Have your evangelism efforts stalled? Don’t let these three obstacles stand in your way. The fields are indeed ready for harvest.
D. Scott Hildreth
Do you find it more difficult to share your faith now than when you first became a Christian?
It’s not uncommon for those of us who have been Christians for some time to find ourselves less engaged in personal evangelism than newer believers. This realization can frustrate us, after all we’re more theologically prepared to share Christ, our experiences of His grace and faithfulness are richer, our knowledge of the Bible is more complete, and we’re more aware of our responsibility to share Christ.
Below are three reasons your evangelism efforts may have stalled and tips for getting “unstuck.”
1. Your relationship circle doesn’t include unbelievers
Proximity to unbelievers along with the tangible change in our lives after conversion serve as foundational elements for evangelism. When we first became Christians, most of our friends weren’t Christians. However, the longer we’re believers, the more our friend circles change. Either our unsaved friends become Christians or our new life makes it difficult to remain close. Also, as we grow in faith, our most meaningful friendships are with other believers.Proximity to unbelievers along with the tangible change in our lives after conversion serve as foundational elements for evangelism. — @dshildreth Click To Tweet
First, we need to admit this shift is good and right. Christians become part of the body of Christ. We love one another, encourage one another, serve one another, pray for one another … you know the list. Also, as our desires and worldview change, we find ourselves drawn away from our previous lifestyle and into new environments. All of this means that the longer we’re Christians, the fewer unbelievers we include in our relationship circles.
However, Jesus also called us to “fish for people” (Matthew 4:19, CSB). How can we increase our contact with unbelievers?
- Ask God to give you unbelieving friends.
- Look at your current circles of relationship—family, friends, co-workers, classmates, clubs, and social media groups. Make a list of each person and consider their spiritual condition. It might surprise you how many lost people you’re in a relationship with.
- Consider lifestyle or daily routine changes that put you in contact with lost people. Many of us have developed habits that make us comfortable as we relate to people who already believe. Be willing to make adjustments for the sake of evangelism.
2. You have lost your wonder at God’s work for your salvation
Can you remember the early days of your Christian life? The joy of new faith is something we cannot contain. God loves us. Jesus died for us. Our sins are forgiven. There is a new hope and a new help in this world. We are aware of how Jesus met us at our point of need. And when we see others struggling, we can’t help ourselves. We are compelled to tell.
I’m reminded of this joy of salvation when I read the testimony of the man born blind. When asked who Jesus is, he answered: “Whether or not he’s a sinner, I don’t know. One thing I do know: I was blind, and now I can see!” (John 9:25, CSB). We can hear echoes of new faith in this testimony. Lack of knowledge doesn’t stop us from telling others; however, as we mature, we can lose this sense of wonder. The newness wears off. It isn’t that we are not thankful for our salvation; it’s just that we’ve lost the amazement of it all.When you find your evangelism efforts have stalled, revisit the wonder of your salvation. — @dshildreth Click To Tweet
Jesus gave some helpful advice to the church in Ephesus. “Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first” (Revelation 2:5, CSB).
When you find your evangelism efforts have stalled, revisit the wonder of your salvation. Here are a couple of ideas that may bring you back.
- Write out your salvation story. Remember what God has done for you.
- Share the gospel with someone. Redo the works you did at first; they fueled your wonder.
- Spend time each day in worship. Let the music of the church lead you to repent from the coldness of your faith.
Consider this hymn as a starting point:
There’s the wonder of sunset at evening,
The wonder as sunrise I see;
But the wonder of wonders that thrills my soul
Is the wonder that God loves me.
3. You are discouraged because of past failures
There are few things more thrilling than watching a student or church member lead someone to Christ. In my heart, I think: “Welcome to the other side. You will never be the same.” Being part of helping someone trust Jesus is exciting. It fuels our desire to keep going. However, the opposite is also true. When we experience rejection, our enthusiasm fades, and eventually, we stop sharing altogether.
The fear of failure is one of the leading causes of procrastination. We put off doing things we don’t think we’ll succeed at. As Mohsin Shafique said, “Fear of failure is the number one reason people don’t set goals or try new things.”Every evangelistic conversation is a success. We work the field, while growth and conversion are God’s responsibility. — @dshildreth Click To Tweet
How can we overcome this frustration? We need to embrace the truth Paul told the church in Corinth. “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So, then, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s coworkers. You are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:6-9, CSB).
- Each evangelistic encounter isn’t necessarily supposed to lead to saving faith. Our witness is another step in God’s work to bring this person to saving knowledge of Christ.
- This means every evangelistic conversation is a success! We work the field, while growth and conversion are God’s responsibility.
- Have evangelistic conversations with others. When the conversation ends, ask yourself. “In what way did this conversation lead one step closer to Christ?” Rejoice in that single step; that is your success.
Have your evangelism efforts stalled? Do you feel like you should be doing more? Don’t let these obstacles stand in your way. The fields are indeed white. They are ready for harvest. Let’s be God’s labors in His field.
D. Scott Hildreth
Scott serves as Associate Professor of Missiology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of Together on God’s Mission and the co-author of Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out. Both books are published by B&H Academic.