When I reached the fifth grade my parents decided to send me to a Christian school. All in all it was a great experience. My 5th and 6th grade teachers were actually two of the better teachers I ever had. But there was this one thing I didn't like. We had to do fund-raisers and sell candy for the school. Like the door-to-door or stand-in-the-lobby-at-Kroger candy selling deal.
In the fall they gathered us students together and presented the big sale and all the prizes you could win for superior salesmanship. If you sold a ten boxes of candy you won something significant like a pencil eraser or ice cream sandwich. If you sold fifty the prize was more exciting - but I forget what it was as I never came close to selling fifty boxes. I would only sell ten, and that was not to get the eraser, but just because I was required to. Full disclosure, I didn't even sell ten. I would just would take home my ten boxes of candy and my dad would buy them all. He was a good dad. And then I would claim my eraser and be done with the candy sale.
Candy sales just didn't fit my personality. At all. I'm an introvert. And the idea of talking to some strangers, let alone convincing them to buy some overpriced box of marginal candy never really motivated me.
But then I moved and my new school didn't do candy sales. Relief. But my church did. Well, not really - but it did something that felt very similar to me. It was called door-to-door evangelism. Now I was expected to approach the doors of strangers and strike up spiritual conversations with them. Needless to say, I was never very good at it. I can remember lightly knocking at a door and then hoping that no one would answer. (Note that I used the word hoping and not the word praying as I wasn't sure that praying for no one to answer was appropriate. But I wanted to.)
This experience, unfortunately, convinced me that evangelism was a really difficult and unpleasant thing, and that someone else could probably do better at it than me (like maybe that kid that sold two hundred and twenty boxes of candy and won a stereo cassette player).
I don't think I am alone. Many, if not most, Christians feel uncomfortable with sharing their faith and secretly hope that someone else will cover for them - like some missionary in Pakistan or maybe the pastor or maybe that other Christian they know at work. Yet evangelism is something we all should be doing.
Some people seem to have the gift. I have a brother and a foster brother who both fall into that category. One is absolutely fearless and tells everyone he meets how he came to Christ as a teenager. And I mean everyone. The other is a little more subtle, but has repeatedly led neighbors to Christ. First it was Jack. Then it was Jim. Then Jim moved out and Mike moved in. Then Mike became a Christian, too. Joe, my brother's most recent neighbor, has come to Christ as well. (If you are not a Christian and want to remain that way, do not move in next to my brother!)
Most of us, however, would say we do not have the gift. Fair enough. I would put myself in that category, yet we all still have the responsibility. Not all of us have the gift of mercy, but we are still to show mercy. Not all of us have the gift of generosity, but we are still supposed to be generous. And not all of us have the gift of evangelism, but we still need to share the gospel. That's one of our most important responsibilities as Jesus followers.
Now this little article is not meant to be a guilt trip. Not at all. See, I get it. It's hard for me, too. It can feel awkward, and I'm not a big fan of rejection - and, believe me, rejection can happen. I know. I stood on a lot of porches in the day!
But let me share a few words of encouragement - from Jesus!
In Matthew 5:16 he says:
"...let your light so shine before men that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."
Good deeds. They really aren't that hard, right? You can fix a meal for the sick family or mow the neighbor's lawn. You can give a birthday gift to your coworker. And it's all a part of evangelism. And then Jesus adds these words, also incredibly encouraging.
"But you will receive power after the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth."
This verse about good words. That's what witnesses do. They share what they have experienced. Pretty simple, actually. Just tell your story. To your friends or your family or your neighbors. Or your co-workers, or the people you bowl with, or the parents you've gotten to know from your kid's soccer team. It doesn't have to be strangers!
So good deeds and good words. Both are important. Or you could call it "show and tell."
But there is another part to what Jesus said in that last verse. God gives us the his Holy Spirit who gives us power to do what? To be witnesses. So when you take the big risk of sharing your faith you are going to experience the supernatural! How awesome is that!
It doesn't need to be hard. You don't have to whip out your Bible or learn six verses to share. You can do simple things like invite someone to church (we even have invite cards you can use). You might try, "I don't know if you go to church, but I would love to have you come with me sometime." Or you can just bring things up in conversation like, "You know, this reminds me of something I heard at church the other day." Or, "Let me tell about this thing that I was praying about the other day." No sermons, just simple ideas to invite spiritual conversation. And then see where it goes.
The good news is that you don't have to sell candy for WCC or for Jesus. In fact, you don't have to sell anything. You just need to show and tell