Why We Don't Witness
Research shows that most Christians believe that God calls them to have Gospel conversations with unbelievers. But there is a pretty large gap between theory and practice. Lifestyle evangelism, showing Jesus by the way we live and the choices we make, is one thing. The verbal articulation of the Gospel to someone else is quite another. What is behind our hesitancy? And what can we do about it?
Reason 1: “Witnessing is not for me”
Our world thinks in terms of experts and specialists and we mindlessly translate that mentality to witnessing. We argue that others are so much better trained or equipped then we are. It is true that God has given some in the church a special capacity for evangelism (Eph. 4:11). These men and women share the Gospel with greater ease and see God bless their efforts more than the rest of us. But the Bible doesn’t relegate evangelism only to the gifted, the trained or the professional holy people. God mobilizes the entire church to reach the lost (1 Pet. 3:15; 2 Cor. 5:20,21). What we need is a willing heart.
Reason 2: “I don’t know enough”
It is every Christian’s nightmare. You're asked a question and you don’t know the answer. It may be a question on creation or about a supposed contradiction in the Bible. You feel backed into a corner and wish you never brought up Jesus because you make Him look like a fool, or so you think. Knowledge matters. We are to be lifelong students of the Christian faith. The Gospel must be clear in our minds. But our confidence in witnessing should be in God, not in our knowledge. The power lies in the inspired message, not in the well-informed messenger (Rom. 1:16). Don’t overestimate your role. Do we really think that the salvation of a soul hinges on our intellectual expertise? Not in a million years.
Reason 3: “I don’t know how to witness”
A friend of mine has the gift of evangelism. I love seeing him in action. In a few sentences he can generate a Gospel talk, and nine out of ten times the person is quite comfortable with it. I, on the other hand, often rack my brain on how I can get the conversation to Jesus without sounding like a religious fanatic. My problem is that I am task focused, not people focused. When Paul came to Thessalonica he and his ministry partners not only shared the Gospel but “also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us” (1 Thess. 2:8). What would happen if we focused more on loving the person and less on the how to of evangelism? More on the content of the Gospel and less on the mechanics? Shouldn't we trust God for the rest?
Reason 4: “I don’t have the desire”
God desires all people to come to know the truth (1 Tim. 2:4), but we don't share His passion. This happens probably more often than we like to admit. We believe in the Great Commission, but it flatlines in our hearts. We can be so wrapped up with ourselves, our families and our church programs that we lose sight of those outside. Or the awfulness of hell doesn't grip us as it once did. It's tempting to arm wrestle our will to action. The fact is that we can't manufacture desire. We should repent of our cold hearts. We should ask the Holy Spirit to reignite our passion to reach the lost. In it's purest form witnessing is the overflow of a heart that is captivated by Christ.
Reason 5: “I am afraid of how people might react”
Sharing Christ is risky. You can get a door slammed in your face. You may be laughed at or yelled at. It can negatively affect family and work relationships. None of us likes the pain that comes with rejection. But what is the worst they can do to us? Jesus stated it blunty, they can kill us (Mat. 10:28). And then what? We'll be with Him forever which is not loss but only gain (Phil. 1:21). When we truly believe that sin keeps people out of heaven, that hell is real and that Christ is the only glorious Savior that can rescue sinner from eternal damnation, why oh why do we let fear muzzle us? When we're gripped by the fear of God, that deep reverence and awe for Him, fear for men will dissipate (1 Pet. 3:14-15).
O God, give us Gospel urgency. Give us opportunities to share the Good News. Inflame our hearts for the lost. Deliver us from fear and give us the joy of seeing others come to Christ. Amen.