Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, "We have found the Messiah" (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. John 1:40-42
Before we can venture into the "how," we need to ask one key and essential question: who and what do people see in you? When you share about the Lord to someone, what is that person seeing in you? Your character? Your Fruit? Your personality? Your friendliness? Your love? Your care? Or?
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?" you are, in fact, saying, "would you like to be like me?" Are you a good "me"? Are you a person others should strive to be like? Be honest!
No, 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 you and other Christians! So, the question that is so imperative is, Are love, character, care, friendliness, and a personality that lifts up people coming from you? Because, the non-Christian will only know Christ through us (Christians) 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 you for a model of the Christian life; if you are not modeling it or you are modeling it wrong, then do not tell people about Him, because you will do more damage than good. Make sure that your life is focused on Christ before you tell others to do so!
How do I become a good "me?" The main thing is that our personal prayer and devotional life 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. Then, we must add love, care, and sincerity while sharing. Remember, Jesus Christ is the Holy, Eternal God of the Universe; He loves you and He loves others, too! We present and represent Him by knowing the Scriptures and proclaiming Him with passion from our spiritual growth, with conviction, because we know He is true, with clarity, so we make sense, and we are to have compassion and love for the people with whom we are sharing. In addition, we are to proclaim Christ in truth. That is, we never 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) and God will still use us and our frailties. However, don't we want to be a better "me," a better caring and loving Christian who is grounded in the faith?
The Word (John 1:1-14) is cross-cultural and cuts though 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 one has to do is explain Jesus, in love, with the above precepts of passion, conviction, compassion, clarity, and truth. It also helps greatly to show our love and care! 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 are 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. We do not save people; we only present Christ to people! All we do is allow His work in us and in others (John 3:3-6; Acts1:8; Romans 5:4-5; 8:14, 26-27; 1 Corinthians 12:3; Galatians 4:6; 5:22-23; Hebrews 13:5-6).
To learn how to be an effective witness we are going to search the Scriptures for various ways we can communicate the faith. There are many different approaches, and I have used just about all of them at one time or another. Some 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 us, as individuals, to match our method with our personality and available time. We are going to look at a simple plan from Andrew, more insights from Philip, and a few thoughts from my learning and experiences, too. Not all methods work for every situation and person, but there are key essentials that must be working for any approach to be successful. What is the best approach to witnessing? The one you pick up with honesty and sincerity! The best one is one you are comfortable with and the one that you use!
Andrew's Primer on Witnessing
Look at Andrew in the John 1:40-42 passage. Notice what Andrew does and how he goes about reaching his brother and his friends. Andrew has an encounter with Jesus and his life is radically transformed. He becomes excited, and seeks whom he can tell first. Jesus impacts 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 to whom you can tell your story.
The key precepts are to be transformed, be excited, and then share with others His impact on you!
Step I - Pray: Andrew knew Jesus, so we can consider this a prayer, and we can pray for people to know and to tell (Proverbs 11:30).
Step II - Be Excited: We need to experience the veracity and excitement of our faith so we will desire to tell it to another person. We need to realize that the Spirit is with us, powerful and ready! Christianity is not a spectator sport or something we do vicariously though our pastors and leaders; it is something we are and we do ourselves (John 4:35)!
Step III - Look for whom to tell: Whom can we tell? Who would like to know about how Jesus transformed me? Who needs to know? (And, the answer is: everyone who does not know!) Now, look around you; whom do you know who does not know the Lord in a personal way? Your mission field is wherever you are! Your friends, family, school, work, neighbors...observe the entire scope of relationships around you. First, go to 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 venture 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 (Proverbs 29:18)!
Step IV - Pray More: Make your list, and keep those people in prayer on a regular basis! Get others to pray for them, too! Your list of perspective people will comprise your primary opportunities; thus, prayer is the quintessential thing you do and what the Spirit uses to open people's hearts.
Step V - Look for Opportunities: Pray for open opportunities to tell others in love and with care. Pray for the bravery to tell them! Remember, never argue or confront; allow the Spirit to work! Get together with others and pray for people on their lists, 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. 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! The saying, "people do not care what you have to say until they know you care," is pivotal and true!
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 them in a salvation prayer!
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, are in a good teaching and loving church, are being discipled in a Bible study, and have the tools and resources they need.
Step IX - Pray: Continue to pray for them.
Step X - Pray: Really continue to pray for them (Jeremiah 33:3)!
Can't remember these steps? Then, remember this, prayer, care, and share! These three words will transform your witnessing ventures greatly when followed and practiced!
Philip teaches us How to Witness Effectively
So, how else can you go about it? Another 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; 1 Corinthians 3:6).
Philip knew and trusted in God!
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, as long as we are striving and are obedient. The question you need to ask yourself and God is, 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 (Proverbs 21:3; Matthew 12:33; Mark 1:35; Philippians 2:12; 1 Peter 1:2, 14; 1 Timothy 6. 14-16)!
Philip was a man who had good character!
Philip was a person in whom others could see the Lord! Philip's persona, as well as his life, words, and deeds bore witness to Christ. For that reason, 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; 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 (Galatians 5: 16-26; Colossians 3:12-15; 1 John 2:26-29)?
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, took the opportunity, and went. We may not get direct orders from Jesus or an angel like he did, 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 (Psalm 1:2-3; Matthew 7:16-18; 12:35; Philippians 1:9-11; 1 Peter 3:8; 2 Peter 1:5-8)!
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 ability 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 that witnessing cannot be looked at lightly, or as something we do when it is convenient or when we feel like it. Witnessing comes from our devotion and love for our Lord, and from being on the lookout for His opportunities. Because of what Jesus has done for us, we are excited and want to share that "info" with others. To do this, we must be prepared, starting with our hearts. You do not need to know all of the answers, but you should know where or how to find them. How is your devotional life (John 15:4-8; Hebrews 4:16; 10:19-25; 1 John 4:7-21)?
Philip was using the Scriptures!
He was able and willing to sit down with the eunuch and explain the passage in Isaiah. For us to be effective, we must know the Scriptures; or, if one is new at it, be on the road to discovery. We do not need to know all about the Bible-all of its ins and outs-but we need to have mentors and resources where we can find answers and then get back to the person asking the questions. We need to be engaging in the Word and in the process of learning. As we learn, the Spirit will give more 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 (Mark 6:2; John 3:10; Colossians 3:15-17; 2 Timothy 3:16)?
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 we are to make Him known! This is our responsibility. If we do not know Him, we will be unable to make Him known. This may sound like, well, I am a Christian, and I grew up in the church so I know Him. Maybe; maybe not. But, are you growing in Him? That is the key!
Philip was usable!
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 with 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 are condescending or neglectful of others. With our faith in line, we can see our mandate to care for others. We are to share with others with truth and compassion. We are never to be condescending, 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?
· Ask for the heart, strength, perseverance, patience, gifts, and the willingness of your church to obey. Ask for more prayer warriors!
· Effective witnessing comes out of our devotional life and gratitude toward Christ, not out of obligation!
· Ask God what the needs are, and for Him to reveal those as well as opportunities to meet them.
· Make sure you care, and have an attitude of love and concern for the people or person to whom you are witnessing; if not, do not! Care is absolutely essential; remember, people will not care what you have to say unless they know you care!
· Ask God to send His Spirit to soften the hearts of people so when they hear His message, they will respond.
· 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.
· Know that God can and will use you, no matter how little or how much you know. God uses the regular folks over the pastors, leaders, and the superstars (1 Corinthians 1:27)!
· According to surveys from The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and others, over 80% of people who come to the Lord are led by friends-not events or crusades! In addition, 80% of people who do come to know the Lord at crusades were brought there by….friends….people like you and me!
· Depend on the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:4-5)!
Develop Real, Authentic Relationships! (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)
What are the keys to Andrew's, Philip's, or anyone's good, effective witness? It is prayer and the ability to develop relationships! It boggles my mind how many Christians I know who have no relationships, friends, or even acquaintances outside of the church. They only know other Christians, and only shop in other Christian's businesses to the point they are in a sub culture of a "Christian only mindset." It becomes monasticism without the piety! This is a travesty! Yes, we are to have fellowship, and our principle relationships should be with people who are in Christ. But, how can we be salt and light if we never go where the salt and light is needed? God does not call us to separate from others; in fact it is the opposite. We are to go to them without being contaminated by them. Scripture warns us that we are to be the influencers, not the ones being influenced (Proverbs 15:30; Matthew 5:13-16; 2 Corinthians 5:19-20; Ephesians 4:20-24; Colossians 3:5-17; 1 Peter 3:2-3).
Are you a maker and builder of friends? How so? Why not? This is not about being an extrovert or having the "personality" to do so. Yes, some are better at it than others, but we are all called to make friends. To be honest, I am not good in this area. I score high as an extrovert on those personality inventories, but that is because of my profession as a pastor. I tend to go out of my way to meet and greet people, but really, I am a natural introvert! I have to work at this! I had to learn to be a "go getter" of people, to make friends and befriend people. Perhaps, you need to do so, too!
· Be purposeful! To whom are you going? We need to have a target before we can aim the Gospel (Acts 18:18; 2 Corinthians 13:1)!
· Be real! Caution! Be genuine! Guard against only getting to know people so you can witness to them. Yes, that is a primary aspect. But, we are called to be in relationships. If people find out you are only interested in proselytizing, your witness will be compromised to nothing (Mark 4:21-23; Romans 12:9; 1 Peter 1:22)!
· Be excellent! Do not be a nuisance, especially at work. A good Christian always does his or her work with excellence and fortitude, and does not use company time for Gospel time (1 Corinthians 7:23; Ephesians 6:5-8; Colossians 3: 22-25, 28).
· Be willing to take the time! We have to be willing to go where the people are, and spend time with them. It may take years for a missionary on the field to learn the language, the culture, and build connections before he or she can be used effectively.
· Be a friend winner! The purpose of our witnessing is to offer people a relationship with Christ. This is best done when we have a relationship with them. We must first win them as friends before we can win them to our Lord!
· Be a smile maker! Smile at people! It takes seventy-two muscles to frown, but only fourteen to smile. People love a smile! Think about how you feel when someone smiles at you, and realize how important it is to do so to others, too.
· Be a person who uses people's names! Call people by name! Take the time to remember someone's name, and use it. The sweetest music to anyone's ear is the sound of one's own name!
· Be engaging! Speak to people! Take the chance! Step up to the plate! Venture beyond your fears, and engage someone in dialog. Be willing to keep your friends close, but also go outside of your clique and comfort zone to talk to others. There is nothing as nice as a cheerful word, or an honest, friendly greeting! You know it when you get a nice greeting; so, why not give one to others?
· Be friendly and helpful! Most people I have known and observed, who have few or no friends, do not make the effort to be a friend. If you would like to have friends, then, be friendly!
· Be caring! Be genuinely interested in people! Take the time to listen and show you care. Plan your schedule so you have time for people. If you are always in a rush, your relationships will suffer greatly. People whom God has brought to you will be ignored, thereby wasting the help, ministry, and influence you could have given. Christian empathy means involvement, and showing that you care!
· Be pleasant and cordial! Be a person who is nice and engaging to others. Speak and act as if they are the most important persons in the room, and do so as if it is a genuine pleasure, as it should be!
· Be considerate with the feelings of others! It will be appreciated. Each person is unique, created and loved by God. Acknowledge this, and make your responses to others in this light.
· Be thoughtful of the opinions of others. There are three sides to every controversy or disagreement, yours, that of the other person, and that of God-which is the right one! We must not rely on our own presumptions and assumptions, because, we do not have all of the facts. Seek to know and understand the other person's perspective, and start your dialog with those agreements.
· Be an encourager! Be generous with praise! Seek to find something that a person has done that is good-a personality trait, what they are wearing, or a smile that you noticed-and let them know. Be the person who takes the time to encourage others, but, do so honestly; no one likes a pretentious pretender. Most people go though their day, some even surrounded by Christians, and they are never encouraged!
· Be cautious with criticism! No one likes to be patronized or put down! There are times we are to correct others or motivate them in a better direction, but we must do so with an attitude of love and care, showing patience, respect, and tact, even while being firm.
· Be ready to give your witness! What counts most in life is who we are in Christ, and then our response of gratitude for what He has done for us by doing for others!
Personal Lifestyle Evangelism
The above principles about building relationships are keys to your witness. They translate into what many call "lifestyle evangelism." That is, instead of a direct approach to witnessing, your life is modeled as a "show case" of God's work in you. In this way, you show others by your actions and character how the Lord works; your life becomes contagious and attractive so that people will want to know more about you and thus will get to know more about Him through you! Thus, they will ask you about the Lord or what is different about you even before you ask them if they would like to know more about Jesus! How do we do this? Just know Him and grow in Him, and allow the Lord's transforming power to work in you! It is all about the Fruit of the Spirit, and His work in you coming out through you (Galatians 5:22-23; Colossians 1: 3-14; 2:6-7; 1 John 4: 7-16)!
There is, perhaps, no better way to introduce the Lordship of Christ to others than to model His character to others. When we are distinctive and interesting, living a life above reproach with love and care for others, we are a beacon of hope to the lost, even if they will not admit it publicly. When you earn their attention and respect, which takes an investment of time, then you can invite friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. to your house for dinner-something personal. Then you can invite them to a church program. Getting to know people is essential, as we are called to be salt and light. Salt and light are penetrating, not elusive. So, let us meet the call and snub the elusiveness; let us break out of our fears and resentment and follow our Lord! Then, we can be effective witnesses without even opening our mouths! And, the witness will be even louder when you do tell others about Jesus, because, they have already seen Him at work in you!
What about witnessing at work?
Your workplace is perhaps your most effective arena for outreach. You may not be able to verbally share the Gospel, nor should you on work time, but you can be a Christ-like example so others will seek you out and ask you what makes you different.Your character will help make you stand out, and then you can take opportunities to share seriously, but not on work time! Build the relationships, take co-workers to lunch, meet them after work, go to a social, a church, a community or work event, and talk there. The key is the attitude we are to have, and that is looking to Christ as our employer so we do our work for Him. Therefore, we are to be our best for His glory, regardless of our circumstances, and we can respond with a good work ethic (1 Corinthians 7:23).
We must adjust our mindset to see work as an opportunity to please Him. In so doing, we can be a blessing to those around us. We are not hired to witness (unless you are a paid Christian worker). Allow your good and caring attitude to become contagious, making you stand out, and inviting opportunities. Be aware that this will also lead to persecution from those with less than "nice" mindsets. The main thing to remember is that people will see Christ through you in the workplace-either as modeling a God to come to, or, one from whom to be repelled. How do people at work see Christ through you? Remember, Christ-like attitude and the Fruits of the Spirit are paramount, as well as sensibleness, self-control, and cooperation. (Romans 12:1-2; 2 Peter 1:4) Seek to emulate His character and you will excel (Proverbs 12:24; 13:4; 19:15; 24:30-32; Romans 8:17; Galatians 6:9; Colossians 3:23; Philippians 2:1-11; Ephesians 6:5-8; Titus 2: 9-20; 1Timothy 6:1-2; James 1: 8).Seek yourself and proselytize on work time and you will repel the people you were called to reach!
Make relationships that are real and authentic outside of your Christian subculture; be the salt and the light, and you will be an effective witness (Matthew 5:13-16)!
Some passages to consider: Proverbs 15:30; Jeremiah 33:3; Matthew 18:19; John 1:1-14; 1:40-42; Acts 8:12, 26-40; 1 Corinthians 1:27; 2:4-5; 3:6; 7:23;
9:19-23; 2 Corinthians 5:20; Ephesians 6:5-8; Colossians 3: 22-25, 28
Questions to Ponder:
1. Who and what do people see in you? When you share about the Lord to someone, what is that person seeing in you? Your character? your Fruit?
2. How do passion, conviction, clarity, compassion, love, and truth come from you when you proclaim Christ? How should it?
3. How do you feel about what comes across the minds of others when you are witnessing, and that you are in fact saying, would you like to be like me? Are you a good "me"? Are you a person others should strive to be like? Be honest!
4. Does knowing that the Word (John 1:1-14) is cross-cultural and cuts through all languages, people groups, and time give you greater assurance and faith to be a witness?
5. Go over the various witnessing plans from Andrew, Philip, and the others; then, come up with your own plan. Practice it, refine it, and commit to it!
6. What is in the way of your becoming an effective witness? How can and how will you deal with or remove the obstacles?
7. Make a list of people and be an Andrew to others. When and where will you do this first?
8. What are the tools, accountability, resources and encouragement you may need to make this happen? Now go get them, so you can help get others for Him!
©2004, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org