Why do most people feel anxious about sharing their faith with others?
Have you ever thought “What do I say?” or “Where do I start?” Deciding where to start depends on your view of evangelism. We typically only think of evangelism as helping someone take the final step of putting their faith in Christ. But when you recognise that everyone journeys to faith in Christ, and that journey takes time, you realise that in fact, evangelism includes journeying with a person towards Christ. Your current conversation with them is about helping them take the next step in their journey (and may not include crossing the line today)!
In our day we are seeing an ever-increasing distance to cover in a non-churched person’s journey to faith in Christ.
There was once a time in Australia that it was unusual for people not to attend church. Then came a generation that didn’t attend church but still sent their children to Sunday School because they valued the good moral teaching. After that generation came a generation that had minimal exposure to church or Sunday School but still had some exposure to Christianity through Scripture in school or civil public events. But we now have a generation of people having children that have never seen a Bible, never heard the gospel and don’t know who Jesus is, other than a swear word.
There was a time when you could logically refer to the authority of the Bible and people would listen. Now people look to their own experience, rather than the Bible, for spiritual convictions.
That means that the journey people take towards God is getting longer as each generation passes. While salvation is an event that takes place in a moment in time, conversion is a journey towards faith in Jesus, and this takes place over time.
The time varies
For some people, this journey is very quick. From the time they sense God reaching out to them to when they place their trust in Jesus may only be days, weeks or even months. For others this journey may take years, even decades. People take this journey at different speeds depending on what is happening in their lives and the world around them as well as the type of Christians they encounter along the way and their exposure to the gospel.
But here is the exciting thing. A person’s journey towards Jesus can be greatly accelerated by two factors.
A person’s journey to faith is often accelerated by a personal crisis. This may be a positive crisis like having a child or moving to a new country, or it may be a negative crisis like being diagnosed with a terminal illness or losing someone close to them.
A Redemptive Relationship
The second significant factor that can accelerate someone’s journey toward Jesus is when there is a Christian in the person’s life who is intentionally building a redemptive relationship with them. As the Christian prays for them and works to help them journey towards Christ, their journey to faith picks up speed.
Now, when you think about these two factors at work in the life of someone you know, who do you think God has sent into that person’s life to help them journey towards Jesus? That’s right—God has sent you into their lives!
You see, you don’t always have to share the gospel in every encounter, but it is your responsibility as a Christian to help people take their next step on their journey towards Jesus. That is why it’s so important for you to ask questions and listen to them.
Learn where they are in their journey to faith and ask God, “What would the next step be for this person, and how can I help them take that step?” Then take action!
Understanding the journey helps you pray specifically for their next step and rely on the Holy Spirit to work in your relationship. When he does you see answers to prayer long before the person puts their trust in Christ for salvation.
Understanding the journey helps you know the part you play and what still needs to happen in your relationship to help your friend move one step closer to Christ.
Understanding the journey helps you relax in conversation. You stop assuming your friend understands Christian terminology. You begin to have a conversation at the level they engage with. You don’t feel pressured to get them across the line in one conversation, so your conversations around Christ are much more natural.
Understanding the journey helps you take action and become more intentional in helping that person take the next step rather than feeling disabled by the thought of having to take a person from zero to faith in one quantum leap.
Remember, your aim is always to help people arrive at the place where they trust Christ for their salvation, but today God wants you to experience the freedom of simply helping people take the next step on that journey to faith in Christ.
Who can you take on a relational journey towards Jesus today? What step can you help them take?
Witnessing Lifestyle Priority #3: Helping people take the next step on their journey towards Christ