When I start evangelism class each semester I like to ask students a question like this: Why do so many believers sing with such passion on Sundays but fail to open their mouths to coworkers on Monday?
There are a variety of reasons, but a school teacher named Heather in my Tuesday night class noted a primary one: “We practice singing every week,” she observed.
It’s true. Every week we sing together. Singing songs and hymns and spiritual songs is a common experience we all share. But this also signifies a larger issue, and that’s the primary way we learn to grow as disciples. How do we?
Monkey-see, monkey do. We learn to grow based on what we see our peer group of Christians doing. If your closest Christian friends talk about reading the Word daily, you are more likely to do so. If prayer matters to them, it will matter to you. If your group has a passion for an issue like adoption, caring for orphans will likely be a part of your faith development. And this is not a bad thing. It’s just not a balanced thing.
Try this exercise sometime: Read the book of Acts with a notebook at your side. Write down those things that seemed an obvious priority for those early believers. If you made a list, advancing the gospel no matter the obstacles would rank at or near the top, right?
A basic reason we don’t share our faith regularly is this: We don’t share our faith regularly. It’s not something most of us practice a lot, like singing, and thus it’s not something we talk about a lot.
What if we made telling others about Jesus as much a part of our practice as singing? I think we don’t talk to the lost world about Jesus because we don’t talk to each other enough about Him. What if talking about Jesus, the change he makes, our growing relationship with Christ, and what we are learning and applying about following him became a common topic?
I know this: When I’m around a group of believers who regularly talk about a coworker with whom they are witnessing, or meeting up with a neighbor to share Christ, or similar encounters, it makes me more aware of my own opportunities to tell others about Jesus. I talk a lot about praying for servers and speaking to them about Jesus, for instance. It’s not a surprise that yesterday a student (and one of our young pros at my church) told me with joy about facing her fears and speaking with a server. She had a great conversation!
Let’s think about what we talk about the most, and let’s make sure in our conversations and our practice the great commission is more than the great intention. Let our monkey-see, monkey-do approach be replaced by intentionally following the life and teachings of Jesus.