The thought of sharing the gospel with others is anathema to most people. Even extroverts shy away from confronting friends, family, and neighbors. The great commission given by Christ is not an option for observant Christians. The commission requires us to witness the unsaved. What will I say? What if I get rejected or confronted during the sharing session? Sweating hands and anxiety about sharing the gospel are best eased by knowing what to say and having a practical approach. Fay and Shephard offer a solution with easy-to-follow steps in Share Jesus Without Fear.
Fay wants to let the Christians know they cannot fail. Merely by presenting the gospel to an unbeliever, they have done their part. The Holy Spirit will do the heavy lifting of touching the unsaved, and we are just the way-pointers. The interaction eschews the concern of personal failure as the method for presenting the gospel requires that the receiver reads the relevant Scripture. In this fashion, it is not the presenter who is speaking, but the word of God.
The author advises to watch for signs of an ineffective and dying Christian life. “Ask yourself, Am I sharing my faith? Do I have only Christian friends? Do I hang around the dead, the diseased, and the lost? The Christian must remove any excuses of inadequacy to the task or fear of how the reception of the word is received.
Through examples of dialog and a prescription for Bible hiliting, the authors provide scenarios to prepare mentally for the witnessing encounter. The book offers interrogatory questions and directions for the new believer. Follow-up prayers and instructions complete the entire process of witnessing.
I can relate and identify with the initial issues of sharing the gospel with a stranger. In my recent encounter with a grocery vendor, I was nervous about bringing up the subject of religion. I initially feared being categorized as a “religious nut,” but I persevered. I lack sales experience, so approaching people is not in my nature.
After briefly discussing the price of soft drinks, I asked Byron if his workday was long and what he did for rest and individual fulfillment. He responded that he occasionally goes out and spends most of his time with his girlfriend. I asked what he thought about Jesus and who he was, and he told me he was raised in a Christian home, but after getting his apartment and job, he had thought little about it.
I offered to discuss Christ briefly if he had a few minutes. He agreed to meet in the coffee area in front of the store in 15 minutes. On meeting him a little later, I presented the Bible to him, which I had quickly retrieved from my car. I asked him to read Romans 3:23 about sin. I was careful not to seem condescending or judgmental in the discussion. From our previous brief discussion, I knew overly aggressive accusations and feelings of being judged harshly had put him off .
I was nervous the entire time, but I was comforted by knowing there was a plan to follow and the process required him to read Scripture. I was to get out of the way of the Holy Spirit. I was excited and relieved by the encounter, and while he did not come to Christ then, I’m confident I had placed “a rock in his shoe.” I left the meeting more confident about approaching people on the subject. Even if I receive a negative response, I can offer follow-up questions simply by saying, “why”?
While this book aims to provide a method for Christians to share their faith, the follow-up should receive additional steps on some principal apologetic topics. 1 Peter 3:15 comes to mind as “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and respect. The authors provide some questions and example scripts of potential issues encountered in Appendix 3, but these prompts can lead to a more serious discussion on doubts.
The scripts that the author provides are mainly references to Scripture. While Scripture reference is crucial, most organic conversations on the hot-button topic of religion can be volatile. The preparation prescribed in 1 Peter 3:15 requires us to know our society’s forensic arguments currently faced. While apologetics can be a separate discipline, having some foreknowledge of crucial objections is to our advantage.
The reader can more adequately prepare by previously researching subjects such as the historicity of Christ, the ontological argument, the accuracy of the Bible, and other prescient issues. The research does not have to be exhaustive, and a little knowledge can be dangerous. Increasing the reader’s effectiveness in dealing with objections to Christianity will serve as positive growth in future witnessing.
The first step I plan to take is always to have the Share Jesus Without Fear New Testament nearby when I go in public. As I learned with my first encounter with sharing the gospel, I never know when the opportunity will arise. Having a plan to engage people with interrogatory questions about religion is helpful, and the small Bible includes reminders when necessary for follow-up questions.
Listening and hearing are the vital first steps to assessing the potential convert, as it is essential to know where they stand about religion. I plan to listen for the initial response to gauge the proper reaction, which should also be another question. While it is tempting to engage in apologetics, I plan to let the gospel speak for itself as prescribed in Romans 10:17: “Faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ.” A fundamental principle in the Share Jesus method is to have the potential convert read the passages aloud, allowing the Holy Spirit to work.
After hearing and listening come the questions regarding what the passage of Scripture means to them, I do not plan to elaborate on what Scripture says, merely to confirm they understand the point of the relevant passage. The logical steps of each progression read in the Share Jesus method provide the path for the convert’s understanding. I also plan to memorize most of the optional conversation joggers in Appendix 1, except for asking if they want to take part in a survey. We often follow this leading question up with a sales pitch. I plan to stress that I am not talking with them to solicit anything or receive any contributions.
The second change I will implement is to go where people gather in public. This will be a challenge since so many in this individualistic society do not want to be approached by anyone, usually on the suspicion that they want their money or time. I have worked from home for the last seven years, so my coworkers are not an option. I plan to have the Share Jesus New Testament on my person when shopping for groceries or anything else. As I mostly shop during weekdays, hopefully, the demographic of people out shopping means they are not in a rush.
The essential component of public interaction is to watch for people that the spirit draws to me as people that could be receptive to the word. I observe people’s general countenance and attitude, so I am confident I will find persons for positive interactions. I believe that by possessing the philosophy of sharing and seeking, people will unconsciously know this and be more receptive to a social encounter.
Finally, the third change I plan to make is to live more of a Christ-like life. While this has been an ongoing goal of mine throughout my Christian life, sharing the gospel demands a more focused effort. People have to tell from my emotional state and my words that I possess something they also desire. While the gospel stands for itself, the initial hurdle of my standing in the spirit also needs work. Only when my demeanor and understanding align with the spirit will others appreciate what the experience of having Christ in their life will mean.
The change in my approach includes the steps necessary to create disciples. This also means having business cards or other small papers with my email address and phone number for follow-up questions and concerns. I may only have a few minutes to interact with someone initially, so I will be prepared by having prewritten contact information in or with the small Bible.
Fay offers that “nonbelievers must hear the gospel an average of 7.6 times before they receive it.” While the nonbeliever I encounter may have considered Christ previously, I cannot assume my discourse with them will be the one that tips the decision toward God. These steps I will include in my daily sharing routine. I also will keep in mind that I cannot fail. Even putting a “rock in their shoe” is a success if our interaction leaves them pondering the reality of God and his presence in their lives.
Fay, William, and Linda Evans Shepherd. Share Jesus without Fear. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999.
 Ibid., 72
 Unless otherwise noted, all biblical references use English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016)
 Fay, Share Jesus without Fear, Appendix 3.
 Fay, Share Jesus without Fear, 11.
see also: Biblical Textual Criticism