Sharing Your Faith Effectively
It can be challenging to our share our faith with those around us. Evangelist Mark Greenwood gives us some ideas.
‘Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders, make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.’
(Colossians 4:5-6 NIV)
I had my essential drink and snack supplies. It was the Six Nations, the anthems had just been sung and I was sitting back down after my own tuneful rendition of ‘God save the Queen’. It’s one of my favourite times of the year and I love all the banter between my Celtic friends and me.
My wife Emma was just about to leave the house and as she did she asked, ‘Darling, will you plant the ten plants in the garden, I’m going out for a while?’ ‘No problem’, I replied. There was just a few minutes before kick-off so I planned my approach to this task quickly. ‘I will do it in the half time interval’, I thought to myself.
Half time arrived, and with the speed of a Rugby Union winger coupled with the strength of a front row forward, I dug a hole, inserted the plant, and pushed the soil around the roots in ten minutes flat. I headed back for the second half, arriving just as the players were coming back on the field - perfect job, perfect timing, well executed.
All was well until Emma arrived home and, seeing me still watching the post Rugby analysis, she inquired, ‘Did you manage...’ ‘All done and dusted in ten minutes flat’, I proudly interrupted. This is where it took a turn for the worse. Emma went out and checked, and apparently I hadn’t done it properly! She delivered the killer line, ‘You were in such a rush to plant them all, you didn’t plant anything properly.’ Guess what the next two hours of my Saturday were spent doing?
So often when it comes to sharing the gospel we get an opportunity we didn’t expect, and we share something we haven’t prepared, resulting in ‘the overshare’. We are so enthusiastic to say it all, we actually end up communicating nothing well at all. We feel we have to go from creation to second coming or we haven’t made the most of the opportunity. Yet, in truth, saying too much is often the downfall to effective faith sharing. Here’s a few things to consider:
It’s easy to fall into the trap of, ‘I must tell them about Jesus’. If we aren’t careful we end up building relationships just so we can share the gospel, and that’s an abuse of friendship.
I often ask my friends when we have had a meaningful conversation what we should chat about next. I will give them things to read and say ‘let’s have a chat about it’. Most people come to faith through a journey - let’s be fellow travellers.
Story is the cultural thing right now. We love stories, Jesus loved them too. Tell yours and ask them theirs. Make sure you talk about what God is doing now, and talk about the good and the bad. Don’t end it at the point you became a Christian.
We use our phone for absolutely everything these days so don’t let faith-sharing be the exception. Mine is one of the best tools I have for sharing my faith and the gospel. I have loads of YouTube clips, visual aids and links that I can send people and show people as well as articles and some of my favourite apologetics books on my Kindle app.
Why not begin to pray, research and plan your faith sharing activities. That’s how you can begin to ‘make the most of every opportunity’. And don’t forget the part of Colossians 4 that says, ‘Let your conversation be always full of grace’.
By listening to someone tell you their story you can find the best part of the gospel to use as a starting point. For example, if someone doesn’t feel very loved or valuable it’s probably best to start with God’s love in Jesus as opposed to the fact that they have done wrong and are separated from God.
The number one thing that gets us to share our faith is when someone asks us questions – yet it’s often the thing we feel least confident about. It’s a good idea to brush up on answers to the ‘big questions’.
We are so used to using Christian words with fellow believers that we end up using the same words with those outside the church. What are the words you use which you ought to think about changing?
This is similar to the previous one but serves its own point! I’ve heard people say things like, ‘and you know the story of David and Goliath, which shows us...’, but we can’t assume that others are as familiar with Bible stories as we are. We live in a world where people’s knowledge of the Bible is limited at best.
I really believe in the power of the Bible in evangelism. When using it don’t say, ‘John 3:16 says’, as they don’t know what John 3:16 means. I simply say something like, ‘There’s a great bit in the Bible which says...’