Published March 1, 2020
One of the great joys of my ministry with the Kentucky Baptist Convention is going into local churches and conducting evangelism training. Oftentimes, I begin the training with a simple question. I ask, "What reservations do you have about witnessing?"
Almost always, I get the same responses. People will state, "They may not receive me," or, "They may remember the old me," or, "I don't know what to say." When you boil it down, many of these responses are rooted in fear.
How do we overcome this fear of evangelism?
I am a believer in evangelism training, evangelism conferences and about anything else that trains or equips a person to better evangelize. With that said, I have an honest confession: we will never be successful evangelists if we separate evangelism from the power of the Holy Spirit.
Take note of Peter and John in Acts 4. They were arrested for preaching the gospel, warned not to preach again and then eventually released. There was no question that further proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ would land them in more trouble, that's why they prayed:
"And now, Lord, consider their threats, and grant that your servants may speak your word with all boldness (Acts 4:29)."
The believers did not run from their evangelistic calling. Instead, they offered a passionate prayer for boldness. Believers in Jesus Christ would be wise to take note of the entire prayer provided in Acts 4, but specifically, note two observations about verse 29.
The prayer did not ignore reality.
The disciples were under a real threat, and they needed the Lord's help. Though we may not be arrested for proclaiming the gospel in the United States, we may very well experience ridicule and rejection. In some cases, it may cost you your family and your friends.
When we attempt to evangelize, we need to pray and ask God to be with us. We need him for protection and comfort. Prayer reminds us that we are not alone when we evangelize.
The prayer requested boldness.
Interestingly, the disciples did not pray that God would take away the hardship. They asked the Lord to consider the threats and then to give them boldness to proclaim the word of God. We must pray for the courage needed to evangelize.
We are often timid and nervous when sharing our faith, but the Holy Spirit can empower us. He's the one who will give us the words we need.
Recently, I found myself in a McDonald's, grabbing a cup of coffee on my way back home. In the parking lot, I prayed and asked the Lord to allow me to share the gospel in the store.
He did. Two teenage boys were getting off their shift, and I was able to strike up a conversation with them. What happened? I found myself nervous! A KBC employee whose sole job is to encourage evangelism was nervous about talking to two 16-year-old kids at a McDonald's!
You're not alone! Anyone can get nervous when presenting the gospel.
I realized that God had answered my parking lot prayer, and He would answer the prayer I was about to pray. I silently prayed, "Lord, give me boldness." I was able to have a gospel conversation and present tracts to these two young men. I am reminded that we cannot separate evangelism from the power of prayer.
Kenny Rager is a church evangelist strategist for the Kentucky Baptist Convention, covering the western half of Kentucky
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