I had a boldness breakthrough in my last year of high school. I had realized that it was time to show the world I didn’t care what they thought about me. I was determined to make a statement. So I prepared in all secrecy the boldest, most radical plan I had ever devised. The following day I came to school a bit shaky as you could clearly see on me the daring statement:
I was not wearing hair-wax.
We all struggle at times with different types of fear, some more rational than others. I don’t know for you, but I have missed many opportunities to tell others about Jesus. I have listened to stupid, discouraging thoughts. I may still not be the boldest person in the world, but have traveled a long journey since high school. I can engage different people I meet, and share my faith in a simple way. Here are some simple things that have helped me overcome my fears:
“Well-formed love banishes fear. 1 John 4:18”
This is the first and most obvious step. If you do not care about something, you will do nothing about. If you truly love people, and understand they are going towards an eternity without Him, you will want to win them for Christ. In my own life, if I stop caring that people are going to an eternity apart from Christ, I know something is wrong. I need to come to God again, and ask Him to fill me with His love.
Think right now: What is realistically the worst thing that could happen if you told someone about Jesus? For me, that’s probably the person I speak to getting out a gun, putting it to my forehead and saying they will kill me. Okay, just kidding. I said realistically. It could be they don’t want to speak about it and walk away, it could be they laugh a little, it could be they think I’m strange. But it could also be they get to experience God, to feel His love, to encounter His grace, and to change their eternal destiny. That is enough to make it worth the risk.
There is a sign on a Floridian beach for the lifeguards that says:
“If in doubt, go”
A lifeguard knows that if he sees someone in the distance that could be drowning, he should not stay on his chair. He should not debate with himself whether he should go and check it out or not.
The principle is the same for me. When I sense a nudge from God to go and speak to someone, the more I wait, the more I wrestle with myself, the more I diminish my chances of speaking to the person. But if I act immediately on the impulse without taking time to think of all the reasons why this person will not be interested, I often have good conversations, and people experience God. So if you are in doubt whether God is asking you to speak to a person, go anyway!
This is what stops most people from taking the first step: “What am I going to say?” I shared my most common opening line in an earlier post:
“Hello, do you speak English? (I live in Norway) My name is Paul, I come from France and I am a Christian. I love to speak with people about God and to hear what they believe, or if you don’t believe at all, or hate Christians (in a joking way). So, do you believe in God?”
Around 80-85 % of the people I speak to start saying why they do or don’t believe in God. The hardest part is through, they are now doing the speaking.
“Are there any special reasons why you don’t believe in Him?”
This allows me to immediately know where they are in their journey towards God. Sometimes they believe science has disproved God, or have had a bad experience with Christians, the answers are many. But again, they are the ones doing the talking.
“Have you ever experienced Him personally?”
That is another question for me to decide how to approach the next phase of the conversation.
A friend of mine once said this:
The place in the world where people are the most closed to the gospel is in the minds of the Christians.
He has a point! If I approach people in a humble way, being willing to listen to them first, then most people that I speak to are at open to share their experiences, and to hear what I have experienced with God. Jesus said that the harvest is plentiful, and that applies all over the world. I often need to remind myself of this!
Do you have any good tips about overcoming fear to speak about Jesus that you would like to share? Or any questions? Then I’d love to hear your comments!
by Paul Hockley
Have you ever wanted to share your faith with your friends, but thought they might have many difficult questions about God?
The good news is that you are not the only one in this situation. Many Christians have struggled with questions from their friends. But many have also devoted their time and minds to answering these questions about God. This field of Christianity is called apologetics. There are plentiful of resources available that can help you tackle these questions. Here are some of my favorite:
The motto of Ravi Zacharias’ ministry is: “helping the thinker believe, helping the believers think”. Ravi travels to diverse arenas (including universities) across the world. He presents the Christian faith and answers people’s questions. His podcasts, “Let My People Think”, and “Just Thinking” address many of the most common questions about God. These podcasts have been extremely enriching for my thought life, and given me answers for my conversations on the streets. On the “Just Thinking” podcast, every Friday is devoted to a Q&A session from a university around the world. If you want the best of the best, this is it!
Books: on Amazon
Podcasts: Just Thinking (Daily), Let My People Think (Weekly)
YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/rzimmedia
You may have heard of Richard Dawkins. He is an Oxford professor that wrote the “God delusion.” But you may not have heard of John Lennox. He is also a professor at Oxford, and an opponent to Dawkins in various debates concerning God and science. You can find the most famous of these debates — called the “God Delusion debate” — here. I usually refer to his book “God’s Undertaker” — although I admit some of it was out of my depth — when needing to find good arguments for God based in modern science.
Books: on Amazon
William Lane Craig is a world renown defender of the Christian faith and frequently engages in debates with atheists. His book “On Guard” is a good entry level apologetics resource. He has also developed an iphone app with all his articles and podcasts. I have enjoyed watching his debate videos and have been equipped by his arguments.
App: Reasonable Faith App
YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/ReasonableFaithOrg
Podcast: Reasonable Faith
Do you know of any other useful resources — websites, podcasts, books — to answer difficult questions about God? Post them in the comments, and I will update the article with them.
“This is part 2 of a series on how to share the gospel with atheists. You can read part 1 here.”
“There is suffering in the world therefore God does not exist.”
This is the argument atheists use most frequently against Christianity and the existence of God. For some it is an emotional barrier, anchored in their experience of suffering. Others reason that if a loving God existed, he would not allow suffering, or he would intervene.
But I have a little secret: this argument can be turned on its head and used as a springboard to share the gospel. How? Using the following 3 steps:
Now atheists are in trouble, because if we are nothing but the products of time + matter + chance + energy, the world today looks exactly the way it “should” be, because there no transcendent purpose for the world. On the other hand, the idea of an unfulfilled original purpose corresponds exactly to the the Christian view and provides an opening for what is next in sharing the gospel: healing the brokenness.
Tips when sharing these points:
Stay tuned for part 3: Healing the Brokenness.
In this series we shall look at how to share the gospel in the streets. The question for today is: How to start the conversation in a good way? Maybe you have already asked yourself this question.
It is obviously not the most natural thing for everyone to just engage a conversation with a stranger. So you will need to get used to a measure of discomfort when you doing this. With our teams, something that has helped is to have something to give people, like coffee and tea, to conduct surveys, or to find creative ideas like the question box (video here) to have more “natural” starting points of contact. However these ideas are just tools, and the desired end is to get a conversation about God going.
I have found that being straightforward is the best. People will not feel tricked if you state from the beginning what your intentions are. So this is how I usually start a conversation:
Hello, do you speak English? (I live in Norway) My name is Paul, I come from France and I am a Christian. I love to speak with people about God and to hear what they believe, or if you don’t believe at all, or hate Christians (in a joking way). So, do you believe in God?
At this point, maybe 80-85% of the people explain what they believe (or don’t believe), and we can get the conversation started from there. The other 15-20% say they are not interested, or busy, etc.
Of course I do not always start in that way. Recently, on the plane on the way to France, I was working on my laptop and starting speaking with the man next to me:
“Hello, can I ask you a question? My name is Paul, and I am writing about clues pointing to the existence of God. Would you like to hear?” The man was open and we had a good conversation. So the possibilities are unlimited, and you can also ask God to guide you in how to start.
Here are some practical tips that I have found to be useful when in the streets trying to engage people.
That last tip is the make or break point. Many times I feel an impulse from God, but the longer I wait to act upon it, the less likely it is that I will act at all. So make sure to go for it and be obedient!
That’s about it for today, in Part 2, we will learn to present the gospel starting on common ground with atheists. Stay tuned!