When You’re Afraid of Sharing the Gospel
According to a 2018 Gallup poll, the Pacific Northwest is one of the least religious regions in the country. Additionally, a 2017 Barna poll shows that only 21% of people in the Seattle-Tacoma area have “[read] the Bible in the past week” and “strongly assert the Bible is accurate in the principles it teaches”. In short, WestHill Church exists in an area that is largely ambivalent about God, his word, and the gospel.
I think we can draw two conclusions from these surveys:
1. When we share the gospel, we will often get little or no response. This means that we need to evangelize with thick skin. We should expect rejection. And we shouldn’t take rejection personally when we experience it. It’s the way people are here.
2. When we share the gospel, we will likely be telling someone something he or she has never heard. While many places in America are already familiar with the Bible, Seattle and Tacoma aren’t. People don’t really know what the Bible says. We have an opportunity to introduce our unique population to Jesus Christ. But we must do so from the ground up. We need to accurately understand and communicate the big picture of the Bible as well as the gospel itself.
It’s clear we have a big opportunity here to reach out with the message of Jesus Christ. What’s holding us back?
Let me suggest three hindrances: lack of opportunity, lack of boldness, and lack of clarity.
Lack of Opportunity
Many of us don’t see opportunities to share the gospel very often. We have normal lives where we see the same people every day. Some are non-Christian, to be sure, but many of them may already know we are Christian. Perhaps we just don’t often see a good time to tell them about Jesus Christ.
Lack of Boldness
At times, we see opportunities to share Christ; but we still feel afraid of the response we will get. We are anxious to bring up a sensitive subject and risk ruining a relationship.
Lack of Clarity
Sometimes we may see opportunity and we may feel bold, but we don’t know exactly how to state the gospel clearly. We don’t want to misconstrue it. We also don’t want to make God seem even more distant by using excessive Christian jargon.
The Bible has the solution for all three problems: prayer.
1. Pray for opportunities to share the gospel.
Paul asked the Colossians to pray, “that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been bound” (4:3). This means that Paul depended on God for opportunities. I can understand it if you are afraid of sharing the gospel. But no one should be afraid to ask God for opportunities to share the gospel.
2. Pray for boldness to share the gospel.
Paul asked the Ephesians to pray, “that words may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel—for which I am an ambassador in chains—so that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak” (6:19-20). Paul had fear that could have kept him from being bold. He took that fear to God in prayer. So should we.
3. Pray that you would share the gospel with clarity.
Paul struggled with clarity just like we do. And he asked the Colossians to pray, “that I may make it manifest in the way I ought to speak” (4:4). If you ever struggle with the fear of rejection or a feeling of timidity when it comes to sharing the gospel, know that you aren’t alone. This is very normal. Paul himself struggled with boldness. But he took those struggles to God in prayer. And God was faithful to give him the right words when he needed them.
Here’s the reality: our need for opportunities, boldness, and clarity are opportunities to turn to God in prayer.
We can’t share the gospel without God, can we? So why would we go through life thinking that it depends solely on us? If people come to Christ because God draws them (John 6:44), we should approach evangelism as an act of total dependence on God. Prayer is essential.
Are you willing to pray for opportunities, boldness, and clarity? I believe that God will be faithful to give us opportunities as we depend on him to provide them. So I encourage you to make time in your daily prayers for evangelistic requests to God. If Paul needed God to help him, so do we.