Talking to Others About Jesus
by Pastor Aaron Adame
Talking to people is easy. Talking to people about Jesus—not so much. At least this is the experience many Christians have when it comes to sharing their faith with others. I know from personal experience that sharing the gospel is not easy. Think of all the obstacles:
What is the person’s prior understanding in regard to the Christian message? Are they from a Christian family? Have they gone to church before? Do they believe in spiritual things?
What hurts exist that have caused a guardedness toward God and conversations about faith?
What relationship do you have with the person? Are they your neighbor, coworker, boss, student, child, acquaintance, stranger or long-term friend?
And these are just the ones that we face when engaging someone else. This doesn’t even consider all the obstacles that we personally face, such as:
What if they ask me a question I don’t know?
How will this affect our future relationship?
What if they reject the gospel? What if they mock me?
What if I leave something out unintentionally?
It is true, talking to people about Jesus is not like having a conversation about your favorite restaurant or vacation spot. It isn’t even like talking about your marriage or even parenting styles—as important as those are. Talking to people about Jesus is the most intimate and important conversation you could ever have with someone. It is this weightiness of the conversation topic that unfortunately causes Christians to simply avoid it.
This needs to change.
I want to offer to you a few helpful hints and encouragements on this topic in hopes that you would share in this wonderful privilege of telling others about Jesus.
SHOW AND TELL
My kids love show and tell. They are assigned a letter at school, and then told to bring an item back from home that starts with that letter and then to tell the class why they chose that item or why it is special.
When it comes to evangelism, the most powerful tool available to you is not the first thing that you say, but in the life you show them. People need and want to see something different and unique. You should be able to show them Jesus, before you tell them about Him.
Now, this isn’t always the case. When you go on a mission trip or meet a stranger on an airplane, it is hard to demonstrate a lifestyle of godliness to someone you just met. However, these situations are rare. The mission field is all around us—with the people we do life with on a regular basis. Jesus preached the gospel, but he showed them what a gospel-centered life looked like as well.
Telling others about Jesus will happen only through prayer. What I mean is that prayer cultivates and prepares your heart (the evangelist) to be ready for the conversation when it happens. I am convinced that the lack of evangelism among Christians is directly related to the lack of prayer for the lost. If we prayed more often for lost people, we might see opportunities and openings we hadn’t seen before.
Furthermore, telling others about Jesus is not like most conversations in the sense of our aim. When we talk about sports or politics or foods we like, we are engaging with people on a mental or emotional level at best. But when we talk about Jesus, we are aiming for the heart.
And the heart is God’s country! Only God can change the human heart. Only God can take a heart of stone and turn it into a heart of flesh. Therefore, if our evangelism is going to be successful on the heart of our hearer, we need to talk to God about them, before we talk to them about Jesus!
INVITE THEM ALONG
I come from a church background where telling people about Jesus was more thought of as an event than a process or a journey. And in one sense, it is both, after all, having the conversation about Jesus with someone at lunch or over coffee is an event in time. However, this event represents a string of events over a process someone has had on their journey of coming to faith in Jesus.
Instead, we need to think less of telling people about Jesus as an event or a program and more as an invitation to share in life together. How can you do this? It is actually quite easy.
You can invite them over for dinner with you or your family. Biblical hospitality (loving the stranger is the biblical understanding of hospitality) was not merely a way of being loving to others. It was a way to tell others about Jesus in the comfort and transparency of your home.
Invite them to church with you. Inviting someone to a church gathering with you can make the experience less scary and lonely. We tend to think that most people will refuse an invitation to church; however, the statistics and facts prove otherwise. Below is a quote from Thom Rainer, who cites data from a study of 2,000 unchurched Americans:
Nearly half (47%) would interact freely in a [gospel] conversation. Another third (31%) would listen actively without participating. Only 11% would change the subject as soon as possible.
Among the unchurched, 55% said they would attend [a church gathering] if invited by a family member. And 51% said they would attend if invited by a friend or neighbor.
Invite them to study the Bible with you. Perhaps the best way to talk to people about Jesus, is to read the words of Jesus with them. Again, if evangelism is mostly a process, a journey with someone toward faith in Christ, then spending time with someone reading passages of Scripture with them and discussing what they mean and how Jesus fulfills the promises of God’s Word, is a worthwhile pursuit.
There are many other ways that you can invite someone along with you, but these three are great places to begin.
TELL THE WHOLE STORY
When it comes to telling people about Jesus, at some point, you need to be sure that you have shared with them the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Sadly, for fear of offending or losing the relationship, people avoid certain elements of the gospel (sin, fallenness, judgment, hell—to name a few). Or, they share only the effects of the gospel and neglect the cause. Telling people that by coming to Jesus, they will have life and peace and joy and eternal life are all true, but they are only partly true in the sense that all of these are effects of the gospel. The gospel is the ‘how’ we can experience those things. Which is, through the substitutionary life and death of Jesus on the cross for sin. Below is a good breakdown of the full gospel message, which can be remembered with these four words: God-Man-Christ Response!
He is Creator; He is powerful and over all
He is Holy; perfect, distinct and is completely without sin
He is loving; He cares and desires relationship
We are made in His image and likeness; we have intrinsic value and dignity
We have all sinned; we are born in sin as children of Adam; we have willingly broken God’s law and rebelled against His rule and authority
We are separated from God due to sin and deserving of His justice
We are incapable of restoring ourselves to right standing with God
He is the eternal Son of God who took on flesh in the incarnation
He is fully God and fully man; therefore, He is able to forgive sin and be our substitute
He lived a perfect life while on earth, showing us how to walk with God
He alone is the way to eternal life and forgiveness of sin through faith
He died on the cross as an atoning sacrifice, and He rose again
To receive the benefits of Jesus’ perfect life and righteousness, a person must 1) confess and repent of sin, 2) believe in Jesus as the eternal son of God and only hope for salvation, 3) become a follower of Jesus, walking in His pattern of life and trusting in His Word
Talking to others about Jesus isn’t easy. But like anything in life, the more you do it, the easier it is, and the better you are at it. One of the unexpected blessings of telling others about Jesus—for me—is how God uses it to remind me of His love—for me. As Paul said, it is the love of Christ that compels us (2 Cor 5:14). God has shown such love to you in Christ, it is our privilege to extend that love toward others.