A friend asked me: Kevin, how can I work up the nerve to share the gospel with strangers? The following is my work-in-progress reply:
I guess sharing the gospel with strangers (or anyone) is probably difficult due awkward feelings. I know that is one thing that makes it hard for me: the fear of man. I think also American culture today fosters loneliness instead of community. But I believe a few good motivators are out there for personal evangelism.
(1) A motivation to bring glory to God encourages personal evangelism. Sharing the gospel with strangers may be an opportunity to experience the bigness of God. God is pleased with faithful servants. That should bring us joy!
(2) There is also the truth. Jesus commissions his own to go into all the world and make disciples (Matt. 28:19-20; Mk. 16:15; Lk. 24:47-48; Jn. 20:21; Acts 1:8). So obedience is another motivator. “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But how are they to 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?” (Rom. 10:13-15).
(3) A Spirit-filled love for others is a special motivator. Many Christians flat-out don’t care about the lost. Prayer for and spending time with unbelievers often ignites a passionate desire to personal evangelism.
(4) Knowing that God can radically and sovereignly save any lost and weary sinner at any moment is a tremendous motivator. I know that God alone coverts souls. So I rest in a confidence in the sovereign grace of God and obey.
(5) Rejection is real. One motivator is Matt. 5:11-12: “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” God sent prophets and they were killed. He sent Jesus and he was murdered. And he continues to send messengers today; and they are persecuted and reviled. They are like the prophets and Jesus when they are rejected. “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.” Eternal rewards, spiritual growth, and future hope in judgment are biblical motivators.
(6) Too often believers are shortsighted. They don’t consider the joys of witnessing a conversion. They don’t think about how heralding the gospel brings fame and glory to Jesus. They typically live in the moment: the moment of the fear of man. The fear of man too often trumps all of the biblical reasons for personal evangelism. This is where I think prayer, personal devotion, and a healthy desire to witness God doing amazing things helps. But I wouldn’t say that it isn’t hard. Rejection. Awkwardness. Fear of man. Individualistic culture. Those are hard things. Yet I love this: Yes the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing (1 Cor. 1:18). But you can say to the one perishing: Yes, but you don’t have to perish. “To us who are being saved, it is the power of God.”
I could say more, but these six are a start. Everything I wrote here I too need to work on myself.
Some inspiration for this post came from Alvin Reid’s book, Evangelism Handbook.