By Tom Hinton
Many people have asked me how I share my faith in Christ. I guess must say that I do not share Christ the same way twice. Because of different personalities and circumstances, the conversations flow in different ways. Even so, I do find that there is a basic pattern that develops as I share my faith.
By no means is the following conclusive. However, I do feel that the following will help you if you apply it to your life. I have a burden for the Lord to raise up individuals in America that would not simply know how to share their faith, but would do it.
The following are simply principles that I incorporate when I share Christ on a one-to-one basis.
It is important for you to establish some point of reference common to you and the individual with whom you are talking. You might talk about an athletic event, the weather, the economy, a mutual friend, a humorous happening, or a geographic location.
You establish common ground by asking in the course of the conversation various questions that cause the person to think and to respond to you. Questions such as: Who? What? Where? When and How? Be sincerely interested in the person’s response to your questions as you ask them.
Common ground is a time for collecting information and looking for opportunities to affirm and to agree. I believe that in the common ground phase of soul winning, people pick up and quickly your sincere desire and interest in them. You must remember that in this phase it is important for you to take the initiative to establish the relationship. Taking the initiative is of paramount importance.
Sharing your faith begins with a phase entitled Common Ground, but many times ends because we are not planning to share our faith. The transition sentence is the door to a conversation about Jesus.
In this phase, look for opportunities to turn the conversation to the subject of Jesus Christ. The transition sentence is a link between Common Ground and the third phase – Jesus.
You can develop transition sentences. Think in terms of everyday conversation and how those conversations can be turned to a discussion about God and Jesus Christ. For example, when Jesus talked with the woman at the well (John 4), He used the subject of Living Water as the transition. The woman was talking about the water at the well when Jesus told her about Living Water.
A basketball player wins on the court. A good transition question you can ask him is: “Are you winning in life?” A good transition may begin with, “That reminds me of a story.” Then explain to the individual that you are sharing with a related parable that is in the Bible.
After establishing Common Ground with someone, you might say, “Could I have five minutes with you to share the most important thing in my life?” I use this question as a transition into a conversation about Jesus.
Pray and ask the Lord to show you opportunities for transition. Sensitivity here is very important. Be sensitive to the person’s needs that come up in the Common Ground phase.
By this time you have gathered a lot of information. You have made the person feel at ease about his or her needs. You have turned the conversation into a conversation about Jesus; that is the transition. The third phase is entitled “Jesus.”
The need of the hour is for people to talk about Jesus – not church, not religion, not philosophy, not denomination, but Jesus Christ. Here are three ways that you can talk about Jesus Christ.
1. Your personal testimony
You might consider using your personal testimony by sharing what took place in your life before you were saved and what has happened after you were saved. Contrast your life before Christ with your experience after you gave your life to the Lord. If you were raised as a Christian, you might share what Christ has done to enrich your life.
2. “What does it mean to be a Christian?”
Many times I ask people this question. As a Christian I recognize that:
a. The Bible tells us that we have all sinned and fallen short of God (Romans 3:23).
b. The Bible tells us that there is a penalty for sin (Romans 6:23a).
c. The Bible tells us that there is a provision for sin through Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23b).
d. The Bible tells us that if we repent and turn from our sin, we can receive God’s grace and be assured we are forgiven (1 John 1:9; Revelation 3:20).
When asked: “What does it mean to be a Christian?” many individuals will tell you what a Christian does: “A Christian goes to church” – “A Christian carries a Bible” – “A Christian witnesses” – A Christian does this and a Christian does that. What they are saying and sharing is with you is what a Christian does, but not what a Christian is.
Let’s ask the question again: “What does it mean to be a Christian?” The simple plan of salvation that I have shared with you answers that question. You might tell the individual, “You have answered what a Christian does, but not what a Christian is.” A Christian is an individual who has recognized and experienced these truths found in the Bible.
3. The Message of the Cross (Mark 15)
a. Jesus died on a cross.
b. Jesus was put in a tomb and wrapped in linen cloth.
c. Jesus rose from the tomb.
d. Jesus is coming back (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
Always remember that your goal is to present Jesus Christ, whether you use any one of these three different approaches, is to make a clear, articulate presentation about Him.
One of the most alarming and startling facts about church people today is that they are not clearly presenting Jesus Christ. Individuals are being invited to church. They are being invited to a revival service. They are told how good the church is, but that’s not sharing Christ. It is an invitation to a building. What we are calling for is people to present the claims of Christ leaving the results to God.
Let’s turn now to the fourth phase of sharing our faith. This phase is called The Close.
Even though distractions will come when you attempt to share Christ, try to make the presentation the best as you can. Upon making that presentation, ask the person if he or she would like to pray and make a sincere commitment to the Lord. I simply bow my head and show them how I prayed and gave my heart to the Lord.
Here is a sample prayer: “Dear Jesus, I ask you right now to forgive me of any wrongdoing. I ask You to be the Lord of my life. I ask you to be in charge of everything that I do. I give you complete control of every decision that I make. I ask You right now to forgive me of my sin. Thank You, Jesus, for answering this prayer. Amen.”
Don’t be afraid to ask the question after you have presented Christ. “What about you. Would you pray right now asking Christ to be the Lord and Savior of your life?” or “What hindrances do you know of right now from making a commitment to Jesus Christ?”
Many times after I have presented Jesus Christ, people are thinking about it and they are not quite sure about accepting Him as they work through mental and spiritual barriers. A question like the second question helps them.
After they answer this question, I share with them that even though there are hindrances in their life, Jesus never requires us to get it all together before we give our life to Him. If we simply come to Him just as we are, He will enable us to live a holy life.
If you receive an affirmative nod of the head or a yes, lead the individual in a prayer of commitment. If you receive a negative response, share with the individual that you love him or her. Thank them for the privilege to share Christ with them. At this point, it is important to establish a favorable and positive point of reference for the future.
Let me share with you several things that might help you in this area. First of all, I ask people after presenting Christ if I can pray for them and for the needs of their family. Secondly, I always remember that the message of Jesus – the Cross – and not my personality should be offensive to the person. Thirdly, if the person is not ready to accept Christ, I don’t press it. I know that if I have clearly presented Jesus Christ, I have accomplished my purpose and God is the One Who actually does the work.
You never fail when you share your faith. We fail only if we don’t do it at all.