It seems evangelism has become too difficult in the minds of many Christians and too religious in the minds of everyone else. I regularly hear dedicated Christians describe our mission as if it requires a professional presentation and a degree to share the love of Jesus with someone. Churches have even gotten into the act by having professional tracts, church events and DVDs produced to "make it easier" for regular Christians but this implies, unintentionally, that regular Christians can't do this without such help and tools. Nothing is further from the truth. All anyone needs, to be a witness for Jesus, is natural, real, living faith and genuine concern for the other person.
Natural Christian Outreach: I had the same misconceptions as everyone else at my first ministry post. So, I started a door-to-door program that had pretty good success because we were taking prayer requests, rather than preaching at people. Later, I found we had better success turning the church parking lot into a flea market one Saturday a year, so we could meet our neighbors under more natural circumstances. Finally, after trying evangelism the traditional way for over 10 years, I've come to the realization that most people have their guard up before our second sentence is finished. Here in the USA, everybody is bombarded from every direction by thousands of Christians. All of these approaches have one thing in common...they are as systematic and impersonal as a cheap sales pitch. I'm now getting evangelistic junk email because some poor misguided souls feel they're serving God by irritating strangers with messages they didn't ask for. So, when we approach a loved one with the message of Jesus, it's easy for them to think they know what we're going to say, and reject it without listening. Natural Christian outreach starts with a person who is seeking a solution to one of life's problems. When people discover Jesus as a solution to their problems, He has value to them and they're far more receptive to the message. After all, Jesus healed and fed people...He didn't just preach at them.
Be A Witness Without Witnessing: Another thing that puts people off and negates our evangelistic efforts is "The Presentation." Let me be straight with you, no one wants a canned God. Canned God has been sold to people their whole lives. They don't like how He tastes, how He smells, His mushy texture. The next time someone comes into your group selling the latest in canned God materials, boil up a can of peas for him and ask him if this is the way he likes his vegetables. Serve him some stale bread on the side. The only way to serve God is fresh. If you don't have a fresh relationship with God daily then don't try to serve Him to others. Jesus didn't say to go witnessing, He said to be a witness. It's the nature of a genuine Christian that reaches others for Jesus, not the use of flashy witnessing materials. Jesus is living water that wells up in you to overflowing...but He's got to be flowing in you first.
Have The Bible In You, Not On You: This point is very much like the last. It seems many religious people carry a Bible when they "go witnessing." You may have noticed from this and others of my articles, I speak and write the message from the Bible without quoting it chapter and verse. You and I know the Bible is a highly valuable book...God's Word to us. We use it to guide our lives and often quote it to each other. To those we're trying to reach...it's just a book. You don't need to carry it, quote from it, open it and show people what it says...you just need to live it.
One of my fellow students in Bible College told me about his "street-witnessing" experience the night before. He finally got someone cornered, opened his Bible and started down "The Roman Road" with him. The man interrupted and started disagreeing. It ended with the man running away while the student yelled, "You're going to hell." I'll never forget what my student friend told me next. He said, "At least I planted a seed." What kind of seed? What kind of crop? Will anyone be able to talk about Jesus again with that poor man?
If you have the Bible in you, it will come out in your actions and your words without you even trying. The Holy Spirit will remind you of everything you need to say and do. You'll care more about the person you're talking to than yourself. Leave the Bible on your desk at home, where you can keep putting it in your life, then it will shine through your life in how you treat others.
Share Faith In Jesus, Not The Gospel: Many people share "the gospel" out of a sense of duty, in response to a preacher or book they read or to be active in the latest program their church has to "reach the lost." These people are not acting in the right motivations, and worse, not acting in faith. Faith says Jesus doesn't want anyone to die and that everyone who comes to Him will be drawn by the Holy Spirit. If we're acting in faith, we can leave it up to God to provide valid opportunities to share Him and we can leave the results to Him, as well. If our faith is in Jesus, we don't need to share the gospel, but to live the Good News. We don't need to tell the people they have sinned, that's the Holy Spirit's job. We don't need to judge them, Jesus will do that at the end of time. All we need to do is live the love Jesus has given us and let Him love and help others through us...and believe in Him for the rest. Nothing can be easier than sharing faith, because faith says there is no way to fail.
Glen Williams is an Ordained Minister, Founder and CEO of E-Home Fellowship (EHF), Inc. and Webmaster for http://www.web-church.com. He has been active in ministry since 1989. You can comment on his articles at Web-Church Christian Forums.