This last semester I had the privilege to spend one day a week on the campus of a local community college with one purpose: evangelize the lost. Evangelism is not only a necessary work of the church, but must be practiced by every believer as a spiritual discipline. While some excel at this discipline and others struggle; evangelism must be practiced by all who profess faith.
The following is a simple list of practical lessons I learned while attempting to faithfully proclaim the Gospel.
First: Pray, pray, and pray. Spend time praying for before, during, and after sharing Jesus. Prior to sharing make sure you pray for boldness and not ease. The world will be hostile towards the truth and so we should pray for boldness (Acts 4:23-31).
Pray in between conversations. It is important to pray immediately after talking to an individual. The freshness of the information gathered name, background, beliefs, etc. will even help lift that person up in prayer.
Pray afterward the entire time sharing. I am often accompanied by other believers as I share the Gospel. Sometimes we are so many that we split into groups and are able to share to numerous individuals; so at the end of our time together we try and collectively pray for the numerous gospel presentations.
Second: Be honest. When beginning to engage in sharing the Gospel introduce yourself and be honest enough to say that your goal is to talk about eternal matters, specifically related to their belief in Jesus Christ. A simple statement such as, “I’m a Christian and would like to talk to you about your views on God, life, and the afterlife,” will suffice. This helps defeat the awkwardness of a transition to Jesus that seems like it comes from nowhere.
Third: Share Jesus. Since unbelievers suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Rom 1:18) one can easily get sucked in to peripheral discussions. While it is important to address issues of theodicy (the relationship between the existence of evil and the existence of God), the validity of Scripture, etc. remember the conversation would be fruitless if their sin and need for Jesus is never discussed.
While I do think entertaining objections and answering questions is important, saints must learn healthy ways to do so without malicious debates. Believers must be shrewd and learn to lovingly transition to a clear and coherent gospel presentation.
Fourth: Ask for Opportunities to Follow-Up. Often times a 10-15 minute conversation cannot always answer a persons questions in relation to Jesus Christ. That is why it is important to be intentional in asking for e-mail, phone, or another face-to-face discussion. I’ve found that people have been more willing to communicate via email than phone.
Fifth: Use a Tract as a Summary. Please don’t fall for the trap that handing out tracts is evangelism. A tract should be used as a tool to accomplish the task. When discussion and sharing Jesus with an individual use the tract in a way that summarizes what you have vocalized to the individual in your discussion. If time permits, walk that person through the tract, but still use it as an instrument for conversation.
Sixth: Remember Your Place. It is not your place to convert. Conversion is a work that only God can produce. Your responsibility is to be the tool that God uses to bring about conversion through the faithful sharing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Westernized Christianity as placed man as the center of everything, even salvation. Remember, the volition of the unbeliever is tied to their sin tendencies unless God intervenes to change a persons heart. The very mechanism used to change an unbelieving heart begins with a faithful understanding of the Gospel. This can happen through the reading of Scripture, or more often than not, through the faithful sharing of the Gospel by a saint to unbeliever.
Seventh: Watch Your Vocabulary. This was especially hard as a seminary student. Often times terms like sin, theology proper, Godhead, atonement, propitiation, etc. are the norm, this is not the case for your average unbeliever. It seems as though gone are the days when your average American had a Christian vocabulary. Make sure you are communicating theological truths in a digestible manner—know your audience.
I’ve found that these simple tips can help believers in their endeavors to share the gospel. Remember saints, the goal is not to win a debate and make a person feel foolish; rather, the goal is to faithful share the gospel. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but I sure found it helpful.