We know we should, but we don't.
In a nutshell, that's the state of evangelism among Christians in America today. In fact, a recent Barna Group study found that although 73 percent of born-again Christians in this country believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith, only half (52 percent) actually did in the past year.
What is to blame for this huge gap between theory and reality? Why do we know we should share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others—and even want to do so—yet rarely follow through with this?
As an evangelist, I always try to inspire people to become soul winners—to go after the lost, preaching the gospel to friends, family and co-workers. In my experience, the myriad excuses for not sharing Jesus can usually be boiled down to one word: fear!
Fear comes in many forms: fear of the unknown, fear of man, fear of failure, fear of rejection and fear of confrontation, to name a few. Fears like these imprison and silence too many Christians. It seems we have subconsciously allowed fear to masquerade as a legitimate reason for silence.
But Jesus rejects this excuse. His parable of the talents explains how one servant actually buried his talent because of fear (Matt. 25:14-30). When the master returned, he rebuked the servant severely, calling him "wicked" and "lazy!" (For more on this, go to cfan.org/nofear).
We must overcome our fears to share the gospel. The question that follows, then, is this: How?
To answer that, here are four principles for overcoming fear, followed by five tips for communicating the gospel. Putting these points to practice will make us fearless and effective soul winners.
Principle #1: Fear is a phantom.
Zig Ziglar used the power of an acronym when he famously defined the word fear as "false evidence appearing real." When it comes to sharing your faith, often you will discover that those you are worried about offending have actually been waiting (or even praying) for someone to talk to them about matters of the soul. Everyone has questions about life, death and God, yet often the most intimidating people are those most open to the gospel. Begin to share your faith and soon you will discover that your fear was but a phantom. As you confront it, like a mirage it will fade away until it completely disappears. I have heard countless stories illustrating this.
My mentor, Reinhard Bonnke, told me the amazing story of his brother's salvation. Many years ago Reinhard had a dream. He saw his unsaved brother, Jürgen, walking on a treacherous footbridge stretched above a deep, rocky chasm. Suddenly a cloud of fog came over the bridge, and he heard his brother crying for help as he fell to his death.
Reinhard awoke with his heart pounding and his bed soaked in sweat. Then the Holy Spirit spoke clearly and specifically: "Jürgen is on the bridge to eternity. If you don't warn the godless man, I will hold you accountable for his death. ... Write him a letter and tell him what you have seen in this dream."
Reinhard struggled, knowing this could make Jürgen and his other brothers turn against him. Besides, Jürgen grew up in a pastor's home and was very familiar with the gospel; what could Evangelist Bonnke tell him that he didn't already know?
But the next day, when the Holy Spirit prompted Reinhard again, he decided to obey no matter the cost. He wrote the letter and mailed it right away.
Weeks passed. Finally the long-awaited reply came from Jürgen. Emotion overcame my mentor as he read it. Jürgen said that his wife had just left him and his best friend had just died. Drowning in depression, he had decided to take his own life when he had a dream—the exact same dream as Reinhard's! When he awoke, he fell at his bedside and prayed, "Almighty God, you know that I don't even believe in You, but I have a brother who serves You. If You have spoken to me through this dream, speak to me through Reinhard."
A few days later, Reinhard's letter arrived like a word from heaven at just the right moment. "Your dream was my dream," Jürgen said. "I have given my life to Jesus. He has forgiven my sins."
Imagine if Reinhard Bonnke had allowed fear to stop him from writing the letter that saved Jürgen's life (physically and spiritually). He would have lived with the regret that Jürgen's blood was on his hands!
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