Before we can venture into the "how," we need to ask one key and essential question: Who and what do people see in us? When we share about the Lord to someone, what is that person seeing in us? Our character? Our Fruit? Our personality? Our friendliness? Our love? Our care? Or?
Why is this important? A principle fact we must know before we venture out into evangelizing is this: when you ask someone, "Would you like to be a Christian?" what you are really saying is, "Would you like to be like me?" Are you a good "me"? Are you a person others should strive to be like? Be honest! This is not really theologically correct; the reality is we are helping people come to Christ. But, they do not know Christ yet; all they know is us and other Christians. So, the question that is so imperative is: Do love, character, care, friendliness and a personality that lifts up people come from you? The non-Christian will only know Christ through us until the Holy Spirit intervenes; thus, we must be careful how we plant His seed in our daily actions, words, and deeds, and how we tell someone about the Lord. Remember, in Matthew, chapter 23, Jesus warns us about misleading people. People will look to us for a model of the Christian life; if we are not modeling it or are modeling it wrong, then we should not tell people about Him, because it will do more damage than good. We must make sure that our lives are focused on Christ before we tell others about Him.
How do we become a good "me?" The main thing is that our personal prayer and devotional lives must be growing and active. We cannot do the work of God unless we are the people of God. We must be in prayer, and we must present Christ in the clearest, truest way possible with love, care, and sincerity. Remember, He is the Holy, Eternal God of the Universe; He loves us and He loves others, too. We present and represent Him by knowing the Scriptures and proclaiming Him with passion from our spiritual growth, from conviction, because we know He is true, using clarity, so we make sense, and showing compassion and love for the people with whom we are sharing. In addition, we are to proclaim Christ in Truth. That is, we are never to make up testimonies or skew the truth of His Word to fit our agenda or ideas.
We will not be perfect; I know I am not. God still uses us and our frailties, but don't we want to be a better "me," a better caring and loving Christian who is grounded in the faith?
He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. John 1:10
The Word (John 1:1-14) is cross-cultural and cuts through all languages, people groups, and time; it does not need us to make things up or bend it out of shape, nor do we help by our insincerities. God's Word does not need to be diluted or watered down to make it palatable. Witnessing is basically simple. All we need to do is to explain Jesus, in love, with the above precepts of passion, conviction, compassion, clarity, and truth. It also helps greatly to have that same love and care within us. The Spirit does the rest! The Word is the peg that goes into both the round and the square holes. You do not need to reshape the peg of His Truth. You need to know the culture of others and be relevant, but love that is real, along with the Gospel, needs no modifying. Essential doctrine is crucial because we are proclaiming God, and God is a God of Truth. We are His ambassadors; we are never to misrepresent Him (2 Corinthians 5:20). The Spirit is the real True Witness, thus we do not "save" people; we only present Christ to people. All we need to do is allow His work in us and in others.
To learn how to be effective witnesses, we are going to search the Scriptures to see the various ways we can communicate the faith. There are many different approaches; I have used just about all of them at one time or another. Some things work for some people very well while the same approach for another does not. But, we can distill key precepts to help shape the best way for individuals to match personality and time. We are going to look at a simple plan from Andrew, then more insights from Philip, and a few thoughts from my own learning and experiences, too. Not all plans work for every situation and person, but there are key essentials that must be in place for any approach. What is the best approach to witnessing? The one you use with honesty and sincerity. The best one is that with which you are comfortable and the one you use.
Andrew's Primer on Witnessing
"Come," he replied, "and you will see." So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour. John 1:39
Look at Andrew in the John 1:40-42 passage. Notice what Andrew uses and how he goes about reaching his brother and his friends. Andrew has an encounter with Jesus and then his life is radically transformed; he becomes excited and seeks whom he can tell first. Jesus impacted Him greatly and he wants to share that impact with others. God then uses him to transform the lives of others. God can and will use you, too. As a Christian, your life has been transformed; now consider whom you can tell.
The key precepts are to be transformed, and then excited, and then share His impact on you with others. Andrew was a man who was drawn to Christ as to a magnet. This helped him be optimistic, unselfish, and faithful, and you can be, too!
Step I-Pray: Andrew knew Jesus and we can consider this a prayer, so we should pray for the people to whom we are to tell (Proverbs 11:30).
Step II-Be Excited: We need to realize the veracity and excitement of our faith that causes our desire to tell another person. As you come to understand how Christ has affected you, seize that passion and put it into your testimony. We need to realize that the Spirit is with us, powerful and ready. Christianity is not a spectator sport or something we do vicariously through our pastors and leaders; it is something we are and do ourselves (John 4:35).
Step III Look for Whom to Tell: We look for someone who would like to know how Jesus transformed us! Who needs to know? (The answer to the question is, everyone who does not know.) Now, look around you; who do you know who does not know the Lord in a personal way? Your mission field is wherever you are. See the entire scope of relationships around you, beginning with immediate family, then relatives, then close friends, then co-workers, then neighbors, then business associates, then acquaintances, and finally, any person whom God places in your path. You need not travel to the far-off reaches of foreign countries unless called to do so. Rather, see who is in front of you now and write those names down on a list or in a journal. The key here is to have a heart for people and see their need for Christ (Proverbs 29:18)!
Step IV-Pray More: Keep the people on your list in prayer on a regular basis. Get others to pray for them, too. Your list of perspective people will reflect your primary opportunities, thus prayer is the quintessential thing you do and what the Spirit uses to open hearts (Luke 3:21; 5:16; 6:12; 9:18, 28; 11:1; 23:46).
Step V-Look for Opportunities: Pray for open opportunities to tell others in love and care. Pray for the bravery to tell them. Get together with others and pray for one another's "list" of people, too (Matthew 18:19)!
Step VI-Cultivate Relationships: Relationships are valuable; do not befriend people just to witness to them. Be real and sincere, be open, and care. Look for opportunities to invite them to crusades, church socials, and such. Your job is simply to be the model of how Christ is working in your life. That is, let them see Christ in you before you open your mouth about Him. But, do not just invite them to church stuff; find interests to share in, too. The more they know you and see Character and Fruit in you, the more their hearts and minds will be willing to hear from you. Remember, never argue or confront; make room for the Spirit to work. The saying, "people do not care what you have to say until they know you care" is pivotal and true (Colossians 1:10-12)!
Step VII-Talk: Saint Francis said, "But as for me, I desire this privilege from the Lord, that never may I have any privilege from man, except to do reverence to all, and to convert the world by obedience to the Holy Rule rather by example than by word." In other words, preach Christ with passion and conviction, and if necessary use words. There will come a time when you will have the privilege to answer questions and even lead someone in a salvation prayer (Colossians 1:3-6)!
Step VIII Commitment: Whether they make a commitment to Christ or not, be a friend, be open, and be reliable. If/when they do accept Christ, make sure they are getting encouragement from you and others in a good teaching and loving church, being discipled, being in a Bible study, and having access to the tools and resources they need (Colossians 4:2-6).
Step IX-Pray: Continue to pray for them (James 5:13-18).
Step X-Pray: Really continue to pray for them (Jeremiah 33:3).
Can't remember these steps? Then remember this, prayer, care, and share! Pray for people, show care to people, and allow your kindness and faith to be the example. These words will transform your witnessing ventures greatly when followed and practiced.
Philip Teaches Us How to Witness Effectively
But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Acts 8:12
What is another approach to witnessing? A good model for us to follow would be how Philip, in the book of Acts, witnessed to the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:12, 26-40).
Philip Knew and Trusted in God!
But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Acts 8:12
Philip knew who he was in Christ. His responsibility was to obey by faith and be a person who was usable to God. He knew God would work out the details, as He is sovereign and in control. God is the One who can do extraordinary things. So, no matter what happened, his reliance was on Christ. God's timing is perfect and our efforts are never a waste, whether we lead one person, hundreds of people, or no people to Him, as long as we are striving and are obedient. The questions you need to ask yourself are, do I really trust Him? And if so, am I usable? Faith has to be rooted in you before you can be effective in your witness!
Philip Was A Man Who Had Good Character!
When a person saw Philip, he or she also saw the Lord. Philip's persona, his life, words, and deeds bore witness to Christ. For those reasons, he was chosen to reach the eunuch (Acts 6:3-5). He was a man whose passion was to glorify Christ as Lord. He was not self-seeking; that is, he did not seek power, glory, or personal desires; he only sought Christ. Our lives must demonstrate that we know Him and that His fruit is working in us-and not rotten fruit. Do you have good character?
Philip Was Infused With the Holy Spirit!
We must realize that any effort is fruitless without Fruit-His Fruit. We do not do the work of changing or converting someone; that is solely the work of the Spirit. We are the instruments whose call it is to go and do. Philip obeyed the opportunity and went. We may not get direct orders from Jesus or an angel, but we can pay attention to the opportunities around us and make the most of them. It is the Spirit working in us that makes us contagious and uses us to influence those He seeks out. Do you allow the work of the Spirit within you? This is not a charismatic idea; it is a biblical point and truth!
Philip Was Prepared In His Heart and Knowledge!
Philip knew the Lord and he also knew the Scriptures. He realized that God is the Teacher and Guide, and he followed Him. He is the One who gives us the opportunities, the willingness, and the abilities to carry out His directives. He gives us the boldness and casts out our fears so we will have the courage to witness. We need to realize we cannot look at witnessing lightly, or do it when it is convenient or when we feel like it. Witnessing comes from our devotion and love life for our Lord, and then being on the lookout for His opportunities because we are excited about what Jesus has done for us and want to share that "info" with others. To do this, we must be prepared, and we start with our hearts. Remember, you do not need to know all of the answers, but you should know where or how to find them. Our heart and knowledge are what we work on as we grow in Christ. How is your devotional life?
Philip Was Using the Scriptures!
He was able and willing to sit down with the eunuch to explain the passage in Isaiah. To be effective, we must know the Scriptures; or, if it is new to us, be on the road to discovery. We do not need to know all about the "ins and outs" of the Bible (I have a Ph.D. in it and I do not); however, we need to have mentors and resources where we can go to find answers, then get back to a person's question. We need to be engaging in the Word and in the process of learning; as we learn, the Spirit will give us opportunities to share that information with someone, just as He did with Philip. Never neglect your study of our Lord. Are you willing to learn and use His Word?
Philip was greatly used and is our example because he trusted in God. He had good character, he was infused with the Holy Spirit, he was prepared, and he used the Scriptures. This is not rocket science; in fact, sharing the Good News about our Lord is simple and easy. We are to know Him, and then make Him known. This is our responsibility; if we do not know Him, we will be unable to make Him known. You may say, "I am a Christian; I grew up in the church so I know Him." Maybe so; maybe not. The key is that we keep growing in Him!
Philip was Usable!
In order to witness, we need to be usable. We need to tune ourselves before we go out, just as a musician tunes his instrument before the performance and not afterward. We can only do this by an intimate, growing faith, maturing in His Truth, and our spiritual formation. We need to see the plight of those around us and not be so involved with our own lives that we condescend or neglect others. With our faith in line, we can see that we are to care for others. We are to share with others with truth and compassion. We are never to condescend, be overbearing, stalk, or be a bad witness in any way. Our faith is essential. With His Word and Spirit empowering and infusing us, we can step out into the world boldly and powerfully. So, allow God to gift and empower you to be His ambassador. He gives us the opportunities; we respond with our faith and obedience. So, get in step with Him by your faith, and then step out with your proclamation of the faith.
What Else Can I Do?
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" Isaiah 6:8
1. Ask for the heart, strength, perseverance, patience, gifts, and the willingness of your church to obey. Ask for more prayer warriors.
2. Effective witnessing comes out of our devotional life and gratitude toward Christ-not out of obligation.
3. Ask God what the needs are, and for Him to reveal and make opportunities known.
4. Make sure you care and have an attitude of love and care for the person and/or persons to whom you are witnessing; if not, do not. Care is absolutely essential; people will not care what you have to say unless they know that you care.
5. Ask God to send His Spirit to soften the hearts of people to hear His message and to respond.
6. Make a list of all the people you need to pray for, the concerns of the town in which you live, and other concerns God gives you.
7. Know that God can and will use you, no matter how little or how much you know. God often uses regular folks over the pastors, leaders, and the superstars.
8. According to surveys, over 80 to 90 per cent of people who come to the Lord are led by friends-not events or crusades! And the 80 percent of people who come to know the Lord at crusades were brought there by….friends….people like you and me!
9. Depend on the Holy Spirit!
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. 2 Corinthians 2:14
© 2006, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org