The Question Isn’t If to Witness, But How to Witness
Have you ever wondered how to witness to your family, coworkers, or neighbors? The Great Commission instructs us to “go and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV).
To be honest, that’s always been one of the toughest verses for me to swallow, because I’m an introvert…with a tiny social circle…working from home and staying at home most of the day. You want me to strike up conversations with strangers, talk about my faith, and potentially make all of us uncomfortable? Oy vey!
We all have some reason for sweeping this one under the rug, am I right?
I don’t want to make strangers feel uncomfortable. Or offended!
I don’t want to risk a friendship by making my friend uncomfortable.
My walk with God isn’t perfect; I don’t want to provide a bad witness.
I don’t know what to say and I don’t have all the answers. What would I do if they started asking questions?
Witnessing isn’t effective anymore. It’s all about “friendship evangelism” now.
And yet, there it is…the Great Commission. Though Biblical scholars have disagreed about whether Jesus meant to physically go into the missions field or to make disciples as you go about your daily life, all of them agree that Christians are to make disciples.
It’s popular today to live our own lives and fit God in as an afterthought, a 5-minute morning devotional, a weekly trek to church. But that’s not the life to which we’ve been called.
We were called to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). We were called to proclaim, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
And if we’ve been called to seek God first, to lay down our own lives and interests in favor of Christ living in and through us, then we’ve also been called to James 1:22, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” And the Word says to go and make disciples.
How to Witness
So how are we to share our faith with others?
- Live a life that honors God and own up to any shortcomings. Our words won’t mean much if our lives tell a different story. No matter how hard we try (and we should give our faith our very best efforts), we’ll never be perfect. But we can be quick to apologize and admit when we’re wrong! I believe that if people can clearly see the heart behind our efforts, they’re happy enough to accept our imperfections. In fact, our status as a work in progress might even encourage them in their own faith.
- Be prayerful and mindful as you go about your day. Start every day in prayer and reading God’s Word. This is so important to help you set your priorities for the day, with making disciples at the top of your list. Ask God to speak to you and guide your words and actions throughout the day, and to reveal opportunities to connect with others.
- Create a prayer list and consistently pray over it. It is no accident that you know and work with and live near the people you do. God has placed you there with His purposes in mind. So pray that the family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, and other people He has brought into your life would come to know Jesus, and accept Him as their Savior. Ask God to prepare their hearts to receive Him, and for opportunities to connect and share your faith with them. And don’t stop praying for them! In high school, I consistently prayed for a list of friends to become believers. And although I didn’t see any results at the time, every single one of them is now a believer years later! Prayer works. God has called us to it, and will answer in His perfect timing.
- Do what you can. Before any new series or special services, my church offers members two card options to share with friends – one printed with information for extroverts to share during conversation, and another that’s a door-hanger, so introverts can knock and run. We laugh whenever they talk about a knock and run, but hey, it’s better than not inviting your neighbors at all! Do what you can. If you haven’t warmed up to face-to-face conversations yet, leave a door-hanger, write a kind note, or volunteer to fill a more practical need at your church. When I was helping families check their babies into Sunday school, they started conversations with me. Way less pressure! Plus I was given the opportunity to demonstrate the love of Christ in practical ways, like escorting them to a new class, giving their kids a high five, and directing them to free breakfast tacos. Volunteering to meet those needs frees up pastors, teachers, and other “evangelists” to spend their time witnessing to others. And don’t forget to support missionaries witnessing around the world, with both your prayers and finances!
- Start a small group. Take your volunteer efforts to the next level, either through your church or on your own. Starting a weekly or monthly small group to fellowship and study God’s Word with others provides the relationship basis that makes witnessing feel much more comfortable and natural. After all, the people attending your small group agreed to be there, and are likely already interested in learning more. And the best news is that you don’t have to be a Bible scholar or engaging speaker or even an extrovert to lead a small group. I’m living proof! Just make yourself available, pray, pray, pray, and God will meet you the rest of the way.
- Plant a conversation starter. Slap your church’s bumper sticker on your car or work laptop. Bring your Bible to the doctor’s waiting room instead of flipping through those germ-infested magazines. Try throwing on a shirt that invites conversation, offers to pray for those around you, or shares your favorite Bible verse, and rehearse ahead of time what you might say when people ask. Many people want to talk about faith, and have questions, but aren’t sure who to talk to. Using simple visual clues opens yourself up as that willing resource.
- Maintain a down-to-earth, loving attitude when talking with others. Colossians 4:5-6 (CEV) instructs us, “When you are with unbelievers, always make good use of the time. Be pleasant and hold their interest when you speak the message. Choose your words carefully and be ready to give answers to anyone who asks questions.” That means avoiding arrogance, preachiness, and debating details that miss the big picture. Your words might not always be well-received and that’s okay! You’re planting a seed. Pray that God would water it.
Wrap It Up
And that, my friends, is how to witness! Live obediently and prayerfully, do what you can, create opportunities to share your faith, and do it all with a down-to-earth, loving attitude toward others.
Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” (Matthew 9:37). So let’s get to work!
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