For several years, I thought that power evangelism entailed getting a word of knowledge, a prophetic word, or healing someone. I thought that sharing the gospel with someone was hitting them over the head with a Bible. It gave me flashbacks of seeing Christians holding “turn or burn” signposts at my university campus and getting into heated arguments with students. At some level I thought that sharing the gospel was, if anything, insensitive and ineffective. The reality was I knew that there was power in the gospel, but I just never saw it demonstrated.
It wasn’t until I interned with Chris Overstreet that I saw someone demonstrate the power of the gospel. I saw Chris open up conversations with people saying, “Hey, I just want to tell you that Jesus loves you. Has anyone ever shared the gospel with you? Can I share it with you?” I remember thinking to myself, “Oh man, he’s going to get shut down so hard!” To my surprise, more often than not, peoples’ ears were open to hearing what Chris had to say. I’ve seen people encounter God powerfully as Chris shared the gospel in a matter of 5 minutes! Every presentation was different as if each were custom-tailored for the person right in front of him. It was so personal and intimate. I’ve seen people weeping and giving there lives to Jesus, leaving me in complete shock, awe and utter excitement. Often times no word of knowledge, no prophetic word, or healing was given. Just the pure, simple Gospel was shared.
After seeing it demonstrated, I wanted to run with it until it became my own, so I began to share the gospel on the streets. I endeavored to figure out what made Chris’ sharing of the gospel different from what I had previously seen or thought it entailed. I want to share with you what I have observed and also give you some tips on how to share the gospel effectively.
Demystifying the gospel
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect …
And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Cor 1:17, 2:1-5, emphasis added)
If you think about it, if you have never heard the gospel message and never had a context for Jesus, it would sound like a completely crazy story. You’re telling me that there is a God who came down to earth as a man and died on a cross to save me? Let’s be honest, It sounds hard to believe! To even try and adequately explain the gospel will take a long time. You have to walk someone through creation, the fall, the law, why the law wasn’t good enough, and so on. And even after you have shared all of that, it still sounds crazy.
Sometimes we can pressure ourselves to need to explain the gospel perfectly to a non-believer. We believe that we need to properly explain everything in order for them to be saved. This causes us to stop and disqualify ourselves before we even try. Other times we can incorrectly think that there is no point in sharing the gospel because just sharing that Jesus died for your sins is not enough for someone to believe. But this type of thinking relies on the underlying belief that people have to intellectually understand the gospel in order to be saved. If you ask many Christians if they had a good understanding of why Jesus had to die for their sins before they gave their lives to Jesus, many would answer ‘no.’ Why is that the case?
that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)
It is actually the Holy Spirit who reveals the gospel as truth in someone’s heart. There is more than just words being shared. It is more than a mental assent and an intellectual understanding. In order to be saved, you need to believe in your heart, not understand with your mind. Sharing the gospel is like rolling out the red carpet and allowing the King of kings to walk onto the scene. It is as if you usher Jesus into the situation and allow Him to encounter the person you’re talking to. Every time you share the gospel, you release an encounter!
Even the great apostle Paul, who was an expert in the scriptures, didn’t rely on his knowledge and persuasive words or excellence of speech. He knew that the gospel was more than just mere words and more than just convincing someone. I believe that you can stutter your whole way through sharing the gospel, and still see the power of the gospel radically touch someone’s life. I believe that you can’t really mess up in sharing the gospel if you genuinely share from your heart. Everyone is qualified and can share the gospel.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)
Tip #1: Ask if you can share the gospel
Rocket science, I know. If you want to see people saved, you have to ask them if you can share the gospel with them. Give God opportunities to show up. It doesn’t hurt to ask questions and put the ball in their court. If they say ‘no,’ that’s ok. But you will never know if you don’t step out and ask.
Tip #2: Speak from your heart
I’ve found it helpful to share the gospel without the main goal being that someone will intellectually understand it. Having the main goal being intellectual understanding can steer you towards relying on your own ability and your words more than trusting in the power of gospel. I believe the power of the gospel comes when we speak from our heart. Just as Jesus’ words are Spirit and life, so are our words. When we speak from our heart, the Spirit attaches to the words we release and therein lies the power. Remember that the power of the gospel doesn’t depend on your excellence of speech or persuasive words. Make sure to personalize it and speak from your experience of how Jesus changed your life. Speak like you believe it!
Tip #3: Share your testimony
Whenever I feel like I’m trying too hard to make things make sense, and I notice myself trying to rely more on my words rather than God’s presence, I switch over to sharing my testimony. The reason why I do this is to engage my heart. Once I do this, I realize that I’m filled with more passion, boldness and confidence as my faith rests in His ability and not mine. Sharing my testimony (re)aligns my heart. This also helps me when I feel fear or if I feel like I’m fumbling my words. When my heart is not engaged, I realized that I am usually in a place of striving. After sharing my testimony and engaging my heart, I transition back into sharing the gospel and find it being a lot easier to share with more power and life.
Tip #4: Think of sharing the gospel as a spiritual gift
I like to think of sharing the gospel like any other gift of the Spirit. Like prophecy, words of knowledge, and healing, you need to rely on Holy Spirit and not on yourself. If you view sharing the Gospel as a spiritual gift, you start to rely on hearing His voice on what to share instead of having the pressure to have a perfect script. This is how I’ve seen the gospel become more personal and intimate for the one in front of you. By viewing it this way, you also give yourself permission to practice and grow.
Tip #5: No perfectionism
Don’t worry about presenting the gospel perfectly. There is no perfect presentation of the gospel and you don’t need a script. I’m definitely not saying that you can’t get better at presenting the gospel and that we shouldn’t try to improve on communicating it clearly. You can even study and prepare at home on how you would like to present it. However, like with many things in life, we learn by risking and doing through trial and error. The nature of risk is that you are stepping out into uncertainty and doing something that is not yet natural and normal to you. Still to this day, it is a risk for me every time I share the gospel.
Also, I hate being horrible at things. I want to knock it out of the park the first time I do things. But I realized that I need to just accept the fact that there is a process to learning things. Get comfortable with being in awkward situations where you might be at a loss for words. Make sure you don’t take yourself too seriously and learn to laugh at yourself! Continue to encourage yourself and draw your identity from God and not from your performance.
It’s part of your DNA! It’s who you are!
There is nothing like seeing people genuinely give their lives to Jesus. When sharing the gospel, I’ve had moments where everything around us would seem to fade away and we were the only ones there. It’s such a divine and holy moment. Often times I think to myself, “I can’t believe we get the privilege and opportunity to bring lost sons and daughters back to the Father!” Seeing people encounter a real and loving God is one of the greatest moments in my life to witness. There is something so life-giving and surreal about it. I believe that every Christian has an innate ability and fire to share Jesus and that it is actually a crucial part of their born-again identity. I wonder if often times in our life we are not thriving because we are denying a huge part of who we are by not sharing the gospel. Be encouraged! You are more than capable, it’s part of your born-again DNA. Every believer has a testimony and therefore the ability to share with someone what Jesus did for them. Don’t snuff out that desire and flame to share Jesus with others and keep going for it!