“Jesus came and told his disciples, ‘I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’”
“If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
“For the Good News must first be preached to all nations.”
“And then he told them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned.’”
I Peter 3:15-16
“Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.”
2 Timothy 1:7-8
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News.”
1 Corinthians 10:31
“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
Previous lessons have set up why we share the gospel, and how Christ lived and shared His message. In this final course, we will identify how to share that message. As discussed earlier, one of the main reasons for shying away from evangelism is fear and lack of confidence. This lesson will give an overview of how to share the gospel, and the lessons to follow will equip you with practical ways to do that.
(Video) “Lesson 10 – How to Share the Gospel”
Sharing the gospel requires more considerations today than ever before. While the content of the gospel has not changed, the manner in which we share it has. The question we wrestle with is this: “How do we communicate the unchanging gospel in an ever-changing world?”
This lesson won’t definitively answer this question, but it will get you started in the right direction. You will learn how to speak into culture, how to intentionally connect with people, when to use Scriptures in evangelism, and what it looks like to respond in love.
- Understand the Culture
A wise missionary studies the culture they are ministering in. It is important to understand what the culture values, rejects, and worships. It’s more than learning the language and history. It means diving deep to understand what the culture’s values are. What do the people see as “success”? Who are their role models? What factors do people take into account when making major life decisions? How do people entertain themselves? All these questions are important for engaging the people in conversations about faith and God. You’ll need to understand what they think about life, death, morality, etc. if you are going to help them see how the Gospel is relevant to them.
We find Christianity competing with secularism, Islam, Buddhism, Bahaism, Hinduism, and a wide variety of worldviews. Our culture widely rejects the idea that there is such a thing as “truth” and traditionally accepted moral and philosophical views are being questioned, if not abandoned altogether. Christian values and influence have virtually faded from popular memory. Once, towns were built with churches at their centre, and ministers were deemed indispensable members of local civil leadership. This is no longer the case. These facts make evangelism challenging.
Many people still refer to themselves as “spiritual” and are not completely closed to conversations about faith, even if they are suspicious about Christianity. Also, in the marketplace of beliefs, the Gospel stands out as unique, offering grace where others offer works. The Gospel is not a clever argument but the very power of God. If we believe God works through our proclamation, there is reason for optimism.
Each of us needs to study our community. Look around the area you are ministering and take inventory. Ask yourself what the people value, how they celebrate holidays, what drives them to succeed, and what their greatest fears are. Paul showed his understanding of the culture of Athens in Acts 17. His careful examination of the culture of Athens helped him to understand how to share the Gospel in a way that the Athenians could understand it.
If you can understand what ideas and beliefs the people in your community hold, you will be able to wisely and lovingly deliver the Gospel in a way that will address their values and fears. So take time to think about your community, to pray for the people in it, and practice what words you will use when sharing the Gospel with them.
- Knowing What to Say
To be comfortable sharing the Gospel and know how to communicate it clearly, you have to understand it yourself. Have you ever had a favorite teacher or pastor who was able to make complex theories seem simple? Didn’t they always seem able to make you see how the story or theory impacted you personally? They understood the subject so well that they knew how to tailor it to the people they were addressing. In the same way, we should be soaking ourselves in the Gospel through prayer, study, and conversations, so that when the time comes, we are able to speak about God in a way that impacts those we are speaking to.
We need not only share content of the Gospel, but also share the heart of the Gospel in the way we interact with people. There will be times when people will not be interested in hearing about Jesus—we ought to still be encouraging and polite. The Holy Spirit is responsible for convicting the world; your job is to share the Gospel and model what a life renewed by Jesus looks like.
There are countless words to use when sharing the Gospel, so it is impossible to cover them all here, but we can point out some fundamental points that should be touched on. First and foremost, the ideas of grace, freedom, and rest should come up in our conversations with non-believers. The Gospel declares that God, in Jesus, endured the punishment we deserved so that we could receive the reward that Jesus deserved. This is grace. The Gospel declares that because of Jesus’ work on the cross, we no longer need to be slaves to sin (those things that keep us from God). We are free to be the people we were created to be. This is freedom. The Gospel declares that we cannot and need not earn our own peace with God.
There is no single phrase you need to recite verbatim to all those you share the Gospel with. This is because you are not really sharing ideas and theories but sharing a relationship. Relationships are best shared authentically through personal interaction. Be faithful in preparing yourself for these encounters, and trust that the Spirit will work through your witness.
- Intentionally Connect With People
It is apparent that though many may understand an obligation to share the gospel, if you ask them if they do, they will confess to not sharing regularly or even at all. A primary reason we don’t share the Gospel as highlighted in other lessons is that we fear how we will be received. The question about how we start a conversation with strangers, family, co-workers, etc., is a vital one.
We can learn from Jesus’ interaction with people. The Gospel record many meetings between Jesus and other people. Jesus’ approach in many conversations recorded in Scripture was to ask questions. This was not merely a tactic but revealed that Jesus cared about people. Asking questions, prompts the other person to speak about themselves and their ideas.
Spend time thinking about some questions you can use to start a conversation. In reading some of the conversations Jesus had, you’ll quickly realize that many conversations took place in homes or in a work environment, and many of them He did not even initiate. Jesus put Himself in situations where people could question Him, and felt comfortable doing so. The average Christian finds their circle of non-believing friends shrink the longer they are in the Church. It is vital to learn from Jesus and stay active in the world rather than retreating from it. Ask yourself, am I often in situations where non-believers are present?
Knowing all of this, how do you get into conversations with people about faith and God? If the person in front of you is a stranger, the way into a conversation is different than if you are speaking to someone you know. To open a conversation with a stranger, you may not have much time to “get to know them.” Perhaps open with a question like, “Do you go to a church?” or “Have you ever gone to church?” This type of question will get you a lot of information quickly—you will know if they have some church background or not, and how they respond will lead you to your next question. If they say something like, “I used to go to church but I don’t anymore,” you then may ask, “Really? Why is that?” and now the conversation is started!
Family members are harder to talk to because we feel there is more at stake if the conversation doesn’t go well. Living lives that honour God will lead to discussion because such lives will stand out. Remember that grace is vital when speaking to family members about Jesus. Conversations with family will be more sensitive so watch out for the emotions that tend to rise quickly.
We cannot know how conversations will go, but one thing that we can be certain of is that the person who doesn’t know Jesus has far more to gain by our sharing the Gospel with them than we have to lose. When we see this, we share the Gospel boldly and with humility.
- Use the Scriptures in Evangelism
We’ve already pointed out a couple very important factors—that the Gospel has power and that we often suffer from a lack of confidence in sharing the Gospel. At ShareWord Global, we use the written Word of God in evangelism because doing so supports the two factors just mentioned. If our evangelism is to point to Jesus, it must be rooted in the Word. Because we lean upon the perfect Word, the burden of having to have the right argument or all the facts is lifted from our shoulders. Our confidence is rooted in the Spirit’s ability and willingness to speak to the hearts who need to hear from Him, and not in our own eloquence.
So, how do you use the Scriptures to share the Gospel? Offer a person a Scripture and explain to them in your own words how the book (magazine, New Testament, etc.) talks about Jesus, His life, and what He did and still does. Some elect to say something like, “This book talks about life and death, and how to choose life.” When there isn’t an opportunity for continued conversation, you’ll need to trust that the Spirit can work through the Scriptures to communicate what you were not able to.
If you are in a deeper conversation with a person, you can delve into the Word more explicitly. There is no substitute for being steeped in the Bible through personal study, reflection, and prayer.
The Gospel of John has long been considered an excellent starting point for seekers and new believers looking into Christianity and faith. Get to know the Gospel of John, asking yourself how the parables, interactions, and declarations might help you share the Gospel.
Specifically, get to know Scriptures about God’s grace, peace, and love. We have already seen that humanity has been separated from God and the result has been that we attempt to bridge this gap with many things other than God. That’s why the Gospel’s message of forgiveness will speak to people in a way that our clever arguments cannot.
- Always Respond in Love
How to respond to a person who accepts the Gospel can be more nerve-wracking than dealing with someone who rejects it! One thing is certain: when you engage someone in conversation about God or faith, the person standing in front of you will respond in some way. The key is to always respond in love. You are not trying to change them. You are not only a messenger of love but a vehicle of that love.
If the person in front of you politely declines your gift of a Scripture, or indicates they don’t want to talk, then you need to simply walk away and offer a word of encouragement. Remember that Jesus allowed the rich young ruler to walk away (Luke 18:18). While persistence is important, we need to see that we are called to share the Gospel, not convert people.
There are times when people we engage with will get argumentative, and handling these situations well is important. Arguments tend to end poorly, leaving people either proud or broken. If conversations get heated, diffuse the matter by acknowledging the thought the other person has put into their position and consider connecting with them for coffee to speak at length. Perhaps say something like, “How interesting! You have given this a lot of thought, and I would love to chat some more.” The key is to share the truth in love; we need to show grace and remember that no matter how often or in what manner we are rejected, we are to praise God for His mercy and pray for the other person’s faith.
When someone accepts the Gospel, we ought to first rejoice! Second, we want to clarify their commitment, and finally, we want them to engage with God through prayer.
There is no single prayer that must be said to cement someone’s faith, but it is important to know that commitment means recognition of personal sin and the adequacy of Jesus’ atoning work, and the welcoming of Jesus as personal Lord and Saviour. A simple way to understand this prayer is to think of it as saying “sorry,” “thank you,” and “please.” “Sorry” that I have sinned and set myself against You, “thank You” that You died on the Cross for me, and “please” come into my heart and be with me.
As a Christian, you are already qualified to share the Gospel. You are qualified in at least two ways: first, because you have been given authority to share the Gospel by God, and second, because you have been given the Holy Spirit, who works in you and those you share the Gospel with.
In this lesson, you learned that to share the Gospel you will need to understand the culture, know what to say, intentionally connect with people, use the Scriptures in evangelism, and always respond in love. Think of this lesson as a springboard that propels you into a wide and deep pool. This is just the beginning of an incredible life of service and sharing!
Memorize Roman 1:16:
“For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.”
Think for a moment and identify the ways you may demonstrate you are ashamed of Christ in your daily routines. These give you a clue to some fears and obstacles that may be hindering you from sharing
Making It Practical
God uses who we are, not who we are not, to connect with others. Write down some ways you could connect with others with how God has made you to share the Gospel with others.
As believers, sharing our faith is not an option.
Using the lesson material as a review, answer the following questions.
|Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.|
|Understanding the culture is foundational to sharing the Gospel.|
|Knowing what to say is crucial to sharing.|
|Using Scriptures is not important when reaching out.|
|To share, we must intentionally connect with people.|
|We should respond in love no matter the circumstances.|
|While persistence is important, we need to see that we are called to share the Gospel, not convert people.|
|As a believer in Christ, I am already qualified to share the Gospel.|
|God uses who we are, not who we are not, to connect with others.|
|As believers, sharing our faith is not an option.|
Write a 1-2 page paper on how you feel you:
- Handle rejection
- Respond to conflict
- Love unconditionally
The goal is to mentally prepare yourself to share the Gospel, but also understand that not everyone responds positively.
Living the Resurrection: The Risen Christ in Everyday Life – Eugene H. Peterson, NavPress, 2020
When we live the resurrection in our daily lives, we can share with love, truth, and hope the gospel to others. Christ’s friends were utterly transformed by His resurrection. Their friendship, their work, and even their meals together took on a new meaning and purpose. The same can happen to us today as we live the resurrection of the risen Christ in our everyday.
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