and help you to watch for opportunities he gives you. Pray when you get in the line at McDonald’s.
If you ask the Lord for divine encounters He may see to it that you get stuck in traffic on your way to the store that holds you up an extra five or ten minutes just so that you meet someone at the store who needs encouragement and is open to talking about God. There is another reason to be a praying person. If you have prayers being answered, as most of us do, they will be little gems of testimony that you can share with others, telling them how you prayed one week and how the answer came through. Then you can ask them if they have a prayer request!
The main thing God wants people to know is that He loves them. But how many really know that? How many people are divine encounters that you and I are walking past each day? We can start the conversations and we can get our faith sentence out and then allow God’s Spirit to take it from there. Believe me, if the person you are speaking to wants to hear more they will ask you, and if you are a praying person they will ask.
Most importantly: Share Jesus in you with people before you share your faith in Jesus with them!