How to be an effective witness

The Biblical basis

(2 Tim 1:7 KJV)  For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Be bold
No fear of failure

We are afraid that the person does not come to know Jesus even after we have tried. We do not want to feel like we are a failure. If we feel this way, we have not understood our responsibility in evangelism. We are not called to convert someone to a Christian. That is the work of the Holy Spirit.

(1 Cor 12:3 NIV) Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

Our responsibility in evangelism is simply to share the good news of Jesus. We are simply called to be witnesses of God.

(Acts 1:8 NIV) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Therefore if we have told someone about Jesus and he refuses to believe, there is no failure on our part. There is failure, however, when we fail to be His witnesses, as we have been commanded to do.

No fear of rejection

We are afraid that our friends will reject us if we start to share the gospel with them. But if we really love someone, we will know that it is more important to share the gospel with them even if we risk rejection. If we are afraid of rejection, we usually love ourselves more and we would rather keep our reputation and pride.

Rejection will come in some instances when we are doing serious evangelism. People do not take things sitting down. There will be objections. The devil will stir hostility if he knows that his territory is being invaded.

(Rom 1:16 NIV)  I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

No fear of contamination

Some people are afraid to evangelize because they are afraid that contact with non-Christians will contaminate them. Non believers may not have Christian values or they may speak in a different way which the Christian does not like to follow.

However, Jesus instructed us to go into the world to bring people into His kingdom. We are not told to just wait in church for them to knock at our doors. We are told to go out to the nations to make disciples.

(Mat 28:19 NIV) Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

We are told to mingle with non-believers so that we can be a light to them.

(Mat 5:14-16 NIV) “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. {15} Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. {16} In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Even Jesus realize that it is possible that we may be contaminated with wrong values if we mix too much with people who have wrong values. That is why His prayer is to be protected from the evil one, even while we remain in the influence of the world.

(John 17:15 NIV) My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.

Fear of inadequacy

Another reason why people do not want to evangelize is because they feel inadequate to do so. Yet God has promised that He will give us the words to speak when the time comes.

The disciples of Jesus were not trained in theology. They were not even educated in normal schools! Yet when they speak, the people were filled with awe because they spoke so well and so boldly.

(Acts 4:13 NIV) When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

The reason why the disciples could speak so well is because they had been with Jesus. We need the presence of Jesus so that we can speak well. God is the one who will teach us to speak.

That does not mean that we should not equip ourselves with the word of God so that we can tell the gospel to people more effectively. We can do so in the meantime but when the opportunity comes, we must believe that we are prepared for that particular task and God will be our help.

To overcome fear, we need to pray for boldness. Even the apostle Paul had to do that.

(Eph 6:19-20 NIV) Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, {20} for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Fear of persecution

(John 15:20-21 NIV) Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. {21} They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.

Fear of hardship

(Mat 16:24 NIV)  Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Be compassionate towards the lost
A love for the lost is necessary for evangelism

Why would anyone take the time to evangelize and risk ridicule and rejection unless he has passion for the lost? A person can do so out of pure obedience to God but after a while that obedience will become more and more difficult. In order to sustain a lifetime of evangelism, there must be passion.

“Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

If we don’t have passion and love for the lost, our unsaved friends will know it and they will not be touched to respond to the gospel.

Jesus was effective in His ministry because He had love for the lost

When Jesus saw the lost, He was filled with so much passion for them that He wept. Let’s ask God to give us this passion for the lost.

(Luke 19:41-44 NIV) As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it {42} and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace–but now it is hidden from your eyes. {43} The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. {44} They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

Matthew 9:36­38 (NIV) When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

We need the compassion of the Lord and genuine love for others in order to be an effective witness.

John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Love the lost enough to be persistent in your effort

(Gal 6:9 NIV)  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Be wise
Using apologetics
God will give us the wisdom we need to evangelise

(Mat 13:54 NIV)  Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked.

(Luke 21:15 NIV)  For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.

(Acts 6:9-10 NIV)  Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)–Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia. These men began to argue with Stephen, {10} but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke.

(1 Cor 1:17 NIV)  For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel–not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

(1 Cor 2:1 NIV)  When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.

(1 Cor 3:19-20 NIV)  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; {20} and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”

(James 1:5 NIV)  If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

Be adaptable

We have to present the gospel in such a way that it is relevant to the needs of the listeners.

Luke 10:25­28 (NIV) On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ ; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

John 4:7­14 (NIV) When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” 11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?” 13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Jesus’ evangelization method was relevant to the needs of the hearers. He never quoted from scriptures to the common people who did not know the scriptures. To the common man, Jesus used simple illustrations from life. (For further studies – Matt 5-7, Matt 13) He quoted the scriptures only to the Pharisees or Satan. (For further studies – Matt 4:4,7,10, Matt 9:11-13, Matt 12:1-8, Matt 15:1-9, Matt 21:13,16)

Paul talks about the importance of being relevant.

1 Corinthians 9:20­22 (NIV) To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.