Sharing the Gospel: My Story
I am grateful to have been able to share the gospel with hundreds of people in the last two and half years at various places: fairs, skate parks, school parking lots, malls, etc. In this series of articles I would like to share some things I’ve learned and experienced.
First, I do not consider myself as having the “gift of evangelism” nor do I consider myself a bold witness. Truthfully, for the majority of my Christian life I have been too scared to talk to people about the gospel. I’ve been a far cry from what the Apostle Paul said about himself:
“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation of everyone who believes, first for the Jew then for the Gentile”
Throughout the years I’ve been inspired by sermons or books to share my faith only to “wimp out” when opportunities arose. Once, when I was a new believer I, along with my classroom parents, were in charge of a booth at the annual school carnival in Pleasant Hill, Oregon (I taught elementary school at that time). I had invited my wife Char, then a girlfriend, to come out and volunteer for a couple hours at the booth. After considering this invitation, I became fearful that she was going to speak openly about her faith in Jesus given her outgoing personality. I was scared about it because I didn’t want anything to hinder my reputation. I did not want to be known as a “Jesus freak” or as religious fanatic.
I tried to break through this self-conscious fear but my nervousness often caused my witness to be indirect, awkward or forced. For years my evangelistic efforts seemed to be a complete bust. But I desperately wanted it to be different. Things began to change in 2006 during a season of revival God brought to my church. Infused with new courage I began to take risks I had not taken before. Specifically, I began to cultivate relationships with neighbors and with strangers. I met over fifty people in the neighborhood and at times I found myself boldly bringing up the gospel. It was exhilarating! But as time went on I was more successful at approaching people to start a conversation than I was at turning the conversation to spiritual things.
Months later I listened to a man’s powerful testimony. After his conversion he so excited about Jesus he was compelled to tell everyone he saw about him. His boldness inspired me. I thought to myself: “I want to be like that. I love Jesus and he is precious to me and I want to tell people about him.” Why is this so difficult for me?
On my drive home from that presentation the diagnosis to my problem hit me. I had a “filter” in my mind that was preventing me from sharing the gospel. Picture a filter similar to one you would use with your furnace to keep dust and other particles from circulating throughout your house. My “filter” served to keep me from sharing about Jesus and the gospel. This filter had been strengthened through the years and had been built up with warnings: “Don’t be weird.” “Don’t rock the boat.” “Be cautious.” You don’t want to be thought of as a religious fanatic or a Jesus freak.” “Don’t be rude.” “Don’t offend people.” “They may not like you if you share.”
I realized this filter had become so powerful and effective that it had to come down! My strategy would be this: I would attack this filter again and again causing it to weaken. The way I would do this would be to bring Jesus, the gospel or spiritual matters up in conversations. Eventually, I hoped the filter would become ineffective due to the holes I had poked through it as a result of my sharing. Though it has been a slow and sometimes painful process the filter is weakening.
One of the things that has spurred me on is seeing a friend of mine boldly sharing the gospel in a variety of settings. After observing him I set a goal to present the gospel to at least one person each day. It has been a wild and thrilling ride! Over the next few weeks I will be sharing some of the highlights. Stay tuned.
Next week: “Why Share the Gospel”
Copyright Ed Skipper 2013