What does a mature disciple of Christ look like? Over the past decade Lifeway Research has delved into this with thousands of pastors and church leaders. Culling through the data, we discovered that strong discipleship ministries and practices could be put in eight categories. We call these eight categories the signposts along the discipleship pathway. One sign of growing disciples is that they share Christ with others.
Deep down, most believers know they should be sharing their faith, but few of us do. We can offer excuses—I’m afraid of saying something wrong. I don’t know how. I don’t want to come across like a pushy salesperson.—but growing in our faith should include sharing our faith. Mature followers of Christ may still experience sweaty palms or the occasional nervous tremor in their voices, but they embrace the opportunity to witness of Christ for three reasons:
- They see it as their personal responsibility.
Christ’s Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20) is a call for everyone, not just pastors and church leaders. Everyone is commissioned to make disciples. Of course, that includes more than just evangelism—it includes the whole discipleship process—but it begins with leading the person to trust Christ. It is our responsibility to not only let others see Jesus in us but also to tell them about the Jesus they see in us!
- They are aware of the lost people around them.
We are surrounded by the lost, and as we live out our faith, we stand out. For example, when we respond to trials and difficulties with joy and contentment, others notice. Maturing disciples are aware their actions are observed by others. They are ready to respond to any questions the lost may have, and they are equally ready to give an answer even if the question is not verbally asked. As Peter wrote, “In your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3:15).
- They build relationships with the lost.
It’s tempting—and easy!—to surround ourselves with other Christians and those who believe just like us. While maturing disciples do not neglect the needed accountability and fellowship with other believers, they also intentionally seek out the lost. They attempt to build a relationship, getting to know the other person, in order to love them and seize the opportunity to share with him the gospel.
Ways the Church Can Foster Believers Who Share Christ.
- Model it. Let church members see you share your faith. Talk about it. Take someone with you if you’re making an intentional evangelistic visit.
- Lead a course on how to share your faith. There are several good options for leading a group in learning to share their faith: Tell Someone by Greg Laurie; Life on Mission by Dustin Wills and Aaron Coe; and the classic Share Jesus Without Fear by William Fay and Ralph Hodge.
- Lead a course on apologetics. Many believers are concerned they wouldn’t know how to respond if they’re asked a difficult question. One place to start is in offering a course on defending the faith and answering the tough questions. Mary Jo Sharp’s Why Do You Believe That? and Jeremiah Johnston’s Unanswered are good options.
- Pray for the lost. During corporate times, we often focus on health needs. We should lift those needs before God, but guide believers to also pray for lost people by name. Encourage them to place those names in a prominent place as a reminder to pray. As we pray for individuals, our hearts are drawn to them and God opens doors for sharing the gospel with them.
- Cultivate relationships with those outside the church. Use every event on the church schedule as an open door to those outside the church. Remind believers to get to know the lost guests who attend the events and be intentional in building relationships.
We’d love to hear from you. What are some ways your church is helping believers share Christ?
Lynn Pryor (@lynnpryor) is a team leader in Lifeway’s ongoing adult Bible study department. He also serves as an interim pastor in the Nashville area. Read more from his blog at lynnhpryor.com.