By Jerry McCorkle, Executive Director of Spread Truth
Do you remember the television show “Fear Factor"? In this reality show, participants had to face terrifying stunts as they advanced towards the final prize. Eventually, when confronted by something too crazy or intimidating, even the boldest abstained and were disqualified.
Most of us will probably never be challenged to swim with snakes or eat African cave spiders. But honestly, many of us might rather swim with snakes or eat spiders than do something God calls us all to do: share the gospel. Let's be honest—we all face fears when engaging someone with the gospel. At times, each of us has probably succumbed to these fears. But, unlike in the television show, our fears do not disqualify us! God is patient and full of grace, and he is always there to help us as we learn to be faithful witnesses.
Here are five things to remember when we face the fear factor of sharing our faith:
God is with us.
Jesus’ final words in the great commission were, ''I am with you always, to the end of the age'' (Matthew 28:20 ESV). We are not left to ourselves. God, through his Holy Spirit, has promised to be there with us. Whether we are preaching in the most difficult or dangerous regions of the world or talking to a neighbor, we are not alone. The God who holds the universe in his hands is there.
God has already been there.
My dad, a career missionary for many years, reminded me that when I share the gospel with someone, I can be assured that God has already been in their life. Your conversations do not happen by random chance; they are sovereignly and providentially designed by God, who knows all things both in your life and in theirs. As Lon Allison states,"When we arrive, he has already gone before us."
Equipping is important.
The more you prepare to share your faith, the more confident you will become. The more you process the gospel story, the more comfortable you will feel. Every person with whom we share is different, so every conversation will be different. But having the basics solidified in your mind prepares you to adapt for those conversations. One resource I’d recommend for this is Spread Truth Ministries’ The Story Guide training curriculum. The Story Primer Guide and the Story Guide are designed to help small groups and individual believers practically, powerfully communicate the gospel story with their families, neighbors, and co-workers. Learn more.
The goal is to bring them one step closer.
Lon Allison's definition of a witness ''is to cooperate with God and others to bring a person at least one step closer to God." There’s an old saying that a Christian is like a mailman: when you’re sharing the gospel, you are just responsible to deliver the message. You're not responsible for their salvation. God is the one who does the converting. There are times when you may be able to present the full gospel and see people they come to Christ, and there are other times when you may just plant seeds.
We are often more fearful to share than they are unwilling to listen.
According to a 2014 Facts & Trends report, 78% of unchurched Americans are open to listening to what someone believes about Christianity. As I have talked to students on university campuses, I have found that to be true. People need some type of story to make sense of their lives. Let’s determine not to let our fear keep us from the amazing privilege of sharing God’s story, which provides the most beautiful, cohesive answer to the questions echoing in every heart.