Those are two words that have personally intimidated, frightened, and turned me away over the years. I think of the people on the streets who are screaming “Turn or burn!” or even a forced conversation with someone with the hopes of them making a quick “decision” for Christ.
Do these scenarios actually happen? Sure, but the Lord has opened my eyes recently to the fact that this does not have to be the case.
Recently, I took a seminary course that challenged students in personal evangelism. The sole purpose behind this course is to challenge students to be actively sharing the Gospel with people, and to hold them accountable to this challenge.
Going into this course, I was skeptical and unsure of what to think. I had many misconceptions and struggles with “cold turkey-on-the-spot” evangelism. Thankfully, the Lord broke me of these misconceptions, and has taught me that this can actually be effective, and there is a time and place for this effort.
Personal Evangelism Barriers
Here are three personal evangelism barriers that I have had to work through in my own life that I hope will encourage and challenge you:
1. I must have a personal relationship with someone before I share the Gospel with that person.
I am a very relational person by nature. I thrive off of relationships with others, and I feel much more comfortable being real with someone when I know them. Although this is probably the case for most of us, it should not be our excuse.
There are times when the Lord puts people in our path at a random moment of the day, and we have the opportunity to share the Gospel or start a spiritual conversation with them. The Lord can work in those situations too, and spiritual seeds can be planted. We may be the only example of Jesus that they see that day.
2. What if they respond in rejection?
I’m reminded of Luke 10:16 when Jesus sends out the seventy two disciples: “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
John 15:20 also reminds us that if Christ was persecuted, we will be also. Every ounce of rejection and persecution we receive should be considered a joy and honor, knowing that it is all for His kingdom work.
3. I want to see the results of what I share.
Not seeing the fruit of our efforts is difficult and frustrating at times. If we do not see someone come to faith, or even attend a church service we invite them too, we must keep in mind that God is always working.
Every effort is significant and not done in vain. Planting seeds in someone’s heart is a way that the Lord works through us. God’s timetable for salvation is far greater than ours, and only He can save.
Be Fearless and Intentional
Acts 18:9-10: “And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”
Just as the Apostle Paul responded to the voice of the Lord regarding his journey of ministry in Corinth, we are to respond as well, just as intentionally. God has already ordained opportunities and divine encounters for us to act upon in our daily lives. The interactions and meetings with others that may seem casual and routine may actually be chances for us to express our faith through simple conversations.
There are people we interact with that will belong to God’s kingdom, but have not yet trusted in Christ through faith and repentance. May we be the catapult and means that the Lord uses for the Spirit to prompt them to trust Jesus. Church, let’s get after it!