Chapter 5 - Getting started | Book | Sharing Your Faith
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Chapter 5

Jump to section:
Get right to the point
Ask questions
The two diagnostic questions
Do a survey
Use tracts
Share a testimony
Bring up the gospel in conversations
Ask if you can pray for people
Your assignment


Most believers have a difficult time bringing up the gospel and getting started. This chapter will give you some ideas how to start sharing.

Get right to the point
Sometimes the best approach is the most direct approach. This is especially true when you are on missionary trips or outreaches because there is usually not enough time to go through lengthy introductions or establish relationships. People have received Christ while waiting for a bus, taking a break from work, or in between classes at school. I have also found that getting right to the point is usually the best way to approach older people and hospital patients because they may not be able to listen very long. Jesus usually got right to the point when He shared the gospel. Most people appreciate it when you tell them early on why you are there so they can decide if they want to listen. If you don’t tell people what you’re doing, they could think you’re giving them a sales pitch and they could become resistant.

When talking to someone you don’t know, introduce yourself, and tell them where you’re from and what you’re doing. You could ask if they’ve ever heard the gospel, if they know Jesus Christ, or if they know what the Bible says about how a person can go to heaven. You can often tell if they have received Christ by how they respond. Here are some of the things I’ve said when I get right to the point.

  • We are out here today telling people about Jesus Christ and the gift of eternal life He wants everyone to have. Can I tell you how you can receive it?
  • We are sharing with people how they can know they will go to heaven when they die. Can I share how you can know that?
  • I’m sharing about the love of God. Can I tell with you how much God loves you?
  • God wants to give you two things—eternal life and a relationship with Jesus Christ. Can I share with you how you can go to heaven and have a relationship with God?
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Ask questions
You can also start by asking any number of questions. The way they answer will often tell you if they are interested and how you can proceed. Even if they don’t appear interested, God could use it to get them thinking about God. Here are some examples. See if you can think of some other questions you could ask.

  • Do you ever pray?
  • Do you believe in God?
  • Who do you think Jesus is?
  • Are you prepared to meet God?
  • Did you know that Jesus is God?
  • Are you at peace with yourself?
  • Are you at peace with others?
  • Are you at peace with God?
  • Do you believe there is life after death?
  • Do you think heaven and hell really exist?
  • Did you know the Bible says Jesus will come again?
  • Do you think God will hold us accountable for what we have done?
  • If your beliefs about God were not true, would you want to know about it?
  • Do you ever think about death and what happens to people when they die?
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The two diagnostic questions
The two diagnostic questions are two questions that help determine if a person has already received Christ. Just as Doctors need to diagnose what the problem is before they prescribe something, we need to diagnose whether or not people have already received Christ before we know if we need to share with them. These questions are very effective in determining whether or not a person has received Christ. I have asked these questions to people who I thought were believers, and found they had never received Christ. If you have received Christ, you should know the answers. See if you do.
  1. If you died today, do you know for certain you would go to heaven?
  2. If you died today, and God asked you, “Why should I let you into heaven”...what would you say?
If you have received Christ you should know that you are going to heaven, and you should know you are going to heaven is because Jesus died for your sins. Being a good person or doing good things has nothing to do with it.

When you ask the first question, understand that only those who have received Christ know they are going to heaven. This is because only those who have received Christ have the Holy Spirit living inside of them giving them this assurance. It doesn’t matter how confident, hopeful, polite, or sincere a person is. Anyone who has not received Christ does not know they are going to heaven. I cannot emphasis this enough. The only people on the planet who know they are going to heaven are those who have received Christ. There are no exceptions.

When people are not completely certain they are going to heaven, it’s doubtful they have received Christ. They may have hope, but they do not have assurance. Sometimes I ask the same question this way, “On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being best, how sure are you that you’re going to heaven?” Anything less than ten is, not sure. After you see how confident believers are, it’s easy to spot those who are not certain. When people don’t know, simply ask if you can tell them how they can know. You will encounter some who have received Christ that lack assurance, but it’s better to error on the side of caution and share the gospel if you’re not sure. If they have received Christ, nothing is lost. If not, they could have gain eternal life.

For the second question, the only reason we can go to heaven is because Christ died for our sins. People may say they will go to heaven because they have received Christ as their Lord and Savior, or something similar, which is OK. The main thing is that we are saved from our sins, and we receive God’s gift of eternal life, only through Jesus Christ. Unbelievers usually think that people get to heaven by being a good person or doing good things. The more you ask these questions, the more you will be able to determine who has received Christ and who hasn’t.

When people say they know they are going to heaven because they’re a good person or because they do good things, it’s very doubtful they’ve received Christ. Here are three ways I have started to share with people after people have given me an answer that indicates they haven’t received Christ.
  1. According to the answer, that would not get you into heaven. Can I share how you can go to heaven when you die?
  2. The bad news is that according you your answer, you would not go to heaven, but the good news is, God wants you to go to heaven and He wants to give you eternal life. Are you interested?
  3. I’m absolutely certain I’m going to heaven—would you like to know how I’m so certain?
When you tell unbelievers who think they are going to heaven that you are absolutely certain that you are going to heaven, many will want to know how you can be so certain. This is because they are not certain. I have never had anyone tell me, “I already know I’m going to heaven, so why would I care how you know.”

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Do a survey
One way to start that might be less threatening for many is to do a survey. A survey is nothing more than asking a series of questions. All you have to do to get started is ask people if you they would be willing to answer some questions. You don’t have to think about much. You may want to tell people that the purpose of the survey is to bring God to people’s attention and give them an opportunity to hear the gospel so they don’t think that it is tied into a major research project or that you are trying to get personal information from them. You can ask any questions you want, but here are some examples:
  1. Do you believe in God?
  2. Do you think God will hold us accountable for what we have done?
  3. Do you ever pray
  4. Do you ever go to church?
  5. If you died today, do you know for certain you would go directly to heaven?
  6. If you died today and God asked you, why should I let you into heaven...what would you say?
The first three questions can help you know if they even believe in God and how receptive they might be. The fourth question could help you understand their background and the last two questions are the diagnostic questions that could open the door to share the gospel. You could also do a survey specifically about Christmas and ask questions like, “Why do people celebrate Christmas?” “Who is Jesus?” “Do you think most people have forgotten the meaning of Christmas?” and then go from there by asking the diagnostic questions or any questions you want.

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Use tracts
Another good way to approach people is to give people a gospel tract. This gives them something to look at later. You could read it together or explain as you read it to make it more personal. If you did this all day, you would probably memorize the entire tract in a few hours, along with the scriptures in the tract. Tracts can be the only way to communicate the gospel with those who don’t know your language. When I was sharing at a University in Germany, there weren’t many translators around so we gave tracts to people that were written in German. I was told later that a student who took a tract came back after reading it, and was lead to the Lord by a German believer. You can also give people small pocket versions of the New Testament or the gospel of John.

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Share a testimony
If there is one thing every believer can share, it’s a testimony. Testimonies tell what events that lead up to receiving Christ and show what you have now is better than what you had before. The apostle Paul shared his testimony in both Acts 22 and 26 when he preached the gospel. After Jesus cast many demons out of a man, Jesus told him, “Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.” (Mark 5:19)

Two short testimonies every believer can share are they have peace and they know they are going to heaven. This can get people’s attention because unbelievers don’t have that. Unbelievers also don’t know how God can direct us and work out everything in our lives. Consequently, you could start by telling people how God has made a difference in your life. If they seem interested, see if you can tell them more about God or start sharing the gospel. The great thing about sharing testimonies is that you can share them at any time. You can share a testimony right out of the blue, or in the middle of sharing the gospel, or in the middle of a conversation. Be ready. When someone gives you a compliment, give God the credit, and share what He has done in your life. If someone you know at work asks why you don’t complain like everyone else, share what you used to be like and how God has worked in your life.

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Bring up the gospel in conversations
Instead of sharing a testimony and telling people something about the past, tell people something about the present. You may feel lead to share part or all of the gospel at some point, and you may have a better idea how you can share after you get to know them. You could ask questions, like was just discussed, you could share something about the Bible, or you could ask if you can share the gospel.

Sometimes all you have to do is ask people how their day is going. A bad day can be a good opportunity to share about the hope you have. A death in a person’s family or news of a terminal disease can lead into a discussion about what happens after death. The same is true when talking about many current events, like wars and tragedies. Discussions about celebrities can lead into asking what they think makes a person happy. Even good luck charms could prompt you to ask if they believe in a greater power, which can lead into asking if they believe in God and the gospel. Think how you can use holidays like Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving as a way to share the gospel. You could also tell people about an upcoming event, crusade, or service.

Be ready to respond to comments people make. Some of the most notable things Jesus said were a response to what someone said. John 3:16 and John 14:6 are examples. For example, when people mention God, you could ask if they feel they know God or would like to know God. If someone said, “I believe in God,” ask if they believe in Jesus, and go from there. If someone told you they believe in Jesus, ask if they have received Christ and explain what it means to receive Christ. When people mention something about their church, ask what their church believes, or what they believe. Ask if their church teaches that Jesus is the only way to heaven. When someone makes a derogatory comment about God or the Bible, take a stand and tell them what the Bible says about that and they would be better off doing what the Bible says.

As a teacher, I often bring up the gospel as a response to something. When we come to the chapter about evolution, I tell students that there are other scientists who believe in intelligent design and explain what they believe. Before students went home for winter and spring breaks, I tell students that these breaks use to be called Christmas and Easter vacations, and I tell them why.

Don’t just wait to respond to people. Be the first to say something and tie it into the gospel. This is what Jesus did when He asked the Samaritan woman at the well for a drink. (John 4:1-26) One teacher I know did this by telling students, “There are three things you need to be successful. First you need an education, second you need to marry the right person, and third you need to receive Christ. He then proceeded to share the gospel.”

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Ask if you can pray for people
When people don’t want to listen to the gospel, ask if there is something you could pray for them about. If you don’t pray for them while they are there, make sure that you pray for them soon after they leave. When we were at a truck stop, we asked a trucker if we could share the gospel. He told us that he didn’t have time because his wife was very sick and he had to attend to her. He wanted us to let us pray for her though, which we did, and about fifteen minutes later he came back and told us his wife was much better and he thanked us for praying for her. Don’t underestimate what God can do when you share the gospel. Jesus often healed people before sharing the gospel, and actually told us to “Heal the sick” (Matthew 10:8) when we share the gospel. I have come to believe that God gives special favor to those who share the gospel. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16)

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Your assignment
I used to work with a teacher who is very outgoing and friendly, is never at a loss for words, and never has a problem starting a conversation or getting to know people. When I mentioned how outgoing she was, she told me when she was eight years old she was extremely shy and she didn’t talk to anyone. She said that in order to cure her of her shyness, her dad would take her to a park and tell her they weren’t going home until she made at least three friends. When she told me this I emphatically told her, “Well that worked!” What’s was even more interesting is that when her dad made her do this, he was seventy-five at the time! She had a very old and wise father. Why not learn from an old, wise guy.

Your assignment is to talk to three people you don’t know and then see if you can share something about the gospel. You probably don’t need suggestions about what to say as much as you need to challenge yourself to start talking.

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