I have heard many say that not every Christian has the gift of evangelism. Since that is not your calling from God, you need not feel guilty that you don’t know how to do it.
In the words of an old hymn, though, you ought to be able to tell people something if they open an evangelistic door to you. How does the song go? “If you cannot sing like angels / If you cannot preach like Paul / You can tell the love of Jesus / And say he died for all.”
Your task may not be to teach, but it is to witness. That is, even if you don’t have the ability to lead the person to salvation, you must let God use your life to make people thirsty for the water of life and hungry for the bread of life. Jesus will be their satisfaction, but you can help stir their dissatisfaction with anything else.
Your prayer about unsaved people should be that God will use your life to touch theirs, enable you to “tell the love of Jesus and say he died for all,” and then lead that person to someone with the gift of evangelism so he or she can be saved.
Here’s how you can be God’s tool to lead someone to eternal life. It’s not that complicated. You simply need to be conscious of the process and pray daily for God to use you for someone else’s salvation.
1. Don’t shut non-Christians out of your life. Some Christians are snobbish without meaning to be. In our zeal to avoid “bad companions” (1 Cor. 15:33) and to keep from “being polluted by the world” (Jas. 1:27), some believers isolate themselves in religious cocoons a la the ancient Pharisees.
Jesus was a friend to the people the Pharisees strenuously avoided. Loving your neighbor was the point of the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Friendship with someone who doesn’t know Christ is the first step in breaking down the barrier between that person and the gospel.
The longer people are Christians, the fewer non-Christian friends they have — and the less influence they have over unsaved people.
2. Let your life arouse others’ interest in Christ. Talk is not a good beginning point for sharing the gospel. Integrity is a good starting point. Do more than your share on any project at work. Be grateful for your job, refuse to be a clock-watcher or gossip, and always do your best. Be kind to anyone who is sad or angry.
Apologize when you have been wrong. Be scrupulously faithful to your wife or husband, and say only positive things about her or him. When someone asks you why you are different — and somebody will! — tell them very gently that you are a Christian, that you want God to be sovereign in your life, that you try to follow Jesus’ example.
3. Move the conversation with an interested person to the gospel. When your life has generated the sort of interest I’ve just described and you’ve given the sort of answer I’ve suggested, the door for your “personal testimony” is wide open. And how do you give it? Maybe this simply: “Jesus Christ has changed my life. What does he mean to you?”
Another way: ask them if they are interested in spiritual things and offer to spend time with them.
Ask, “What does Jesus mean to you?” That’s the real question of salvation and eternal life. Some people are church members but have no relationship to him. Just ask that person you are concerned about to tell you what Jesus means to him or her.
4. Don’t press too hard, judge, or condemn the person. You’ll be surprised at some of the things people will tell you about their families, personal confusion, or messed-up lives. Try not to be too surprised or too shocked! Just be interested and compassionate.
Some single woman’s sadness is due to the fact that she just learned she is pregnant. Some man’s anger is because his son was arrested for drug possession. Somebody’s tears are because of the divorce in process or the disease just diagnosed. Just listen. Care. Speak of the love of God for all of us in our problems.
5. Keep things focused on Jesus. Don’ t think you have to speak wise words or solve the person’s problems. He or she doesn’t expect that of you. Just continue to speak of Jesus.
By all means, don’t try to defend the failures of the church or the hypocrisy of some of its members. Just affirm Jesus to that person, and affirm your belief that Jesus is the only one who can give any of us the answers we ultimately need to make sense out of our existence or to deal with the cruel things that hurt us (i.e., sin).