“Do not be afraid” is the most repeated command in the entire Bible. It’s said to appear 466 times — that’s one for every day of the year, plus an extra 101. Clearly, we must really need to hear it… and never more so than when it comes to evangelism.
I’ve spent decades doing evangelism training all over the world, and on all five continents. But wherever I go, the fears holding people back from witnessing to their friends, family, neighbours and colleagues are always the same — but so are the truths that can set us free from our fears.
1. Fear of offending
You want to share Christ with a friend, but you hesitate because you’re afraid of putting them off or offending them.
Thankfully, there’s a really simple solution to this fear: if you’re worried about offending someone, tell them! Be honest. Say something like, “Listen, I don’t like Bible bashers—so if I’m coming on too strong, would you let me know?”
2. Fear of being rejected
Often it’s fear of rejection that holds us back from sharing the gospel. We’re afraid that our friend will say “no” to an invitation to a church event, or things will get awkward, or they’ll tell us they think we’re a bigoted idiot.
And yes, some people will reject us but sometimes that’s because they are under conviction of sin. We get the bullets, but really they are rejecting God.
The celebrated evangelist Billy Graham once said:
“I spent my earlier years fearing what others thought of me. But the older I got, the more I saw how foolish it was to fear human opinion. Can another human give us a sense of identity, save us or change our eternal destiny? Why do we fear what others think when one day we will ALL stand before God!”
It’s normal to be afraid. Even the apostle Paul was afraid. The key is to obey God in spite of our fears. Focus on fearing the right thing:
“Since we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others” (2 Corinthians 5 v 11).
3. Fear of being asked a question we can’t answer
Engage in spiritual conversations, and pretty soon you will be asked a question you can’t answer but that’s okay.
When that happens, ask them to give you more background (which gives you time to think), or say something along the lines of, “You seem to have some energy around that question. May I ask you why?” This will show you whether it’s a purely “academic” question, or one that comes from a personal wound.
Finally, don’t be afraid to say, “Great question and I don’t know the answer. Can I come back to you on that one?” People respect us when we’re honest. But they also see that our faith isn’t shattered just because there’s a question we can’t answer. Your compassion and care for your friends and above all, your dependence upon God’s Spirit, is far more important than knowing the answers to every question.
4. Fear of seeming inconsistent
Sometimes we fear “preaching” at people because we know they see the real “us” — our ugly side. And the truth is, we will mess up. So if you blow it in front of a person you have witnessed to, go to them and confess it.
“I asked God to forgive me for what I did the other day. But I want to ask your forgiveness too. But remember, my message to you has never been ‘I’m so perfect!’ Rather it’s that I know the One who really is perfect and he is helping me day by day.”
5. The fear underneath them all
Did you notice something? All these fears are focused entirely on ourselves because deep down, we’re afraid that God will not come through for us. Often we act like we’re doing evangelism on our own. Yet Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15 v 5).
Ultimately, you don’t need more self-confidence, you need God-confidence. People do not come to Christ because of our ability to present the gospel perfectly. It is the Spirit of God who enables them to understand the message.
It’s God’s truth, his love and his power that you need and wonderfully, you have it. Jesus tells us,
“go and make disciples of all nations … And surely I am with you always” (Matthew 28 v 19-20).
That promise is all you need to face your fears and share your faith.
Interested in hearing more from Becky on how to share your faith, take a look at Empowered a positive, practical and biblical DVD course that excites and equips ordinary Christians to share Christ in everyday life.