Do you hesitate to share your faith simply because you don't know where to start? Do you feel like your life consists of running from one event to the next, and you just don't know how you're going to fit one more thing into your schedule? Do you feel guilty because you feel you're not sharing Jesus with people as often as you should?
These common challenges are faced by many Christians living in our hurried-up civilization, but it doesn't have to be this way. We're going to lay out a strategy that will help you gain a sense of control when it comes to your evangelism efforts, and you will be able to start using this strategy immediately.
In 1981, I left the Navy after a six-year enlistment, returned to Atlanta, and was hired by StorageTek, a computer firm headquartered in Colorado. In the military, you alternate times of intense activity with periods of doing almost nothing. I quickly learned that the corporate computing environment didn't work this way, and that there was always a long list of projects and tasks that needed to be done yesterday. It was exciting, but required a new level of self-management to keep up.
Being effective in our Christian lives also requires a high level of discipline when it comes to the calendar and the clock. Some of it easy, because worship services, Bible studies, and choir practice have set start times. Where we struggle is in the disciplines that we have more discretion in scheduling: daily Bible study and prayer, service to others, discipleship, and evangelism. Unless we are diligent in planning these activities, and disciplined in carrying them out, we will not accomplish that which the Lord has planned, and kept us here, to do.
The following strategies are the same ones we use in our regular lives, but are seldom applied to our spiritual lives. When it comes to the things of God, we somehow believe they "will just happen." They won't. We think it is somehow less spiritual to apply these principles to the most important part of our life. It isn't.
Pull out your to-do list/calendar and look at it. Have you listed spending time with the Lord, and scheduled it? In my informal research, very few Christians think it is important enough to write on their list or calendar. Yet, many of us don't spend as much time with the Lord as we want to, and we often hurry through it if we do get to it. Those who are consistent and have a vibrant relationship with the Lord have a deeply-ingrained habit, which has come about by being intentional about it.
Now, look on your list/calendar for sharing Jesus with people, otherwise known as evangelism. I will bet it is not there. I'll also bet you've never even thought about putting it there. But let me ask you this; if you did write it down as a task, do you think you would be more likely to do it? Of course you would. You would have it reinforced when you wrote it down, and seeing it every time you looked at your list would further sear it into your mind. If you are intentional about it, write it down.
In Habbakkuk 2:2, the prophet was instructed to write the vision plainly, that it may be studied over and over, and be of use in times to come. Write it down in your planner today, so that you may see it every day, and it may be of use tomorrow!
If you are like me, you have gone into some situations fully prepared, and others totally unprepared. The outcome almost always matches our level of preparation.
If you want to be effective in sharing Christ with someone (and who doesn't), then we should take our preparation seriously. This doesn't mean we have to be Biblical scholars to share our faith; in fact, one of the things that prevents people from sharing is the belief that's exactly what they have to be. The Gospel message is a simple one, and there are numerous ways to easily and effortlessly present it.
Your preparation consists of two primary components - Spiritual and Physical. Your spiritual preparation centers around prayer and study. Pray through putting on the full armor of God (Eph 6:10-18). We are in a spiritual battle for people's souls, and you will not win fighting in your own naked power. The armor is essential; David was not clothed in physical armor when he defeated Goliath, but spiritual armor. In David's case the physical armor was a hindrance; if we think we are going to be effective just using our natural talents and gifts, we'll find out they are just as much a hindrance.
Then, you must pray for the lost people you know, and for the Lord to provide opportunities to share with strangers. These prayers are not occasional conversations with the Lord, but should be taking place throughout the day in preparation for your next divine appointment. When you pray with anticipation, you'll be ready when the next opportunity comes.
The physical preparation is also vital. If a contractor showed up at your house without any tools, you would know he wasn't very good at his craft. When I was involved in network marketing, we judged how serious someone was about their business by the "tools" we found when they opened their trunk.
Your physical preparation consists of building an evangelism "toolkit" containing the tools you need. For example, it should contain Bibles (yours, and some to give away), your written testimony, tracts and/or Pocket Testaments, some apps on your phone for presenting the Gospel, CDs/DVDs, etc.
On movies and TV shows, FBI agents who must quickly move to where people are in danger have a "go bag" packed and ready, so they can grab it and go. Christians who are serious about evangelism should have a "go bag" ready, too.
Even when we know we should talk to someone about Jesus, we are often stopped by fear. Since fear is not of the Lord, (2 Tim 1:7), it can only come from the enemy. Not only did the Lord not give us a spirit of fear, but he gave us exactly what we need - power and love and a calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control. So, who are you going to listen to?
Let's look at it another way. Have you ever experienced fear in another area of your life, and taken action anyway? Of course you have. In fact, you have done this on numerous occasions, in many different situations. You may have done this in your own strength, not even calling on the Lord to help you. Imagine what you can do when you call on Him.
The next time you walk out the door, commit to yourself and to the Lord that you will stomp out any fear that starts to raise it's ugly head, and open your mouth to share Jesus with the next person you see. After the first one, the second one will be much easier. Before you know it, you've shared with a handful of people, and the day has barely started!
To recap, the three steps are Plan | Prepare | Act. Sit down with a piece of paper, ask the Lord to guide you, and start writing. Before you know it, your personalized action plan will be finished. And ready for implementing.
My goal is to be an evangelism action figure™. Not some cartoonish caricature, but a follower of Christ who is strong and prepared in the Lord, has the necessary tools with him, and seeks out opportunities to act. How about you?