Several years ago, when I was in Bible College, we read a book by Bill Hybels called Just Walk Across the Room. You may be familiar with it; it provides some really good, practical strategies for evangelism. Being the overly idealistic, arrogant college sophomore I was, I remember thinking, "Who needs a book to tell people about Jesus? Shouldn't everyone do this naturally on their own; how hard can it be?" Not too long after that, I got a part time job at an upscale restaurant and I discovered something: evangelism is challenging. Plain and simple.
I remember walking in on my first day thinking, "I'm going to be a spiritual sage to all these poor pagans, and I'm sure after a couple weeks - at most a month, all of them will be passionate Jesus followers, selling possessions to move to Central America." I also remember leaving my first day discouraged, embarrassed and feeling more like a crazy religious nut than I ever had before in my life. Now, through this process, I did discover some really helpful things about evangelism, like: don't be pushy, make sure I know a little more than the basic tenets of faith, and don't make any assumptions about people. I also noticed something I really didn't expect: I'm not that great of a personal evangelist.
Now, when it comes to telling people about Jesus, maybe you're a natural, and are able to tell anyone at any time, the good news about Jesus Christ. Maybe for you, meeting a stranger at a coffee shop, getting to know them a little bit, and having a chance to share your faith with them is the epitome of a great day. And maybe even for you, it always ends with the person outside the coffee shop, weeping & repenting of their sins and accepting Jesus into their heart. But, my guess is, if you're like me, that doesn't describe evangelism for you at all. See, the Bible describes evangelism (or telling other people about Jesus) as a spiritual gift.
And He [Christ] Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ Eph 4:9-11 NKJV
In this verse, the work of an evangelist is described as something designated by Christ. Implicitly with that idea, is the notion that not everyone has been given this gift. For me, that was a liberating concept. Through all my failed attempts to convincingly articulate reasons to follow Jesus to my friends, co-workers, and family members, I was starting to feel like a failure. What this verse actually describes, though, is the idea that not everyone will be good at this, that its ok to not be a great or even decent personal evangelist. Now, on the other side of this conversation lies a pretty important question: "What am I supposed to do about sharing my faith then, if I'm not that good at it?"
In what the Bible describes as "The Great Commission," Jesus' parting words to His disciples before ascending into heaven are to "go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt 28:19 NKJV). I think this principle holds true for us today as followers of Jesus as well; that part of being a believer and follower of Jesus, is to share our faith, and here's how I think most of us can practically have a part in this: inviting our friends to church.
I discovered a few years ago, that there are a lot of places around the city and region where people are really good at telling people about Jesus, often times in a way they can understand. I also discovered that these places had systems and processes in place exactly for people like the friends I was inviting, people who didn't know Jesus. Timberlake Church, I can confidently say, is a great place for people who are undecided about a faith in Jesus Christ. At Timberlake (and at a bunch of churches throughout the area), people who are undecided can ask questions, meet some normal people, and have the Christian faith explained to them in a logical yet non-threatening way, which I think is awesome!
So, for the next few weeks, as Easter approaches, I've been thinking a lot of who I can invite to church. I still have a lot of friends that I spend time with regularly who don't have a relationship with Christ and I know how much Jesus loves them and how badly He wants their hope to be in Him. At the same time, I know that I'm not the world's best evangelist but I can probably get them to come church long before I can walk them through what believing in Jesus looks like - maybe you're in the same place.
My hope and prayer is that you'll consider bringing someone with you to church this Easter season, so they can hear the good news about Jesus Christ.
Student Ministries Pastor