When it comes to sharing our faith, context is everything. Sharing the gospel with someone we have never met and will likely never see again is vastly different than talking about Jesus to the people who know us best and see us regularly.
When talking to friends and family about your faith, here are three helpful things to remember.
1. You’re in a marathon, not a sprint
The mission field within your family and circle of friends is unique. When you’re evangelizing in a foreign culture, you have a very brief window of time to communicate the gospel, but you also don’t have a long history and relationship with them, which can make it easier to be clear and concise.
With our loved ones, we’re probably a lot more passionate about helping them discover Jesus, but there are a lot more relational and emotional boundaries along the way. So we must be careful not to push them too hard or fast. By doing so, we can actually make them more resistant to hearing what we have to say.
Sometimes it takes several years of careful, prayerful communication for them to grasp the gospel. That’s why it’s essential to see this as a marathon. You want to pace yourself so you don’t hurt the relationship or hinder their willingness to talk with you about spiritual things. Of course, there may be moments where the Holy Spirit prompts you to share sooner than you expected. Ask the Lord to lead you in these interactions.
2. Be patient with others’ perception of you
Jesus was the world’s only sinless individual, and He still had to deal with how others saw Him. He tells the disciples, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home” (Mark 6:4). People who spent a lot of time with Jesus in his adolescence would naturally have a hard time imagining that the Messiah would grow up and come from a neighborhood like theirs.
The rest of us aren’t sinless. That means the people closest to us have seen us at our worst, which can color the lens through which they see your faith.
Too often, we have a significant conversion or repentance experience and instantly start pushing hard for others to take us seriously when we talk about our faith. But sometimes it takes a while for others to process your change and see its impact on you.
This is why fruit is so vital in the life of a Christian. The people who know us best may have a lot of reasons to be skeptical of faith’s long-term impact on us. But when they see the consistent and persistent change in us, it’s much harder to argue against the validity of our experience. Remember that the fruit they see in us is evidence of the gospel we share.
3. Focus on what’s important
Some people have genuine questions that hinder them from embracing Jesus’ love. When those questions are answered (sometimes even when they’re not), they’re more than ready to follow Jesus. Other people use their questions as a smokescreen to avoid having to make a choice. Sometimes when people are comfortable with us, they feel more comfortable arguing and debating us.
Obviously, we want to be as open as possible to providing straightforward answers to sincere questions without getting caught in an unhelpful discussion cycle. It’s way too easy for debate to become the entirety of our spiritual interactions.
The fact of the matter is this: lives aren’t transformed because someone received adequate answers to all their questions. They’re changed when we encounter the life-changing gospel. So we must be careful to bring discussions back to Jesus’ death and resurrection. Going back and forth about various Christian or church-related issues or questions can be enjoyable and helpful, but what we all need is the gospel.
Take advantage of our tools and resources
Jesus Film Project® is committed to ensuring that everyone, everywhere has an opportunity to hear about Jesus.
Sharing some of Jesus Film Project’s films can be a valuable addition to spiritual conversations with loved ones. On our YouTube channel or our “Watch” page, you’ll find feature-length movies, short films, and inspiring series—many in multiple languages (the JESUS film itself is available in more than 2,100 languages). These films are easy to share and absolutely free. Share a video and ask one of the included discussion questions from our website to start spiritual conversations today.
Plus, the free Jesus Film Project App makes it easy for anyone to access and share these films. Download our free app on the App Store or Google Play, and you’ll have a library of films in the palm of your hand. Share our app with others who might find this helpful resource, too!
If you’re looking for more of a curriculum, We Are All Missionaries is a free four-week guide intended to increase people’s enthusiasm for sharing their faith.
And Becoming Like Jesus While Being Yourself is another valuable tool to help you understand how your personality impacts how you (and others) approach faith. This free resource enables you to get to know yourself better and improve your ability to communicate with the people in your life.
Together, we can help people worldwide experience the story of Jesus in their heart language.