So They Said “No” to the Gospel – Now What?
Any believer can handle a non-Christian saying, “Yes, I want to trust Christ.” But what if they say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Then what do you do?
Don’t take God’s responsibility on your shoulders
Your job was not to bring them to Christ. Only God can do that. Remember John 6:44: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.” Only God through the Holy Spirit can cause them to see their sinful condition before God and need of a Savior. Your job is contact not conversion.
Ask the right questions
A question like, “What could I have done better?” can be helpful as long as it doesn’t result in pointing to yourself as a failure. Every opportunity in evangelism is a learning experience – even for the most seasoned evangelists. That’s why a question like, “what did I learn for next time?” can be a much better question to ask. If you bring that question before God it invites Him to teach you, and you’ll find yourself learning new things about God, people, and opportunities as you grow wiser in evangelism.
Be optimistic about the ultimate outcome
Many people hear the gospel multiple times before they come to Christ. In fact, one survey revealed that some hear the gospel as many as 15 times before they come to Christ. You might be one of 15 (or more) people God wants to use to ultimately bring them to the Savior. Remember the truth of John 4:37, “For in this the saying is true: ”One sows and another reaps.” Your efforts are never in vain in evangelism. Regardless of what happens, God might use what you shared to move them one step closer to the cross.
Ask permission to talk again
If it is someone you see frequently, ask them to seriously consider what you have shared and ask their permission to talk more at a later date. And if they say, “I’d rather not”, make sure your response is one of grace and understanding – “Well, I’ll be here if you change your mind.” Many who say they never want to talk about God again suddenly change their minds for any number of reasons.
Add them to your daily prayer list
As mentioned, the person not interested today may be interested tomorrow. God has all kinds of ways of getting the attention of someone He wants to bring to the Savior. In the meantime, be in fervent prayer for God to draw this person to Himself and to surround this person with other believers who are willing to share the gospel.
Watch your demeanor; not just your words
I frequently remind believers that Satan has blinded non-Christians in such a way that until the Holy Spirit works, they will never see their need of Christ. (II Corinthians 4:4) But that doesn’t mean they are stupid. By that I mean, if through your demeanor, you convey that you are upset or disappointed in them, that could hurt them deeply. Sometimes they are simply in need of more time to think about what you have shared. If you, through your body language, convey disappointment that they will not settle the matter right now, they may walk away remembering your demeanor more than your message.
Share with them something they desperately need to know
I would say remind them of two things. One is that if they do want to trust Christ at a future time, you do not have to be there. They can trust the Savior at their office, in their car, at their kitchen table, or on their bed. A second thing is that nobody is promised tomorrow. So graciously and gently remind them not to put off the most important decision of their life until it is forever too late. But do tell them that if they do choose to trust in Christ, you would love to be the first person they tell so you can be excited with them.
Leave them with something to read or a website to visit
I always carry a tract in my pocket that clearly explains the gospel. Not only do I sometimes use that to share the gospel, but should the person not trust in Christ, sometimes I leave it with them so they can think more about it. However, in these days, not everyone is comfortable with you handing them something. In that case, consider asking if you can text or email them a website they can visit for information to dig deeper into the gospel.
Honoring God in evangelism is important not only when they say “yes” to the gospel but also when they say “no”. Keep the principles above in mind, and you will be well on your way to making a wise decision regardless of their response.
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