Personal Evangelism :: by Grant Phillips

Personal evangelism comes easy to some Christians, but to others it is a frightening experience. Many books have been written on this subject and many classes have been held in an attempt to teach Christians how to witness to another person, one-on-one. Several techniques have been offered from simple to complex methods. Some methods are even quite similar to little tricks learned by those who are in sales. Before getting to the “how to”, allow me to cover some points to get us there first.

I remember my first experience. I was a young teenager, and scared to death. Our pastor worked with us teenagers and encouraged us to witness. He helped us with Bible verses, and we were to witness to those our own age. I finally got up the nerve and knocked on the door of a friend. To my amazement, I was not rebuffed, and left with no physical trauma. It occurred to me later that I had nothing to fear.

Person-to-person conversations were always difficult for me. I could speak before a crowd of hundreds and be completely at ease, but to speak to just one person was another matter. I say this to merely point out that we are all different. Most people would just die if they had to speak to a crowd, but would be comfortable with just one other person. Others are like I was. God wants to use all of His children to tell others about His Son. Once we realize a few things, witnessing becomes much easier, regardless of your personality.

Do understand that I am not promoting myself as an authority on witnessing. We are all different, and I try to practice what works for me. If anything I say can help you, then that would be wonderful. The Holy Spirit will work with you, just as He does me, based on our personality and gifts He has provided.


Know The Subject:

The most important thing that could be said about witnessing is to know the subject. In this case, I’m not referring to the Bible per se, although I’ll get to that, but I am referring to Jesus.

Let me also state, that the best time to start witnessing is immediately after you come to know Jesus as your Savior. You won’t “know” that much, but you aren’t expected to either, even by those who are lost. Also, it’s a matter of starting a good habit right from the start.

Jesus is always the subject of witnessing. Anything else is a tool given to us by the Lord. It is Jesus we want to tell others about, and the more we know about Him personally, is the more we can share with others. As an example, it would be easy for me to tell you about my wife since I know her so well, but I would be very limited in telling you what I know about someone who I know by name only.

Know The Word:

There is no way to know Jesus apart from His Word. So from the Bible I learn about Him, and therefore become much acquainted with the Word. It is without saying that a personal testimony is important, but not to the neglect of God’s Word.

The Bible is the most important thing in our lives from this standpoint. Since Jesus wrote it, we should know it. The more acquainted we are with our Bible, the more relaxed we will be when talking to others about Jesus.

Carry a New Testament for the purpose of witnessing. Mark it. “Dog ear” it if need be. Write Scriptures on the inside back cover if that will help.

Pray For Opportunities:

I guarantee you will have opportunities to witness if you pray for the Holy Spirit to bring them your way. Without a doubt, case closed, it will happen, period. They will come your way, but what if you fail to recognize them, or you fail to open your mouth? It will happen. I’ve been there. Keep praying about it, and God will bring back those same opportunities or He will supply new ones, or both. Do not beat yourself up if you fail in some way! The Lord will be patient with you, and you should do no less. You’re learning.

Pray For Guidance:

Pray daily that the Holy Spirit has His way in every opportunity you have to witness. The Spirit of God, who lives within each of us, is our strength. Even as Christians, there is nothing within us that has any power over dark forces except the Spirit of God, who we call the Holy Spirit. Let Him guide. Follow His lead.


Be Yourself:

People can spot a phony, so don’t be one. Be yourself. Have compassion, care. Ask the Lord to burden your heart for that person’s soul.

Ignore Rejection:

Recognize the other person as a human being who needs to hear about Jesus, as one who is eternally lost without Him. Sales people quickly learn to ignore rejection. It’s just part of selling a product. Now we are not selling anything, but we do need to learn to ignore rejection. Christians usually have problems with rejection because they take it personally. It is not personal, even though it may seem to be. Rejection is coming from Satan using the person you are witnessing to as a pawn in a spiritual battle. It isn’t about us. It is about Jesus Christ. Therefore the rejection is against Christ.

Never Argue:

If you allow yourself to get into an argument with someone, you have already lost. Nothing you say will be accepted from that point on. The person of Jesus and His Word are not to be relegated to an argument. If a witnessing opportunity reaches this point, it just becomes a matter of wills between two people with differing beliefs. Everybody loses. There are no winners. Satan knows that.

Do Not Be Pushy:

A close relative to “arguing” is being “pushy” with the Gospel. Don’t try to cram the Gospel down the other person’s throat. It will not be appreciated, and it will not be accepted. Again, everybody loses. I am not saying that we should not be enthusiastic. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is certainly something to be enthusiastic about, but there is a difference in being excited and being right up in someone’s face with something they don’t want to hear in the first place. Wait on the Spirit to show you the opportunity to interject what He wants you to say.

Be Honest:

If you can’t answer a question, be honest. Just say, “I don’t know, but I’ll try to find out.” Sometimes a Christian will think they have to have all the answers. Then they will supply an answer that is wrong. Why would they do that? Maybe it is because they don’t want “to look bad … or appear to be stupid.” Just be honest with what you know at the time.

Allow God’s Word To Speak For Itself:

Calmly deliver the message, without force feeding. When using Scripture, it will speak for itself. You may have to elaborate on the Scripture, but the power is in God’s Word. Listen to what God says about His Word. “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11) We don’t have to defend it, nor use our “power of persuasion.” The Holy Spirit will do the persuading. We don’t persuade. We deliver.

Be Patient:

Witnessing is not a contest. It is an opportunity to share Jesus with others. We want the person we are witnessing to, to accept Jesus, because we know how great God is and the person’s dilemma of rejecting His Son. However, we must be patient. We want results right now, but it’s God’s work, not ours. We must be patient.

God Does The Saving:

This sums up what I have said thus far. If only we could understand, that Jesus wants us to “share” the message, and then He will take care of the rest. It’s very simple. Share what you know about Jesus, and get out of the way. The Holy Spirit will take over from at that point. Do we think we can do a better job than the Spirit of God? Of course we don’t. So speak of Jesus. Share the Word. Step aside. Get out of the way.

I have heard many times over a Christian say something to the effect of, “We need to get people saved.” People, the lost, do need to get saved, but we can’t save anyone. God does the saving. We deliver the message. He saves. Here is an example: God is going to prepare a meal. He sends us out to get the ingredients. We return with the ingredients and give them to Him. We leave the kitchen, and He prepares the meal. My point is; if you can’t cook, get out of the kitchen. None of us can cook. Our responsibility is to deliver the goods, and leave the rest up to Him.

But I Will Mess Up:

So what? The Spirit of God will take whatever feeble attempt you make and use it for the glory of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The power of witnessing does not rest on our Biblical intelligence, our speaking ability, our charisma, our “persuasive powers”, our “whatever”. The power of witnessing comes onlyfrom the throne of God, nowhere else. So let us stop worrying over “our” abilities. The only thing we need to use is our mouth. God will handle the rest.

Give Me Some Scriptures To Use:

If you want to use just one verse then how about John 3:16?

If you want to stay in one book of the Bible, try:

Romans 3:10

Romans 3:23

Romans 6:23

Romans 5:8-9.

If you want to expand, use the following Scriptures:

John 3:16

Acts 16:31

Romans 3:10

Romans 3:23

Romans 5:8-9

Romans 6:23

1Corinthians 15:1-4 (the Gospel in a nutshell)

Ephesians 2:8-9; 1:13-14.

As you get into God’s Word, many more Scriptures will come to light.

Most Important:

The Apostle Paul told his protégé Timothy, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) In his letter to the Corinthians at chapter thirteen, he gives us the mind of the Lord that should be in our hearts toward Jesus, our fellow brethren, and those who still need to hear the Gospel.

As sour as the anti-Christian force is becoming in our country, we still have it easy when witnessing, especially compared to countries controlled by dictators and tyrants. It won’t always be that way, and hard times may be very close upon us, when we may have to “suffer” more than a little verbal rejection.

The main thing is get in the Word, walk with the Lord, and share Jesus with a loving heart for those who are lost, always keeping in mind that we are His representatives.

On two occasions, Jesus sent His disciples out, two by two, to witness, but before doing so, what else did Jesus do with His disciples? He trained them. He did not send them out unprepared.

Bottom Line:

1.     Strengthen your relationship with Jesus by daily prayer and Bible study.

2.     Learn Scripture.

3.     Don’t demean the Gospel by allowing yourself to be pulled into an argument.

4.     Don’t be pushy, but be available.

5.     Deliver the message, and leave the rest up to God.

6.     Be patient.

7.     Continue to be patient.

Grant Phillips