The Myths of Evangelism #3: I Don’t Know Enough

By: Robert Zink

 As sinners, we are impressively proficient at rationalizing sin. I know because I possess this innate capability.  From not taking out the garbage to not attending church, we convince ourselves that our lack of action and obedience are justified. Sometimes it is, but more frequently we are simply giving excuses to avoid performing our responsibilities. The Great Commission falls into those responsibilities that we rationalize our disobedience.

Specifically, when it comes to the evangelism aspect of our Christian lives, we are quick to assess the situation and quickly dismiss it as the inopportune time to share the message of God. We have a variety of recurring reasons that we use, two of which I have previously analyzed (1). In continuation of that series, this article examines another myth we utilize to convince ourselves that our evangelistic efforts are unfruitful: I don’t know enough.

The Reality

With this excuse comes one of the few times that a person is willing to admit that they have a limited knowledge. In many other circumstances, we are quick to give commentary, assessments, and speculations, but bring up the topic of Christian faith and the conversation goes strangely quiet. However, an honest appraisal of this excuse unveils the notion that what we say is not what we mean; in fact, it reveals the following heart issues:

  1. Response: First, it’s not merely not knowing enough that people are concerned about, but it’s a fear that one will not have the right response at the right time which will leave them looking unknowledgeable or embarrassed.
  2. Responsibility: We have misplaced the responsibility in evangelism, shifting the burden of salvation from God to ourselves. However, only God has the capability to save.
  3. Reliance: Finally, such a response indicates a lack of reliance upon the Lord. Even when we don’t know it all, the Lord will use what we do share.

Therefore, the myth that a person does not know enough to share the gospel generally comes from other factors that inhibit one’s willingness to step out and share.

Overcoming the Reality

While we may utilize the phrase, “I don’t know enough” in order to avoid our evangelistic responsibilities, this does not have to be the case. In fact, there are four basic principles that we can employ to overcome this:

  1. Pray: The most fundamental principle is to pray. Prayer places you in a position of acknowledgment of your inability, submission to the Lord, and reliance upon Him.
  2. Share: Share what you do know, through the Word and your personal testimony. It does not have to be complicated.
  3. Point: Point the other person to Scripture; it is far more convicting than our words.
  4. Study: Finally, study. The more you are in the Word, the more apt and able you are to share it.

Four simple points that overcome our excuses, but they require that you be intentional in putting them in place.

In reality, we will never know enough, because there is so much to know. Therefore, as long as “I don’t know enough” is utilized as an excuse, nobody will ever hear the gospel because we will always be convinced that we don’t know enough. Yet, if the good news is really good news, then it is good enough to share.

 

(1) You can read previous articles in this series by clicking the links below:

 

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Two skills you already have that enables evangelism

You already have two of the most important skills needed to do evangelism… you know how to “eat” and “talk.”

It really is that simple.

One of Jesus’ evangelistic strategies was to go to dinners and weddings. It could be assumed that conversations were casual and natural in these settings where He could connect with those who needed the gospel. Eating and talking go hand in hand. We may have created a caricature that an evangelist gathers big crowds in a stadium but the vast majority of gospel sharing is done one-on-one in the quietness of a home or a coffee shop.

We don’t need to make this difficult. It doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated. We can merely engage people in the natural flow of life. The wonderful thing is that we already have the ability to do that. All of us can hold a conversation and we sure do know how to eat. Combine those two with a non-believer and you have a great opportunity for evangelism.

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Jerks are not so good at evangelism

jerksSometimes the best opportunity to demonstrate the gospel to those who do not know Jesus is quite simply not being a jerk when you have the opportunity. I’m talking about those times when you’ve been wronged and most people would excuse you for flipping your lid and taking your frustrations out on the next person in your path.

In the last two weeks I’ve had a few such opportunities. I want to mention one in particular. Last week I went to Sam’s Club to sign up for a church membership card so that it would be easier for us to make purchases for church events. It’s something the volunteer staff here has been bugging me about for a while. It was something I needed to get done, but kept putting off. Finally I decided to go over there. I was anticipating filling out some paperwork, getting a picture taken, and having a card within a few minutes. Since we are a nonprofit I assumed it might take a little bit longer than normal, but should be a fairly easy process in this age of technology.

I was wrong. I won’t bore you with the details, but Jay (my assistant) and I ended up standing at the counter for two hours on one day and two hours the next day while the associates at Sams attempted to get us a membership card. I was floored at how complicated it seemed. To be fair, their computer system didn’t seem to be working right. But it also seemed like the associates weren’t totally up to speed on how to process a nonprofit membership application.

So, this took four hours of time over two days–totally unexpected. It cost Jay and I precious working hours. I could have flipped out, demanded free stuff, write an angry letter. Part of me wanted to do this. But all along I kept thinking to myself, “Dan, they know you’re a church. They know you are a pastor.” I realized that it is these moments that often define our Christian testimony. Everyone expects us to fly off the handle and most people think we should. But we don’t. Why?

The reason is that we should act differently and be under control, because we know the Lord and His Spirit controls us. I’m not sure if the Sam’s associates noticed this or not, but I hope that perhaps they might see something different in me. Maybe that provokes them to ask questions about Christianity. Maybe not.

I’m not saying that this should be the sum total of our evangelism. But moments where we could get angry but don’t provide great platforms. Perhaps you’re flight is delayed and you’re the only person at the ticket counter not swearing, demanding, or being angry. Perhaps the auto shop messed up your car and unexpectedly you don’t fly into a rage and at like a jerk. Perhaps you are playing basketball and instead of reacting angrily to a hard foul you brush it off and keep going. Perhaps you won’t berate the waitress when she brings you mashed potatoes instead of curly fries.

I’m not saying you should be a wimp and should never assert yourself. I’m not saying you shouldn’t firmly demand better treatment or justice if a company or a person trampled them. But there is a difference in being firm and being a jerk. Sadly, we Christians fail this test. I know I do. I can think of situations where I was hoping someone would never find out I’m a believer, because my selfish behavior tainted the gospel. I’ve talked with customer service people I know and sadly they say Christians can be among the toughest people to deal with.

Perhaps it would be helpful for us to remember that we are Christians all the time not just at church. And every opportunity is an opportunity for the world to see what the gospel looks like in real life. And maybe, just maybe, God allows us to be wronged for the express purpose of demonstrating His love in a surprising and unexpected way, a way so shocking it causes people to ask what is different about us.

I heard someone once say that the world won’t sit up and take notice when we say “Praise the Lord” in good times. They notice when we say “Praise the Lord” in times of distress.

Sometimes not being a jerk is the best opportunity for gospel witness.

BLOG ENTRY BY:  Dan Darling:    http://www.danieldarling.com

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THE DOWNSIDE OF FRIENDSHIP EVANGELISM

There is a view that people will not listen to the gospel until you have a relationship. It is true that many don’t want to listen to a stranger talk to them about something as personal as spiritual things. There are cultures where it takes a long time build a friendship. Thus, a lot of time and effort goes into being friendly before ever getting to the gospel. While a believer does want to build friendships and it is important to maintain the relationship, there are some potential pitfalls to this approach:

1. The danger in “friendship evangelism” is thinking a relationship may be more powerful than the gospel. We might think that the relationship rather than the message is the key. We may not actually verbalize that because we know it isn’t true, but we may act like that.

2. The believer never gets around to giving the gospel. There can be a tendency to keep waiting for that perfect time to give the gospel. If the friendship is the goal there may be a nervousness about stressing the relationship by giving the gospel.

3. Building a friendship may eventually prove to appear manipulative. There is a fine line. We want to be friendly as believers but we need to do so simply because we love people… not for what we can get out of them or cause them to do.

It obviously takes wisdom to know how and when to present the plan of salvation. to someone There are definitely times to tread carefully. But it is also clear that the gospel is the power of God.to salvation.. not our people skills (Romans 1:16).

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