I used to be really afraid of sharing the Gospel. I mean really afraid, as in scared to death. Whenever I thought about sharing the Gospel, a little voice in my head would take over and assault me with all kinds of questions:
- Would they laugh in my face?
- Would they just ignore me?
- Would they react with hostility?
- Would they ask me questions I don’t have the answers for?
- Has that little voice paralyzed you with fear just like I was?
Then I met a man who taught me a few things that removed the fear. Now, I am happy to meet new people, talk with them about spiritual things, and sometimes share the Gospel with them. What did he teach me? Just three things made all the difference in the world for me.
First, he took the pressure off by reminding me that it usually takes five or more conversations before someone accepts the Gospel. But what about all those who seem to lead people to Christ on a daily basis? What about those evangelists who talk to stadiums full of people and see thousands of conversions. To be honest, I don’t know what is going on there.
What I do know is Jesus said that most people will ultimately resist the Gospel. One out of four, in fact, if you believe what he said in Luke 8:4–15. We mostly hear about the people Jesus spoke of in Luke 8:13. Those are the ones who have a strong emotional response to the Gospel. Most of the time, however, the situation is more like Luke 8:15 where the seed of God’s Word falls on fertile soil, but it takes a while before any result of the sowing is visible. So my job is just to sow, not produce. That is God’s job.
Second, he set my expectation that sometimes I won’t get to share the Gospel, and that’s OK. My part may be just to leave them something to think about. Then someone else will come along and reap where I have planted. In 1 Corinthians 3:6, the apostle Paul understood that he was a planter, Apollos was the waterer, but God actually caused the growth.
As a planter, Paul was fully successful in just planting seeds. As the waterer, Apollos was fully successful in nurturing the seedlings. In the same way, your job might be to just “put a stone in their shoe.” That is, plant a thought or raise a question the Holy Spirit will keep churning in their mind to eventually bring them to faith.
Finally, he encouraged me to begin by engaging someone in a spiritual conversation using five questions. They are easy to remember, and they allow you to simply start a conversation about eternal things.
Here are the five questions:
1. Do you have any spiritual beliefs?
Just listen to their answer—don’t challenge or critique them. In fact, show genuine interest. Expect to get some really crazy answers to this one. You won’t believe what some people think! However, don’t let them just ramble on. With courtesy and respect, move them on to the next question.
2. To you, who was Jesus?
Again, just listen. I have heard people tell me: “Jesus” is the name of a hallucinogenic plant popular in ancient times in the Middle East, he is a prophet of Allah, he is the God of the Gentiles but not the Jews, or he is a myth made up by the Jews to scare the Romans. As much as you will want to dive in and start correcting them, DON’T! Just listen patiently and look for a chance to move to the next question.
3. What do you think happens after death?
Ever notice how people love to tell you what they think? At this point, your conversation partner is probably on a roll. They are enjoying this encounter with you and are anxious to explain what they believe and why. But as you have been doing all along, just listen to them. Don’t try to start explaining what the Bible says yet. After all, Jesus told us to be discerning and to not throw your pearls (the precious truths of God) to swine (those not ready for them yet).
4. If you were to die today and stand before God—and He might ask, “Why should I let you into heaven?”—how would you answer?
Even if their answer to the previous question was something like, “I don’t think anything happens; you just cease to exist,” go ahead and ask this one anyway. The last question was kind of out there and theoretical. This one is personal. You are asking them to think about their own death and afterlife. I have had numerous people give the answer that “nothing happens” after death, and then start to list the reasons why God should receive them into heaven.
5. If what you believe is actually wrong, would you want to know?
You guessed it—all the other questions were leading up to this one. So far, you have given them something to think about. Now, you offer them the answer. If they say “no," thank them for the conversation and move on. You have given them something to think about—put a stone in their shoe—and as far as God is concerned, you are an evangelistic superstar.
On the other hand, if they say “yes," then they have just asked you to share the Gospel with them. God is at work in them. Perhaps, he has prepared their heart to receive the seed of His word (Luke 8:15) and has given them faith to believe (Eph. 2:8). They have opened the door to learn about God’s plan of salvation. Now is the time share your pocket-sized Gospel of John and offer them God’s gracious gift of salvation.
Put this to work today—order some pocket-sized Gospels of John. After you have received your Gospels, start to engage people in this spiritual conversation and put these five questions into practice. Then share your stories with us. I would love to hear about your experiences. Not only that; remember, PTL will be praying for you!