Do you practice personal evangelism? Are you fulfilling the Great Commission?
As a Christian, personal evangelism is your service to unbelievers. This service comprises your unique mission and your shared mission with other believers. Pastor Rick Warren outlines four parts of your unique life message that you’re called to share. He also identifies four mental blocks that can hold you back from your shared mission.
Keep reading to learn how you can help the Church fulfill the Great Commission by engaging in personal evangelism.
Effective Personal Evangelism
Whereas your ministry is your service to other believers, your mission—your responsibility to go out into the world as a witness and messenger of God’s glory—is your service to unbelievers. In this last week of your journey, we’ll discuss how this mission of personal evangelism is some of your most important work for a number of reasons:
- It’s a continuation of Jesus’s work. Just before Jesus went back to heaven, he commanded the Church to continue his work by fulfilling the Great Commission. Like Jesus, you’re responsible for reaching out to unbelievers around you and helping them find the path toward God. This work is a great privilege because you’re working alongside God on the project of his kingdom.
- The message you share is an invaluable gift. Recall how meaningless or hopeless you felt before you discovered God and your purposes—many unbelievers are wrestling with these feelings, but you can show them the hope and meaning they’re looking for by telling them about God and the promise of eternal life. And, when someone turns toward God and their purposes, they turn away from Satan’s power and are saved from it.
- You may be the only person who can reach a particular unbeliever. Due to your proximity, your experiences, or your particular knowledge or skills, you may be the only one who can change the direction of their life’s eternal implications.
- God has told us that Jesus’s return depends on our mission. He has said that when everyone who he wants to hear the Good News has heard it, Jesus will return.
Your mission of personal evangelism has two parts: the first, your life message, is unique to you. Your second, representing Christianity everywhere, is a mission shared by all Christians.
Personal Evangelism Through Your Unique Mission
Your life message is the story of your experience with God. This story helps you explain to unbelievers the benefits of discovering their faith and joining God’s family. Your message has four main parts.
Part 1: Your Personal Testimony
In giving your personal testimony, you share how God has made a difference in your life, covering how you started your relationship with Jesus and the different ways the power of the Holy Spirit has helped you. Besides its value in being unique to you, this testimony carries weight when speaking to unbelievers:
- Personal stories are more relatable than sermons or preachy instructions. The person you’re speaking to listens to you as a peer, not an authority figure trying to “sell” God’s Word.
- People who may reject the lessons and logic of the Bible are more likely to be receptive to a personal story.
Prepare your testimony ahead of time and reflect on it so that it’s ready when you meet an unbeliever who would benefit from hearing it. There are just a few points to remember:
- How you felt about your life before you met Jesus
- When you realized you needed to have Jesus in your life
- The difference you’ve felt in your life since you committed to Jesus
- A story that demonstrates how you’ve felt God’s goodness, power, and love in your life
Part 2: The Lessons You’ve Learned
As you practice personal evangelism, tell unbelievers about the truths you’ve learned from the experiences God has given you, such as your relationships, failures, successes, temptations, and so on. This helps show the meaning behind everything that happens—this is especially helpful to those who don’t know how to find lessons in their experiences, and those who are too young to have had meaningful life experiences yet.
Reflect on the experiences of your life and write down what you feel are the most special or important lessons you’ve learned from them. Look for varied examples, such as:
- What you’ve learned from having no money
- What you learned in a moment of joy
- What you learned during a time you had to be very patient
Part 3: Your Passions
At some point in your life, God will give you a passion for something he cares deeply about—he wants you to become passionate about it so you’ll be compelled to speak about it to others and find a way to make a difference with it. As you practice personal evangelism, there are many forms your passion might take:
- A cause such as the environment or cancer research
- Speaking up for people who aren’t given a voice, such as wrongfully convicted prisoners or religiously persecuted groups
- Bringing God’s Word to specific groups such as college students or retirement home residents
Part 4: The Good News
The last part of your life message is your explanation of the wonderful gifts that come along with trusting and obeying God, such as a deep sense of meaning, unselfish love, forgiveness of our sins, and the promise of eternal life. The time and effort you focus on the person you’re speaking to also serves as a demonstration of the love they can expect as a member of God’s family.
You might feel hesitant to talk to people about the Good News because you’re afraid they won’t listen or will reject your ideas—this is selfish. Selfishness has no place in personal evangelism. Acting with unselfish love means putting your fears aside and putting the eternal interests of the unbeliever first.
Personal Evangelism Through Your Shared Mission
Besides your unique mission, you have the mission you share with all Christians—spreading the Good News and representing the best of Christianity across the world, just as Jesus did. He wasn’t content with just his family and friends being believers, and neither should you. Rather, like him, you should work all your life to ensure that everyone around you knows about God.
This is a big task, but the only true limits to it are mental. As you practice personal evangelism, there are four mindsets that might be blocking you from fully committing to your shared mission:
Mindset Block #1: “I’ll Spread the News My Way”
Spreading the Good News is a type of service, so it makes sense that you must consciously put others’ needs first. When you speak to unbelievers, think about what they need from you, not the other way around. Talk to them with the intention of learning about how far along they are on their spiritual journey. Then, think about how you might help them progress a bit more.
- For example, you meet an unbeliever who says, “Oh, all that Bible stuff isn’t for me.” You personally think Scripture is the best way to talk about your faith, but you recognize that their need is a less Scripture-based approach. You respond, “I understand. Many people feel that way. Could I tell you about my personal experience of finding meaning instead?”
Mindset Block #2: “I’ll Focus on My Community”
God has told us through his Word that he wants believers from every nation. Expand your personal evangelism further than your everyday community and start thinking about other countries, different cultures, and communities that contrast with your own. There are a few ways you can develop your global thinking:
- Pray for a different country each day—try getting a globe and praying for whichever country your finger lands on each day. Prayer is an important part of missionary work because even if people refuse to hear your message or receive your love, you can still send them prayers.
- Stay involved with global news—God often creates believers out of conflict and change. Wherever you see these things happening in the world, you can be sure that people are more receptive to his Word. Pray for these people to see God’s glory and strength in their circumstances.
- The best way to think globally is to physically go on a mission trip to another country where you’ll interact with a new culture, broaden your perspective, deepen your understanding of others, and develop your character.
Mindset Block #3: “I Can Do My Mission Work Later”
Don’t concentrate on small issues or whatever feels more urgent than your mission of personal evangelism. Keep the idea of eternity in your mind—it will urge you to do what’s right rather than convenient and to do what matters eternally rather than what matters right now.
Reflect on your thinking often to make sure it’s from an eternal perspective, not a present one. Ask yourself: What present, unimportant issues am I putting in the way of my mission?
- For example, you may find that you’re putting your established social life ahead of reaching out to new people.
Mindset Block #4: “I Would, But…”
Don’t let excuses deter you from answering the call to spread God’s Word—as they say, where there’s a will, there’s a way. There are many excuses people come up with:
- “I don’t speak any other languages.” You can practice your mission among unbelievers who speak the same language as you or join mission trips to teach your language to others.
- “I’m too old.” There is a range of mission trip organizations that have different trips appropriate for all ages.
- “I have a disability that prevents me from traveling.” You can spread the Good News right in your hometown—simply look for communities you wouldn’t normally connect with.
One excuse that many Christians use to explain why they missed out on their mission of personal evangelism is that they were waiting on God to give them some sort of sign that they’re “chosen” or “ready” for their assignment. God’s Word has already told us—numerous times—that he calls us to spread the Good News, show his glory, and help him enhance his kingdom. He’s not going to give you a big signal—his Word is the sign you’re waiting for.