Recently, I led an evangelism class at a local college for the Baptist Campus Ministry. I wish I could say that there were a flood of students who attended this early Saturday morning class, but only 2 showed. (I learned a valuable lesson about scheduling training classes at the appropriate time for the context.)
We were just about to strike camp and go home when the young woman who came asked a few questions about my ministry. She was absolutely blown away by the fact that I could walk up to a total stranger and have a spiritual conversation with that person.
Many believers are like this young lady...they don't know what to say to someone to start a spiritual conversation and they are scared to death to say anything at all.
I must confess that this is one skill that I constantly work to develop. It does not come naturally to me as an introvert.
One thing that I have learned is that people are more open to talking about spiritual matters than most people give them credit for. We irrationally envision ourselves initiating a spiritual conversation only to be crushed by the words of rejection. If you approach people with the right attitude, most of the time they will graciously listen to you.
In Acts 8:26-39, we see the encounter between Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch. It is an excellent Biblical example of a witnessing encounter and a perfect model for talking to anyone about Jesus.
One of the first things we see about talking to anyone about Jesus is: Our conversation must be guided by the Holy Spirit. Phillip was told by the Spirit to go to a specific place, to talk to a specific person, and was given specific insight into the spiritual condition of that person.
It is the job of the Holy Spirit to guide and direct believers in their conversations with other about Jesus. The Spirit never draws attention to Himself, but points others to Jesus. He speaks to believers through inner promptings and impressions which helps them to accomplish the task of witnessing.
As a believer, you will only learn to listen to the Spirit through building your relationship with Christ and through the continued practice of witnessing. There are no short cuts to familiarizing yourself with His work.
You may have experienced the prompting of the Holy Spirit before. Have you ever been in a situation where you knew that God wanted you to talk to someone about Jesus? Most believers have. How did you react?
If you followed through with the conversation, you probably will remember how specific scriptures, that you haven't thought of in years, came to mind with ease. You will likely recall thinking, "did I really say that?"
Total reliance on the Holy Spirit is an absolute essential for a witnessing encounter.
The next time you start shaking in your boots thinking about witnessing to someone - even a total stranger - take a deep breath and pray for the Spirit of God to guide your words and thoughts. You don't have to have super powers, just a supernatural helper known as the Holy Spirit.
In the next article, we will talk about the importance of two-way dialogue in a witnessing conversation.