Eight Reasons We’re Afraid to Share Our Faith with Others

Church Matters, Leadership, Pastor's Life, Personal Development

We live in a very fear-based culture. Our news media is full of endless stories about things we should be afraid of: climate change, pandemics, financial crashes, asteroid strikes, tortoises, shark attacks, coconuts falling on you, and so on. Whether irrational or otherwise, fear can hold you back in all kinds of ways.

When it comes to sharing our faith in Jesus with friends and colleagues, a key step in overcoming our fears is to name them. Over the years, I have come to believe that there are eight common fears when it comes to sharing our faith:

1. Fear of Looking like an Idiot

We all have a desire to be liked, and I believe that for many of us, that’s at the heart of our fears about sharing our faith. What if talking about Jesus means I don’t fit in to the group as I did before? What if I risk being excluded or am somehow no longer accepted in the way I once was? One of the most pervasive ideologies of our age is Performance Based Acceptance, the toxic idea that to be accepted, we need to perform a certain way. If we measure up, if we perform, then we’re accepted. And if we don’t, we belong in the outer darkness. No wonder we can be afraid that if we start talking more about Jesus, we won’t be accepted.

2. Fear of Standing Out from the Crowd

We live in an increasingly conformist culture, and many of us are nervous about standing out from the crowd. Yet speaking up about Jesus at work or school means doing just that—we are immediately going to look different. And being a Christian who talks about their faith can feel like being a sunflower in a field of tulips, waving at the farmer as he mows and shouting, “Hey, over here!”

3. Fear of Being Called Names

Words can wound. And in the eyes of many of our friends, neighbours, and colleagues, the issue is not so much that Christianity is false or untrue but that Christianity is bad—that Christians are horrible and oppressive people, especially because of what we think about sexuality, gender, or a range of other progressive causes. And therefore we worry that if we try to talk about Jesus to our friends, classmates, or colleagues, we’ll get labelled with some horribly negative term.

4. Fear of Causing Arguments or Division

We live in a deeply and increasingly divided society and so, we’re told, we must never—at work, at the dinner table, at school—bring up topics like religion because that could divide people. No wonder we are often tempted to shy away from talking about our faith for fear that it will cause division or, if we’re brave enough to try it on social media, result in our being doused in kerosene and torched by the mob. Better just to say nothing, right?

5. Fear of the Implications for My Career

Let’s be honest: many workplaces have become political minefields, where using an incorrect word or expressing the wrong idea can result in a ton of grief landing on you in the shape of the HR department. No wonder many Christians, terrified of the consequences of a conversation going wrong, simply self-censor at work or university.

6. Fear of Being Asked a Question I Can’t Answer

What is the question about your faith that, if a colleague or friend asked you, would be so utterly, devastatingly, toe-curlingly terrifying, that it would be better if the ground opened up and swallowed you whole, rather than you having to address the Question of Doom? Maybe for you it’s a question about sexuality, science, or suffering. While some of us need to take more seriously the exhortation in 1 Peter 3:15 to be prepared to give a reason for our hope, it can also be helpful to remember that just because you don’t know the answer to the question doesn’t mean there isn’t an answer.

7. Fear of Failure

What happens, we wonder, if I pluck up the courage to share my faith with a friend and, although the conversation goes well, they don’t respond?  Let’s remember that salvation is ultimately God’s job. It is God who calls people, whose Spirit works to soften their hearts and convict them of sin. It is Jesus whose beauty, love, and grace will draw people to him. We have the privilege—and the calling—to be faithful witnesses as best we can but to do so knowing and trusting that whether we are amazing at telling others about Jesus or terrible, God is the one who will work through us when and where he chooses. The more you let that realisation sink in, the more it will take the pressure off and release you to share Jesus naturally.

8. Fear of Making God Look Bad

Whilst we’re certainly called to live Christlike lives, if that’s all we do, the likelihood is our colleagues won’t automatically connect this to Jesus. Rather, they’ll just assume we’re nice people, and thus there’s an irony that trying to live for Jesus without any words can end up drawing the attention not to Jesus but to ourselves.

Almost all Christians experience a degree of fear when it comes to sharing our faith in Jesus. But if we truly believe the message of the gospel, that a person’s eternal destiny depends on them hearing and responding to the incredible news about Jesus, how can we possibly conceive of keeping this to ourselves? Yes, it may be scary, but if we really believe the gospel, if we really believe that without Jesus our friends are facing an eternity without God, surely it’s worth a few risks to share that news with them.

Adapted from How to Talk about Jesus without Looking like an Idiot: A Panic-Free Guide to Having Natural Conversations about Your Faith by Andy Bannister. Copyright © 2023. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Andy Bannister is a highly in-demand speaker, writer, and broadcaster. Based in the United Kingdom, he’s the director of the Solas Centre for Public Christianity, an evangelism and training ministry. He is an adjunct professor at Wycliffe College, University of Toronto, and an adjunct research fellow at Melbourne School of Theology in Australia. In all that he does, Andy is passionate about getting the gospel out of the four walls of the church and equipping Christians to share their faith in their communities. Andy is married to Astrid, and they have two children, Caitriona and Christopher. They live in Wiltshire in England.

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