The Approach: How to Share the Gospel with a Stranger.

Sharing the Gospel can be difficult. I often hear people say that they want to be able to share the Gospel and pray for people, but they just can’t get over the awkwardness of approaching a stranger. I’ve felt this very fear myself, and I want to give you some practical tips to help you overcome the awkwardness, and begin to share the Gospel in the power of God.

The Love of Christ Compels Us to Share the Gospel.

Paul told us that his motivating force for evangelism was the love of Christ. (See 2 Corinthians 5:14-15.) This means that the love of Christ for Paul became the love of Christ through Paul. Human love for God is a responsive love. Our love is a reflection of God’s love for us. We can only love God and each other to the extent that we allow ourselves to be loved by God. (See 1 John 4:19-21.) This has major implications for how we approach a conversation where we share the Gospel.

If we are not chiefly aware of God’s love for us, we will never be able to love someone else with the of Christ. Our love will be distorted in some way. We will require the approval of the person we are attempting to evangelize. Because we are in need of their approval, we will be intimidated and our fear will choke out any courage we had. The key to courage is God’s love. When we have the love of God residing in our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can joyfully die to yourself because the love of God is all we need. Courage is born when we are so fully aware of God, that we no longer require the approval of others.

When we no longer need the approval of the world, we can be free to love them in truth. We won’t shy from speaking unpleasant realities, and we won’t be afraid of their insults, intimidation, or persecution. In fact, we will be able to truly love our enemies in spite of our own maltreatment because God’s love is alive within us. Only the Holy Spirit can take the knowledge of God’s love, and make it into an experiential understanding. That is why we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit in order to fulfill the Great Commission. (See Acts 1:8.)

Sharing the Gospel is the Love of Christ Manifested Through Us.

When we are filled with the love of God, it shows in the way we behave in public. When we were baptized into Christ, we clothed ourselves with Christ. (See Galatians 3:27.) The scriptures also tell us that we are to do and say everything in our lives as representatives of Christ. (See Colossians 3:17.) This means that every time I check out at the grocery store, I am interacting with the cashier as a representative of Christ. Every time I pump gas, I am doing so as a proxy for Christ. Every time I speak to my wife and children, I am doing so in the name of the Lord Jesus. It is amazing that God has committed His divine mission into the hands of the Church, and that we have been entrusted to represent Him to the world!

Now while you’re repenting for the way you might have treated someone in the name of Jesus, I want to tell you how that affects our Gospel conversations. I’ve had several moments in my life where people have told me that when I walked into the room, the atmosphere changed. Once, I approached someone in the grocery store with a few words of knowledge. I can’t remember what exactly they were, but I remember her response. She was stunned that a stranger would know all of these private details about her life. I prayed for her, and I believe she was healed of some pain in her body. She told me afterward, that she was terrified that I knew all of that stuff about her, and the only reason she didn’t run the other way was that she felt this “presence” as I approached her. Why? Because I am clothed with Christ, and He has filled me with His Spirit, and as I put off my old nature, as I am renewed in the attitude of my mind, and as I put on the new nature, He makes His presence known through me, because I am His ambassador. (See Ephesians 4:22-24.)

How Do I Start a Gospel Conversation?

I know what you’re thinking: “Okay, JonMark, I get it, but what do I say to someone I don’t know when I feel led by God to talk to them?” Well here’s what I typically say to people whenever I approach someone with the Gospel.

Hey, do you have a second? I’m a Christian, and I really love to pray for people. As I walked past you, I felt like I was supposed to stop and ask to pray for you. Would that be okay?

I almost always get a yes, with few exceptions. I have noticed though that in certain areas this doesn’t work as well. If you are in a place that is hostile to Christianity generally, maybe they think Christians are judgemental bigots or have had a bad experience with the Church, you may want to use the term “follower of Jesus” or something like that. Just do your best to avoid a word that for them would be loaded with meaning that actually works against what you’re trying to do; which is to love them.

Now if they say yes, sometimes I will share any words of knowledge I have received. I’ll ask if they have any pain in their right knee for instance. (By the way, if you have pain in your right knee, be healed in Jesus’ Name.) If you’re right, awesome! If not, that is ok. If you don’t have any words of knowledge, ask if they have any pain in their body, or anything going on in their lives that you could pray about. Then ask if you can pray for them right there. Most people will expect you’re going home and saying prayers for them before bed. You want to clarify that you’re going to pray right there.

Listen

One of the most loving things you could do for anyone is to listen to them. Some people truly have no one they can talk to. If all you’re wanting to do is do your spiritual thing, share the Gospel, and leave, and you don’t care about what that person is going through, you are not showing the love of Christ. Jesus listens to us, let’s listen to others if they have something on their mind.

While you’re listening, it is important to keep your mind on Christ. Ask yourself constantly, “What does Jesus want to do about this situation?” In doing this you aren’t just listening to the person, but you’re also listening to the Holy Spirit. As a representative of Heaven, you are authorized to do business on behalf of the Kingdom of God. That means, you aren’t just a listening ear, you are also Heaven’s answer to their situation. It can be easy to get bogged down by the severity of some people’s problems. If you allow yourself to be impressed by the enemy, you won’t be able to have faith for the impossible things God wants to do through you.

Pray

As you pray for people, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t ask God to heal. Command the body to be healed with the authority of Jesus’ name.
  • Ask the person to test out their healing.
  • Pray as many times as you are allowed.
  • Never touch someone without permission.
  • Don’t be pushy.

Don’t ask God to Do What He has Delegated to You

If you’re praying for healing, remember that Jesus didn’t tell us to ask Him to heal the sick, He said: “heal the sick”. (See Matthew 10:7-8.) Whenever the apostles prayed for someone to be healed, they commanded something to happen in the name of  Jesus. (See Acts 3:6.) Sometimes breakthrough in healing is simply on the other side of that revelation. You are commanding sickness, pain, or whatever infirmity to leave through the authority you have as a representative of Christ. God often won’t do things He has commanded the Church to do.

Ask the Person to Check Out Their Healing

Next, it is important to have the person check their healing. People could be getting healed, and you would have no clue if they didn’t check it out. Sometimes there will be a little change, sometimes there will be no change. At this point, I will ask to pray again, and I will share a testimony of a healing which required more than one prayer. This will build faith for me and the person for whom I am praying. Then I pray for the person again, if I’m allowed. If they say no, I won’t be pushy, but I will pray for them after they leave. I’ve also seen people healed who told me no when I prayed for them after I left. God answers those prayers too.

Pray as Many Times as You’re Allowed

Often, when I pray for people for healing, they aren’t healed after the first prayer. That isn’t a big deal, even Jesus prayed a second time once. (See Mark 8:23-25.) If I don’t see a miracle the first time, I ask if I can pray again. Usually, before I ask for a second prayer I share a story about someone being healed after I prayed multiple times. I will then ask if I could pray for them once more. I will do this until they get healed or get annoyed at which point I thank them for letting me pray for them and I tell them they are deeply loved by God.

Don’t Lay Hands Without Permission

It is also important not to lay hands on anyone without their permission. I typically like to take the had of the person I am praying for because it is non-threatening and conveys a sense of warmth. It is important to recognize that you represent Jesus not just in what you say, but also in what you do. Your gestures, tone, and general presence ought to be saturated with the gentle love and humility of Jesus, as well as the boldness and confidence which comes from the Holy Spirit. You can’t fake this. It has to come from the overflow of your relationship with God. As I shared above, as you allow God to love you, He can love through you effectively.

Don’t Be Pushy

Don’t pressure people. If you’re pushy with people, it is a huge turnoff. It will leave a bad taste in the mouths of the people you’re trying to share the Gospel with. Jesus is not pushy or manipulative. If we are using bad sales techniques in His name, we are not representing Him well. If they say no, it means no, and you can just pray for them when they leave, and leave them with a “God bless you. He loves you, and you’re amazing.” Let them know that God’s love for them doesn’t change when He is rejected, and neither does yours.

Preach the Gospel!

When I was a kid in elementary school we had “show and tell”. Show and tell was when we brought something that was important to us to class. We showed it to everyone and told them why it was important, special, or fun. When we preach the Gospel it ought to be “show and tell”. Here’s a hard truth; sometimes we have substituted preaching the Gospel for praying for healing. In the Bible, those two are always together. (See Matthew 10:7-8.) The reason people are healed is that it is a demonstration of the power of the Gospel to set us free from sin and death. Healing points to the greater miracle! We should never leave people healed and free to walk into hell without their back pain. Preach the Gospel!

I will usually just ask if the person I am praying for has ever heard the Gospel. It may surprise you how many people say no. I’ll then share the four spiritual laws;

  • God loves you!
  • Everyone has sinned, and our sin separates us from God’s presence; that includes Heaven.
  • Christ died for our sins and bore our punishment so that we can be united with God again and have hope of eternal life.
  • We must repent of our sins and receive God’s amazing gift so that we can be united with God in Heaven and so that God can fill us with His Spirit and effectively put Heaven into us!

That’s it! This is the magical secret to evangelism! It’s not that difficult. It’s not impossible. Just allow God to love you in the secret place, and love Him by loving the lost for whom He died. It’s my mission to make it very difficult for the people in my life to go to hell. Even if you don’t consider yourself an evangelist, the reality is no one is exempt from the Great Commission. You are called to lead people to Christ, and in Christ, there is a provision for every good work through the power of His Spirit.

If you want to find out more on how to be led by the Spirit in evangelism check out this article: How to Be Led by God.

I pray that God will fill you with His Spirit to accomplish the impossible, and I pray that through His power, you will be representatives of Christ in everything you do. May God bless you with abundant grace to accomplish the mission to which He has called you.

Your servant in Christ,

JonMark