Linking Others to Christ
I want to challenge you to think a little differently about evangelism than maybe you have in the past; to see every conversation as a chance to create another link in someone’s connection to the Savior.
However, in order to think this way, there is a big evangelism misconception we have to address.
Overcoming The All or Nothing Mindset
This is the thought that every evangelistic conversation is either all or nothing in terms of sharing your faith. Regardless of the context, the amount of time you have, or their current understanding of God, you either present the full gospel in your conversation, or you have failed at evangelism.
I would like to challenge this with a couple stories from my own life.
The first story is pretty short.
As part of a prison ministry team, I spoke to a young prisoner in the yard, shared the gospel with him via a tract and had the amazing opportunity to watch him trust the Lord as His Savior.
The second story requires a bit more explanation.
I had an unbelieving friend whose sister desperately wanted to see him trust in Christ. He was a militant atheist and had no qualms letting me know how silly the thought of a God was to him. We would get together to watch sports, go to movies, or just hang out – and nearly every time, God provided little opportunities for me to share a bit about my faith. Sometimes, we even got into deeper discussions about life, religion, morality, and more. However, while I always spoke from a Christian worldview, I never once felt led to share the gospel with him. It was clear in each conversation that he was just not ready. Ultimately, this friend of mine moved away, and my last engagement with him was to send him an audio book that I thought would challenge some of his worldview assumptions.
Less than a year later, he placed his faith in Christ.
Was I angry or remorseful that I didn’t get the chance to lead Him to Christ? Did I feel like I “misread” the direction from the Holy Spirit and missed out on the opportunity to lead him to the Savior?
God had a different role for me. My role wasn’t to be the final link in his journey to Christ. I actually have no idea who led him to the Lord – but I’m thrilled I got to be a link in the chain of his journey.
Now, which one of these two stories is an example of evangelism?
Both of them! In each encounter, and several others like them, I was hoping for an opportunity to share the gospel, and happy to share whatever the Lord put on my heart at that time.
My point is this: successful evangelism isn’t just a moment in a conversation where you share the gospel. Evangelism is a lifestyle of seeking to glorify God by representing Him in the lives of those you meet. Yes, you are always looking for an opportunity to share the gospel. But what if an unbeliever is dealing with a bad experience at church they were invited to, an abusive situation at home, or struggling with how a loving God could allow the loss of a loved one? Does taking time to work with them through this from a Christian worldview make you un-evangelistic if the opportunity to share the gospel isn’t open during your time with them? I don’t think so.
Whatever role God has for you in someone’s journey to Him, pursue it with passion, seeking to honor Him in all your encounters with others. Walk into each conversation prayerfully, looking for the opportunity to share the gospel, but also accepting whatever opportunity God provides to make Himself known in the life of the one you’re speaking with.
When you do that, you’ll find yourself flourishing in the unexpected adventure that comes with being a link builder.
I’ll leave you with this. It’s one of my favorite quotes from evangelist Cliffe Knechtle.
A person’s coming to Christ is like a chain with many links… There are many influences and conversations that precede a person’s decision to convert to Christ. I know the joy of being the first link at times, a middle link usually, and occasionally the last link. God has not called me to only be the last link. He has called me to be faithful and to love all people.
God has not called you to only be the last link every time. You are to be His ambassador in the life of others in every role He has for you.
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“What if I don’t know how to answer an objection about my faith in Jesus?”
This is a top fear people face when seeking to introduce a friend or loved one to Jesus. Sadly, it will stop many Christ followers in their tracks while sharing their faith this year. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
First, we should get one thing settled – if you are actively sharing your faith, you will be stumped by an objection about the Bible, Jesus, or Christian beliefs eventually. Unless, of course, you have an immediate answer to every potential question someone may ask about our infinite, all-knowing God. If that’s the case, I need to be reading your blog. However, if you’re more like the rest of us, the question really isn’t “what if I get stumped?”; instead, the question is “when I get stumped, how should I respond?”
Here are three things to do and one very important thing to remember when you run into an objection that shortens your breath, quickens your pulse, and makes you want to exit stage left.
Ask a clarifying question
Many Christians falsely believe that when an objection is raised, the clock starts ticking, and they have a very short window of time to answer the objection. If that’s how you feel, I want you to read this next sentence carefully. When someone makes an objection, you are not on the hook to answer it; they are on the hook to explain more. You can invite them to do so with a clarifying question like, “What do you mean by that?” I think an example will help.
Joanne: “Tina, I appreciate your beliefs, but I really don’t see any good reason to believe in God.”
Tina: “Thank you for being honest. However, may I ask what you mean when you say ‘God’?”
Joanne: “Well, I just don’t think there’s an old bearded guy up there watching our every move.”
Tina: “I see, and actually, I don’t believe in an old bearded guy either – can I share a little about who God is according to the Bible?”
Look back at what Tina did (politely). She asked a what do you mean question that invited Joanne to explain more. That did two very important things: It kept the conversation moving toward the gospel, and it took all the pressure off Tina to cobble together a defense of God’s existence on the spot.
Acknowledge the objection and advance the conversation
Consider this brief exchange:
Jonathan: “I just don’t think there is any evidence that Christianity is true.”
Craig: “I definitely want to hear your thoughts about that, but can I briefly share what I believe about Jesus?”
In this short conversation, Craig isn’t interested in proving Jonathan wrong, and he isn’t avoiding the objection. In fact, he makes it clear that he wants to hear Jonathan’s thoughts. All he’s seeing permission to push the objection to the end so he can share about his faith in Christ. This can be very effective, because in some cases, someone like Jonathan has been bringing up this objection for years and has heard 1,000 reasons why Christianity makes sense (and continues to ignore them), but what he’s never heard is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“But,” you may be thinking, “what happens when they bring up the objection again and I don’t know how to respond?” Well, that leads us right into the next suggestion.
Use Your 5-word Ace Card: “Let me think about that”
If you ever feel pinned down by an objection, these five words will get you off the hook 100% of the time: “let me think about that.” Here are four reasons this phrase is so powerful:
- It lets the other person know you appreciate their objection and want the time it deserves to think about it
- It removes all pressure to provide an immediate answer
- It allows you the opportunity to set up a future time to talk
- It gives you the chance to meet with a pastor, mentor, etc. about the topic at hand so you can come prepared to the future discussion
As you can see, this simple phrase does a lot of work for you. It is quite literally your ace card in any conversation that goes sideways.
One critical thing to remember
Now that you know some helpful tactics to address objections while sharing your faith, there is one last thing to remember – and it’s vitally important.
Your job is to glorify God, not win arguments.
Too often people come to blogs like this with the goal to “not look foolish” or “to get the best of someone.” If your honest intention is to win arguments instead of souls, then your intention has more to do with glorifying your intellect than glorifying God. Sit with that for a moment before you depart to put these tactics into action. Ask God to make these a part of your efforts to glorify Him as He opens opportunities for you to share the wondrous message of the cross.