Are you friendly and outgoing? Is it easy to engage non-Christians about the things of God? Do you prefer to keep to yourself? Those are the types of questions people, or spiritual gifts tests, often ask to determine one’s level of giftedness for witnessing. Is there merit to those questions? Certainly! Those with the gift of gab may find it easier to engage non-Christians with the gospel; nevertheless, our giftedness, or apparent lack thereof, does not free us from bearing witness to the person and work of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 10:31-11:1; Col. 4:5-6; 1 Pet. 2:9). What can we do, therefore, to help us more faithfully talk about Jesus to non-Christians?
1. Expose yourself to the means of grace.
The means of grace is a theological phrase, as well as a category, that includes the preaching of God’s word, the administration of the sacraments (i.e., baptism and the Lord’s Supper), and prayer. The Westminster Shorter Catechism Q/A 88 puts it this way: “What are the outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption?” The answer is, “The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption are, his ordinances, especially the Word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.” Simply put, the means of grace is that which you are exposed to (i.e., preaching, sacraments, and prayer) at church. Among many things, one benefit of such exposure is that it contributes to your discipleship by further equipping you to answer questions that non-Christians have. How so?
Have you ever had a nagging question regarding the faith? You spent hours searching for answers; you read your Bible and blogs, prayed and asked for prayer, only to come up empty. Then, while listening to your pastor preach, unbeknownst to him, he answered your question. God ministered to you through the preaching of his Word. You have the answer! However, the answer is not merely for you. You are now equipped to share it with others who are wrestling with similar questions. Remember, while there is a fundamental difference in the relationship that Christians and non-Christians have with God, we deal with similar issues and concerns about life. You are not alone, therefore, with your questions. By exposing yourself to the means of grace, not only is God extending mercy to you by allowing your questions to be answered, but he is also equipping you to answer other’s questions. In that sense, the means of grace provide the training ground for answering questions (i.e., apologetics) and gospel outreach.
2. Be hospitable.
When my wife and I initially moved to Virginia, we were extremely excited about getting to know our neighbors. Moving into a new neighborhood provided the opportunity to get to know other image-bearers and share the good news of Jesus Christ with them, as well as invite them to church. Unfortunately, life can sometimes get in the way of well-intentioned plans. A new community entails more than getting to know one’s neighbors. You must adjust to the weather, learn about the local schools, find the most convenient and best-priced grocery store, and a host of other adventures. By the time you feel settled into the community, you have only met some of your neighbors and that simply by a cursory greeting. Perhaps you have even become friends with them on Facebook. However, these new rules of engagement (i.e., Facebook and cursory greetings) do not satisfy the requirements of love and hospitality (Matt. 22:39; Luke 14:12-14; Heb. 13:1-2).
Whether you are new to the community or you have lived in the neighborhood for some time, be hospitable to your neighbors. Invite them into your home for a meal. Get to know them beyond the work schedule you have noted by observing the pattern of their departure in the morning and return in the evening. Find out about their family life, whether immediate or extended. What are their hobbies and dislikes? All of those areas and more can be communicated over several warm meals. As the relationship develops, the Lord, in his providence, may provide an opportunity to share the gospel. Surely as one is talking about hobbies and what occupies one’s schedule, church, or a lack thereof, is bound to surface. Those kinds of conversations can take place as you extend warm and welcoming hospitality to your neighbors.
What are the things that occupy your prayer time? You likely pray for your family, both biological and church, your finances, and your friends. All of those areas are crucial and must saturate your prayers. If you want to be a more faithful witness, however, you must also pray for God to grant you opportunities to share the gospel and for the clarity of speech to do so. While we must be careful of trying to duplicate all things apostolic, we should consider the apostle Paul’s example in his prayer concerns.
As he addressed the saints at Colossae, he wrote, “…pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ…that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak” (Col. 4:3-4). Paul’s desires should be ours. We should earnestly hope the Lord would orchestrate opportunities for us to share the good news of forgiveness and perfect righteousness through Christ and to do so in a clear manner. Therefore, along with your prayers for family, finances, and friends, pray that the Lord would grant you many chances to share Jesus with non-Christians and that he would also provide the words to speak.