One of our tendencies in the evangelical world is to hold out for a silver bullet. We want to know the simple trick, the little shortcut, the approved technique that will get us the results we want. We do it with church planting, we do it with raising up leaders and we definitely do it, perhaps most of all, with evangelism.
As most of us know, there is no silver bullet. There is no formula that, if you say the correct words in the right order, revival will happen. The only “trick” is sharing the same gospel message, over and over again, with the same people, slowly, continually, repeatedly pointing them to Jesus. There is no event, no programme, no two-ways-to-live style format that will guarantee you results. The Holy Spirit famously does not work like that.
Still, even if we accept this, we want to know how we can really do evangelism. We accept the results are above our paygrade but we just don’t know what to do. Surely somebody can give us a technique, a booklet or run a course (we love them courses!) that will tells us what to do. 10 ways to point someone to Jesus. Christianity Explored, Explained, Examined, Ex… well, you get it. Stuff works for a while and then it grows stale and we need something new.
The problem with all this reliance on courses and whatnot is that we lose the simple and straightforward art of just talking to people. Unless I have my clipboard and my questions, my technique or my course notes, I just don’t know what to say. But the truth is, you do know what to say and you don’t need props to say it. You just need to open your mouth.
If you’re a pastor, or in any sort of full time Christian work, it’s super easy. Any conversation you ever have somebody eventually asks, ‘so what do you do?’ They usually follow up with, ‘you don’t look like a pastor!’ That at least let’s us ask what a pastor is meant to look like and why I still count. It isn’t very difficult to get away from me and what I look like to Jesus. I can look like this because Jesus loves me and what anybody else thinks a pastor should look like doesn’t matter. I can point people to him and show them it doesn’t matter who they are or what they look like either. It’s not very difficult.
But even if we don’t talk about me being a pastor, which we don’t always, it’s not that hard to talk about Jesus with people who strike up conversation with you. If you go to church on Sunday, ‘what did you do at the weekend?’ usually gets you there. Even if you aren’t doing that, just telling people that you are a Christian will open up some doors. Sometimes, you don’t even have to say anything very Christian at all; somebody says something to you and ‘as a Christian…’ you can offer some sort of Christian, biblical, gospel insight that might just allow you to point people to Jesus. There are any other number of ways we can talk about Jesus ordinarily, without props, on our own and not being weird.
I think the big problem is that we just don’t. We hamstring ourselves with our own neurotic worries about what people will think of us. I’m not sure the last time I gave a fig what some randomer sat at a bus stop thought about me, but you suddenly start worrying profusely about it when you start thinking about telling them about Jesus. There is no legitimate reason that should be. So what if they think you’re weird? So what if they don’t agree? So what if they don’t like you for saying it? In the light of eternity, and the fact you are unlikely to see them again, who cares? And even if you will see them again, what are you saying? You’re embarrassed to be known as a follower of Jesus? I mean, he has some pretty tasty words for your in Matthew 10 if that’s what you’re saying and they don’t look good for you if it is!
But I suspect we hamstring ourselves more because we don’t want to get it wrong. We’re not embarrassed of Jesus, we just want to do him justice. We don’t want to misrepresent him or be unwise in how we represent him. So we get all neurotic and then don’t say anything at all. Which, if my reading of the Bible is correct, Jesus is less happy about than our potential to say unwise, yet true and clear gospel stuff to people. In the end, the biggest barrier for us sharing the gospel is not a right technique or a decent course, it is our own neuroticism – most of which proves to be totally wrong at any rate!
So, here is the silver bullet you are waiting for. Here is the technique that will get you sharing the gospel. Are you ready? It is 100% guaranteed. Cannot fail. Ready? Just say something. Say anything about Jesus. Say anything related to the gospel you claim to believe. That’s it.
If you want to share the gospel, just say something. Get our of your own head. Put your worries and anxieties to one side. Whether they are to do with how people will view you, or how Jesus will view you, just get out of your own head and say something, anything. You might be amazed what Jesus does just because, whatever it was you said, you opened your mouth and said something about him.