Three reasons why proclaiming the gospel to friends and strangers is so terrifying for Christians
When angels spoke to people in the Bible their first words were usually, “Do not be afraid!”
When Jesus sent out his disciples (Matthew 10) to the towns and villages to proclaim His name, he only gave them six words – simple and straight-forward. He spent the rest of the chapter letting them know how challenging it was going to be.
Evangelism is difficult and scary!
Some people think that sharing the gospel is terrifying because they don’t know what to say or feel that they just can’t do it.
I don’t believe that is true.
There is something deeper and more prevailing that causes terror for Christians when the invitation to proclaim the gospel is graciously extended by the gospel.
“When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. And you also must testify for you have been with me from the beginning.” (John 15:26-27)
With Praise and Proclaim Ministries, I have had the opportunity to train Christians and lead them to go door-to-door to proclaim the gospel to strangers. Conquering the fear of evangelism is a big part of our training and the reason why the majority of Christians choose to stay at home. Why is that?
I believe there are three frank and prevailing reasons why proclaiming the gospel is so terrifying.
Proclaiming the gospel is totally contrary to our human nature.
Disobeying God’s great commission is a sin. There are a few who have the gift of evangelism, but there are no qualifications for Christians to participate in evangelism. With a heart full of praise and thanksgiving for what Christ has already done for us, eager lips ought to proclaim His name. That is Christ’s desire. He asks his children to have compassion for his lost sheep and to help him go out and find them. Our human nature easily succumbs to fear that is prompted by sin and selfishness.
[Like you, I am guilty and confess my fear, selfishness, and sin. Praise be to God! We are forgiven because of what Christ has already done for us!]
Proclaiming the gospel is spiritual warfare.
The Bible clearly tells us that the only way a person can come to faith is through the power of God’s Word. Believers are given the responsibility to share His Word with others.
If this is true, then God’s chief opponent will do everything in his power to prevent the proclamation of the gospel.
The devil is the author of doubt. He is the purveyor of fear. He will whisper in your ear that you are worthless, too busy, and a spiritual wimp to proclaim the gospel. Believers fall victim to these lies.
In the spiritual arena of saving people from eternal death, the devil convinces too many Christians to not even participate. And he is winning by forfeit!
Proclaiming the gospel is risky.
I have heard from pastors and Christians from around the U.S. that verbally proclaiming the gospel to a stranger does not work. It doesn’t matter the type of community. Rich or poor. Suburban or rural. The Midwest or the Bible belt. The Pacific Northwest or the East coast. There is a strong tendency to pre-judge the receptivity of human hearts as an excuse to not verbally proclaim the message at all. People don’t want to risk relationships, be labeled as a religious fool, or be offensive to their communities.
Whether a church or a Christian, we seem to be overly bothered by the question, “What will people think of me?”
Evangelism is risky. Jesus warned his disciples about that. His disciples risked imprisonment, family betrayal, even death. Christians in American live in a time where we do not have to worry about persecution, but the perceived risks are real.
Proclaiming the gospel to a stranger doesn’t mean that we treat them rudely, confront them with difficult questions, or tell them a damning message without taking the time to build a bridge of love and respect. Evangelism can mean that we can learn how to speak the truth in love and provide a gospel message that is simple, respectful, and confident. When Christians do that, the majority of the risks associated with evangelism are eliminated.
One of the best way to confront terror in going door-to-door to proclaim the gospel is to define our biblical role in evangelism. Christians are messengers. They are ambassadors appointed by God. They are His representatives who are given a very specific task — to spread the Good News.
We would be stunned with disbelief if we watched a new father be fearful of spreading the good news that his child was born. I think the angels are equally stunned when God’s children are afraid to spread the Good News of what Christ has already done. We miss out on a wonderful, glorious opportunity to join the chorus of the heavenly host to tell the world what God has done for us through Christ.
Faith alone – given by the Holy Spirit – receives the full benefit of Jesus’ finished work – the full forgiveness of sins, a right standing with God, and assurance of life eternal. Now that’s good news!
Like a father of a newborn son, spreading Good News is a joyful experience. God is granting his children the opportunity to share in that joy by sharing this Good News with others. The Apostle Paul was inspired to write, “I have become all things to all people, so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel so that I may share in its blessing.” (1 Cor. 9:23) The blessings that Christians receive by sharing the gospel with others is the sense of privilege and joy by being God’s messenger.
Proclaiming the gospel is not nearly as terrifying when we trust Christ’s promises that He is with us. To experience that wonderful promise is transforming. Like the Apostle Paul, zealous Christians are transformed believers in Christ who humbly conquer fear, graciously take risks, and profoundly recognize that they are in a spiritual battle with a target on their back.