I wonder how you feel about evangelism? For me, it’s been one of the hardest parts of my life as a disciple of Christ. I have no problem chatting to other Christians about the gospel, but as soon as I think about talking to an unbeliever about Christ and the reason for hope that I have, I seize up and waste the opportunity in silence or talking about things that don’t matter.
So when I heard of Rico Tice’s book, Honest Evangelism, I thought I should get it and read to see if I could get some help in this area. The title says it all. Rico spares no punches. He begins by laying out the reasons we should evangelize. Realizing that evangelism is about a love for God and His glory as well as a love for people so that they might receive grace and not wrath are crucial reasons why we need to evangelize. But quite accurately, Rico diagnoses the main reason people don’t evangelize (at least it the main reason for me), an idolatry of the heart.
If I’m honest with myself, I don’t evangelize because I fear awkwardness. I don’t want to be perceived as different and radical especially by my family. The root of this is that I idolize my family. I would rather ‘keep the peace’ and be ‘in’ than share Christ and that shows that there is something I value more than Christ. This is just heart-breaking. I’d honestly rather deny the reality of the situation but as I know well, that still leaves me in a bad state. What I choose to do instead is to pray about it – may God in His grace purify my heart and give me a wholeheartedness centered on His love and glory so that I may boldly speak of Him so that those who do not know Him yet might, especially those in my family that I claim to love.
More to this, Rico also gives some helpful advice on how to overcome other fears we face in evangelism by trusting in God, being prepared and intentional and simply being ourselves. He also gives some good pointers on what we are to focus on and how we can go about it. The most distinct thing that I found most helpful is his pointer about how we shouldn’t aim to win someone over in one session but should rather aim to win someone gradually by being intentional in our relationships – being wise to direct conversations to Christ (His identity, mission and call) so that people can come to really know Christ well and (as the Spirit convicts them) to believe in Him. I highly recommend this book.