By Scott Hildreth
Fear is one of the Christian’s greatest hindrances to sharing Christ. We’re afraid of saying the wrong thing. We’re afraid of embarrassing God, ourselves, or others. We’re afraid of messing up a wonderful friendship. We’re afraid of being asked a question we can’t answer. We’re afraid of negative reactions.
Our minds create a host of things to be afraid of and reasons to remain silent about our faith, so how can we overcome these fears and be more intentional about sharing Christ with others?
After years of teaching evangelism in formal and informal settings, I’ve learned there’s one practice that will help you overcome your fear. I know this sounds simplistic, but I couldn’t be more serious. If you do this one thing, your fear will no longer bully you into silence. Even if these fears never fully disappear, you can conquer them and become more evangelistic.
What is this one thing?
Share Christ with others.
It sounds silly, but the more you step out and tell others about Jesus, the less paralyzing your fears become. Typically, when we want to get better at something, we take a class, look for a better tool, or seek a new strategy. While these things may improve our technique, they don’t help us overcome our fears.
However, if you take steps to share, you’ll learn several important lessons that will help you overcome your fear.
1. People aren’t as mean as you assume.
Most people are quite willing to talk about faith. However, if you remain silent, you will imagine a host of negative encounters. If your mind is like mine, I can think of dozens of scary ways people may respond to evangelistic conversations. But very few of these ever happen. People tend to respond positively to kind, winsome conversations.
Sharing Christ often will reinforce the idea that people are much nicer and more willing to talk than we sometimes assume.
2. Questions are the bridge for effective evangelism.
Most of us want an airtight, bullet-proof gospel presentation that doesn’t leave room for any discussion or debate. Questions frighten us. We assume they’re a disagreement or attack. Questions make us nervous because we assume we need to know all the answers.Questions make us nervous because we assume we need to know all the answers. But what if instead of thinking questions will stop the conversation, you viewed questions as the conversation? — @dshildreth Click To Tweet
Rather than thinking questions will stop the conversation, what if you viewed them as the conversation? When someone asks a question, it gives you a chance to do one of three things:
- Clarify something that’s unclear.
- Open the Bible and show how it’s your source of truth.
- Say, “I don’t know, but I will find out and get back to you.” This leads to a second conversation.
Each of these responses takes our evangelism to a new level. It becomes a conversation, not a sales pitch.
3. You know more than you think you know.
Yes, the Bible is a big book, and theology can be confusing. And yes, there’s much more you need to learn. But you aren’t giving yourself credit for what you already know. You already know dozens of Bible stories and hundreds of Bible verses. You know how Jesus saved you, and you also know how to tell someone else to pray and ask God to save them.If you step out and start talking about Jesus, it will amaze you to discover what you know is more than enough for effective conversations about faith. — @dshildreth Click To Tweet
If you step out and start talking about Jesus, it will amaze you to discover what you know is more than enough for effective conversations about faith. However, the longer we keep this knowledge bottled up, the less confident we become.
4. You can trust God.
Never forget that evangelism is a God event. Jesus told us:
“Nevertheless, I am telling you the truth. It is for your benefit that I go away, because if I don’t go away the Counselor will not come to you. If I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment: About sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; and about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.” (John 16:7-11, CSB)
The more you share, the more frequently you’ll see God’s activity. He is trustworthy, and evangelism success rests on Him.The more you share, the more frequently you’ll see God’s activity. He is trustworthy, and evangelism success rests on Him. — @dshildreth Click To Tweet
If you will share Christ more often, you’ll see more doors open and more opportunities arise. God will shape your thinking and bring people into your life who need to hear about the hope we have in Jesus.
Don’t let this be intimidating. Don’t overcomplicate things. Start small and let the Lord replace your fear with faith.
- Ask someone if you can pray for them.
- Develop a 30 second, 2 minute, and 5 minute version of your personal testimony, and share it often.
- Use the phrase, “That reminds me of something I recently read.” Then tell a Bible story or share a promise from Scripture.
- Carry a tract or have an app on your phone with an evangelism conversation.
Step out and overcome your fear of evangelism.
Scott is the George Liele Director of the Lewis A Drummond Center for Great Commission Studies and assistant professor of Missiology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Before SEBTS, he and his family served with the International Mission Board in Europe and Central Asia.