Sharing the gospel is important and must reflect the character of Jesus, which means we need to share the gospel without being a jerk.
In my life as a pastor and a disciple of Jesus, I’ve learned the necessity of sharing the gospel in truth and in love—without being a jerk to those I try to win over to Christ. This may seem like an easy, no-brainer topic, but quite a few nuances are involved.
When sharing the gospel, you are likely to have the most success if you share it with someone you already have a relationship with, such as a neighbor or an acquaintance. If you know someone well enough to gain their trust, even a little bit, you are less likely to be rejected or be a jerk to them about Christianity.
Overcoming the Fear of Rejection
Often, the primary fear in sharing the gospel is the fear of rejection. No one wants to feel foolish or insignificant concerning their faith, so how can you cope with such fears?
In response to the fear of rejection, you have a lot to consider. First, the fact that you want to share your faith means you understand who and what you are as a follower of Jesus.
Most Christians believe their job is to invite somebody to church, so somebody else can share the gospel. However, when you’re a Christ follower, you’re a disciple who’s supposed to make disciples—which requires living in such a way that you share your faith with others.
Learn more about the need for humility while sharing the gospel in Jim Putman’s book The Revolutionary Disciple.
You spend time with Jesus, which enables him to change you. At which point, you begin seeing what he sees and caring about what he cares about.
Remember, Jesus came to seek and to save the lost, which means, ultimately, your job is to become a fisherman.
That job is for every Christian. Not everybody is a church leader, but everybody is a disciple who can make disciples.
God saved you for a purpose, and that purpose is to share your faith wherever you work, live, and play. The more time you spend with Jesus, the more you will understand this.
Rejecting You—Or Rejecting Jesus?
People are either going to heaven or hell—to live with Jesus or without Jesus. But God truly wants to save people.
So being a Christ follower requires becoming courageous enough to share the gospel with people. Following Christ requires participation in the effort of bringing others to Jesus.
At some point, your fear that somebody is going to hell will overwhelm your fear of rejection as you realize how much you don’t want them to be in hell. Instead, you will want them to know Jesus and be saved.
That realization will truly motivate you. Sharing your faith is still scary, though, because rejection is real.
You may worry that if you don’t do it right, they’ll reject Jesus altogether. Not wanting that to happen makes some people keep from doing anything at all because they don’t want to make a mistake.
But our calling is to share our faith and be disciples who make disciples.
You must decide to walk through the process with somebody, talk about what it looks like, and be willing to make mistakes—not on purpose, of course. Simply maintain a mentality of, “I’m going to grow and figure this out because sharing my faith is why God saved me.”
Everyone deals with a fear of rejection and a fear of failure.
But at the end of the day, you must step over that line of being uncomfortable, which can be a little scary. Remember, courage is part of being a follower of Jesus.
Two Types of Disciple-Making Interactions
When you share your faith, you will have two different kinds of interactions:
- Interactions with strangers
- Interactions with those with whom you’re in relationship
You will have interactions with people you don’t know. Whether at the grocery store or on an airplane, you have opportunities to interact with others and engage in conversations of faith with them.
Sometimes a person will be open to conversation about Christ, and sometimes they won’t be interested at all. Don’t lose heart when someone isn’t interested.
Know that a person needs to be a disciple, not just converted.
Conversion doesn’t have to happen in one shot; your role is to plant seeds. You can pray for those you encounter and share resources or next steps with them.
The best evangelism experiences come from people with whom you’re in relationship, those for whom you’ve been praying.
These are the situations where you have invested in the person by doing prep work. Doing prep work means you care about them, and you show them you care through your actions.
What’s an example of this? Say they’re moving, and you show up and help them move. If they’re struggling, you call them and ask how they are doing.
These are those whom you’ve prayed for and yearned to make into disciples. You show that you care long before explaining the gospel to them.
Realistic Expectations as You Share the Gospel
I hate to think about sales in relation sharing the gospel because sales can be a shallow business, but the comparison works. When I sold cars, people walked onto the lot, pointed at a vehicle, and said, “That’s the one I want.”
That’s often our expectation for others coming to Christ. But it’s not realistic. Therefore, when we bring people to church without talking to them about where they may be in relation to God and the church, how can we expect to suddenly flip their lives around to follow Jesus?
That perception is unrealistic.
Think of it more like planting seeds for someone else to water later. Seeds that will hopefully grow into discipleship and into salvation.
Just look to see where God is already working and join him there. Ask questions. Look for opportunities.
This means your eyes are open. You might have a week without any spiritual conversations, but the question is: Were your eyes open and were you ready to respond?
Many Christians have a mindset of waiting for others to come and seek them out, but Jesus said to go into the world.
We minister to others, care for them, notice them, and have conversations with them. All the while, we look for opportunities to disciple—not expecting them to have more initiative to be discipled than we have to disciple them.
The church body does its own evangelistic work, but the individual work of initiating purpose-filled relationships with outsiders to help them know Jesus is your job.
Then after you lead someone to Christ, you become a spiritual parent to them. The Holy Spirit empowers you to shepherd that new believer in discipleship.
Don’t Be a Jerk as You Share the Gospel
Next, we should be mindful of how we speak and act, especially if we’re participating in the work of winning others to Jesus. You don’t want to be a jerk. You want to tell the truth in love.
So where’s the line between giving someone the harsh reality of eternity and not turning them away?
Well, if you tell a person about hell, but you don’t tell them about your relationship with God and all his efforts to save people, you won’t get very far.
If you don’t walk through these truths with people, and just inform them that God will send them to hell if they don’t believe in Jesus, you’ll sound elitist and like a jerk.
Part of not being a jerk is being a humble disciple. Check out my book The Revolutionary Disciple to see the importance of humility in discipleship. Part of being a humble disciple requires that you:
Share information with the heart of God in mind.
This will often lead to legitimate questions, such as:
- How do I know any of this is true?
- Why would God do such a thing?
- What does God need me for?
When people ask questions, you may get nervous, afraid that you won’t have the right or best answers for them.
But we live in a time where more books to answer questions exist than at any other time in history, so do your research!
In the end, you must be willing to walk through and talk through issues with them.
What’s the Solution?
Jesus went to incredible lengths to reveal the truth about eternity, God, judgment day, and heaven and hell. He also clearly commanded all Christians to be disciple makers.
Your calling is to be the light of the world, a disciple who make disciples. Your job is to share your life and faith with those around you. Some people won’t like it, and that’s okay.
So the solution to sharing the gospel without being a jerk? Truth and love.
You also need correct expectations for what that looks like. You’re not going to teach one principle to someone and be done.
Teaching one principle and expecting them to change their life isn’t going to happen.
Most people don’t believe making disciples is their job, so they don’t work at it. But if you don’t want to get better at making disciples, then you don’t really want to make disciples.
Now, sometimes God drops an opportunity in your lap—take advantage of it. Reach out and minister; help someone become a disciple of Jesus.
Don’t just expect disciple making always to be easy.
If it happens that way sometimes, great. But that’s not the typical path of disciple making.
The Discipling Journey Continues
Making disciples requires much working, praying, ministering, and serving—and the work isn’t done when someone gives their life to Jesus.
They come to Jesus and accept his forgiveness, but they’re still broken. They still need to be discipled.
Don’t just check a person off your list after they accept Christ. Now is the time to teach them what God has taught you through your own personal discipleship.
So the journey continues. As you help them mature in Christ, they will grow into accomplishing the same work of making disciples.
This is our job, and we don’t have permission to be a jerk. We must simply tell the truth in love and have correct expectations along the way.
Be encouraged to break through the fear of rejection and talk to the people around you. Share the gospel, but don’t be a jerk while doing it.
Jim Putman is the senior pastor of Real Life Ministries church in Post Falls, Idaho.
Check out his book The Revolutionary Disciple to learn more about the need for humility in discipleship.
This post was adapted from the Real Life Ministries podcast episode here. Used with permission.