It never fails. After we share the gospel with someone, we tend to look back and wish we would have explained things better or said things differently. That's OK. Too many people keep their faith to themselves out of fear of messing up.
It's better to evangelize imperfectly than to never share at all.
That said, there are some common missteps that should be carefully avoided when sharing the gospel.
1. Sticking to a script
There are so many great tools out there for explaining why the gospel is important. People have had a lot of success using things like Romans Road or the Four Spiritual Laws as a device for talking to others.
While tools like these can be beneficial, it's good to think of them as guides and not scripts. They should be familiar enough that you can share them conversationally. If you're too reliant upon them, your presentation comes off feeling wooden and passionless. The other party often feels like you're trying to sell them something.
2. Pushing too hard, too quick
The fact that you want to share your faith is a sign that you're enthusiastic about it. But for people who don't know Jesus, sometimes that passion comes across as intensity, and it can be intimidating. Your zeal for communicating the gospel shouldn't feel like you're pushing them to sign on the dotted line.
Remember, God is working in their heart. It's not necessarily your responsibility to close the deal. Paul hammers this point home with the church in Corinth:
"I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor" (1 Corinthians 3:6–8, New International Version).
When you remember that you're one part of the process that God's using to bring someone else to Him, it takes a lot of the pressure off. You can share why you believe without feeling the expectation that you need to push them toward a decision.
3. Assuming biblical familiarity
Times have changed. The average person isn't as familiar with the Bible as people might have been even 20 years ago. We can't take it for granted that people have any biblical background or understanding. In fact, it's best not to assume that they give the Bible any special authority at all.
When sharing the gospel, it's wise to do some probing so that you can get a sense of their baseline understanding of Christianity before you dive into a theological conversation. If that's not an option, it's best to expect that they're starting at zero.
4. Neglecting their input
In most situations, you should try to have a dialogue and not a monologue. This communicates that you genuinely care about the person you’re talking to, and opens the door to future conversations. Of course, it also means that you're going to hear things you don't agree with. Try to give them the kind of respect you hope they have for you.
Instead of shooting them down or telling them where they're wrong, look for areas where you share common ground. By affirming them when you can, you’ll help them be more open to your thoughts.
Lack of response is not failure
Jesus reminds us that "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them ..." (John 6:44, NIV). This is good news! We're called to share Jesus with the people around us, but He's the one drawing them. That means that the conversation isn’t a failure if it doesn't go according to your plan or if they don't respond positively.
Ultimately, the best way to get better at sharing your faith is to do it a lot and make plenty of mistakes. It helps us get over the jitters and even helps us become aware of more opportunities. So don't worry too much about getting it right—just get out there and start talking about Jesus!
To learn more about sharing your faith with others, go to Cru.org.