Looking for a Natural Way to Share Your Faith?
Can I be honest? Nobody wants to be that Christian. The one that sounds more belligerent than loving, the one that never listens, the one who’s gospel presentation sounds more like a trainwreck, the one that isn’t living out the gospel, and the one that seems more interested in adding another notch to their spiritual belt than seeing someone surrender their life to Christ. It’s hard truth, but this is how Christians with good intentions can often behave when trying to share their faith. Trust me, I’ve done it before!
I know you want to share the gospel in love, in truth, and in a relational way that makes Christianity approachable to your family, neighbors, friends, coworkers, and peers. Me too! I also know that we tend to struggle with how we should share our faith. We ask ourselves, “How can I reach those around me with the gospel?” That’s why I want to share how starting gospel dialogs is an amazingly simple and natural way to convince the skeptics in your life that a relationship with God is an attractive, fulfilling, and rational thing to pursue.
First things first. In order for you to see the value of gospel dialogs,you must change your idea of what evangelism is. I suggest that we could accomplish so much more if we would make a simple shift from the idea that evangelism must be uptight and formal and instead embrace a natural, holistic, more well-rounded view of evangelism. What I mean is: stop separating evangelism from everyday life! Instead of viewing evangelistic (and discipleship) efforts solely as things like street evangelism, passing out gospel tracks, knocking door-to-door, or leading someone to pray a prayer, start seeing your entire life as a platform to share the gospel! Strip your view of evangelism out of that tuxedo, and throw on some faded jeans, a t-shirt, and old Converses!
Believers have to stop measuring evangelism efforts by how many people they see come to Christ. Paul teaches us in 1 Corinthians 3:7-9 that evangelism is not the definitive action of seeing someone saved at that very moment! Every effort that brings a non-Christian one degree closer to surrendering to his or her life to God is counted as evangelism–whether you witness it for yourself or not! The key is simple obedience, not grandeur in our own evangelistic endeavors, because ultimately it’s God that saves the lost.
With the barrier of “formal evangelism” removed, now we can explore how much more effective and engaging gospel dialogs really are!
No More Waiting!
Have you ever told yourself that you would wait to share the gospel until it came up in conversation? There are three problems with this: 1) In most cases, the gospel rarely comes up because most people don’t ponder spiritual topics such as this on a regular basis; 2) People usually have to hear the gospel multiple times and in different ways before they understand the gospel; and 3) This idea assumes that the gospel doesn’t speak to everyday life. Don’t allow trending discussions to hold your evangelical efforts hostage! Instead use trending discussions to “show the viability and attractiveness of the Christian worldview (Brooks, 41).” Christopher Brooks, author of “Urban Apologetics,” tells us the dangers of failing to show how the Bible addresses the hard questions and sensitive topics of our day:
“Paul realized that living out faith does not happen in a vacuum. Every generation of Christians throughout history has lived in a particular context and has had to interact with those who held different beliefs. Likewise, we cannot ignore the unique lifestyles, moral struggles, artistic expression, and the plurality of religions that are specific to the times in which we live. Nor can we hide from the concerns and challenges that our non-Christian friends, coworkers, and neighbors have about our faith. It is from within this cultural context that we must address the head and hearts of men and women who are personally and publicly wrestling with how to make sense out of a world that is crazy, fallen, and yet full of God’s glory. This has been the Christian community’s responsibility since our inception. This fact further supports the reality that the world expects, and rightly so, that Christians demonstrate the ability to provide well-reasoned answers to the problems that exist in society. If we cannot give an authentic and articulate response to today’s challenges, non-Christians will be left to assume it is because the gospel lacks a sufficient solution for what ails humanity (16).”
Starting a Gospel Dialog
So how do we start a gospel dialog? I’m glad you asked! (Except you didn’t ask. I just kind of inferred that you did, but hey go with it!) So let’s say you’re at the office and suddenly your co-worker starts a conversation with you about the recent issues of racism in America. Hoo-ray! It’s chance time, girl! So how do you transition from a natural conversation about race into a gospel dialog? It’s simple really. Let’s break down this equation:
[Co-Worker’s comments about race issues] + [You listening]+ [ X ] =
G O S P E L D I A L O G
Take a guess at what “X” in this conversation would be. [Pause. Think about it.] Ok! Now, hold that thought. We’re going to come back to that! Meanwhile, let’s transform this conversation into a gospel dialog together! Here are our steps:
- Pray before, during, and after your gospel dialog.
- Be an attentive listener.
- Identify the issue.
- Express the biblical view and solution for that issue in a spirit of gentleness and love.
- Respect differences in opinion.
First off, be in prayer before, during, and after your chat with your co-worker. Pray for God to soften their hearts and open their spiritual eyes to understand and accept the gospel. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you. The Holy Spirit will guide you as you interact with that individual.
Next, be sure you are listening attentively to what your co-worker is saying. This is the only way you will understand his or her point of view, and begin to identify their personal barriers to the gospel.
The issue that your co-worker is addressing is “racism,” right? Keep this in mind, because now we need the “X” in our equation above to make this a gospel dialog. Consider from a biblical perspective why “racism” is wrong? What does the Bible say about racism? How does racism relate to the gospel? The answers to these questions is our “X!” The catalyst for our gospel dialog!
“Yeah, Debby. I hear you. It’s sucks that we’re still wrestling over race issues. I might have mentioned this to you before, but I’m a Christian. So I often read the Bible to figure out issues like ‘racism.’ The Bible says that God made all men and women in His image. We all have intrinsic value. There were even times God had to teach His disciples, like Peter for example, that discriminating against others because of their race is wrong. When I became a Christian Jesus cleared my debt with God so I can have a right relationship with him. In light of God’s forgiveness, the Bible teaches Christians that we must forgive others who have wronged us –even discriminated against us because of our race– and love them. This is the kind of love that we need to stop what’s going on today.”
- “If I share the Bible’s perspective, somebody will definitely ask me how I know I can trust the Bible.”
- Maybe you thought, “I didn’t know the Bible said anything about racism.”
- “What if someone disagrees with me? What do I do?”
We’ll addresses these thoughts and more in part 2 of this article. In the meantime, read the Gospel. Test your own knowledge of what the Bible teaches. Don’t rely on your own intelligence. Examine gospel dialogs Jesus himself had with others, like his conversation with the Samaritan women at the well in John 4.