Where to start when you find evangelism difficult
“I hate evangelists!” was almost shouted in my face when a friend heard I was training in evangelism. That’s the sort of reaction that puts people off doing evangelism!
But there are - of course - other reasons why we find evangelism so difficult.
Sometimes we just get a polite rejection. Playing tennis one day, one of my friends said: “Why can’t you just leave people where they are?”. That type of experiences leaves us all thinking: “Ouch! I don’t want to go there again!".
Or sometimes we feel inadequate, we don’t think we have any right to talk about Jesus because our lives don’t match up.
So, evangelism is tough... how do we overcome these hurdles, and help others to overcome them too?
Firstly, we need to remember the glorious gospel of grace in 1 John 4:10:
‘This is love: not that we loved God but that he loved us.’
The point is, God loves us even when we don’t love him. People reject God, and so they will reject His message.
The wonder of the gospel is that on the cross we see the way God has treated us. God’s gospel is the love He has for us and that’s what we see in Jesus!
So, none of us are going to share God’s love, or talk about Jesus unless first of all we know that love for ourselves. So, a starting point for evangelism is knowing God personally!
But then, how do I pass on the good news confidently, in the face of rejection and embarrassment?
Here are three thoughts from my experience that can encourage your evangelism...
Pray for your friends, pray with your friends, pray against the opposition. You’ll find that you’re engaging in spiritual warfare when you evangelise so don’t be afraid to ask the Church to pray, pray, pray! There is no evangelism without prayer!
Don’t try and be the lone evangelist! Share your lives with others, connect with what makes them tick, rejoice and weep with them. I’ve found it really helpful to have other Christians in our friendship group. One of these friends doesn’t play tennis but has joined the group to chat with those who come for coffee. Her faith has really blossomed as she shares her life and faith with the others, I’m so thankful to God for her!
Find a connection with people and start conversations. I’ve found our book group really helpful in looking at an issue that’s not personal so a bit easier to talk about. For example, we’ve just read ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz’ which poses the question of suffering and of ‘man’s inhumanity to man’ and all this over tea and cake! Whatever your interest, use it for the Lord. It could be a TV programme or film that’s affected you. Ask good questions and LISTEN! We need the Spirit’s gift of discernment so we can understand where someone is coming from.
And how about the lady who said she hated evangelists? After 4 years (!), she now welcomes me into her home and we’ve had some good chats... so God has certainly not finished His work yet!
25 September 2020
Judith is based in Hove where she is attached to Bishop Hannington Church in Hove, working on a voluntary basis in a number of evangelistic initiatives such as book and tennis groups, school visits, and Alpha. She sings, dances, reads, regularly beats her husband at table tennis, and enjoys spending time with her grandchildren. Judith has been training with Church Army and will be getting commissioned as a Church Army Evangelist in October!
Kelvin moved to a new area shortly before COVID-19 and so didn't have much time to get to know people. He shares how he's been able to share his faith with his barber and his neighbours even whilst the coronavirus pandemic continues.
Waterways Chaplaincy - part of the Church Army family - meets many isolated people or in financial difficulty along the waterways. This is one story of where Waterways chaplains were able to draw alongside and practically support a struggling family.
Pete looked round his church one Sunday and realised he was one of only two men. So he founded Shed Men as a place to give a place for men to meet and talk, and a place to share God's love.