Question: I feel very uncomfortable sharing my faith with those I don’t know are Christians or not. How do I get over this?
Answer: I don’t know that you ever get over this. You are facing someone with eternal issues at stake. You are putting yourself out there as committed to a doctrine that most people find offensive. You are risking being viewed as some fanatic for your beliefs. You may draw persecution to yourself. None of this should make you feel comfortable, but should instead drive you to God for help and courage.
Question: Are there any icebreakers that seasoned Christians use?
Answer: Yes. Prayer for the Spirit’s wisdom is first, then looking for an entrance into conversation that can be steered toward spiritual things. One helpful set of questions that can open doors for patient listening and potential sharing are: (1) Do you have any spiritual beliefs? (2) Who is Jesus to you? (3) Do you believe in a heaven or a hell? (4) If you were to die tonight, do you think you would go to heaven or hell? (5) If you were wrong about what you believe would you want to know it?
Another possibility is to ask the two diagnostic questions, (1) If you were to die tonight, do you know for sure that you would go to heaven? and (2) If you died and stood before God and He said, ‘Why should I let you into My heaven,’ what would you say? Perhaps the greatest mistake we can make is thinking we have to share everything we believe every time we witness and destroy every wrong belief we hear in the person we are witnessing to. Just asking the questions, or even just one of them, might be all God is calling you to do at the time. Simply sharing what happened in your life might be all God is calling on you to do this time.
Question: Why should I share my faith? Isn’t it a personal decision to have a relationship with Christ?
Answer: It is a personal decision to have a relationship with Christ, but the Bible tells us that those who don’t know Christ are ultimately unwilling to know the truth about Christ and will find all kinds of ways to deny the truth. God commands us to speak the truth as we have opportunity in order to challenge the unwillingness of those who don’t know Christ. If Jesus had not spoken to the woman who came to the well (John 4) she would not have moved toward spiritual things.
We also believe that if people don’t embrace Christ as rescuer, they won’t be rescued and will perish in eternal separation from God. Taking an antibiotic to cure you of pneumonia is a personal decision, but if you didn’t realize you had pneumonia and that someone had an antibiotic, you would never make that personal decision, and the one who knew and had the cure would be guilty of withholding vital information.
Question: What does Evangelical mean and what is the difference between and Evangelical and a Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran or other denomination?
Answer: Evangelical normally means someone who holds to the authority of Scripture and its teaching that humans are lost forever unless they personally welcome God’s offer of life in Jesus Christ by renouncing their self-determination. Evangelicals believe that it is their responsibility to share the message of life with all who don’t know it so that they may have a chance to gain eternal life. Evangelical is not a denomination, but a Christian worldview. A Methodist, Baptist or any other denominational Christian can be an Evangelical or not.
Question: When should I use words to share Christ versus remaining quiet and letting my actions speak?
Answer: In every situation where you cannot speak or where the Spirit of God has not given you the prompting to speak.
Question: What are some practical ways to overcome the barrier of fear?
Answer: Some suggestions…
(1) Become as practiced as you can at sharing your personal story in short or in more developed ways, (2) spend time praying for God’s prompting and wisdom for each opportunity you face, (3) become as knowledgeable as you can be about the essential elements of the gospel, and (4) do as much as you can with other Christians teaming up with you, or at least praying for you as you take opportunities for witness.
A Simple Outline For Sharing Your Personal Story of Faith
I. How My Life Was Hopeless Before Christ
II. How I Came to Know Christ as My Hope
III. How My Life Is an Experience of Growing Hope Now
Books for further study:
Just a Walk Across the Room, Bill Hybels
Evangelism For the Faint-Hearted, Floyd Schneider
Permission Evangelism, Michael L. Simpson
Share Jesus Without Fear, William Fay and Linda Shepherd
Witnessing Without Fear, Bill Bright
God Space, Doug Pollock