Evangelizing—or sharing your faith—is scary for the majority of Christians, not just new believers. This is understandable; it’s not exactly easy convincing a person that they need a savior to completely revamp their life, especially if this person believes they are happy without Jesus. When someone accepts Jesus, they leave their old priorities behind and make Jesus the center of their life. This is a huge step!
Yet, Jesus calls each of us to share the good news with the world. He came to give living water to a thirsty world, and we have the honor and privilege of sharing his message by the power of the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39). The message is this: Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross allows us humans to be born again into the Kingdom of God, to be made new creations that can live righteously and glorify the God who created us. Even though sharing Jesus can result in ridicule, broken relationships, and, in many cases, persecution, it’s a message that couldn’t be more urgent.
Your actions as a Christian can impact others and make people curious about your beliefs, but this isn’t enough. It may help build a bridge to start a conversation or bring opportunity, but Scripture says we are to verbally communicate the message of Jesus. In Romans 10:11-15 it says, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’” God may be sending you to share Jesus with the people whom he has placed in your life.
As a new believer, how can you share Jesus with those around you? Perhaps you feel like you can’t make convincing arguments for God’s existence, or maybe you feel inadequate in your Bible knowledge. Even the Apostle Paul himself said the perfect words aren’t necessary. “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom” (1 Corinthians 2:1). Paul does call each of us to be prepared to give an answer for the reason behind our faith though. In 1 Peter 3:15 he says, “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” So, naturally, studying the Bible and internalizing reasons for God is a good thing to do. But maybe you simply haven’t yet. Maybe you’re discouraged because your Christian friends seem to be full of knowledge while you’re still learning. How can you, as a new believer, share your faith with an agnostic, a devout Muslim, or a well-read atheist?
The most important thing you can do is enter each conversation with a posture of prayer. Pray for the person you’re sharing with, that God would open their heart to accept him. Pray that God would give you the words to say. And a loving way to say them. Remember that it is God who saves people, and your sharing is a way for you to bring him glory. Also, remember that the person you are sharing Jesus with is made by God in his image (Genesis 1:27). This person is deeply loved and known by God, and he has a plan for their life that you get to be a part of. Be thankful, and love the person you’re talking to with a godly love.
Take a relational approach to sharing the good news of a having new life in Christ. With each person you talk to about Jesus, whether it’s a coworker, old friend, relative, or someone you’ve recently met, speak with the intent of forming a friendship and having more conversations in the future. It’s not likely that you’re going to convince someone to accept Jesus through only one conversation. In addition, many unbelievers are hostile toward Jesus, God, or anything with a slight scent of religion; an established relationship can reduce the chances of that happening because they will be less likely to think you have some short agenda to convert them.
Don’t expect to convince people of their need for Jesus with one conversation. Expect God to work in your relationship and use you to share Jesus through your friendship in his own timing. This takes a lot of pressure off you when you share Jesus. You can relax knowing this probably won’t be the last chance you get to talk to this person. Rely on God’s will to guide you to the next opportunity as it is presented. You don’t need to lead the person from A to Z of Christianity in one sitting; you can take time and take the person from A to B in one conversation and maybe C to D in the next. People are worth the time it takes to share Jesus and form a relationship.
Be genuine with your questions and get to know this person as a worthwhile human being. This will reward you because it will deepen your love for this person, and this person will have good reason to open up and trust you because you’re invested in them. It’s generally easy for people to sense insincerity, and people don’t want to talk about important issues with someone who is insincere.
Be a good listener. When you ask questions tune in to the answers. Don’t plan what you want to say next while the other person is talking. Don’t assume that you know what a person believes because they claim to be Jewish, Muslim, or any other religion. Everyone has a different story and events in their lives that have shaped their unique and nuanced worldview. Try to understand what that person believes, not what you think they believe.
Eventually, the time will come in your relationship for you to share your faith. This could happen during your first conversation, maybe even the second or the eighth. Remember that the message of Jesus is not only offensive to the world, but it is foolish (1 Corinthians 1:18). No amount of logically sound reasons can convince someone to accept Jesus, so it is not up to you to do the convincing. It is up to God. Through the Holy Spirit, God is able to reach the human heart and draw a broken person out of sin and to himself.
You likely remember the way God did this for you. One of the best ways you can reach an unbeliever is to share your experience, especially if you are a new believer. Share how God brought you out of sin, how he took away your shame and gave you honor. Share what your new life in Christ is like. Share your story; yours could be one that the Holy Spirit uses to bring someone to Christ.
One of the scariest parts of sharing your faith is confronting a question you can’t answer. Maybe the person you’re speaking to will rip your reasoning to shreds. Take this fear to God, and cling to God’s promise that his Holy Spirit will keep you near to him as you share your faith. In addition, accept that your faith will be stretched as you seek to answer questions you’ve never thought of before. Be honest about what you don’t know, and be faithful to seek answers on your own and return with what you find. Offer to join the search for truth with your friend, and your faith will grow exponentially as you seek the Lord together.
Share with urgency, but be gentle and loving. Treat the people you speak to with love and respect, as God loves them and created them with dignity. Trust in the Holy Spirit to speak through you, and continue to pray that God would use you. No matter how long you have been a believer, you can share Jesus with the confidence that he is with you and that he will use you for his glory.