As a pastor, I've sat through quite a lot of evangelism classes and seminars that offer steps to sharing your faith. I've heard recommendations ranging from memorizing the Romans Road to wearing Jesus memorabilia like buttons or crosses. I've studied the tactics of soap box preaching and seeker based Bible studies.
All of those things have merit and can be incredibly beneficial. But sometimes its the simplest things that work.
What were the apostles proclaiming? Were they just reciting verses they had memorized for the purpose of evangelism? Were they telling people about the meaning of the cross bumper sticker on their camel? What was it they were proclaiming according to that verse?
The things that had happened in their lives! They were telling people about the things that they themselves had seen and heard. It came naturally to them because they weren't necessarily reciting a rehearsed evangelism speech. Instead, they were starting conversations with, "Oh man, let me tell you what Jesus did with that one kid's lunch."
Think about the conversations you have with friends and family. Even the shyest among us can get very talkative when we are retelling a story that happened to us or something we saw on TV that was really exciting. Even though you aren't a public speaker, there have been times you have told stories to an entire group of friends and held their attention for a couple of minutes. Telling stories and holding conversations about things that have happened in our lives is easy. It comes naturally to us.
What does this have to do with you? "The Bible stories didn't happen in my life," you say? Well, you're right. But what has? Has God answered any prayers in your life? What's the story of the day you decided to follow Jesus? What convinced you and changed your mind? What funny things happened at youth group or church on Sunday? What story or illustration really got you thinking or got you excited from the last couple of sermons you heard? How have people shown the love of Christ to you in ways that moved you? What lessons have you learned lately? What verses have really helped you through hard times or encouraged you in good times or instructed you in confusing times?
I can't count the number of spiritual conversations that I've started because something someone said reminded me of a Mark Driscoll sermon. I wasn't trying to force the conversation and it didn't get awkward. It came naturally, because it was just like talking about a TV show I had seen the other day. The most impacting times I've shared my faith with others was not when I recited a complicated theological teaching, but when I was able to tell someone about times when God taught me something valuable or helped me through a tough time. And it was easy, because it was just like telling them about the time I fell out of my bunk bed and did a ninja backflip and landed on my feet.
Most of us feel weird when we are on the spot and have to give a speech about something we don't know much about. We feel like this when it comes to evangelism and apologetics. You freak out because you don't know the philosophical arguments for the existence of God. You haven't quite memorized all of the evangelism verses. On the other hand, most of us feel quite comfortable telling our friends about something we saw or heard the other day or even acting out something that happened to us. Allow me to suggest to you that 90% of the time evangelism should look like the latter rather than the former.
Evangelism is about sharing God from your life with friends and family. When you do it like that, it will be less awkward and more natural. And it will usually be more powerful because it is much more relatable. So give it some thought. What have you seen or heard lately about Christ? Sermons, personal experiences, answered prayers, or whatever. Talk about them and you'll be surprised where the conversations will lead. The conversation doesn't have to start with, "Can I tell you about Jesus Christ being my Lord and Savior?" Its usually much easier to start with something like, "Oh man, guess what picture the pastor put in his power point last Sunday!"