It’s always encouraging to see believers who regularly share their faith, because you can tell they understand the greatness of God’s love and long for others to have this hope too.
Even after being an evangelist for over a decade, and studying many books on the subject, I still need to learn to keep evangelism more in focus in my own life. I’m not perfect, just forgiven.
It’s amazing because you can preach from a stage to thousands without fear, and still get nervous to share your faith with an individual one-on-one.
One of the pastors I follow on facebook, Dave Gibson, has been the missions pastor at Grace Church in the Twin Cities for many years. As a church, they give millions of dollars to missions each year. Possibly even more impressive is that Dave, in his everyday life, shares the gospel with people one-on-one like crazy. So I asked to sit down with him and learn what I could do to be more like him in this area.
Here are some of the lessons I learned:
1. Be praying for divine appointments.
Dave prays that God will give him an opportunity to share his faith every single day—he prays for a divine appointment that God might have for him to affect someone’s eternity.
I wanted to start smaller, so I am praying for a divine appointment each week. In the first few weeks since I started praying for this, God has done it!
2. Be intentional and watch for opportunities.
A big part of a lifestyle of evangelism is keeping evangelism on the top of the mind. Praying regularly for opportunities significantly helps you keep it front and center, and then be watching for opportunities where God might want to use you.
Dave is also intentional by carrying a stack of evangelism materials with him that share his personal faith story. He sometimes leaves these with people after he talks with them, and when he runs into them again later, hears how much it has helped them.
3. Be curious and caring about people’s lives.
Step out and ask questions. Dave ends up talking a lot to wait staff at restaurants, or taxi drivers on his international trips.
You don’t need to start the conversation on a spiritual note—Dave mentioned that Jesus had 130 personal conversations in the gospels, and only three of them started as spiritual.
Just ask people interesting questions about themselves. If common ground is there, share about your life. Most importantly—actually care about people in a way they can sense.
4. Be gospel-centered with spiritual turns in the conversation.
We shouldn’t feel compelled to share our faith the first time we meet someone (unless God burdens us to do so with someone). We should focus mostly on caring about people in an uncommon way—in the way God has showed us uncommon care, or in other words, showing the gospel before sharing the gospel.
One of the easy ways Dave turns conversations spiritual (for instance, before eating food at a restaurant), is by offering to pray for people for any of their needs.
Meeting felt needs, like praying for others or being involved in justice projects is one of the most powerful ways to show people God’s care, because they see how you care. This can open an opportunity where they are interested in what you have to say about Jesus.