Friday, March 12, 2010

Does evangelism scare you?

On Wednesday, I was writing about heaven and asking people what they expect it to be like.  Part of one woman's comment said:

"I'm struggling with a non-desire to be here on earth any longer than I need to be. I know I'm here for His purpose and I don't want to deny Him anything from His design for me, but I find my desire to work here waining. I guess what I really am questioning is why I don't desire to share this treasure with my non-believing friends and people I encounter? I am comfortable to share and encourage other believers, but those that I encounter that don't know or don't care to know Christ...I avoid sharing my faith with them.

For so long I've battled with whether or not I'd offend them and ...
actually would aid the devil in turning them further away from God. I've kept my mouth shut with those that voice opinions contrary to His Word because I doubt my ability to share it in love. I am questioning my ability to love my neighbor enough to speak God's love to them and risk their rejection/anger towards me, but even worse their rejection of Him. I want so much to tell them that I love them enough to share God's truth with them, but I am questioning why I cannot open my mouth and take that risk? I have no idea how all this came from your question on heaven."

I love how Paula poured out her heart, thoughts and fears in that comment.  I respect people who dare to be real about their issues, fears and quirks. Because we all have them.

I think what she is uncovering is her desire to play it safe. Most of us have this desire. She doesn't want to engage spiritually with the non-believer, which can be a messy, difficult or even hurtful encounter sometimes.  And I'm guessing she longs for heaven because they're are no "messy" non-believers there. Just the supreme bliss of God and His rule.

But it's not that Paula doesn't want to reach the unbelievers in her world ... it isn't that she has no heart for them. She fears she will somehow do it wrong. And make things worse. Anger them towards her or towards God. And that scares her. Have you ever felt this way? I have.

Oh how I wish I could speed my upcoming book It's No Secret into print so I could send Paula a copy today.  Chapter 13 is for her. 

My understanding of evangelism has been refined while reading the Bible over the years. I believe I will be rewarded for trying to tell others the Good News of Christ, and not punished for it if they don't respond to my (admittedly sometimes frail) efforts.  You see, other people's eternal fate is never in my hands. Ultimately it is the Spirit of God that draws people to Christ, and their spirit within them that responds.  I can't control either of those things. But I can be used by God to facilitate that process, and that is what I pray for opportunities to do.

After all, as a disciple of Christ, I/we haven been given a great commission, a great opportunity to join God in His work. And to teach those willing to follow Him, how to be His disciple. The key there is to look for where God is already moving and working.

In case you are wondering if I get scared when in a "witnessing" type conversation with someone who doesn't yet believe ... yes. I often do get nervous in the moment. But I push past that as I sense an openness on their part and as I sense God's leading.  My nervousness is usually mixed with excitment.  I decide to let the excitement win out.

I'm not a very confrontational person, though my husband would say I usually can hold my own in a debate. :) I'm not the type to hit people upside the head with my faith. However, when they are open to it, and asking questions, I don't want to miss the opporunity to plant that seed either. I'll press in - gently, kindly, hopefully persuasively - and then give them some room to process and respond.  If their openness continues, I'll continue. I tend to ask them a lot of questions too - I tend to want them to arrive at the I-need-Christ-conclusion for themeselves. And if/when they do, I offer to lead them in a prayer. And I do what I can to point them to a church where they can learn more and seek baptism. 

If they seem to close off at any point, I let it rest while praying for their heart to soften. And I pray for and trust another person will come along and press gently towards their heart with the Good News again. I try to remember the parable of the sower and the soils. Some soils are not ready.  And somtimes my job is to plant, while other times to water or harvest.

I also try to remember what St. Francis of Assisi said, "Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words."  That says a lot about sharing your faith right there.

Since Paula fearlessly brought it up, let me ask, does "evangelism" scare you?  Do you talk about God much around unbelievers?  What drives you to speak up, or to keep quiet in these instances?

Thankful for the opportunity to join God as He builds His kingdom.


  1. To be honest it does make me nervous to talk to somebody like that. I wish it didn't.


  2. You know, I think it's the THOUGHT about what may happen that's the scariest. Once you push through your fear, God can help you. But you must step out in faith. At least that's how it's been for me. The "what if's" are the scary part: "What if he/she gets mad; what if they laugh or ask questions I can't answer?; what if, what if, what if?!" However, God doesn't tell us to make people believe, He simply tells us to spread the Good News.

    Something I always tell myself when I get in that situation with a non-believer is this: I can only control what comes out of my mouth and their reaction is up to them. I can plant the seed and then God does the rest.

    I'm praying that we move past our fears, step out in faith and not take responsibility for another person's response. :)

    ~Amy V. from WI

  3. I often think about when or who I should witness to and get scared at the idea of actually doing it. I love the comment before mine where she said "God doesn't tell us to make people believe, just to spread the Good News." Thank you for that reminder. I feel when it's time to witness, God will lead and I'll know what to say and when to say it.

  4. Wow I was just praying about this! Is God good or what!

    I am of the group that hopes my life reflects Christ. If an opportunity appears I hope & pray that I can say the words the Holy Spirit wants me to say to bring someone closer to Him.

    I have family members who feel it is their responsibility that at every twist & turn, every email, every phone conversation must be about Christ, His saving grace & all who don't have it will go to hell. They feel all are lost souls & it is up to them to spread the Word. They feel it is where God wants them. Whether you like it or not, you are going to hear about the Lord. Please don't get me wrong, these are Spirit filled, great Bible knowledge, living the Word kinda people. I feel like a failure next to them.

    My Lord is showing me that I am not like them & that is ok. He wants to use me, my weakness & strengths for His glory. I need to be open to the Spirit. I stand on Isaiah 55:1 'My Word that goes out from My mouth; it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purposes for which I sent it.' This is a powerful statement from God!!!! I pray Jeremiah 42:3 "Pray that the Lord your God will tell us where we should go and what we should do." I have come to understand I am one of the dropping the seed kinda person. Through my actions & words people will know the Lord. The Lord will send someone else to water, weed & reap these people.

    Matthew 6:33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” So I seek His kingdom & His righteousness & when He wants me to speak, I pray for wisdom & peace to do it. Otherwise, I say a silent prayer for whomever I am around.
    Blessings & Peace Mary

  5. Definitely - it scares me. I'm currently praying for a friend who's just expressed that she doesn't really know what the purpose of life is about anymore after seeing her mum suffer and lose her battle to cancer.

    I know that's a clear cry for Jesus, but I just don't know where to even begin to share with God can bring meaning to her life. It's feels like an overwhelming task to evangelise sometimes. But when I think abt it carefully, I guess I'm too hung up on trying to convince my friend to have faith when she doesn't...and that's really God's call....not mine. Thx for helping me to see this :)

  6. I don't feel comfortable "cold calling" someone but if I establish a relationship and someone has questions or I have an opening to introduce my faith, I do. I've found that I'm often what's called a "seed planter" and someone else closes the deal down the road if they continue on in their quest.


Chime in.