Over the years, I’ve heard my fair share of excuses for why people don’t proclaim the word of God to others (and, to be honest: I’ve made my fair share as well.) Maybe you feel like evangelism is just not your thing—it’s not your gift, you don’t know much Scripture, you are not an extrovert, and you aren’t good with confrontation.
Let’s look at some of the common reasons people don’t share their faith:
“I don’t have what it takes.”
If you are a believer, you have the Spirit of God: you have what it takes. Jesus said that the Spirit of God in you gives you more potential than John the Baptist, who was, in his estimation, the greatest prophet who ever lived: the Spirit has come upon you, Jesus said, to do “greater things” than even he did himself. So yes, you have what it takes. The ability lies not in your personality but the Spirit residing in your heart.
“It’s not my gift.”
It is true that some believers have been given particular gift for evangelism (cf. Eph 4:11). But a spiritual gift given to a few should not eclipse an assignment given to all. A spiritual gift is usually a special ability in an assignment given to all believers. For example, those believers who have the gifts of “service,” “generosity,” or “faith” are not the only ones who should serve, share their stuff, or believe God. Some Christians are given an extraordinary ability in those things, but they are the responsibility of all believers.
The same is true of evangelism. While some have been given a special effectiveness in bringing others to Jesus, the Spirit comes upon all of us to testify.
“I witness with my life.”
The sentiment behind this one is that we demonstrate the love and generosity of the gospel by our lifestyle. That is all well and good, but the gospel is an announcement about what Jesus did to save people, not a presentation of what a good person you are. Sharing that announcement requires words. Trying to share the gospel without using words is like watching a newscast with the sound turned off. I may realize that the newscaster is excited, but I don’t know why.
A generous, humble, gracious, sacrificial, holy life can be a wonderful complement to the proclaimed gospel, but it can never substitute for it.
“I don’t have time.”
We are busy people, that is for sure. Perhaps you say, “When would I possibly have time to go out and ‘evangelize’? I get up, go to work… after work, I come home, try to play a little with my kids, maybe watch a little television, and go to bed. Then I get up and do the whole thing over again. I feel like I’m barely surviving in life with the time I have.”
I understand this. I really do. I feel like my life is helplessly busy sometimes. But I have a friend who often says: “Oh, you’re busy? Jesus was busy, too. But he was busy with people.” Jesus lived his life with people, discipling them along the way. That’s how the Great Commission is supposed to work. It’s not an addition to your life, but an essential component of all of it. The Spirit fills you to testify as you go.
“Talking to other people about Jesus makes me feel weird.”
Of course it does. I’ve heard evangelism defined as “two nervous people talking to each other.” But here’s the thing: is the message important enough for a little awkwardness?
I heard a story several years ago about a man who was driving his car down an interstate outside of Los Angeles very late one evening. A significant earthquake rumbled through the region and the man immediately pulled his car over to the side of the road to wait it out. The earthquake was pretty severe, but over after a few seconds. So, the man pulled his car back onto the road, and took a left to cross a bridge over a river. As he was driving across, he suddenly noticed the taillights of the car in front of him just disappear. He stopped his car, got out and realized that a section of the bridge had fallen out during the earthquake. The car in front of him had driven into the chasm, at full speed, plunging nearly 75 feet into the water below.
The man turned around, and realized that several more cars were headed toward the break. He began to wave his arms frantically. But people driving across a bridge outside of Los Angeles at 3 a.m. are not likely to stop for what looks like a crazy person on the side of the road. He watched as 4 cars drove right past and plunged to their deaths below.
Then he looked and saw a large bus coming toward the break. He made up his mind that if that bus went off the bridge, it would have to take him with it. So he stood in the path and waved his arms to get the bus to stop. The bus honked its horn and flashed its lights, but the man would not move. The bus driver got out, saw the danger, and angled the bus so no more cars would go over.
What would you have done if you had been that the one to see the break in the bridge? You probably would have done just what that man did—passionately pleaded with people to stop. Would you care that other people watching thought you had lost your mind? Of course not. What you know and see makes their ridicule insignificant.
If you find yourself lacking in motivation to share with others, ask yourself: do you really believe the message? If you do, you know that sharing the message is worth the awkwardness. It’s worth anything.