With a topic as broad and touchy as sharing the Gospel, it’s no wonder why so many Christ followers recoil when it’s “their turn” to share the Good News to others. One common view of this, which I don’t recommend, is to look at people as sales pitches. Yes, you’ve read that right. If you haven’t heard it before – which is unlikely – then now you know why so many churches appear business-like: They are ran by business values.
Although I believe we can use our business skills to glorify the living God, viewing our friends and family as potential sales pitches is immoral, unloving, and brings zero glory to our heavenly Father. Even if this approach works, it still counts as taking a major shortcut. We don’t want to be “businessmen in Pentecostal suits.” Our circles of influence aren’t potential customers, they’re souls waiting to be loved and stewarded. Reducing them to sales leads takes away their humanity and erodes the calling God had placed on us: to live in a way that wins people and brings them into relationship with Him.
So, what does that mean for the well-intentioned Christian who’s eager to share the Word? It means that it will take time and ongoing investment. People are not simply extensions of our wills; they are their own individuals, with their own desires, agendas, and reservations. It takes a lot of time and patience to establish trust. Diving into this new venture thinking that it only takes one or two coffee dates to win a soul is terribly misleading for both parties. Try to put yourself in the shoes of a nonbelieving friend. Would you want to be viewed as a ‘project’ to conquer, or a sales lead to convert? Chances are, that would be insulting to you. The same goes for everyone else.
No one wants to be anyone’s project. Everyone appreciates true, genuine friendships. That is what you’re called to do as a disciple of God – establish loving, genuine friendships with the world and be the bridge in which they can meet God. This is why we shouldn’t push people towards the cliff before we’ve established a bridge with them; they will feel betrayed and close themselves off from us. People won’t understand why we’re pushing them towards such a huge commitment when they’re simply not ready for it. I have a close friend who led a nonbeliever into a sinner’s prayer on the first meeting. Needless to say, they never hung out again. By being consistent, steady, and genuine, people will ultimately come to know that your bridge is safe and sturdy enough to cross. They will do this on their own because the Holy Spirit is constantly at work in them.
“But how do I even begin telling people about Christ?” you might ask. At first, mentioning the big JC might be a little awkward for some and a deal breaker for others. Unless you know that your friend is a person of peace (or a person who is open to hearing about God), refrain from overwhelming them with your religious speech. Even if it is done out of pure motives, not respecting the boundaries of others is a sure-fire way to guarantee rebellion. Be sensitive to your level of closeness to the person and share the Gospel accordingly. If there is no bridge built, the only thing your friend will see when you speak of the Almighty God is a silhouette of a faraway, idealistic fantasy. That’s because they don’t know Him close up yet because you haven’t done your job of building the bridge. If you’ve already established a firm friendship with others and the time is ripe for you to tell them about Christ, start with an invitation. For example, you can say, “Hey, are you free this weekend? Would you like to check out my church? I’d love to introduce you to my friends!” Please keep in mind that this attempt will be a lot more successful after you’ve proven that you’re a trustworthy friend.
Often, being Christ to our friends doesn’t even involve us mentioning His name in every opportunity we get. ‘Preying’ for someone who’s at his or her weak point to interject the Gospel can be a very insensitive and unloving move. Just be a true friend and approach him or her without ulterior motives. Your friends will grow to know God as they grow to trust you. Offer prayer, but don’t force it. Always pray for those friends on your own, as we know that our faith can move God to soften hearts.
To share the Gospel successfully, you’ve got to invest time and share your life with people. You’ve got to learn how to be a great friend. If you don’t know what that entails, here is a complete list of attributes of a Godly friend. There are no easy shortcuts to sharing the Gospel. That’s why it’s imperative that you actually have a relationship with God yourself, so you can confidently make your faith public. The light that you have should not be hidden or only expressed when you see that it’s the ‘perfect opportunity’ to inject the Gospel into someone’s wounds. By making it known, on your own platforms, that you are a follower of Christ, your friends and family will already know who you stand for. All you’ve got to do now is build solid bridges.