One of the ways you “honour Christ the Lord as holy” as a Christian is by “being prepared to make a defence [or a ‘reasoned statement’] to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet 3:15). Preparation is also a key way to feel more confident and positive about sharing Jesus with those around you. So here are six ways to be prepared:
All gospel communication needs the intervention of the Holy Spirit to be effective, so prayer is vital. Pray that God would show his grace and mercy to your friends and family.
But there is another way prayer can be an effective part of gospelling. Prayer is something we can offer to do for our friends when they mention needs or things going on in their lives. Saying “I will pray about that for you” is a great way of showing you care for your friend and that you believe that God actually hears and is active. Sometimes it might even be appropriate to pray there and then with your friend as a way of providing comfort to them. Follow up later and ask them how the matter you prayed for is going.
God’s gospel word the Bible is what reveals God and declares his saving grace in Jesus. And my observation is that one of the most effective evangelistic strategies at the moment is a Christian asking a non-Christian to meet one-to-one to read the Bible together.
But do you have a Bible ready to give someone today if the opportunity arises? Why not have a supply of two or three inexpensive (but nicely produced) Bibles always ready to go?
An alternative is to give a portion of Scripture, such as one of the four Gospels. This has the advantage of being a little less overwhelming. The Essential Jesus (Luke’s Gospel) is a nicely packaged option with a helpful introduction and conclusion.
The Book of Books is a short and very helpful introduction for non-Christians to what the Bible is and how to go about reading it. It will help orient your friend to the Bible you give them (whether or not they are going to read it with you or on their own).
If you want to explain the reason for your hope to a friend clearly, you must understand the gospel clearly, and have given advance thought to how you will actually articulate that understanding clearly. The point at which a friend asks you “What must I do to be saved?” is not the ideal point to be figuring out what to say.
This is exactly what the Two Ways to Live: Know and share the gospel course is for. (Please note, the course is not for learning a spiel you prattle off inappropriately; it embeds a clear gospel framework in your mind so that you can articulate the message in your own words.) If you can’t get someone to take you through the course, then at least read John Chapman’s Know and Tell the Gospel.
How to tell your personal story of how you came to believe is also worthy of solid forethought.
Inviting someone to come to church (or an outreach event of some sort) with you may seem like a simple thing to do. And it probably is. Yet for some reason we still tense up and ask the question in a really socially awkward way, communicating in our tone and body language that we expect them to say no.
So start with an easier invitation, e.g. “I’m going for a walk at lunchtime. Want to come?” It’s not a big stretch from there to “I’m going to church on Sunday evening. Want to come?”
There are some excellent evangelistic books and tracts that have proven their usefulness in engaging non-Christians with a well-argued and presented case for faith. In the Matthias Media stable, A Fresh Start and Naked God stand out for this purpose.
Ultimately, there is the risk that communicating the gospel to a friend will cause that person to shun you. Jesus is “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” (1 Pet 2:8), even if we present him with “gentleness and respect” (1 Pet 3:15). But remember that we are lovingly offering them our reason for hope—and persevere in love.