As I prepared to start university, I had a brainwave about how I could share my faith. What was it, you ask? Religious t-shirts! I bought several ‘stylish’ t-shirts with overtly religious messages along the lines of: ‘God First Bro’, ‘Drop Psalms Not Bombs’, and ‘S.W.A.G. = Saved With Amazing Grace.’ I had no intentions of actually speaking to people. I genuinely thought my t-shirts would do all the talking. Naivety at it’s finest! Unsurprisingly, no one ever did ask me which psalm they should drop, or what exactly I had been ‘saved’ from. My heart was in the right place, but my methods clearly weren’t…
“But the Holy Spirit will come on you and give you power. You will be my witnesses. You will tell people everywhere about me—in Jerusalem, in the rest of Judea, in Samaria, and in every part of the world.” (Acts 1:8, ERV)
Just before his ascension, Jesus tells His disciples that the incoming Holy Spirit will equip them to do the work of evangelism. The power that they will receive through the Holy Spirit will be sufficient to accomplish their work as witnesses wherever they go. Crucially, He also highlights that the work must start in Jerusalem before transitioning to other areas. As modern day disciples, this message is equally applicable to us.
‘Inner’ Jerusalem is waiting for you.
Jerusalem is much closer than your geographical town or city. It’s the people closest to you – family members, friends, and acquaintances – that you aren’t actively ministering to. So often we engage in public evangelism with people we don’t know (e.g. door knocking or street witnessing), when we’re neglecting those that are closest to us. The irony is, most people are more likely to listen to a friend than a stranger. Whilst it’s still important to reach strangers, your testimony means more to those that know you personally.
Witness = public affirmation by word or example of usually religious faith or conviction (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
Witnessing isn’t scripted. It’s simply an opportunity for you to listen to someone that may (or may not) realise they’re seeking Christ and include relevant personal testimonies. I once asked my church to write down their barriers for witnessing and a number of people mentioned “not knowing what to say.” It’s ok to be daunted by the prospect of articulating your faith, but no one knows your story better than you. Be real. Be authentic. Your job isn’t to convert. It isn’t even to convince. It’s simply to bear witness about what Christ has done in your life and allow the Holy Spirit to work. Coincidentally, the very same power that will convict them, has given you the power to witness. Maybe your issue isn’t knowing what to say… it’s trusting that the Holy Spirit is genuinely at work.
Witnessing is only as difficult as you make it.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that witnessing only includes asking if someone wants Bible studies! If they’re ill, you can recommend a health remedy, or invite them to a health programme. Alternatively, you could ask them to join you as a volunteer for a community programme at church e.g. feeding the homeless. Or perhaps there’s an upcoming concert/play they might enjoy. These are just a few methods that are likely to open the door for spiritual conversations. Witnessing in the context of friendship typically means your friend will be more open (but not necessarily more accepting) of what you have to say. Therefore, don’t be quick to assume that all your non-Christian friends aren’t interested in spiritual things just because they don’t want Bible studies. By building real friendships and prayerfully considering how you can share your faith, God will show you how to witness to that individual.
- Share Christ with those closest to you (e.g. John 1:43-51, 4:28-30) – everyone needs to be reached, however, you should start with those you know. If you don’t have non-Christian friends – broaden your circle! Although friendship makes witnessing less ‘awkward’, don’t make friends for the sole purpose of witnessing. Establish and maintain a friendship like you would with any other person. They shouldn’t be seen as just a ‘contact.’
- Shine brightly (Matthew 5:14) – your faith isn’t something to hide! Use your social media accounts to share scriptures/songs/testimonies/quotes/devotions that might just be a blessing to someone. If you’re shy about talking, then this is the perfect way to witness ????
- Study diligently (2 Timothy 2:15; 1 Peter 3:15) – sharing your faith is a whole lot easier when you can explain your beliefs in a clear and simple way. By studying and memorising the scriptures associated with each doctrine, you’ll be able to keep your conversation with the individual biblical and avoid adding your own opinions/interpretation.
- Be prepared (2 Timothy 4:2) – carry tracts, books, or bookmarks etc that you can give to people that you meet. GLOW has an excellent collection of tracts on a variety of topics that crop up in conversation (click here).
- Don’t be a hypocrite (Romans 2:21-24) – if you don’t practice what you preach then you give the impression that what you’re sharing is optional or unimportant. Don’t use the fact that you’re not a ‘perfect’ Christian as an excuse not to evangelise, rather let it motivate you to strive for that which is possible: holiness. Your journey might just be an inspiration to others!
You are the one who realises the value of the Gospel. Therefore, the onus is on you to share it actively and openly to all who will listen – the people won’t come to you (no matter how nice your t-shirt is!). Start in Jerusalem and go wherever the Lord wills. Whilst rejection is inevitable, don’t let that hinder you from doing the work you’ve been called to do.