I know I haven’t done a good job sharing my faith the last several years. Part of the reason has been due to disillusionment, but part of the reason has just been plain old disobedience too.
After graduating from a seminary (in 2006) that required me to share my faith regularly (but in a somewhat formulaic way), I’ve struggled to figure out the best method for sharing the Gospel. For the record, I’m not opposed to being asked to share my faith (by a church or a seminary), in fact I think it can be a really good thing. The one thing I am opposed to is the mandate that I have to ask the person I am witnessing to, “Would you like to accept Christ today as your personal Lord and Savior?” even when I invariably know that their answer will be, “no.” This is not a bad question necessarily, but in a situation where body language indicates that a person has no intention of being converted, or in a situation where the comprehension of the Gospel by the person being witnessed to is still lacking, I don’t like being forced to ask that question. At the seminary that I attended, this question was necessary for the witnessing experience to “count” as part of our requirement to regularly share our faith. I have a problem with that specific rule because it left me feeling like I was sometimes forcefeeding the Gospel to someone who didn’t want it or didn’t understand it.
The other struggle that I have is that I doubt the the effectiveness of door-to-door evangelism. I know that many people have been, and still are being, led to relationships with Christ through door-to-door methods. However, the question I have is, “For all the people that are led to Christ using door-to-door evangelism, are even more left with a bad taste in their mouth by the experience?” I don’t know the answer to this question to be honest, but I struggle with this fear. I do know that making friendships with others, and inviting them to church, and speaking truth into their lives spreads the Gospel. But oftentimes I am lazy, and a coward, and not nearly bold enough in my witnessing when I use this “lifestyle” method.
So I want to strike a balance in personal evangelism between legalistic tendencies and formulaic approaches on one end, and laziness and fear and apathy on the other end. I’m trying to get better, and I want to be obedient. So, in that vein, I found this article on the 7 characteristics of highly evangelistic Christians encouraging. I didn’t come up with this list, it is a partial repost of Thom Rainer’s blog http://www.thomrainer.com/2010/03/seven-characteristics-of-highly-evangelistic-christians.php
7 characteristics of Highly Evangelistic Christians
1. They are people of prayer. They realize that only God can convict and convert, and they are totally dependent upon Him in prayer. Most of the highly evangelistic Christians spend at least an hour in prayer each day.
2. They have a theology that compels them to evangelize. They believe in the urgency of the gospel message. They believe that Christ is the only way of salvation. They believe that anyone without Christ is doomed for a literal hell.
3. They are people who spend time in the Word. The more time they spend in the Bible, they more likely they are to see the lostness of humanity and the love of God in Christ to save those who are lost.
4. They are compassionate people. Their heart breaks for those who don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They have learned to love the world by becoming more like Christ who has the greatest love for the world.
5. They love the communities where God has placed them. They are immersed in the culture because they desire for the light of Christ to shine through them in their communities.
6. They are intentional about evangelism. They pray for opportunities to share the gospel. They look for those opportunities. And they see many so-called casual encounters as appointments set by God.
7. They are accountable to someone for their evangelistic activities. They know that many good activities can replace Great Commission activities if they are not careful. Good can replace the best. So they make certain that someone holds them accountable each week either formally or informally for their evangelistic efforts.