It’s confession time – I am not that great at evangelism. I know Jesus told me to follow Him and share the Good News, and I know that when I share my faith I feel totally alive – but it is sometimes just so hard for me. I almost feel like I need a t-shirt that says, “Caution: Evangelistically Awkward Person”. I remember when I was a young adolescent, trying to explain faith to my best friend. He had a lot of good questions, and instead of sticking on the point and focusing on Jesus, I went through a maze of theology that only made him (and me) confused. Honestly, I think the best thing would have just been to invite him to church – sometimes you have to experience community to see how Christianity really works and makes sense.
I shared my faith a little in high school, but not much in college. I did have a friend in college have a crisis of faith and ask me if I could lead him to Jesus. I told him that he was already a Christian and didn’t need to be led to Jesus. He told me that his faith had been a sham. I argued with him more, for some silly reason, until I realized how foolish that was. We wound up praying together, and it was a great moment (once I got out of God’s way).
I was in youth ministry starting in college – and saw many young people come to faith. These were great years, and hundreds of young people came to believe in Jesus during these years. This is evangelism, to be sure, and the type of evangelism that I am a little better at – teaching, encouraging, praying with groups of people. But honestly, I did not reach out to anyone my own age – for over 10 years. I let the youth reach their friends (while I didn’t reach any of my own), and I worked to help them know the hope that can only be found in Jesus.
Once the church plant started (5 years ago), I realized I needed to change. The last few years have been very hard – and amazing – and at times very awkward. I knew I had to be committed to inviting people to the church plant (it doesn’t really work if no one is invited!), and God grew me – even as I stumbled over my words and handed out invitation cards. I don’t want to be in people’s faces, and I don’t like pressure tactics.
I am still personally challenged when it comes to sharing my faith with people, but I have figured out a few things so far. First, people are open to prayer. I have prayed with strangers in stores, over the phone, and with friends – and everyone seems open to prayer. I am starting to realize that people need prayer more than my advice. Second, it is all about hope. When I started, I wanted people to be “right” and to know God. I have found that many people outside of church actually talk to God a lot. It is only inside of community (church), where we honor God (worship, serving) that we truly get to experience God’s hope. So instead of trying to pressure people into coming, I am trying to invite people to experience the hope of Jesus in community. Again – I am not always great at this, but God is working on me more and more, and growing me as I obey Him.
How about you? How is God challenging you to share His love with others? What has worked or not worked for you?