1. Be prepared to share! The Gospel means “Good News” What’s the good news? How can you make what happened 2000 years ago relevant today? Well even if you feel you have no imagination to spiff up a story, the Gospel is good news all by itself! The man who came from heaven to earth for 33 years, ministered for 3 and then died, was raised from the dead and then ascended back to heaven is the gospel in a nutshell. During his time of ministry, he shared many things through parables (stories) that people could relate to. He often answered questions with questions. He made you think! Similar to the prophets of old, this man came and clearly stated what the Lord said to a “stiff-necked” people that refused to believe even in the face of some pretty spectacular miracles. This man, Jesus, knows how to help you get the story right and share it in love even to those who’d rather not hear it.
2. Have a heart to share! Be very clear about why you want to share the gospel. If you feel it’s your Christian duty then you’re not ready to share. Pray and ask for a heart for the lost, to see them as the Lord sees them. He said it was not his will that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
3. Listen before you speak! Often we can be so enthusiastic about wanting to share that we leave the Holy Spirit behind! Take time to pray in EVERY encounter before you share and allow the Holy Spirit to direct you.
4. Don’t be nervous! Many of us have wondered, “Are we going to mess up? Will we get this right?” Again, that’s why steps one to three are so important. If you have done these three prerequisites, the rest will fall into place. We may not always feel like we know what we’re doing but trust that the Lord does!
5. What’s YOUR story? I found a great article by Pastor Randy Mason, from Liberty Baptist Church in Marhalltown, Iowa to help me out on this one!
The Apostle Peter addresses this very subject in 1 Peter 3:15, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” “Sanctify” means to prepare, to purify by preparation. At the time that Peter wrote this there was great persecution and hostility to the Gospel. That same attitude is beginning to pervade our culture in the United States as well. Peter says you better prepare yourselves and equip yourselves to be able to give a defense of the Gospel in these times of hostility and persecution.
The word “Lord” means one true living God. Being a Christian does not mean that Christianity is the best option among many religions. Christianity is based on the Biblical premise that Jesus alone is Lord and the only exclusive way to a relationship with God. There are some 22 major religions and some 200 minor or less known religions throughout the world, but according to the Bible only Christianity, only Christ will bring you to a right relationship with God. Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) The word “always” means perpetually, constantly being ready to share Jesus Christ with those around you. We are to be spiritual minutemen and women. Ready at a moment’s notice when God gives us an open door to share the hope that is within us. Being “ready” means to be armed. Paul talks about this in Ephesians chapter six:
“…wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God…”
We must equip ourselves with all the spiritual armament if we are to be successful in presenting a defense of the hope that is within us. To give an “answer” is translated from the Greek word apologia from where we get the word apologetics, which is a defense of the Gospel. It means to present in a reasonable and coherent fashion why you have the hope within you and we are to do it with gentleness and reverence. We are to do it with humility toward men and not fearing men, but do it with a reverence and worship toward God. Apologetics of the Gospel is not something just a pastor does, but here in first Peter the Word of God is making it clear that giving a defense of the Gospel or making a presentation of the Gospel is something that every believer has a responsibility to do.
6. Follow up with lots of prayer! Winning souls is not about putting notches on your spiritual belt or checking “witnessing” off on your list of things to do. The Lord may not have you to speak to thousands but simply to a few. Water and nurture those interactions with follow up prayer and touchbases if possible.
I’ve met folks in the airport that I had great conversations with about the Lord that I have not seen nor heard from since. I wish I had at least started keeping a journal of these encounters so that I could continue to pray for them by name and remember the circumstances around our meeting. It’s an exciting thought to me that someone out there that I may have met me 10 years ago in a restaurant or movie theater line is STILL praying for me! I used to have a “book of remembrance” where I simply wrote down the names of the people I was praying for. I’d lift up the book to the Lord and simply pray “Lord I lift these requests up to you and ask that you do exceeding, abundantly above all that I could ask or think” then I’d wait quietly for the Holy Spirit to prompt me to pray about anything specifically. That was it! Never forget the effective and fervent prayer of the righteous avails much! Keep ‘em lifted!
7. Thank God for what He is doing! Even if it seems like you are not seeing results. (People giving their lives to Christ) how long did the Lord wait for you? Be encouraged by the wisdom of Paul, some plant, some water, but at the end of the day, God gives the increase. I like to say, God doesn’t do “A” without doing “B” we may not always be a witness to the end result but we can trust that the Lord knows how to work all things together for good so that nothing is wasted.
8. Where do I sign up? Be committed to sharing the Gospel as a lifestyle not a sideline hobby. The more you share, the more you want to. It’s an indescribable joy to talk to others about Christ. I remember the first time I did street evangelism with my late husband Keith. I was very hesitant, afraid that people would think we were being pushy and trying to “shove religion down their throat” My husband chose two alcohol guzzling men sitting on crates behind a liquor store to share the gospel with first. I cringed, I was certain these guys had zero interest in what we had to say. Keith parked our van close to their outside “bar stools” and got out. He told me to join him if I felt comfortable. Like that’s gonna happen! Is what I thought but I smiled weakly and nodded as I rolled the window down so I could hear the conversation.
My husband strolled over and greeted them jovially; which was his nature. They looked up, clearly surprised. One man, I’m going to call him “Moe” protectively moved the brown bagged bottle they were sharing a little closer to his side. I thought that was hilarious and sent up some reinforcement prayers for my husband. The other man, we’ll call him “Joe” simply eyed my husband with interest and took another sip from his red plastic cup. Keith chatted with them for a while and then plainly explained his purpose for speaking with them; to share the gospel. Joe cocked his head to the side and asked, “Why?” “Why?!” My eyes flew to my husband. Did he anticipate that question? Keith cocked his own head to the side and smiled. “Cause we care!” He said with a laugh. No drawn out speech, just a simple statement: We care! Apparently, that did it for Joe. He sat his red plastic cup down and bowed his head in prayer with my husband. Moe, stood to the side observing everything with a look of amazement on his face. When Keith and Joe finished praying, my husband turned to Moe and stretched out his hand in invitation. Moe backed away shaking his head. He grabbed the bottle and his cup and disappeared around the building. Joe watched him retreat for a minute and then turned to Keith with a grin. “He’ll come around.” Joe said “I’ll talk to him later.” What?! Joe was already preparing to evangelize?!
My husband waved for me to get out the van. He introduced me to Joe and we sat down and talked for another 30 minutes or so. We shared some resources; where he could go to get a shower, get a meal and be around other believers who would help him in this new journey. Joe was genuinely interested an asked us to write the information down. When we left Joe, I felt completely different from when we had first pulled up. I couldn’t wait to talk to the next person! This feeling of elation stayed with me for several days. I couldn’t get over how exciting witnessing could be. Of course, there were some who blatantly told us they weren’t interested. Like the woman on Belle Isle in Detroit, MI who said with a sneer. “You messing up my high!” We always respected a person’s decision not to hear what we had to say but we’d still offer prayer. Surprisingly, there were people who didn’t want to hear the gospel but took us up on our offer for prayer! (Remember, nothing is wasted with God!)
I hope these tips have been a blessing to you as you pray about being a witness for the Lord and a light to shine where ever you are!