After compiling hundreds of interviews with laypersons and pastors concerning evangelism, I have learned much from reading the results and dialoguing with my students about their impressions from the surveys. I discovered that fear is the number one barrier to personal evangelism. Fears are real and imaginary, small and huge, have merit and are unfounded. Fear comes in many shades of colors, both bold and subtle.
What Are You Afraid Of?
Not all fears express themselves in the same manner. There are several different manifestations of fear.
Loss of Relationship.
Lack of Knowledge.
5 Ways to Overcome a Fear of Witnessing
Fear in its simplest form is a temporary loss of perspective. It is easy to focus on how someone might respond to me. It is also easy to forget how much people need the Lord and how much Christ desires a relationship with lost persons. How are we to respond to our own fears?
Recognize that fear is natural, although we are seeking to live in the power of the supernatural.
One of my favorite quotes is, “Courage is not the absence of fear but doing the very thing that you fear.” I learned to share my faith among my teammates and fraternity brothers in college. Sometimes with fear and trembling, I had the privilege of sharing Christ and seeing some of my friends radically surrender their lives to Christ.
We can recognize that fear is not from God but a tool of Satan. We do battle against the forces of hell when we share our faith. When fear comes, acknowledge it and claim victory over it in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Love will disperse fear.
Paul told young Timothy, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.” (2 Tim. 1:7 NIV) And John wrote, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John NIV) Fear is dispersed when we love someone who is lost and headed for a Christ-less eternity.
Fear should drive us to a greater dependence on God.
Remember, evangelism is about God, who chooses to use us. Reliance upon the Holy Spirit in prayer is always the position to maintain. We are never stronger than when we have bowed our spirits in dependence upon God to do what we cannot.
Fear should increase our desire to become more skilled in sharing Christ.
My eldest daughter is a perfectionist. Her drive to get it right helps her now and will help her in the future. However, it creates frustration when she is learning a new skill. She wants to be perfect the first time. But playing volleyball and softball this year has taught her the importance of practice and repeated drills to perfect a skill. Several times early in the two seasons when she was having difficulty perfecting new skills, she indicated she wanted to quit. Thankfully, she heeded my advice that what she needed was patience with herself and repeated practice with the skills to perfect them. Though still somewhat impatient with herself, she has disciplined herself to extensive practice so that she might perform well.
Fear can be used to drive us to develop sensitivities and skills in sharing the greatest story ever told.