We all know we should share our faith more actively. In a 2019 survey by Lifeway Research, more than half the respondents (55%) admitted they had not shared Christ with anyone in the past 6 months. My guess is that, during COVID-19 quarantine and with social distancing requirements, this number is higher.
These people were not apathetic to evangelism. In fact, nearly the same percentage (56%) said they prayed for evangelistic opportunities to share at least once a week and 23% said they prayed daily for evangelistic opportunities.
Perhaps you see similar tendencies in yourself. I know that I do. We know we should tell others about Jesus. We even pray for opportunities to do so, but before we realize it, weeks—and even months—pass by before we realize that we have been silent. Is there anything we can to do address this issue?
In this post I want to point out what I believe may be the single most important element of an effective evangelistic lifestyle.
The most important requirement for evangelism is not a winsome personality, a tight presentation, or a well-developed plan. The main ingredient of an evangelistic lifestyle is a genuine and abiding relationship with Christ.
Evangelism happens best when it is an overflow of our Christian lives, within the regular rhythms of living with Christ. The more you know Him, the more you enjoy Him, the more you will talk about Him.
Our identity in Christ is the starting point for evangelism; however, it is so easy to forget. I think there are three reasons most of us neglect this central element for evangelism.
We live in a fast-paced world. We are bombarded with messages from social media feeds, television, and internet streams. We run from meeting to meeting, sports practice and ballet, church, shopping, home. Wash, rinse, and repeat.
Even in a season of “lock-down” most people I know are busy with Zoom, kid’s schooling, adjustments, and stress of life. We know how this erodes our relationships with other people. It is only natural that these distractions do the same for our walk with Jesus.
An evangelistic lifestyle requires us to rise above the distractions around us and cultivate a deep abiding relationship with Jesus.
We live in a broken world. Jesus reminded us: “You will have suffering in this world” (John 16:33). We experience suffering in our own lives as well as in the lives of others. We see it in our society and our families.
Suffering is unavoidable; however, we can decide what impact it has on our relationship with Jesus. It can push us further from Him, or it can drive us into a more robust and authentic walk with Him. Tim Keller has noted that the main pathway to move from an abstract knowledge of Christ into a real and living faith is through “the furnace of affliction.” The psalmist begs God to use his suffering as the path for others to “see and fear and put their trust in God” (Psalm 40:3).
Let’s not allow our difficulties to keep us from sharing Christ. Instead, allow them to press us into an abiding relationship with Him that makes evangelism impossible to hold back.
A final reason we neglect our relationship with Christ is because of our sin. Our lives can be summarized using the apostle Paul’s words in Romans 7:
I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. … For I know nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. (vvs. 15,18-19)
As with suffering, our sin can push us away from Christ, or we can cling to Him for help and forgiveness.
Remember this: “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
As we experience the grace of God and the forgiveness of our sin, this too serves a platform for an evangelistic lifestyle.
Want to share Christ more often and more effectively? Lean into Jesus. Remember He is the Master of the mission. His promise is to make you a fisher of men, if you follow Him (Matt 4:19).
NOTE: this post is adapted from Sharing Jesus without Freaking Out, 2nd ed.