One thing I wish I’d known before I started sharing my faith is that preparation is essential.
As a zealous young believer, I was excited to take to the streets and share my faith. With very little preparation, knowledge of the word, or even prayer, I eagerly began to rush into conversations about Jesus. It wasn’t always fruitless, but there were many times where I would’ve benefitted from being more prepared for those opportunities.
I’d like to share a few key reasons why I believe preparation is essential to evangelism:
1– When Peter ministered his first sermon, full of boldness from the Holy Spirit, he had a few other things working for him in that moment too. His experience with Jesus, knowledge of the scriptures and understanding of his audience, all fed into the words he spoke. It was common for most Jews to know the Old Testament scripture by heart, which gave Peter the ability to bring scriptural reasoning to what he was saying. My error was both my reliance on zeal and my knowing very little about the word of God. If you were asked to present an important speech at work, you would likely spend ample time preparing for it, how much more then should we intentionally prepare for a presentation that can mean life and death?
You don’t have to be a bible scholar to share Jesus, but you do have to spend time with him. “The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus” Act 4:13.
The more time we spend in the word the better we know our Lord and the easier it is to walk in his will. Knowledge of the scriptures will help us understand the mind of God, which comes in handy when people ask difficult questions about biblical concepts. I often found myself fumbling to find the right words or to articulate concepts that I didn’t fully understand at the time. It’s difficult to convince someone of something you can’t explain. If you’re not careful, zeal will lead you to share your passion in ignorance.
2– The Apostles, although not formally trained in the scriptures, were trained by Jesus himself. During Jesus’ time on earth, his disciples were privileged to glean understanding from his sermons, prayers, and miracles. He equipped them and sent them out in groups to practice while he was here. If we want to be effective Gospel sharers, it’s important that we seek to be trained. The benefits of this are a clearer understanding of the nuances of Gospel sharing, learning tips and tricks from experienced sharers and discovering more about how to defend using apologetics.
As an inexperienced evangelist I approached everyone the same way, with the same presentation. After getting deeper into the Gospel and attending a number of evangelism training courses, I quickly realised the error in my presentation. Paul says “When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the good news and share in its blessings.” The way I present the gospel to my Muslim friend is different than how I would speak to a backslider.
3– Lastly, but probably most importantly, is prayer. When I first began to share my faith, I often forgot to pray. I would spontaneously decide to stop a stranger in the mall and often experienced negative responses when doing so. Evangelism, I’ve learned, is an intentional act that goes beyond simply sharing. It is most effective when the sharer leaves the heavy lifting to the Holy Spirit, and we do this by praying.
Here are five simple things to pray before speaking:
1- That the Holy Spirit will provide an opportunity for you to share.
2- That the Holy Spirit would prepare the hearts of those you will be speaking with (John 6:44).
3- That Jesus would give you the right words to speak (Luke 12:12).
4- For labourers to the harvest (Matt 10:2).
5- That you would not make evangelism about yourself.
We have been charged with a great responsibility, “God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.” (2 Cor 5:18). It would be irresponsible for us to go into evangelism without intentional preparation. An important thing to remember when preparing for evangelism is that it is God that saves. Evangelism is not something we can do separate from him. My recommendation to any new sharer is to pray, seek training from experienced evangelists, and continually seek relationship with God through his word.
Written by Shakeyra Mason
Shakeyra is the Ministry Director for SENT Ministries, a ministry that empowers and equips youth to live for God and share the gospel. She is the Advance Ambassador in Canada, encouraging Christians to live out and speak out the gospel.