Eight Weeks of Effective Witness: It. Takes. Time. Patience, My Friends

We who know Jesus and love Jesus and want to share Jesus with others aren’t better than anyone else; we’ve simply received a gift from God made possible by grace. We want others to know Jesus, and we want to share him boldly without being a jerk.

Patience matters. Many of you have people in your life who don’t follow Jesus, and you want to give up talking with them. This short little video encourages you to see both your growth as a witness and your impact in others as a process. It. Takes. Time. Be patient.

By the way, if you haven’t already, sign up to take the Eight Week Challenge here.

<iframe src=”https://player.vimeo.com/video/212591091″ width=”640″ height=”360″ frameborder=”0″ webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>
<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/212591091″>Social Media 4</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user1685981″>Alvin Reid</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>

Eight Weeks of Effective Witness: Principle 5 from the Sharing Jesus Book

Each chapter of the Sharing Jesus book has a principle, eight total, one per week if you are following the Eight Week Challenge. Week five, and thus principle five, has to do with practical ways to bring Jesus into everyday conversations. Some are specific tools or approaches, some are more mindset than method. Here is the principle:

Principle 5: Effective evangelistic conversations connect the unchanging gospel with the specific issues people face.

Here are the five approaches (you’ll have to read the book to get the details):

  1. Stories–everyone has a story. Ask the other person about her story. Then, share your story. As a believer it’s not possible to tell your story without talking about Jesus, right? Then, you can ask her, “Has anything like this happened to you?” From there you can talk more about the gospel based on her response.
  2. Ask good questions–sometimes just learning a few helpful questions makes all the difference. I don’t ask, “Do you go to church?” but I ask, “When you attend church, where do you attend?” The second question assumes the best of the person, and in my experience people are much more likely to admit they aren’t involved in church when the second question is employed. This a) gives you a little info on where they are spiritually, b) turns the conversation toward spiritual matters. Just this Sunday a layman at our church stopped me to tell me how this one shift of questioning has changed his own witness for the better.
  3. Genuine affirmation and encouragement–this is very powerful when done authentically. Note this: You can affirm a person as created in God’s image without endorsing his lifestyle. Focusing on the person God created more than his specific ideology helps to communicate the gospel in a less-than-condescending tone. I mention in the book how this attitude has been most helpful in seeing people come to Christ who were of a different religion (like Muslim) or a different lifestyle (like homosexuality).
  4. Focus on the person’s heart as well as the mind–here is where many make a fundamental mistake by assuming information alone will win people. We don’t reach people only from the neck up; we reach them as a total person, head, hands, and heart.
  5. Connect beneath the surface–one of the most helpful ways to think about gospel conversations for me has been to pay attention when people talk about their pain or their passion, two subjects we constantly discuss. When someone talks about pain, start with the brokenness that comes from sin and take her to the work of Christ for sin and the restoration by Christ.  When someone talks about what he is passionate about, start with God’s design and how he made each of us in his image with a desire to be and do more than just survive. Then take him to the cross to show how we can only really fulfill the passion in our heart by a relationship with Christ.

You can read more about this in the book, but perhaps one of these will encourage you.

Eight Weeks of Effective Witness: 4 Reasons Many Don’t Witness

Why do so many believers find talking about Jesus so hard? Part of the reason comes from the very way we church leader types have taught people to share Christ. Let me say how grateful I am for so many who have taught me so much about telling the good news. At the same time, I’ve observed some unintended consequences of the way we have often packaged our evangelism training. Here are four main reasons:

First, most believers do not consider themselves public speakers. Evangelism training often focuses more on learning a one-size-fits-all presentation to deliver than on the gospel message and on the people with whom we share. This approach makes people who are not naturally public speakers more than a little bit nervous. According to Gallup public speaking is the second greatest fears of adults. Giving a set gospel presentation represents a form of public speaking more than an everyday conversation. This is a reason we’ve had so many people go through some form of evangelism training but never actually develop a lifestyle of witnessing.

Second, most of the people who teach evangelism training tend to be aggressive, Type-A folks (raising my hand, guilty as charged) who share Christ passionately and genuinely want others to as well. But most people aren’t wired like that, so it can be intimidating. Imagine you finally decided to get in shape physically. You go to a gym and hire a personal trainer, and out walks a guy who looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s muscle-bound big brother. I would feel pretty defeated looking at myself in the mirror and then looking at that, wouldn’t you? That’s the way a lot of people who don’t have a lot of witnessing experience feel.

Third, at times evangelism training makes us more self-conscious than self-confident. I’ve met too many Christians who tell me some version of this: “I met the Lord, and started telling others how he changed my life. Then, I took evangelism training, and suddenly began to wonder if I was doing it all wrong. So, I became more apprehensive than bold.” That’s not what is intended in witness training, and it’s not we are going for here. That may not be your story, but it’s one I’ve heard far too many times.

A fourth reason is less about training and more about the Christian subculture we have created today, which leads the vast majority of Christians to spend most of our time around saved people with little interaction with lost people. We live in Christian bubbles, which means we go to movies with believers, have parties with believers, and do pretty much everything in our discretionary time with believers. In our mastery of fellowship with the saints we’ve lost a burden for a friendship with sinners. But Jesus was known as a friend of sinners (Luke 7).

Whatever the reason, it’s time church leaders help believers grow in confidence in sharing Christ in their everyday lives, the way they were born to do it. That’s why I wrote the Sharing Jesus book. I’m not going to try to make you the next Billy Graham or Apostle Paul, but to help you become the person God made you to be, to become the person God created you to be, and to be like the host of believers in Scripture and history who tell the real story behind the spread of the gospel of Jesus around the world. Folks like those unnamed guys in Acts 11:19-23 who planted the gospel deeply in Antioch, the fourth largest city of the Roman Empire. People like those Michael Green described in his book Evangelism in the Early Church: “In contrast to the present day, when Christianity is highly intellectualized and dispensed by professional clergy to a constituency increasingly confined to the middle class, in the early days the faith was spontaneously spread by informal evangelists, and had its greatest appeal among the working classes.”

These “informal evangelists” were normal people just like you (I’m talking about you) God used to evangelize the Roman Empire. You can do this in your everyday life, and I want to help you do just that.