I grew up believing that there was only one way to proclaim the Gospel. It was the way of extroverts and evangelists and I was failing miserably at it. At the time I didn’t know I was an introvert. I also didn’t know there was more than one way to share your faith. The way I was taught was you sit down next to someone on an airplane or walk up to them in the grocery store and the following “conversation” occurs:
“Hey you, want to know about Jesus?” (Don’t wait for a response.) “Great! Because I’m a Christian and I’m here to tell you all about Him. You see, you’re a sinner. Here are all the verses that say so.” (Proceed to beat them over the head with the Bible.) “So, do you want to be saved?”
At which point they either joyfully (or fearfully) accept your invitation and you can add another notch to your Christian belt, or they walk away, mumbling obscenities, and you can count the experience as your expected “persecution.” You know, the way Christ, and the early church were persecuted.
Clearly I spent most of my life feeling intense amounts of guilt and shame over my failure to evangelize and convert thousands of people (of whom I just met at Starbucks). If you’ve been around the church anytime at all perhaps you’ve felt the same as me. But I have good news for you: you’re probably not an evangelist, you don’t have to be an extrovert, and you will certainly fail.
In his book, The Five Habits of Highly Missional People, (available for free download here) Michael Frost discusses the apostle Paul’s two-fold approach to evangelism as described in Colossians 4:2-6. Frost sums up Paul’s description this way:
“Contrary to the myth that every believer is an evangelist, Paul assumes a two-fold approach
when it comes to the ministry of evangelism. First, he affirms the gifting of the evangelist
(interestingly, not the gift of evangelism, but that the evangelist herself is the gift). And
second, he writes as though all believers are to be evangelistic in their general orientation.
He clearly places himself in the first category, seeing his ministry not only as apostolic, but
also as an evangelist. But it doesn’t appear that he believes all Christians bear the
responsibility for the kind of bold proclamation to which he is called...
Rather, the evangelistic believer is to pray for the evangelists’ ministry, to be
wise in their conduct toward outsiders and to look for opportunities to answer outsiders’
questions when they arise (verses 2, 5-6). When it comes to the spoken aspect of their
ministries, evangelists are to proclaim and believers are to give answers.”
If you’re an introvert or a newbie you can take a huge sigh of relief now. Over the past five years of living as a missionary in Downtown Orlando I’ve had some successes, my own share of failures, and learned a few tips for sharing my faith:
Be honest. You don’t have to carry your Bible everywhere (although it’s reasonable that you would read it in public occasionally) or wear Christian t-shirts or a cross necklace everyday. But when you do get questioned about what you read, wear around your neck, or how you live, be prepared to share “the reason for the the hope you have.”
Answer questions. When people ask you about your faith or want to discuss other religions, be open to the discussion. It’s okay if you disagree on their conclusion just do so in a loving manner free from judgement. It’s also okay when your answer to their questions is sometimes, “I don’t know.”
Listen well. If people bring up God, faith, or a current struggle this is an opportunity. Not a chance to “Jesus juke” them but one to share honestly how you’ve handled similar situations and doubts.
The good news? You will fail sometimes, Just remember to apologize when you do. God will still be glorified and bring people to Himself in spite of our failings. Oftentimes, He even uses introverts, newbies, and failures.
For more on practical ways to share the Gospel read The Most Essential Element of Living Missionally.
Joy is a missionary to Downtown Orlando with her husband, Jason, and drool covered Bassett Hound, Sam. She has a degree in Church Leadership and formerly helped manage the Church Planting office of Converge Worldwide. She teaches women how to intersect their faith and life through intentional missional living at joybrudolph.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
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4/28/2014 04:51:00 am
Loved this - so helpful!!
4/28/2014 05:43:48 am
Thanks, Sadee. I'm glad to hear that.
4/28/2014 06:04:40 am
Very cool. I have shared the gospel in many different ways (I am extroverted), but have found loving people with no agenda and quietly asking the deep questions and carefully listening over time is the best way. The Holy Spirit could ask anyone to do anything, but these are great, encouraging principles to live by. Thanks!
4/28/2014 06:19:00 am
"The Holy Spirit could ask anyone to do anything." Indeed! Thanks for reading and for the encouragement, Katie.
"...Evangelists are to proclaim and believers are to give answers.” I love that so much. I went on several evangelistic missions trips as a teenager, and the cold-call telling people about Jesus always made me so uncomfortable. I just now (at almost 30) am beginning to realize that in many ways, I'm somewhat introverted, so this is hugely helpful and affirming. Thanks!
4/28/2014 11:25:32 am
Amy, I'm so glad. It took me a long time to realize I wasn't a failure for sharing my faith differently than and extrovert would.
Great tips, Joy! I used really struggle with mentioning the "J" word (Jesus) to anyone. But now I let HIM do the talking. Bring him up in casual conversation or encourage someone by praying for them. I also got a tattoo of our ministry brand on my forearm... So now it is a great conversation starter and a great subtle Jesus sneak attack moment :-)
4/29/2014 03:40:09 am
"But now I let HIM do the talking." Sharita, I love that perspective. Also tattoo evangelism? Awesome!!!
5/2/2014 03:31:46 am
I'm so glad to hear that, Susan. Thank you for saying so.
5/2/2014 12:47:26 am
Hi, I love your ideas here, and agree it is true that we are not all called to the office of an evangelist! As an introvert myself, that is a huge relief! However, being married to a man who is called to be an evangelist I think you may want to reconsider how you present that calling:
5/2/2014 03:36:31 am
Stacey, thank you for such a good perspective. My husband and I have done street preaching/evangelism and completely respect those with that calling. While I think few receive that calling and go forth in it in a God-honoring way, I completely agree that true evangelists should be supported by the church. I respect them and what they do so much as I know it's not an easy calling to have. Thanks for the reminder.
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