I’m always thinking of ways to be more effective. I like to organize a closet in order to make more room. I notice a hole in the way our team operates and I want to improve it. I make a list so I can use my time better. Therefore, from time to time I post resources that help me to be more effective– in all sorts of things.
So what about being more effective in sharing the gospel? I desire for others to know God personally, but there are a myriad of reasons why I might not actually share Christ or not feel effective.
Often we don’t share Christ because we fear rejection, lack training, or just fail to remember what Christ has done for us or that we are called as His ambassadors. We also might find ourselves just too busy, or the people we are around are “just like us” in belief and background; in other words, they are believers themselves or they are people who don’t seem to have a “need.” We also can get focused on our own world and distracted, so we forget to look up and notice the need.
I was reminded of this on our recent trip to Big Bend National Park. If I focused on the dirt, the dessert, or even being tired or thirsty, I might not see the beauty in the world around me. I might become too busy “making it to the top” or getting to a certain location in the huge park, that I miss the point of the whole thing and don’t take time to see even what is in front of me.
So these steps are about this: taking steps and beginning to share the gospel in the places God has you.
Step 1: Identify your Circles of Influence
Who are the people you rub shoulders with regularly? What I really want to identify is this, “In which circles are there those who don’t know Christ?”
If I made a list of my circles of influence it would be something like this: family, extended family, neighbors, kids’ friends and their parents, students on campus, people I normally run into when I do errands, the kids’ teachers and schools.
My Circle is a place to be an ambassador
My mission field is the place God puts me or asks me to go to by faith — the circles where there are those who need to know God’s love and forgiveness. In college I lived in my sorority house. This was the obvious place that God had placed me. The question for me was, “So, would I embrace it.” Later in life, there were so many places I could invest my time. During one phase I chose to invest more time in just one of my kids’ four schools (Yes, we were in four different schools.), instead of all four. This gave me concentrated time to build relationships in this particular circle.
Circles in front of us
Often our circles are the places we go on a consistent basis, or even just outside our front door! I once had a neighbor who had children of similar age. I made time to be outside in the evening after she got off work when she would be out. This gave me time to get to know her and for our kids to play. As we got to know each other, she began to make observations about my life, how I raised my kids and about my marriage. And with no religious background, she was intrigued with Christianity. It took going out into my circle.
Expanding our circles
For some people I know, everyone they are around much of the time are people just like them. Their main activities are also “Christian concentrated.” On the campus I work, you could go to a Bible study or Christian meeting any day of the week. Some students go to church, college Sunday school class, community group, Bible study, some other Christian group, and are maybe also a camp counselor (if you are from Texas A&M then you understand.) Disciples are not made in this way. We have to rub shoulders with, be up close to, and invest regularly into those who need Christ.
In order to shine our light, there must be a dark place to shine it. In order to be an ambassador, we need to have a people to go to. We are God’s means for declaring His good news.
If you are in phase where you do not have a place, then consider where that place could be. What do you enjoy doing? At work or class, who can you take steps to get to know? One friend I know joined a running club to broaden her circle of friends.
An enemy to sharing the gospel is apathy. Being involved in too many Christian things can actually make us apathetic. It is too easy to forget the need — that others need Christ.
Step 2: Put it on your Radar
If I value making Christ known then I have to make time for it and I need to have a continual mindset as an ambassador of Christ.
We are a busy people and extra time is hard to come by. If we are serious about wanting to share our faith, then we need to make adjustments possibly in our commitments. We need to keep “making disciples” right in front of us.
For me, this has been saying, “no,” at times to really good things in order to have more time in my “circle.” If I want time with the people God places in my life then I may need to cut some things out of my schedule. Often being strategic in this way helps me to share the gospel in my circle of influence. Then I can say, “yes,” to people, and take time out to care for them.
One year I decided to be a room parent and take time out for the people I met. I could be the one to welcome people who were new, introduce them to others, or create a hospitable environment for a person from a different country. I could be the one to pray for them and make them feel welcome.
Cultivating our heart
Besides creating space, we need to keep sharing the gospel on our radar. If our relationship with God is not vibrant, it is too easy to forget and not value these things. If we don’t have friends in our life who are also committed to making disciples and going to the world, then our radar might become cluttered with other things. Lesser things start competing to be on our radar.
A radar “declutterer” for me are passages in the bible like the one in 2 Corinthians 5, that reminds me what really matters in life. It points me to the love of Christ and His new work in me. It reminds me that my new life in Christ has a new master and mission. One part says this:
He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ… 2Corinthians 5:14-15,20
My call now is as an ambassador, one whose mission is to introduce others to Christ. No one I pass now is just a face, but a person created by God with a destiny.
An enemy to sharing our faith is busyness and a cluttered radar. If we are too busy or distracted, we don’t have time to care or even to notice those in our circles.
Step 3: Make Prayer a Priority
“Circle” your circle of influence with prayer. Start praying for them daily, intentionally and creatively.
I usually start the school year doing a prayer walk around my kids’ schools. My husband and I pray for each son, their friends, classmates, teachers, principals and all those who do not know Christ. I pray for specific needs of the school and for protection for everyone.
Ask others to join you. In my sorority in college some of us would come together on Sunday evenings to pray for our sorority and the girls who were in it. We prayed for girls by name, together,
Pray for your compassion to increase. As I walked up to the school to pick up my son I would pray for the people I passed. I would look people in the eyes and remember that God loves them. I would say in my heart,” God loves her. God loves this child. God loves this grandmother.” I would also pray for these people and that they would come to know Jesus.
It is funny how the compassion in my heart did start to grow for people. They were becoming people loved by God in need of a Savior.
Look for Opportunities
Pray for God to give you opportunities to share the gospel. As I prayed for opportunities, they did come in many ways. As I prayed this way, God seemed to bring people into my life.
One day after church, a friend introduced me to an international student who was in graduate school. She came to dinner and we later found out she was interested in exploring Christianity. This began a long and close friendship.
An enemy to opportunity is often lack of prayer.
Step 4: Invite People into your life
Commonalities are a good thing to build relationships around. Sometimes my children were a connecting point, so I would invite moms and their children over after school. For a period I did this on Fridays, and then soon we started going to their homes as well.
Sharing our life with others can be just including them in the normal things we do. Exercising, eating or studying can be an easy thing to do together.
I find the holidays are good time to include others, who may not have family close by. For a couple years we had an open house on Christmas Eve. Friends would come to church with us and then spend Christmas Eve with us as well. Easter also was a time for going to church together, having a cook out, Easter egg hunt and talking about the meaning of Easter. All of these things lead to more personal conversations about spiritual life. I love my friends and want them too to know God personally.
Introduce them to other believers
If you are having friends over for dinner, include your new friend from your circle of influence. As I got to know my grad student friend, I began to invite her over for different things, including time with my family at Christmas. She also got to know some good friends of ours. When they asked my family to join them at their lake house, my grad student friend came along.
An enemy to sharing the gospel is living isolated or independent lives from others.
Opportunities Surround Us
My neighbor asked many questions. From the beginning we talked about spiritual things. A good question I asked her is, “What is your spiritual background?” Over the years we talked about us all sorts of things, including elements of the gospel. One day in her front yard I shared a little booklet that explained it more clearly. Later she shared with me that she had placed her faith in Christ.
My grad student friend and I explored the gospel of John together. She really began to “like” Jesus.” One day a couple years later she told me she wanted to be a Christian.
These are a few stories, but if we are intentional in our circles we can’t help but be more effective. As we put sharing the gospel on our radar, we will see the need. As we pray, our compassion will grow. As we share our life, opportunities will come.