Growing up, people always told me that opportunities to share my faith would just pop up out of nowhere. Believers insinuated that conversations about Christianity and religion were as commonplace as asking if someone prefers vanilla or chocolate ice cream.
For years, I was convinced people would be enraptured by my love, humility and kindness and would come up to me and ask, “What’s different about you? I want what you have!” Then I’d have my chance to respond with my perfectly constructed answer of “Jesus” and bam! — another person saved.
But that’s rarely the case. For me (and just about everyone else I know), sharing my faith doesn’t happen that way. It is way more complicated and messy.
When we share our faith, we’re often either too aggressive and “in your face,” or we’re much too passive for fear of being perceived as judgmental or awkward.
If you’re stuck on one side of the coin or somewhere in between, I’ve found a few things that might help you navigate how to intentionally share your faith with love and discernment.
1. Stop caring about what people think.
This might be a no-brainer for some, but it’s something I need to be constantly reminded of. Some people are going to think what you believe is weird — you’ve got to be prepared for that and be OK with it.
Thankfully, in the United States, we have freedom to believe and practice Christianity without fear of governmental backlash. But that doesn’t mean people won’t still judge us for what we believe.
If I believe that Jesus saved humanity from the sting of death, then I think I can produce enough girth to not be ashamed of whom I put my daily trust and faith in.
2. Before you speak, act with kindness and love.
Yes, the Bible is pretty clear when it says to literally tell people about the goodness of Jesus, but an excellent way to start that conversation is by first extending love. Even to the people who think you’re weird.
You cannot control how someone else acts — but you can control your response. You can abstain from office gossip. Or when someone is bashing a family member, friend or co-worker, you can acknowledge that person’s frustration but then throw in a good note or mention a positive quality that person has.
Uplift and speak kindly. When you’re in a difficult work setting, it’s not as easy as it sounds — trust me, I get it. Show love when your knee-jerk reaction is quite the opposite because that’s what Jesus would do.
3. Focus on what you believe and why you still believe it’s true.
People love to hear and live through other people’s experiences. We’re wired to be empathetic and curious.
Don’t feel like you have to hold the Bible out in front of you and robotically regurgitate Scripture. Jesus affects people in different ways, and each of us have our own conversion story — share yours!
Make it relevant to your daily life. Talk about what has kept you believing in a sovereign God through all of the mass shootings, natural disasters and deaths of family members. Share why it is that you believe what you believe. Personal anecdotes can go a long way.
4. Stop speaking Christianese to unbelievers.
You know exactly what I mean. I’ve seen Christians speak in a way that just confuses people who don’t believe.
Paul says, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings” (1 Corinthians 9:22-23).
I imagine he didn’t mean you should drastically change your personality depending on who you’re around. But I do think he’s saying to cater your language a bit to fit who you’re hanging out with. I wouldn’t speak to my professor using the same exact phrasing I would to talk with my sister or husband.
Often in American Christian culture, we’ve added all these unnecessary layers of language when we talk about God. It’s as if we believe embellishing our words will make us seem more spiritual in God’s eyes or something. But when we do that, we also confuse people.
For example, rather than saying, “God laid it on my heart to pray for you,” you might be able to say, “Hey, do you mind if I pray for you?”
Words are powerful and important — but we don’t need to constantly enhance what we say every time we talk about Jesus. Keep it simple.
5. Some people just won’t get it, and you can’t dwell on that.
Christians believing in a triune God who is sovereign over all and gives wisdom and direction through holy Scripture written thousands of years ago that’s still relevant today — that’s a hard thing for some people to get.
And some people just won’t understand.
Don’t lose hope and never stop praying. But remember that some people will never know Jesus. You can’t change hearts, only God can do that. It’s your job to extend love and plant seeds of truth.
Sharing your faith might not be as simple as choosing your favorite ice cream flavor, but it also shouldn’t be overly complex either. Don’t wait for someone to come up to you and ask, “What’s different about you?” to start sharing Jesus with people. Because chances are, that’s not going to happen that often.
Be yourself, be kind and speak truth in love. That’s not always easy to do, but the best way to tell people about Jesus is to display his character. Like my pastor often says, “Don’t just talk about it — be about it.”
Copyright 2018 Dani Fitzgerald Brown. All rights reserved.