I love the mountains and spend any time that I can hiking and climbing in them. I therefore own gargantuan quantities of hiking equipment, and one of my favourite pieces of kit is my ice axe. There is just one little problem. I’ve never used the thing. I certainly aspire to use it, I mean to use it, I plan to use it. One day. Just not today.
It’s one thing to buy a piece of kit. It’s another to actually use it. And I want to suggest the same goes for evangelism. So, let me offer you twelve simple and practical ways to get started:
Specifically, I suggest praying for opportunities, that the Lord might bring people across your path. One helpful trick that works for me is to put a little reminder on a Post-it Note and stick it somewhere I’ll see it first thing in the morning. Psychologists say that one of the best ways to learn a new habit is to connect it to an existing habit, so if the first thing you do each morning is put the kettle out, why not take a minute or two to pray whilst you’re waiting for your first caffeine shot of the day?
2. Make a list
Write down the names of four or five non-Christians in your life—perhaps friends or colleagues—and create a habit of praying for them regularly. Daily is great, but don’t beat yourself up if you fail to do that. I’ve found writing a list and using it as a bookmark in my Bible is helpful.
3. Be brave
Maybe next time the “What did you do on the weekend?” question comes up in a conversation, don’t pretend to have a furball-induced coughing fit, but say something really positive about church. Or bring an interesting Christian book to work and read it during the lunch break and be ready when colleagues ask what you’re reading.
4. Engage in random acts of kindness
If a colleague is having a tough time at work, could you leave a gift on their desk? Could you offer to take the neighbours’ kids for an hour or two so they can get some rest one weekend? And remember, the key thing is not just to be a randomly nice person but when your neighbour or colleague asks, “Why did you do that?” to be bold and say, in your own words, that as a follower of Jesus, you’re keen to find ways to show his love in action.
5. Have a worldview conversation
There are four helpful questions we can ask friends who have either a different faith or no faith:
Do you think there’s some kind of god, and if so, what is god like?
What does it mean to be a human being?
What’s gone wrong with the world?
What’s the solution?
Look for a chance to ask these.
6. Start a spiritual conversation with a friend or colleague
Prayerfully look for places where they express an interest that makes more sense if God is real. For example, go on a hike with a friend and while you’re standing on the summit admiring the view, ask, “Have you ever wondered why as humans we’re so drawn to natural beauty and amazing landscapes?”
7. Share something on social media
Maintain a relatively normal social media presence, but drop in good quality, thought-provoking Christian content regularly, the kind that your non-Christian friends and colleagues might be willing to watch.
8. Try some hospitality
Find opportunities to invite neighbours or colleagues for meals and then prayerfully look for ways to sow conversation starters into those times together. A friend of mine recently plucked up the courage to invite a Muslim colleague and his wife to dinner. The couple accepted, they had a lovely meal together, and the conversation soon turned to faith. But my friend was struck by something his Muslim colleague said at the end: “I have so enjoyed our evening. Thank you for inviting me and sharing what you believe. Do you know, I have lived in the UK for twenty years, and tonight was the first time I have been inside a Christian home.”
9. Offer to pray for a friend
This can sometimes feel scary but can often be a real door opener to spiritual conversations. If a neighbour or friend has shared with you that they’re struggling with something, be brave and consider asking if they’d mind if you prayed for them. You’ll be amazed how often the answer is yes and how that simple offer of prayer can sometimes be the first step to deeper conversations.
10. Get involved with what your church is doing
Many pastors report that it can be tough getting people involved with evangelism, so make their lives easy for them. Volunteer to help at whatever it is your church is doing. And if your church isn’t doing anything particularly evangelistic, why not ask your church leader about starting something evangelistic and say you’re willing not just to be involved but to recruit others?
11. Talk about these ideas with your kids
So many young Christian students I meet are desperate for help and suggestions on sharing their faith at school or on campus, so make evangelism a family affair. Teach them, encourage them, celebrate with them when things go well, support them when things go wrong, and above all help them get a vision for sharing their faith at a young age.
12. Get inspired by what others are doing
If there are people in your church who are more naturally gifted at evangelism than you, spend time with them and get excited about what God is doing—and maybe learn some new ideas. Or dig into the many stories on the Solas website of Christians sharing their faith at work. If there are other believers in your workplace, seek them out and get connected—it’s easier to start praying for or reaching your workplace or campus if you’re connected to others.
The good news is that however much we want to share the gospel with our friends and colleagues, however great our desire is for them to know Jesus, God’s desire is infinitely bigger than ours, proven by what he did in Jesus. God’s love for our friends is far, far greater than ours. And so, as we step out in faith, we do this not in our power, but in the power of the Holy Spirit that God gives us. As the Bible puts it so beautifully:
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
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.