Eleven Tips for Communicating God's Word
(witnessing, preaching, teaching, discipling, mentoring)
1. Are you evangelizing or discipling? Teaching is for believers and unbelievers must hear the gospel. If you are teaching, you can expect to spend time explaining and answering questions, but if they want to argue, stop teaching and start evangelizing!
2. Trust God's Word and the Holy Spirit to do the heavy work. When you share the gospel, it is the power of God unto salvation. God's Word always accomplishes what God intends it to do. The Holy Spirit is given to all believers to guide us in the truth.
3. Don't assume anything about the other person. If you don't know them, ask questions. If the other claims to be a Christian, accept the statement as truth. If the person is not, it will come out in the conversation sooner or later. First impressions are seldom accurate.
4. Admit your own weaknesses, lack of knowledge, education or experience. When evangelizing, try not to begin with disagreement. A question is a better opener. Listen for thoughts that the other person has which might be or have been similar to yours. "I agree," or "I used to be of that opinion" are good responses that leave the door open. Whether witnessing or teaching, God's Word is the authority, not you. "Maybe we should look to see what the Bible says" is a good statement.
5. Keep it simple. Because we are eager to share, does not mean the other is eager to learn. Don't try to do a 'data dump' of your knowledge, experience or even of God's truth. We teach our children to take small bites and chew well before swallowing. That is good advice in evangelism and teaching too.
6. Recognize God's networking. You are only one of God's children and others can take over where you leave off or reaffirm what you said. You may not be the first to share the gospel with them. It is sometimes helpful to ask if they have heard it before.
7. You are convinced that the truth is on your side, but no one knowingly believes a lie! Be cautious about dismissing or negating what others have been taught by parents or other religions. When differing opinions or contradictory beliefs come up, admit that one of you must be wrong. This may be the time for some WWWWWH questions. Who told you that? What makes you think…? Where did you learn that? When did you decide…? Why would a person come to such a conclusion? How can we explain…?
8. Regardless of who closes the conversation, suggest meeting again to discuss this further. You can offer to do some study on a matter of discussion that seemed to interest the other person.
9. Listen to God before talking with people, and then listen to the people. Listening is one of the most important gifts. Talking is silver and listening is gold. Listening builds your credibility and it helps avoid being judgmental.
10. Avoid harsh or sensationalist rhetoric. You may be convinced that the Pope is the Antichrist, but keep it to yourself. After World War I, most people viewed Hitler as an evil dictator, but at the annexation of Austria, most citizens and even church leaders viewed him as a savior of the nation ("Heil" is the German word for salvation).
11. Always follow up with prayer. If a special concern or need is mentioned, offer to pray about it – if possible, right away. Memorize the person's name and pray regularly for that person and any needs or concerns they may have shown. In you next meeting with that person, ask about the matter you prayed about.
Ralph V. Harvey, 2015