There are times when you hear people talk about witnessing as though it’s an advanced science. Quantum mechanics. Theoretical physics.
But then you hear every day, real world, true life examples of how it actually works, and you realize again that—yes—sharing your faith is something everyone can do. Successfully.
Pastor Chris Buttery, Senior Pastor of the Sacramento Central Church in Sacramento, California, recently told me a truly magnificent story. Central Church is a congregation that emphasizes sharing the gospel with others, being involved in letting people know the good news about Jesus and His word. Pastor Chris told me about one church member who has taken that emphasis seriously.
Margaret* volunteers at a local food bank, and encouraged by Central’s “Each One, Reach One” emphasis decided she would invite Ray* to attend church with her. Ray accepted the invitation, came to church at Central, enjoyed the experience, returned, got involved in Bible studies… and was recently baptized.
Margaret doesn’t have a degree in religion and has never been formally taught how to share her faith. But Margaret has several things going for her. One, she loves God. Two, she recognizes people need to know the good news of the gospel. Three, Margaret prayed that Ray would accept her invitation and trusted God’s Spirit would work in his heart. And four, Margaret believes in the mission of the church. As she told Pastor Chris the day of Ray’s baptism, “Pastor, this is my ‘Each One, Reach One!’”
There are some simple principles to follow when it comes to sharing your faith, and Margaret understands them. It’s important to mingle with people and let them know you genuinely care about them. As a volunteer in a community service organization, Margaret is spending time regularly with people not of her faith and is getting to know them. She is what Jesus described in Matthew 5:13 as “the salt of the earth.”
It’s also important to minister to the needs of others and in so doing win their confidence. Far too many people only manage to convince their neighbors or associates that religion makes you strange or unapproachable. It’s necessary to let your love for God build bridges and not walls. Margaret invested her time into the people she volunteered with, showing them she had a faith worth having. Then Ray felt it was worth investing in also
Also it’s important that at some time an invitation is given. Too many people have the idea that the very best thing to do is just live your Christian life before others without saying much of anything about what it represents, and then wait for people to ask you what it is that makes you so wonderful. But without investing in people, without ministering to their needs, without winning their confidence and acquainting them with the reality of your faith, it is far less likely that an individual is ever going to seek you out and enquire about your personal belief system. Without some type of personal investment it is more likely others will think you’re little more than quirky or odd. There really needs to be an element of intentionality about sharing one’s faith in God. And part of that is to intentionally (and graciously) ask people to take some sort of step. To attend a meeting or a church service, to read a book or a tract, or to watch a DVD or television program. Ask around: a lot of people will tell you they’d have never attended church if someone hadn’t asked them to do so.
And when those simple steps are taken, the results are always magnificent. No, not everyone you reach out to will become a disciple of Jesus Christ, but they’ll be given an opportunity to know who He is, what He is like, and to make a decision based on good information shared with them by a trusted friend.
That’s what happened with Ray, now an active member of a local church congregation, and very grateful for his friend Margaret.
Who happens to be—by the way—almost ninety years old.
*Names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.