Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Introverts Unite!

I am an introvert.

I know that being an introvert and an evangelist don’t seem to mix. Most people think of an evangelist as someone that can talk to anyone – and everyone. Clearly, there are some evangelists who are extraverts. But personality does not an evangelist make…it is the call of God that makes one an evangelist.

I have to work very hard at getting to know people. This often affects my ability to engage people in conversations which lead to sharing the gospel. I much rather stand before thousands of people and preach a gospel message than talk to people one-on-one about a relationship with Jesus. But I know that my calling demands that I engage people on all levels – including face-to-face.

I am in good company...

Many believers are introverts too. Not in their personalities, but in their willingness to engage people with the gospel.

Recently, I taught a FriendFluence class in our church. As we progressed through the class, it was apparent the most of the participants felt the need to share the gospel. They had invited people to church, special programs and events, and bible studies. But most had never actually presented the gospel to someone and invited them to trust Christ.

What are some reasons that keep people from sharing the gospel with people in their circle of influence?

Fear – Nobody likes being rejected. If we share the gospel with someone, and that person does not respond by receiving Christ, we tend the feel that they have somehow rejected us. Or, we may irrationally feel that their rejection of Christ may somehow push them away from Him and do more harm than good. This fear comes from a misunderstanding of our responsibility in sharing the gospel. In Ezekiel 3:19 we read, “But if you warn a wicked person and he does not turn from his wickedness or his wicked way, he will die for his iniquity, but you will have saved your life.” In other words, our responsibility to others is to share the good news, not to convert them. We cannot convert anyone! God does the work of conversion.

Lack of Knowledge – Some believers feel they don’t know enough about the gospel to share it with others. I often wonder, how did ever come to Christ themselves? Surely they have some knowledge of the gospel if they have experienced salvation. This idea shows that they lack the motivation to learn and grow in their faith. If you don’t know something, what is keeping you from learning it?

Apathy – I have been dismayed and surprised at the lack of concern displayed by believers for people who don’t know Jesus. While we may be concerned for meeting their physical needs, we neglect their greatest need of all which is a relationship with Jesus Christ. We may hear hundreds of messages in our lifetime dealing with our need to share Jesus with others, yet fail to develop a burden for the unbelieving world.

There are probably hundreds of other reasons why we don’t share the gospel. The only way to truly overcome any of these objections is to go out and practice evangelism.

I have discovered that the cure for my gospel introversion is to keep sharing the gospel until all of my fears are assuaged. It’s like learning to ride a bicycle without training wheels. We may start out with a lack of confidence, a little help from someone holding onto the seat, a push, a crash and a bloody knee. Eventually, we will getup, dust ourselves off and remount the bicycle. Finally, after many tries and failures, we will ride free and easy. We will begin to look forward to riding over and over again.

If you are a gospel introvert – like me – face your fears, lack of knowledge and apathy or a hundred other excuses by getting to know someone that needs Jesus. Get to know them and share the good news as you get to know them.


Pastor Chris said...

In my workshops I find the biggest reason is fear: fear of messing up, fear of failure, fear of rejection.

Apathy is not really what I encounter -- people come to evangelism workshops because they want to overcome their fear. I'm not saying it doesn't exist, but its not often in my contexts.

The biggest fear I find: fear from bad experiences with evangelism. Bad experiences linked with bad emotions, links to guilt and so on. I often have to spend the first workshop session helping people "come down from the cieling," to overcome their fear of the past and begin to rejoice in the sovereignty of God.

Pastor Chris

Darrel Davis said...

I would agree about the fear issue - for those who will attend evangelism seminars and classes. However, the apathy is shown in how few believers will attend an evangelism seminar. Most believers see evangelism as being either the responsibility of the pastor (pastoral staff) or of the church programs, not personally. Only a small percentage of people are interested in being equipped.