Friday, June 3, 2011

How NOT To Witness

Jesus Preachingphoto © 2011 ideacreamanuela2 | more info (via: Wylio)A few summers ago I had a job selling shoes at an under-staffed (and overpriced) department store. The only good thing about the job was it was right across the street from Subway. One evening I was walking to Subway to get some dinner when a man with sunglasses and a cheesy smile came up to me. He looked like he was trying way too hard to be Tom Cruise in Risky Business.

“Hey there buddy,” he said as he enthusiastically stuck his hand out, “I’m Steve. What’s your name?”

“Uh, Travis?” I responded.

“Awesome! So, what’s up, man?”

"Well, I’m just on my break from work.”

“That’s rad! Where do you work at, bro?” I pointed to the department store. “Do you like it there?” Steve asked.

“It’s alright,” I replied. “I mean it, like, pays the bills and stuff.”

“Well, buddy, I was like you once. I was at a dead-end job where I wasn’t getting paid anything. But then a friend told me about Network Market, and now I’m making more money than I ever dreamed of. We’re having a job fair at Holiday Inn next Saturday, and I’d love to see you there.”

“What kind of job is it?”

“It’s a network of markets. There’s the future, bro! Here, take my card.”

“Um, okay. I’ll think about it.”

“Hey, man, don’t think about it—do it! This is your opportunity. See you there!”

Needless to say, I didn’t go. It sounded too fishy.

I mention this because I think this is the way a lot Christians approach witnessing: a formula. They talk about Jesus as if He’s some amazing new product or program that will cure all the problems of the world. Don’t get me wrong; I definitely believe that Jesus gets us through tough times. But I think it is way too easy to make Him sound like a product instead of the King of kings.

Either that, or they make God sound like a sniper with his rifle aimed at you.

I once saw a video on YouTube of Todd Friel witnessing to some teenagers. He started by asking the classic evangelical opening question, “Do you think you’re a good person?”

“Yeah, I guess,” the teens reply.

“Well, the Bible says we’re not. We’ve broken God’s commandments. Have you ever told a lie?”


“Then you’re guilty before God and deserve eternal punishment. But Jesus died for your sins.”

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe in sugar coating sin. But from my own observations, guilt-tripping people into following Jesus.

In fact, I don't think the Bible has any "how to witness" formulas. As many times as I've read the Bible, I've never seen Jesus walk up to a random person and ask, "Do you think you're a good person?" Neither is there anywhere in the Bible when, after some one asks, "What must I do to be saved?", Jesus says, "Repeat after me. 'Dear God, I know that I'm a sinner . . . '"

Charles Spurgeon once said soul-winning "should be the main pursuit of every true believer." While I definitely believe it should be at least one of our main pursuits (the others being feeding the poor, caring for the planet, speaking up for justice, etc.), sometimes I think we need better ways to win souls. And I'm not talking about making Jesus "relevant" by putting Him on a skateboard, or something hokey like that. I mean I think we should preach Christ in a way that He becomes something real, something beautiful, something that will make the soul leap for joy.

How do you do that? I don't know, yet. I'm still figuring that out.

How do you share your faith with others?


  1. Guilt trip or Holy Spirit conviction? About two percent of Christians share the gospel. How many of them are doing the "get saved by reading this prayer and everything will be cool"? Or the "relevant" stuff the article mentioned? Sure, there's no "formula", but then, it's good to have some kind of basis or structure for those of us who are not God in the flesh.

  2. I absolutely agree with this post. I think if we think about salvation as the end goal for non-believers, then perhaps, yes, a guilt trip is the way to go in way of evangelism. But, while yes, salvation is clearly important, I think LIFE in Jesus is what should be represented in our evangelism. Yes, Jesus died for our sins and has saved us from eternity apart from Him, but He has also set up a plan for a life that can be abundant with Him- a life that is more than guilt and shame and hoops to jump through. This is the true message of the gospel- so why can't we share this? While a "formula" (as mentioned by stormbringer above) may be useful, I think that telling our personal story as it relates to us is much more powerful. And at the end of the day, I'd rather use words I'm passionately connected to with people I claim to "love" over a grossly over-manufactured track/formula any day of the week. Jesus is a part of our stories. So let's tell them.

  3. Courtney, it is good for us to share our testimony's of God's work in our life's when witnessing but ultimately the message that saves is not our stories, but instead it's the Gospel of Christ and Him crucified (Rom 1:16-17), God's Story! Hence the reason why we have have all been commanded to preach the gospel, and it's also why Paul keeps going on about the Gospel, which remains 100% true independent of our experiences and story's. What I have found with people who's focus in witnessing is sharing their story is that it becomes a man-centred message rather than God-centred, we are not the centre of God's salvation plan, He is! The message of Salvation is based on an event, the death and resurrection of Christ, and not on our experience's and what has happened in our lives!

    In respect to the article, I don't think it's right to criticize people, such as Todd Friel and his method, which is used by Ray Comfort's Ministry, knowing personally that they are very faithful when it comes to witnessing to the lost, probably more faithful than 99% of the Christians I know!

    "One day a lady criticized D. L. Moody for his methods of evangelism in attempting to win people to the Lord.

    Moody's reply was "I agree with you. I don't like the way I do it either. Tell me, how do you do it?"

    The lady replied, "I don't do it."

    Moody responded "I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it."

    All I ask, is that before we start criticizing other people, saying such things as: "How not to witness", we better be doing it ourselves. The reason I say this is that your final remark seems a bit like the elderly lady response in that story: "How do you do that? I don't know, yet. I'm still figuring that out."

    "For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen." Rom 11:36

  4. true!
    Plus, a lot of "witnessing" isn't helping people become intrigued and closer to God, rather, it's creeping them out!

    For example:
    Today during work my co-worker Em said that a young woman came into the store yesterday and "witnessed." Meaning, she got inside Em's personal bubble, grabbed her hands and stared directly into Em's eyes and said "I feel the Holy Spirit moving through you!"
    I highly doubt Jesus would encourage this disturbing method; rather, he'd probably encourage us to make friends and build a reputation as a Light for God, and encourage others. Not force our ways into people's personal space and blather.

  5. if you ask me take the time to look at the cross as if it were cyrus or the life of joseph it is the exact same accordance silent take over remember like a theif in the night and the parable of the strong mans house

    1. im not kidding you will see it under a whole new light rev 9:1 the star that fell landed in Bethlehem now heres the shocker for ya guys in Aramaic Bethlehem is pronounced baalam and tarsus means the winged and feathered one while ananias means the cloud. in case any of you were wondering what happened took me forever to figure this out ty GOD