So you have come to understand that “witnessing” is not just for the street preachers, pastors, missionaries and those with the “gift of evangelism”, but for every believer. And now you are ready to get started! How do you take that first step?
Witnessing, also known as “personal evangelism” is both something that you really can’t help doing, as well as something that can be learned, like a skill. You can spend the rest of your life learning “how”, even as you go through your life witnessing.
My earliest memory of witnessing was immediately after God revealed Himself to me, saved me and gave me faith to believe. I went into the kitchen and told my mom that something happened to me and I now knew (believed) that “it’s all about Jesus”. I also remember cutting nature pictures out of my National Geographic magazines and pasting them in scrapbook pages. I wrote Bible verses in calligraphy, on each picture page, and gave it as a gift to someone. Later in college, other believers taught me “how to share my faith”, and I learned a lot by watching them in action.
Witnessing is anything you do with words, to communicate truth about the Lord our God, and what He did to save men through Jesus. That leaves a lot of room for creativity.
There’s a million things we can say on this topic; indeed there are loads of books written on “how to do evangelism”. Here I’ll just offer a few ideas that hopefully will help you to get started on your new adventure!
The most important thing is to know what the gospel is. Here’s a link with articles that talk about the gospel. The gospel is not about our church, or having our best life now, becoming wealthy, finding our purpose, feeling better about ourselves, promoting morality, taking the nation back for God, or working for world peace and harmony. It’s very important that we know the gospel well, so we can faithfully share it.
Pray, confess your sins, pray for opportunities, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.
By faith, initiate a conversation with someone. Perhaps God will have the other person initiate the conversation.
Be respectful, friendly, joyful, honest and loving. Relate to the person you are talking to. Be light, be salty. Be caring.
Ask questions. Get them to reflect. What do they think about something? What are their answers to certain problems? After asking, listen to their answers. This is a good way to start conversations.
Take the conversation from the natural realm to the spiritual. People bring up topics. You can use that natural topic that they are interested in, to turn the subject from that, to thinking about spiritual things that they need to consider. Jesus did this all the time. For example, more than once I’ve been asked how we can live in light of the terrifying prospect of world war. I used that truly scary scenario to gently bring up something far scarier than that: Judgment day before a perfect, righteous, just and holy God. These people never considered this “date with just fate” and we were able to then talk about the reality our sin, the justice of God, and the remedy that God graciously provided for our eternal “safety”: Jesus Christ.
Use your testimony and talk about yourself; what God has shown you; what you have learned from God.
Use words that can be understood by your hearers, without changing the message. This is good contextualization. Bad contextualization is when you change the message, and end up with a “different gospel” or a “different Jesus”, just to be relevant. You can be relevant without compromising Biblical truth.
You can be relational and clear at the same time. Again, this is about choosing to compromise or not. We must not be ashamed of the gospel. God will give us courage to tell it clearly.
Gently and lovingly address the person’s conscience so they can become aware of, or consider, their standing (guilt) before God. The Moral Law- the 10 Commandments, help do this. Tell of the attributes of God. Tell of man’s sinful condition. Share the law with the proud, and the grace of Christ crucified for sins, with the humble. When God makes someone born from above, they will have repentance from sin, and faith in the Lord Jesus. Remember, you are sowing seeds of the gospel, so you may not see what will become of that seed. You just have to trust God.
Jesus talked about different kinds of soil. A person’s heart may be very hard. Sometimes the Law will plow up the soil, and make it ready for the seed of the gospel. You have to test how “open” people seem. Another person’s heart may stay hard, defensive and proud even after hearing the Law; they may tell you off, tell you to shut up and get lost. This person is “not open”, so you know that you are most likely done there, at least for now. You can move on. Look for the open, humble, soft soil person; God is preparing their heart to hear the gospel.
Remember that you do not achieve the salvation of a person; salvation is only of the Lord. But He is pleased to save people through the foolishness of the message preached. Your job is to tell the message, and God will save those who believe, by His grace.
…but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses…. Acts 1:8.