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.

Eight Weeks of Effective Witness: Get Yourself Some Schoolin’

I’ve never met a minister who completed a theologically rich and practically helpful degree at a seminary who regretted it. They probably exist, I just don’t know them. I’ve met far too many who regret later in life the failure to prioritize theological education while young. I’ve also met some who threw a lot of money down a rat hole to get a degree that was neither theologically and biblically rich or helpful in applying what they learned in a church.

That’s why I love teaching at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. We get what doesn’t change: an inerrant Bible, the Great Commission, and the value of the local church, for instance. We also get now, and seek to teach ministry useful in a changing world. That’s why I’m happy today to let you know of a great offer for those of you who have put off earning your degree. The month of May we are waiving the application fee for our M.Div.  You can apply here, and use the code “MDivMay.”

If that’s not enough to convince you, check out this video my colleague and co-author George Robinson and I did a while back. Get you some learnin’ and get your life wrecked!

Eight Weeks of Effective Witness: The Personal Impact in the Life of a Pastor

I wrote the Sharing Jesus book for any believer, from a teenager to a homemaker, from a seminary student to a seasoned pastor, from a businessman to an international missionary. Having said that, nothing thrills me more than to hear how the book encourages a pastor and his family. Mike Camire is Pastor of Students, College, and Missions at Parkway Baptist Church near Richmond. He is also a former student and dear friend. His work was featured in the book Get Out I wrote with my son Josh. Mike sent me this email and allowed me to share it with you. I hope it encourages you like it did me!

I have been meaning to email you about your book! I have to be honest, this book has been such a blessing in my own life, personally, as I have been trying to get to know my neighbors and share Jesus with them, as well as continuously meeting and talking with people throughout our community. I have been able to have several conversations about Jesus with a few of my neighbors, my exterminator, and even the local Mormons that stop by about every 6-8 weeks! None of these have trusted Jesus but have been open to me talking about Jesus.

It has also been helpful in establishing the “evangelism culture” in my own home! As I have been trying to apply the principles in your book to my life, they have overflowed in conversations with my wife and kids. Even during our family prayer time, we each pray for one person and we pray that God would use our family to make His name great! Just the other night, my daughter, Jillian – who is 6 years old – prayed for a lady at who works at our local Food Lion, who also is named Jillian, that we met when we were getting groceries! It is so awesome seeing my kids develop a heart for the lost in our community and our neighbors! 
Today, I started going through your book with a mentee of mine who I met through doing some work at my “third place,” a local ChickFilA. This guy is works there and noticed me discipling 2 of my student guys a few years ago and asked if I would meet with him because he was struggling with faith and going through a difficult time in life. He is growing in his faith now and told me this morning that he enjoyed the first chapter of the book and looks forward to more reading and discussion. 
I also feel that God is leading me to go through your book in the fall with my students. I just put an order in for 160 books today! My plan is to use it as our Sunday Morning LifeGroup curriculum for the first 8 weeks of the fall semester so that they can use the principles and the tools in the book to have gospel-pointed conversations with other students at the their schools as they start a new semester and meet new people! Your book is a great resource to get them equipped for this!
I share all of this with you to encourage you in your work. I know that a project like this took a lot of hard work and many hours to complete. It is paying off my friend! Thank you again for such a great resource for me personally and for the Church!
As a reminder, you can order copies of the book at only 5.00 each when you buy 20 or more here.

Eight Weeks of Effective Witness: Conversations More Than Presentations

Note: I’m posting this in a nice little coffee shop called Common Grounds in Apex, NC, before playing a round of gold with my son. I do love coffee shops!]

The aroma of fresh ground coffee can’t be missed: dark roast, espresso beans, and fresh lattes, all robust and alluring, filling the air. The sound of smooth music lingers in the background. Throw in a corner table, add in a friend, and curl your fingers around your favorite cup of Joe, and what do you get?

I call that a great place for conversation.

“But I’m not a coffee drinker,” you protest. Here’s another venue I like: Cracker Barrel, sitting across from my wife Michelle, ordering breakfast for supper, and talking about life. Sound inviting?

Maybe you picture fishing on a boat bass with a friend or in a deer stand with a hunting buddy. Perhaps you’d stop for a bite at Panera after shopping at the mall.

We could come up with endless examples of places we enjoy talking to others. Whether we are extroverts (raising my hand) or introverts (like a lot of really normal people), we all love conversations with friends.

Over the past few years I’ve seen a transition from giving a gospel presentation to having gospel conversations. I’ve also seen a transition in my own life and witness from focusing on a night a week of visitation to a deliberate emphasis on meeting people at Third Places (like a coffee shop). I still go on visitation night at our church at times, but increasingly my witness has transitioned from that as a focus to everyday conversations both planned and unexpected. In fact, four of the last five people I’ve been blessed to lead to Christ personally happened in coffee shops.

I fear people like me who want to help people like you learn to share Christ with normal people like us sometimes set you up for failure before you start. We stress you out over getting the information right, or we only give examples of someone being gloriously converted when we shared with them to the neglect of talking about conversations where people don’t trust Christ, or we overburden you with details to the point that you are pretty wigged out before you start.

What if you could just talk about Jesus to others simply because you love him and you love them and you want to introduce them to him?

What if we spent less time giving people scripted evangelistic presentations and instead simply learned to introduce Jesus into normal conversations we already have?

What if I told you that the gospel you received and the life God gave you are all you need to start having real, effective conversations with people about Jesus?

A big reason we don’t talk to unbelievers about Jesus is because we don’t talk to one another about Jesus. What if talking about Jesus were not awkward, but became as normal as talking about other things we enjoy?

That’s why I wrote the Sharing Jesus book. I hope you will find it helpful in sharing Christ in everyday conversations.