One Crucial Principle when Sharing Christ with Relatives
Sharing the gospel with relatives is downright challenging. They know your past, your faults, and your struggles. Even Jesus proclaimed in Mark 6:4: “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown, among his relatives, and in his household.”
This does not mean that God cannot use us to witness to our relatives. Many in Jesus’s family eventually embraced Him as Savior and followed Him as Lord. However, it does mean that there are additional complicating factors when reaching family members.
Because of the additional challenges, we need to approach the subject of evangelism and family with intentionality, prudence, and care.
One of the most effective principles I have found for sharing the gospel with my relatives was said by Jesus Himself. It is widely known as, “The Golden Rule”:
“Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them.” Luke 6:31
In other words, when talking with your family members about spiritual issues and the gospel, treat them the way you would want to be treated.
Here is how to apply the “Golden Rule” when sharing the gospel with your family members:
Make it a private conversation.
What this simply means is to talk with unsaved loved ones about spiritual matters one-on-one. It may be tempting to confront them at the dinner table or in another group situation, but please don’t. It may do more harm than good. This does not mean that you can’t talk about spiritual things in a group setting. What it does mean is try to avoid making it personal to that person in a group setting.
Address any “elephants in the room.”
Ask the Lord to show you if there is anything that you need to address with your family member prior to sharing the gospel or talking about spiritual issues. Perhaps it is something for which you need to ask forgiveness. Maybe it is an ongoing, unresolved argument that has built a wall between you. Whatever it may be, seek the Lord’s guidance in how to deal with it.
Remember that personal evangelism works best as a dialogue, not a monologue.
We all have them, those family members who go on and on about a subject without listening to what others have to say. Don’t be that relative, even about spiritual issues. Too often we don’t listen to the other person because we are too focused on formulating what we are going to say. Don’t let the manner in which you speak distract from the truth of what you speak.
Let them know your motive.
It is important for you to let your family members know why you want to talk with them about spiritual things. They might think they have offended you in some way and you view them as morally lacking. Others might believe you are trying to recruit them for something. Be clear that your motive is that you want to share with them the most important aspect of your life, your relationship with the Lord.
Watch out for landmines.
Triggers such as our own bitterness or pride can sabotage your efforts. To prevent this, you need to recognize that we all are susceptible to those, particularly with family members. We not only need to pray for the person we will be speaking to, but also for ourselves. Ask the Lord for help in navigating the conversation with grace.
Sometimes we think success in evangelism means sharing all of the gospel with someone at one sitting. As a result, we can focus too much on getting through our gospel presentation rather than making sure the person we are speaking to is tracking with what we are saying. It is also annoying to the other person who feels they are listening to our sermon rather than having a conversation. Remember, sharing Christ with relatives is more often a marathon than a sprint. Focus on moving them at least one step closer to Christ with each encounter.
Don’t give up.
It may be tempting to chalk up a relative as a “lost cause” after you have repeatedly shared the gospel with them. Don’t give up on them just as you would not want someone to give up on you if you were in their situation. Precede every encounter you have with your unreached relative with prayer asking God what He would have you do and say. You never know how He is at work in their life in that particular season and has a role for you to play for “such a time as this.”
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