In the Grace family it’s no longer unclear what the biggest hindrance to witness is, if you believe the recent feedback we received from your Communication Cards. Fear, lack of good contacts, lack of time, and lack of motivation all received several mentions, but the top barrier to witness that we listed was…wait for it…lack of confidence.
To address this barrier we should consider a truth that extends well beyond witness. Having confidence in a situation typically arises from experience in similar past situations and a sense of preparedness for the situation one is anticipating. These two factors are related, of course, as processing experiences leads to preparedness for the future, and a sense of preparedness makes us willing to gain more experience.
As a result, if we want to build confidence for witness, we might consider taking a two-pronged approach aimed at the two “confidence ingredients” mentioned above. To gain experience, we simply need to push ourselves to get evangelistic “reps,” to use an athletic metaphor. As any experienced witness for Christ will say, there is almost always a degree of discomfort in being a witness. If we want to gain experience representing Jesus verbally, we’d better not wait until we feel totally prepared. Jesus even cautioned us against being anxious beforehand about what we will say when called upon to represent Him.
Mark 13:11 And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.
There is a lot of wisdom in challenging ourselves to speak whether we feel ready or not, and in the process we will gain valuable experience for our next encounter.
This doesn’t mean that we have to make our experiences as uncomfortable as possible. One way to gain additional evangelistic experience is to think less about what answers we can give people and focus instead on what questions we could ask them. We can also pray, as our friends at Contagious Disciple Making suggest, that God will make transitions in our conversations more natural so that we can get to the Gospel without feeling we have to bend a conversation until it breaks.
How could we prepare ourselves better for witness? First, we need to be praying for evangelistic opportunities. Pastor Gary shared in an earlier post that praying for these opportunities is an excellent way to redeem our time. We can pray that God will open doors among specific groups of people that we come in contact with. A funny thing happens when we spend a lot of time praying that non-believers will come to trust in Jesus: we become more aware of opportunities to play a role in that process. And in this case, awareness leads to preparedness, as we will naturally start paying attention to people’s needs and feelings in a way that makes us better able to speak into their situations.
Second, we can expose ourselves regularly to trusted resources aimed at making us more effective witnesses. We suggest, for example, that you sign up to receive our weekly Training Resources Newsletter, which gives lots of ideas and tools to help you be as effective as possible in witness. Another great resource is the 90-Day Disciple Making Challenge—also from Contagious Disciple Making. This series of short daily emails gives subscribers one digestible action item every 24 hours to implement. Many of these daily items do not directly require one to engage in proclamation of the Gospel. Rather, they help subscribers to cultivate the sort of lifestyle preparedness that develops confidence and leads to great witness.
Now it’s your turn. How have you overcome your lack of confidence for witness? Leave us a comment!
Beau Stanley and his wife, Stacey, both grew up in the Columbus area and have been part of Grace Polaris Church for most of their lives. Beau joined the Grace staff in 2007 after theology studies in the Chicago area and in Phoenix (Phoenix Seminary). Prior to that, he studied commerce (University of Virginia) and worked in the financial industry, including a role as an investment banking analyst for Goldman Sachs in New York City. Beau is a fitness enthusiast and also enjoys music and learning about diverse topics. Beau and Stacey have two young boys.