Are We Making Evangelism Too Hard?
Many of us have been encouraged or taught to approach evangelism as a point-by-point monologue. So often, we simply want to share our experience with Jesus and invite someone else to experience Him as well, but then we stall. We try to shift from sharing a story to stating hard facts, and because the shift feels forced, we lose steam, abandon ship, and worse yet, decide not to give that a go again anytime soon. So, let’s talk about a better way.
We are story people. Our lives are not only comprised of stories, but each life itself is a story that has a beginning, middle and end. Beyond that, we are enamored with stories. Whether your preferred form is found in books, films, streaming services, social media apps, or on a stage, we are drawn to stories. God made us that way because He knew that He was weaving together the greatest story of them all. And it’s a story that we, as Christians, get the privilege to share because we are part of it. And that’s the key. Because we are part of God’s story, we simply need to bring Him into the stories we are already sharing. I love how Alvin Reid worded it in his book, “Sharing Jesus without Freaking Out.”
“If Jesus is the biggest deal in our lives, He should come up in conversation – not as some sort of forced subject, but simply because He is the biggest deal in our lives.”
In essence, if Jesus is the biggest part of our story, He should be included in the stories we tell. And we tell a lot of stories. We tell stories about how our day went; how our kids or grandkids are doing; how things are going with our spouse; how things are going with our extended families; how an experience unfolded at a store, special event, meeting, etc. We are story people! Now, let’s bring Jesus into those stories.
Bringing Jesus into our stories
When I’m sharing about a difficult experience with a loved one, it’s just as easy to say, “she really hurt my feelings, but I’m trying to handle it” as it is to say, “she really hurt my feelings, but the Lord protected my heart and is helping me to respond well.” Or how about, “that employee was so rude to me, but it wasn’t worth my time to argue” vs “that employee was so rude to me, but God really ministered to me in that moment to let it go.” Suddenly, “I got promoted at work!” turns into “God is so good. He knows exactly what we need and provided a way for us through a promotion at work.” And “This is such a hard time for my family now” becomes “The Lord has always been faithful to us, so while we’re in a difficult spot, I know He is working for our good.”
The point is to bring Jesus into our stories (big and small) as we share about our experiences, the things we take pleasure in, and the pains that are hurting us. When people hear this, Jesus suddenly becomes very real. He is no longer constrained to religious things like church, Bibles, and tracts, but is clearly a living, moving, loving Person in your life.
Telling your Jesus story
If you’re consistently bringing Jesus into your story, it makes it so much more natural to ask, “have I told you how I came to know Jesus?” That opens up the opportunity to share your testimony of how you came to trust in Jesus and the impact He has made in your life. As we’re telling our story, it’s important to mention the Bible at some point. In past experiences, I’ve included something like “… and that’s how Jesus changed everything for me. And it makes sense because that’s how the Bible describes Him – as a life changer. In fact, I think the Bible, as a whole, has the best explanation for why the world is the way it is, and why we need a Rescuer from it.”
Transitioning to THE story
When we’ve told our Jesus story, it’s again, a natural step to tell God’s story, which breaks into four clear talking points: Creation > Fall > Redemption > Consummation.
As mentioned at the beginning, the point is not to “memorize” these key points. You are simply telling the story that you already know so well. Here is a sample of something I might say:
- Creation: God created everything and declared it to be good. The height of His creation was mankind, and He loved us perfectly.
- Fall: His affection toward us never changed, but our affection changed toward Him. At the first opportunity to be masters of our destiny – to try and be like God – we jumped at the chance. This rebellion against God had disastrous consequences, and we still see evidence of it everywhere today. Everyone realizes something is broken in this world and within us as well. We can’t seem to even live up to our standards let alone the standards of a perfect God (Romans 3:23). The Bible is the only book that tells us why – we have been separated from God – what the Bible calls death (Romans 6:23). And if we die in our rebellion, that separation from all that is good in God is for all eternity.
- Redemption: God’s immediate response to our rebellion was to set in motion the greatest rescue mission in history (Genesis 3:15). The rescue mission required a rescuer: His name is Jesus. As the Son of God, Jesus came into the world and perfectly provided a way out of our self-inflicted mess. Unlike us, He lived a perfectly obedient life. Then He did the unthinkable. He willingly laid down His innocent life to pay the death-debt we owed for our rebellion. He not only paid the debt by dying in our place, but then He defeated death itself three days later, proving that He is the Rescuer we had all been waiting for. Now, we no longer have to remain on a path to separation from all that is good. If we lay down our pride and trust in Jesus as our Savior, our Rescuer, our unity with God will be perfectly and eternally secured.
- Consummation: 100% of the people you meet will agree with you that the world is broken. But how do they know that? God has given us all the ability to see that things are not as they should be. But He is not content to leave it there. There is a day where all evil, all suffering, all pain, and all sadness will all be made untrue. However, that means people who remain in their rebellion and still carry their death-debt will have to be separated from God as well. So, in His mercy and grace, God is patient in bringing as many to Him as would come before that Day.
Could you memorize all that and repeat it to someone? Maybe. But that shouldn’t be the goal. If I deleted it and typed it again, it would be a little different. Your retelling of THE story will be a little different each time as well. But the point is that it will always be the true story of a good God who desires people to come to Him and willingly waits with open arms for as many as would come. So, what should you do? Practice doing all the points suggested above in your own words. But tell it naturally as a story. For far too long, we have presented evangelism as a rigid, unnatural experience. But if we simply start bringing Jesus into our stories, telling our Jesus stories, and sharing THE story, we’ll find inviting people to trust in Him be natural and enjoyable.
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