It was late, and I had a 45-minute drive ahead of me. I was already groggy, and so I pulled into a Get ‘n Go to buy a coffee. The cashier who processed my purchase looked as tired as I felt.
As I walked toward the door, I remembered my desire to more regularly share the love of Jesus with people, so I stopped and asked her a simple question, “Excuse me, but is there any way that I can pray for you?”
Her response revealed her surprise. “Oh. No, I’m doing okay. Thanks.”
And that could have been that. I could have walked out the door, but I didn’t. I asked another question: “I’m wondering, if God could do a miracle in your life, what would you want him to do?”
And then I saw the Holy Spirit work. She began to tell her story—of her daughter being bullied at school and her husband not having work and not doing much to find work. The story of her health problems.
The store was empty, and so I asked if I could pray. She said yes. I prayed a simple prayer for her and her family and for God to meet her in the struggle. When I was done, she thanked me through her tears. No one had ever prayed for her before, she said. I replied that God loved her.
I asked if I could stop by next week and see how things were going. I walked to my car, thanking God for the opportunity to share his love with someone lost in brokenness.
Empowered to share
As I engage with followers of Jesus around the idea of making disciples, there are a host of common hurdles that seem to prevent Christians from sharing the gospel with friends and strangers.
Many don’t know how to share the gospel, or they may struggle to know how to transition to sharing. Others are afraid of how people might respond, afraid of looking fanatical or of offending. Some simply don’t understand the gospel and so struggle to know why they should share at all.
Regardless of the reasons, there are four questions that, when answered, empower believers to more actively share the gospel with others. These questions come from the 411 Gospel Conversation Training, a key component of MB Mission’s Everywhere to Everywhere (E2E) events.
Question 1: Why share the gospel?
In Matthew 28, Jesus commands his disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” He adds the promise to this command that he will be with us “to the very end of the age.” In light of Jesus’ words in John 14, “If you love me, you will keep my commands,” it seems apparent that Jesus intends that all who choose to follow him will dedicate their lives to making disciples, a process that begins with sharing the gospel with the lost.
But if Jesus’ command is not enough, we must understand that sharing his love with those who don’t yet know God is central to a Christian’s identity. In 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, those who are in Christ are identified as “new creations.” What a glorious gift from our Father!
But along with that gift comes a simple job description: We are ministers of reconciliation, “Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” There is no separating our identity as new creations from our identity as ambassadors. And that is why we share the gospel with those who are far from God.
Question 2: Who should I share the gospel with?
When thinking about who to share the gospel with, it is helpful to think about two lenses. The first lens represents those people with whom you have an ongoing relationship. This is your relational network: your friends and family, co-workers and classmates and neighbors. They are people with whom you have regular, ongoing connection, and as we interact with this group we are called to be patient and persistent. We must commit to daily prayer for them and to loving service coupled with Spirit-led sharing.
The second lens is God-prepared people that we don’t yet know. They are strangers but are the people Jesus is drawing to himself (John 12:32), and we find them by sowing the good news broadly. They are the person of peace in Luke 10; they are the woman at the well; they are the young lady behind the counter at the gas station. We find them by fishing—by asking to pray for a stranger, by making comments that will lead to spiritual conversations, by putting ourselves in the harvest among the lost and then looking for opportunities to share. We prayerfully look to share with anyone, anywhere and anytime, trusting that the Holy Spirit will lead us to the people that are being drawn to God.
Question 3: What should I share with others?
Throughout the New Testament we see two basic patterns of sharing. The first is your story. It is the work that God has done in your life. Paul routinely tells of his Damascus road experience. The woman at the well returns to her village with one sentence: “Come see a man who knew everything about me.” And when the demon-possessed man begs to come with Jesus, he is told to return home and “tell how much God has done for you.” Our stories are important to God, and he delights to use them to introduce others to himself.
A simple outline to help shape your story is to choose two words that describe your life before Christ, two words to describe how you encountered Christ and then two words that describe your new life of faith.
Add an introduction, “There was a time in my life when…” and a question to wrap up, “Do you have a story like that?” and you have a simple 15-second testimony that will allow you to introduce Christ into a conversation.
Sharing your story creates an opportunity to discern where the person is at and transition to the second pattern of sharing: telling God’s story. There are many great tools for sharing the gospel, and the truth is that they all work. Whether it is Roman’s Road, the Bridge Illustration or some other resource, it’s never about the tool and always about the God who is drawing people to himself as we step out in faith to share.
One simple tool we train E2E participants to use is called Three Circles. It can be shared visually in about three minutes. It is best done on a note card which you can leave with the person. It is simple and easily learned.
The most important thing is that you know a simple way to share the gospel and then that you use it. So, find a tool to share the gospel and then dedicate time to learning it. But remember, the perfect gospel presentation does little good if you don’t share it.
Question 4: When should I share with others?
In a busy world, the greatest hurdle to overcome is often our own schedules. Those who are regularly sharing the gospel have learned one thing: You have to be intentional. Hockey star Wayne Gretzky famously said, “I missed 100% of the shots that I never took.”
All the tools and training in the world mean little if we don’t intentionally share the gospel. We must become dedicated to the idea that the God of the universe wants to use us—everyone who calls on the name of Jesus to be saved—to introduce others to his plan of salvation for their lives.
Here are three simple assignments to move you toward intentionality.
- Make a list of everyone you can think of in your life who you think is far from God. Commit to pray daily for everyone on the list. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to pray. Ask God for opportunities to share with them and for his spirit to open their hearts to God.
- Take 15 minutes to write out your 15-second testimony. Practice saying it until you’ve memorized it.
- Search “Three Circles Gospel” on YouTube and learn to share it. Practice it.
God desires to use you to help people lost in darkness find their way into his kingdom. He will do that as you become more intentional in sharing God’s love with others. Commit yourself to prayer and to being equipped and then step out in faith and begin sharing the good news of Jesus with others.
When I returned to visit my new friend at Get ‘n Go the following week, she greeted me with a huge smile and said, “Last week was the best week my daughter has had in months.” As she told me about the week, she repeatedly said, “Thank you so much for praying.”
That night I shared my 15-second testimony with her: “There was a time in my life when I worked really hard to appear religious, but really I was far from God. But Jesus forgave me for my sins, and I chose to follow him. Then I was filled with peace and purpose as I began to serve him. Do you have a story like that?”
In subsequent weeks, I was able to share Three Circles and stories from the Bible and to continue to pray for her. She hasn’t yet decided to follow Jesus, but I believe God is drawing her to himself. The seed has been planted.
If you’d like to learn more about E2E Training, visit www.mbmission.org/action/e2e/vision
Aaron Myers is the digital outreach director for Crescent Project, an organization focused on seeing the day when every Muslim has an opportunity to respond to the gospel and be connected with a true follower of Jesus. He served as a mission mobilizer with Multiply, the North American Mennonite Brethren mission agency. Myers, his wife and two teenagers live in South Dakota.