How can I be scripturally “safe” as I contact neighbors socially with the gospel?
Avoid both condemnation and compromise. When, for conscience sake, we decline some activities with a “No thank you, I’m a Christian,” we unnecessarily condemn others by implying we are better than they. “No, thank you,” is quite sufficient! Joining in any activity or function where our Lord would be unwelcome or would not go compromises God’s truth. This renders any witnessing ineffective (Matthew 5:16).
Be friendly and kind; show interest in them; build a relationship with them. Shopping, helping with a project in the yard, or inviting them to a family picnic does not compromise Christian principles. One-on-one contacts, rather than neighborhood group activities, provide a better opportunity to speak of spiritual things.
Right from the start, as you seek to build a relationship, show how much you appreciate your salvation, thus making salvation as attractive as it is (1 Peter 2:9). Draw them to Christ. This will also preserve you from situations that could damage your testimony.
When discussing salvation, don’t attempt to tell all at once. One point clearly made now and further points later are more effective. Promote two way conversations.
Stress that the Bible is God’s Word. Show them verses as you discuss them. Eventually emphasize that sin bars them from heaven and results in eternal judgment. A primary objective is to help them recognize they are lost. Then they will appreciate the Savior’s substitutionary death for their sin.
What are some effective ways to begin a conversation about spiritual things?
In dealing with a soul, five basic things are required: the power of God; the guidance of the Spirit; a knowledge of the Scriptures; prayer; and common sense. Consider his surroundings, circumstances, nationality (if possible), and vocation. Be relaxed (the Lord sat, John 4); be pleasant; be passive; show an interest in things that interest him. Follow Paul’s advice (1 Corinthians 9: 19-22) by becoming all things to all men. Never elevate yourself, but elevate him and win his confidence by asking secular questions he can answer, expressing gratitude to him for enlightening you, and recognizing his attainments. Never argue. As you do this, pray to God, as Nehemiah (2:4) did, for an opening to sow the Seed. To a fireman, talk fire. Praise his bravery, then bring before him the fire that never shall be quenched (Mark 9:43). To a coal miner, talk about digging and that you were afraid to work in a mine, then tell of a man in the Bible who dug (Luke 6:48). Wearing a suit among business people will gain respect and a ready ear. In a mining village or on a farm, leave your tie at home, lest you appear “important.” Have a suitable tract ready.
How can I overcome being nervous about witnessing?
Unfortunately, many face nervousness when seeking to witness for the Lord. Feelings of inadequacy, a lack of Bible knowledge, and the fear of man can hinder some from sharing the gospel in a calm and collected manner.
Keeping three things in mind helps overcome this difficulty: 1. All without Christ are lost and in danger of perishing eternally; therefore view people with compassion as did the Lord, seeing them as sheep having no shepherd (Matthew 9:36); 2. Interest individuals in God’s Word and make the Bible the basis of your beliefs and discussion (1 Peter 3:15); 3. Rely on the Holy Spirit to work through you as you share the greatest message in the world (Acts 1:8).
The Scriptures illustrate many interesting ways to initiate conversations about spiritual things. The Lord spoke about the new birth after Nicodemus opened the door by mentioning miracles (John 3). In the next chapter with the woman at the well, the Lord used the subject of water to lead into a conversation about true satisfaction.
Be constantly alert for openings to speak for Christ and do it in His strength (Philippians 4:13).
In what ways can I witness more effectively?
PERSONAL TESTIMONY: A good testimony is essential, before even opening your mouth: “Having your conversation (manner of life) honest … that … they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God…” (1 Peter 2:12). Your words will only have the weight your life has built into them. Honesty, integrity, consistency, and compassion are important characteristics to build into relationships with others. While “just living” as a silent witness is not enough, it is the background to effective witnessing.
KNOWLEDGE: Know what you are talking about, and talk about what you know. A young convert can be effective by staying simple, telling what the Lord has done for him. To be more effective, learn more of God’s word (11 Timothy 2:15). The Scriptures make a person .wise unto salvation.”
WISDOM: It takes God to open the ear to receive the gospel. Don’t turn someone off before you even have the opportunity to tell them the work of Christ. Since salvation is God’s work, leave room for the Spirit to do His work. “He that winneth souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30). Witnessing is not saving; in your zeal, don’t go beyond what God has called us to do. “Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9).