These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:7
This article contains insights I have learned and collected from over 20 years of evangelism in church and para-church ministry. I hope you will find these insights useful in encouraging you to serve Him more powerfully and effectively. I do not in any way consider myself an expert witness; in fact, I have "chickened out" many times. I have allowed fear to stop me and peer pressure to influence me. I have been so lethargic in my own spiritual growth that I did not have anything to say. It took me years to learn and develop the willingness to grow and then make Him known. Even while on staff with great evangelistic organizations, I have allowed close family members to go un-witnessed to; friends were not told of my faith. While on staff with Young Life then Campus Crusade, trained by the Billy Graham School of Evangelism, and even as a pastor, I have failed at witnessing. My failure went from just not being good at it to being too fearful to proceed. I eventually overcame my fears, but it was a long process. It is my goal to give you some tips and encouragement from what I learned so it will not take you as long as it did me!
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15
At the forefront, I want to say that no matter who you are or what your ability and background, you can do it. So be encouraged. We all need encouragement, myself included. Billy Graham told me a few years ago that he needs it; he told me I needed it, and I believe you may need it, too. So, here are some encouragements for you.
The theme to the 1 Peter 3:15 passage is that Christ is our example. We are to be a display of trusting in Him and demonstrating real strength with meekness and self-control. By being gentle when someone is challenging us with words, deeds, threats, or abuse, we show Christ, help defuse the situation, and make a huge impact for those who need an example to follow of how to know Christ.
This passage is about how we are as a witness, and that this is more important than our feelings to get even or hesitancy to do good works. This comes down to how we, as an example of the Lord, are being a witness for Him. We will encounter hostile people for the Gospel. Our desire to argue or fight back will only provide a temporary solution to our emotional struggle. This only ends up escalating the situation and proving true the critics of Christ and His Church. When we remain in control of our emotions and physical reactions, our witness will resonate into eternity.
God is the One who keeps and rewards us. Even when the world is falling apart around us, He cares for us, so we have no need to worry or fret. If we do good works (and we should always strive our best to do so), people will come against us. We should not stop or become afraid, frustrated, or disillusioned; rather, we should keep it up, showing the work of Christ in us. We do this by worshiping Him and letting Him be our Lord; that means He leads in all aspects of our lives. We do this by being readers of the Word so we can be doers of the Word, and being a person who is the Lord's display case of the Word of Life as played out in our actions and relationships.
How do you display the wonder of His love and Grace in your daily life? How do you react when someone at school or work hurts you? How do you hope in Him, worship Him, and allow Him to be your lead? What you say, how you say it, what you do, and how you do it will all witness for our Lord. We are called to be ready to explain our life in Christ, but we cannot do that if we are not showing that work of Christ. When we do, it will always be in the parameters of the Fruit of the Spirit. If we argue or manipulate, we demean our Lord who Himself did not argue when He was persecuted. When we argue, it puts the other person on the defensive and they do not listen; therefore, they do not learn. Our efforts of evangelism will not only be wasted, but we could also create a negative effect, doing more harm than good. Thus, we are called to respect, listen, and be gentle so the real Gospel message goes out from us not only in how we are, but also in how and what we say.
Christ suffered and endured the ultimate evil for being the Ultimate Good, and did the ultimate good for us. He is our example in life and upon whom our eyes must always stay. Thus, we are called to be enthusiastic and faithful. Far more important is how we are to others than anything we have to say; if we are not what we should be, the message gets compromised and distorted.
Points on Being Effective in the Faith and As a Witness
An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. Proverbs 12:25
One of the main factors of our effectiveness is the need to be excited about our faith. We need to see the Christian life as a wondrous adventure; we need to see the positive and let that positive shine through in our attitude and approach. If you are not a person who is excited about your faith (and I do not mean overly emotional), how can you be contagious with the faith? Think this through: people respond to the temperament and attitude of others; how is yours? This is not about personality or experiences; it is about attitude. Most people come to the faith through people who are also themselves new to the faith. Why? Because, they are excited. Even though they may be ignorant of theology and procedures on how to lead a person to Christ, their enthusiasm becomes contagious. Their lives have been transformed; they know this, and it shows to others. How does your enthusiasm show?
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
1. Our effective service to Christ will be determined by how big our concept of God is. It is that He is able, and about His power, His authority, and His empowerment infusing our involvement for His glory. It is never about what we lack, as what we have in Him is far superior (Romans 8:1-2; Ephesians 3:14-21; 2 Timothy 1:12).
2. Do not Fear. We are to fear God, not people. We do not need to be afraid of those who hate God. We can take comfort that no force can take away what Christ has given. Our security is in Him, not in how we are treated (Psalm 56:4; Luke 12:4-7; Romans 8:31-39).
3. We need to be prepared (1 Peter 3:15). This means we are the ambassadors of Christ and are called to show, through our lifestyle and words, that He is the Lord and Savior. We may come across hostile people who hate God and will hate us for being in Him; even so, we are still to operate with respect and gentleness!
4. We can give an answer! Answer in 1 Peter 3 refers to "apology," as in apologetics, to give a defense, as a lawyer would defend his client. We should know about our faith and with our best efforts and abilities share it with others, even use words when necessary. A good Christian should know about the Bible and faith and practice it, not only to grow, but also to share it with other people. We do not need to know all of the answers (I certainly do not), but we should know where to get the "info" and then get back to them. We are always to share with maturity of character even when others combat us. Our faith will eventually undermine those who are against us. Our apologetic ("answer") is always to be given with love, never in degrading terms.
5. Always remember that good Christian conduct will be convicting to those who are not in the faith or have backslidden. Then, guilt and the Holy Spirit can work on them. At the same time, when we are above reproach, it is hard for anyone to make a slanderous accusation against us because it will be so obviously untrue (1 Peter 2:12-15).
6. Your successes and failures mostly reside in how you live and model the faith. Are you authentic and real, loving and caring? If not, watch out, as others will find you out. Authentic living is your witness; allowing Christ to live and work in you will be what others see. Being a person who allows the Spirit to grow and form your Fruit will make all of the difference in your efforts and willingness. This Fruit can be faked for a while, and we can fabricate it; but soon the farce will be found out. A dog can walk on two legs, but he cannot do it very long or very well. Your authenticity is the key to being able to touch others for the Lord. To touch others, we too must have been touched; our Fruit is the proof text of our authenticity and touch. (Galatians 5:18-22).
7. Be a person who is grounded in God's Word and encourage others to be so, too. It is those who are growing in maturity and are excited whom God uses the most. Do you want to be used? Then, be obedient and allow Him to grow you (2 Peter 1:5-7; Hebrews 6:1-12)!
8. Over the years, some misguided Christians have pronounced that evangelizing is not the role of the church or the Christian. It is purely the work of the Spirit. Thus, we do not have to witness. This is true and, yet, it is not true. Yes, we do not have to witness. Even though Jesus used an imperative (Greek grammar device meaning "this is extremely important.") as a command to do so, it does not affect our salvation. And, yes, salvation is the work of our Lord Jesus Christ through the role of the Spirit; however, we are still called to proclaim Him powerfully and boldly, but with care and love. These misguided people are not stopped because of theology; it is their refusal to obey. So, they rationalize their faulty views (Matthew 28:29; Acts 2:38; 8:4; 13:15; 18:4, 11; 2 Corinthians 5:14-21)!
9. We are partners with God in evangelism. He saves, and uses us as the means. Remember, He is the witness. We cannot convert anyone; however, He may use us to convict and to be an example. We are only able to witness by His power working in and through us (Matthew 11:28; 2 Corinthians 3:4-6; Ephesians 3:20-21; Philippians 2:13; Revelation 22:17)!
10. Your witness is more rooted in your attitude than in your words (Acts 8:4-8)!
11. Your passion and conviction will show through to others. If you are not passionate for our Lord, get right with Him before you tell others about Him. The key is to realize what Christ has done for you, and share it with excitement (2 Corinthians 1:3-7).
12. Joy is indispensable in sharing love. It is not just what you know; it is whom you know. He is Christ. Your love of Jesus is the picture people need to see so they can better see Him (Joshua 1:8-9; 2 Corinthians 1:24).
13. Being judgmental or hypercritical, gossiping or slanderous are the worst things a Christian could ever do. Those are so repulsive to non-Christians, and are the direct opposite of our call. These will have far more negative influence on a non-Christian than the greatest evangelism plan with the greatest evangelists who ever lived would have positive influence (Matthew 7:1-5; Romans 2:1-4; 14:1-15; James 4:11-12).
14. The Gospel is the power! Our main encouragement is that He is here with us. We are not doing this alone; we have the God and Creator of the universe at hand. What more could we need (Hebrews 4:16; 2 Peter 1:10-11)?
15. A lot of Christian leaders are obsessed with the size of their ministry and the numbers of souls saved. This is sad, because God's call is the size of our heart and our obedience-not the numbers (John 14:15; Hebrews 10:8-10).
16. Your self-image is also a major factor. For some, this instigates fear and trepidation in sharing the word of Christ with others. Your self-image is whom you are in Christ, not how people respond to or treat you (John 3:30; 2 Corinthians 2:9-10).
17. Relationships are the ideal way to make Christ known to others. You are far more effective if you build a sincere relationship with others before you preach to them. That way, you get to know them and pray for them; they get to know you, and realize that you care. You then will have more opportunities for listening and sharing (Romans 16:3).
18. When I went through the training at the Billy Graham School of Evangelism and the "Crusade Training," they made the point that over 80 percent of the people who come to a Crusade are brought there by others, such as friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, etc (Colossians 3:12-17).
19. The apostle, Andrew, was the first Christian evangelist; he is also a great example of one having faith, and then sharing that faith with others. How can you be like him? (John 1:39-45)
20. If you are in a leadership position, it is essential that you do as you teach! That is, you cannot expect others to do something that you are not willing to do. To be encouraging to others, you need to set an example; be constant, and be encouraging (1 Timothy 4:12; Titus 2:7-8; Hebrews 13:7).
21. A good witness realizes not only the love they have received from Christ, but also the need to share care and prayer with others before they share a witness (John 21:16; Philippians 4:6-8).
22. It is essential that your church have a good vision and purpose. If you do not know where you are going in life and in ministry, you will not be able to lead others in a good way. (Proverbs 29:18).
23. The church is called to teach and nurture trust, obedience, and prayer in her members who then invite and share this with others around them. And, when people become Christians, they are to continue equipping, training, and caring for others so they too can be deployed and pass on their faith to others, and so forth. If the church does not train, it cannot deploy, and that will not be honoring to God (Habakkuk. 2:2; Romans 10:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:7).
24. It is also essential for an effective, witnessing church to be people-centered and not just program-centered. Programs are to help train in and developing relationships, not become a substitute for them (1 Corinthians 3:5-11; 11:1).
25. Try to be as clear as possible in what you say and how you say it. Why? Because, we represent Him-not just our church and not just ourselves (Proverbs 12:12; 2 Corinthians 5:20; Colossians 4:5-6).
26. You need to see the plight of others. Try to see their lives from their perspective. Have compassion! Listen. And, have a heart for the lost. If you are not hurt and sorrowful for those who are not saved, your heart needs a check-up. We have to see the lost, as best we can, the way God sees them-with compassion, patience, and understanding (Matthew 28:19).
27. Jesus is with you! We are empowered by Christ for whatever endeavor He gives us, whether we dig a ditch or witness to a stranger. He is there. We need to see Christ as the Equipper, so our focus is on Him and not on how people respond to us or on our circumstances (Matthew 28:20).
28. Christ's love and Grace are realities in history and in life. They are not just ideas; they are events. He will empower us with the fire of the Spirit (Luke 3:15; Romans 1:16).
29. We need to be able to see the reality of sin and hell. It is not that others might go to hell without Christ; they will go to hell. People are in sin and they are going into eternity forever separated from God-separated in the depravity of darkness. You just may be the only person who can reach them, or to whom they will respond. Yes, God is sovereign, and He will not send anyone to hell who willfully does not want to go there, but we also need to see our responsibility to be the ones He uses to reach others (1 Corinthians 9:22; Hebrews 12:1-2)!
30. Training is essential for effective witnessing. Do not expect people to naturally evangelize. Some may do so; however, the vast majority does not know how, and are fearful. Periodic training and constant encouragement reduces fear and motivates your people (1 Corinthians 3:6)!
31. For people to come to your ministry or church, you have to be welcoming to them. Watch your attitude and how you come across to others. If you are not sincerely inviting and welcoming people into your midst, then you are repelling people away. There is no in-between ground. You are the front door of your church, and you are also the back door. Will you welcome people in, or just show them the back door with your attitude or carelessness (Revelation 3:20)?
32. Fear and busyness are the main obstacles to evangelism! Being too busy and never budgeting your time wisely will cut you off from God's most precious opportunities-even if all those things are good. Fear is also a big factor, but remember that love casts out fear. (Deuteronomy 5:14-15; John 11:9; 1 John 4:18)!
33. Being patient, honest, hospitable, friendly, gentle, kind, and respectful of others is not only essential to being a good witness, we are told to do so when we witness (Mark 12:28-31).
34. Do not force people! It amazes me how many misguided Christians share the "love of the Lord" out of hostility and not out of love, or use deception and scare tactics, then wonder why they have no results. Furthermore, they think they are right in doing so. We must not be the Christian fool but rather the Christian witness of love and respect (2 Corinthians 4:1-6; Philippians 1:3-6).
35. Be willing to listen and be vulnerable and open. This will be very attractive to others. However, beware. Others may hurt you, both intentionally and unintentionally. So, be susceptible to others, but, at the same time, guard your heart. Be both open and cautious. Be open to others with a good attitude and sharing in love; understand that they can hurt you, but still be open. How do you do this? By keeping your focus on Him and not on how people respond to you (Proverbs 4:23; Mark 7:21; 1 Corinthians 13:4-8; James 1:19-25).
36. Never rush, coerce, manipulate, or lie to people. It is never acceptable to lie while presenting a God of Truth. Never make up testimonies so you have something more powerful to share. Your life, boring or exciting, is the life God gave and the life He wants you to share. Consider how you would want to be treated. Remember, people will usually be friendly with us when we are friendly with them (1 Peter 3:15)!
37. Most people will reject your advances even though yours is the truth and theirs is a lie. We cannot force people; we can only influence them for Christ. If they want to remain in their sin, there is nothing we can do except pray. It is the Spirit, and only the Spirit, who can interdict upon them. And, be patient. The Spirit may still use you down the road (Ephesians 5:15-18).
38. It is OK to fail. It is not OK not to share just because you are afraid you will fail. There were numerous occasions when Paul and the apostles did not succeed. Missionaries in tough countries will spend their entire careers in faithful service and only lead a handful of people to Christ. God is in charge; He knows what He is doing; be confident in Him. Witnessing is not about numbers; it is about obedience (Acts 19:23-41; 22:17)!
39. We cannot fix people; only the Holy Spirit can do that. He will use us and give us insights and resources, but the prime issue is the matter of their heart and will conforming to His (Jude 1:22-23).
40. Sometimes, the experiences of life and disappointments in other Christians will leave a person cold and turned off. Do not be offended even though they may take it out on you. It is all about Christ, not our feelings. Be patient, be affirming, and be constant in your character. Never give up praying for them (Matthew 5:11-12; Philippians 1:27-30).
41. We need to believe in people, even when they let us down-because everyone will. Only God will not. Thus, have patience and consistency. Sometimes, it can take years to lead a person to the Lord. If you are in haste, you will waste your connection and opportunity, and God cannot use you until perhaps sometime in the future (Ezekiel 33:11; 2 Peter 3:9).
42. Do I have to leave my job to be effective for Christ? Usually not. God normally uses you best where you are in life with people in your age and gender, people in your line of work, people in your socioeconomic class, and people of your culture and language. And, of course, He can use you in cross-cultural and cross-class situations, too. But, your best witness is to the people around you whom you know and who know you (Acts 8:26-40).
43. Got testimony? We all do, but can you share it in a few minutes? Write out your testimony as a story! Keep it short, simple, and true. People love stories; allow your life to touch others through your personal story. How has God helped you? How has your life changed for the better? How can you tell this to others (Acts 5:21)?
44. When you witness, be relaxed and caring. Do not be uptight or stern. Humor that is not condescending is very helpful as is your good attitude and smile (Matthew 5:16).
45. You do not know what to say or where to begin? Just share the Word of God and what He has done for you (Ephesians 2:8-9).
46. The better you get at it, the more the evil one will come against you. Do not fear; Christ is with you. But, you still have to prepare yourself (Ephesians 6:10-20; 8:4).
47. We have to realize the fact and veracity of Spiritual warfare. Satan is scheming, as we speak, to thwart your efforts; however, always remember, "He that is in you is greater that He that is in the world (2 Corinthians 2:9-10; 1 Peter 5:6-8; 1 John 4:4-6)."
48. Your witness is not dependent on your answers; it is dependent on your character and commitment. Learn all you can. But, if you cannot answer a question, that is OK! Just say, "I will check on that and get back to you." Ask someone else such as a pastor. Or, do a little research, and then get back to the person with the answer (1 Corinthians 1:10, 27).
49. Evangelism, no matter how much you fail or how successful you are, is all about glorifying our Lord. It is not about who gets to lead more people to Christ. Numbers are great, but God is more interested in your faith and your obedience (2 John 1:4-6).
50. For American and Western Churches, clear, open, and effective parking is essential. People love their cars; if you do not have room for their cars, you do not have room for them.
It is very humbling, as well as very liberating to realize that God really does not need to use us. He is sovereign and completely able to do all things without our assistance! But, it is also very reassuring and encouraging to know that God calls us to walk with Him anyway, and in so doing, He is willing to use us, even appealing to us to join Him in His magnificent work of outreach for His glory.
And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:7
What is the key to remembering all of this? It is not just about believing and knowing; it is about doing. We may forget points, but we should never forget the main point, to be faithful in Him so he will always use us. The church life is about responding to and living out the life of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ working through us. We do this from the Word of Christ, the Word of Scripture and the working of the Spirit. It is all about our obedience and applying His work in us both as individuals and as a church. He is the Source, so stay close to the Source. Be faithful in your personal spiritual growth. The other key is not to isolate yourself within the Christian subculture. Get out and get involved, and remember to love and care before you share!
Questions to Ponder
1. Do you realize there has never been a time in Church history when we have had access to more books and resources for training, evangelism, and discipleship? Yet, it seems the Church is doing less training, evangelism, and discipleship than ever before. What are you and your church going to do about this?
2. Are you able and willing to succeed at building meaningful and impacting relationships? If not, why not? Usually, our fears from past experiences hinder us. They key to overcoming our apprehensions is to focus upon Christ "totally" as our Lord!
3. Pay attention to the "wake" you leave behind you in life. How is your life touching and moving others? Is what you leave behind meaningful and encouraging, or are you just one more problem to others? Your lasting impact is what echoes into eternity. Do a good job on how you are to others!
4. Remember, the Christian life is not about you; it is about glorifying Christ. So, is He Lord of your life? Are you following Him? If not, what is in the way?
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:19- 20
Some passages to consider: 2 Corinthians 5:20; Colossians 4:2-6; 1 Peter 1:7; 3:15-16; 1 John 4:8; 5:14-15
© 2006, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org