Evangelizing in a Bathroom...
In the 4th grade I had a best friend who didn’t go to church and didn’t know Jesus, so naturally, without hesitation I asked him if he wanted to go to church with me. A few months later, while in the bathrooms at school I asked him if he wanted to ask Jesus into his heart. Even though my theology was lacking (I didn’t even know what theology was) and my timing was awkward (in the school bathroom???), my friend said “yes” and together we prayed for Jesus to come into his heart.
In the 29th grade (I’m 35, so I think that’s right) I still find myself surround by people I love, who don’t know Jesus, and yet, discussions about faith are filled with hesitation, and definitely don’t come with the youthful innocence of not caring where the conversation happens. Instead my mind races with “When’s the right time?” “What should I say?” “What if they reject me?” The odd thing about these fears is I distinctly remember thinking, “When I get older, I’ll have even more confidence in all areas of my life, including sharing my faith.”
For many people like me, the fears of timing and what to say lead to a dismissal of opportunities to evangelize, always waiting for the perfect moment that rarely or never comes. To make matters worse, when we hear stories of people who unashamedly share their faith with anyone who listens we can further distance ourselves from our calling to evangelize because “That’s just not my gift. After all Ephesians 4:11 lists 'evangelism' as a gift, and since that's not my gift, I don’t need to do it.” The problem with this perspective is that it doesn’t take into account the fuller Biblical teaching on evangelism. Yes, there are those that are gifted, people who can strike up a conversation on an airplane and 4 hours later have the whole cabin converted- but their gifting doesn’t relinquish the rest of us from sharing the truth with those God has put in our lives. For all of us- especially those who don’t have the gift of evangelism- I want to offer 4 encouragements to share your faith.
4 Encouragements for Evangelizing
1) You have the engine you need to evangelize (Acts 1:8): God promises His Holy Spirit to all believers and one of the tasks of the Holy Spirit is to guide you, give you the words to say and convict unbelievers. Whenever you enter into a conversation about faith, you are not alone, and you don’t need to have a doctorate in theology to have the conversation. You can be a 10 year old kid in an elementary school bathroom, a 48 year old woman in an office break room, or a 88 year man in a nursing home and, if you’ve decided to follow Jesus, you’ve got the only tool you need to evangelize- God’s Spirit.
2) You will face opposition (Luke 21:16-19): If you aren’t sharing your faith because you’re scared that you may face opposition… you will. You’ve got to work and pray to get over that fear. Not that the fear will go away, but that your conviction for sharing the truth will be greater than your fear of opposition. Opposition will come, but if you’re expecting it and brace yourself with God’s love, confident in who He says you are the opposition will become less daunting.
3) You don’t lose with rejection (1 Corinthians 3:6-9): The success of evangelism isn’t measured by how many people accept Jesus. The success of evangelism is measured by your obedience to sharing the truth in love. The question “What if they reject it?” tends to stop you from taking action based on a response you’re assuming (but might not be) AND has you worried about something you have no control over. Remember the Holy Spirit convicts. Your job is to simply present who Jesus is, what He’s done, and His offer for the person you’re talking to.
4) It will be scary, but it will be invigorating: I have always been nervous when sharing my faith. The fears I wrote early are all fears I’ve had, but I can tell you, after I’ve shared “I’VE NEVER FELT WHAT I FEARED.” In other words, instead of feeling down, discouraged, and dejected, I’ve felt excited that I got to evangelize, surprised at how God spoke through me, and thankful for the opportunity- in a word I’ve always come out invigorated.
With these four encouragements in mind I want to end with a quote from John Piper and a challenge with it:
““Have you ever wondered what it feels like to have a love for the lost? This is a term we use as part of our Christian jargon. Many believers search their hearts in condemnation, looking for the arrival of some feeling of benevolence that will propel them into bold evangelism. It will never happen. It is impossible to love “the lost”. You can’t feel deeply for an abstraction or a concept. You would find it impossible to love deeply an unfamiliar individual portrayed in a photograph, let alone a nation or a race or something as vague as “all lost people”.
The movement to participating in evangelism doesn’t start with an abstract prayer for a heart to share the Good News. It starts with specific prayers about specific people that you want to know the Lord. So, the challenge is this:
Get a post-it note and write down the names of 5 people in your life that don’t know Jesus. Put that post-it note in an area you see every day, and every day pray these three things for each person:
That God would be working in their lives and they would come to know Him.
That God would show you how to share his truth with them.
That you would take action when that time comes.
Evangelism isn’t a task just for the gifted, it’s for all who follow Jesus. God is the good, loving truth, and He gave His son as a sacrifice for the people you’ve put on your post-it note. May you pray diligently, speak boldly and lovingly, and experience the invigoration of spreading the Good News.