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The Biggest Fears About Evangelism—and How to Overcome Them

Resonate Global Mission missionary David Kromminga says the best way to share the gospel is through building relationships first.

When you think of evangelism, what do you picture? Someone standing on a street corner or going door to door to hand out tracts? Do you imagine awkward conversations? If so, it’s no wonder the idea of sharing our faith might seem scary.

Julia Kooy is a campus minister in Ontario who sympathizes with this evangelism anxiety.

“I think most of us have fears around evangelism,” she said—“fears of rejection if we share the gospel, fears that if we pressure or push someone too much we will push them away, a fear of failure that we might say the wrong thing or not have the right answers to tough questions.”

ReFrame Ministries and Resonate Global Mission staff share the gospel every day in their work. Here are some of the fears they hear from others and, in some cases, have overcome in their own lives and ministries.

‘I Don’t Want to Give a Presentation’

Many people in the church today might have learned that evangelism is about giving a one-time presentation of the gospel. Karen Wilk, who leads Resonate Global Mission’s Go Local ministry, said this can not only create fear, but can be harmful.

Go Local is a Resonate ministry that equips believers to join God on mission in their neighborhoods.

“If we look at Jesus’ ‘gospeling,’ we notice that it happens in the flow of everyday life, genuine conversation, and relationship,” Wilk said.

What if sharing the gospel in our own lives looked something like Jesus’ approach?

“What if sharing the good news is also about getting to know our neighbors in our ordinary, everyday lives and, as conversations deepen, paying attention to how God is at work in such a way that we not only speak about good news, but live it?” Wilk wondered.

Wilk helps equip believers to live into this lifestyle through Go Local—and lives it out in her own daily life. Recently she brought over some poppyseed cake to a neighbor she had been getting to know.

“When (the neighbor) saw it was poppyseed cake, she burst into tears. … After some deep breaths and a tissue or two, she began to share about her mom, who always made poppyseed cake. They were so close, and she missed her so much,” said Wilk. “I listened and gave her a hug. … We are getting to know one another. She is lovely, and God is at work.”

‘I Don’t Want to Go Door to Door’

When you think of evangelism, do you think of going door to door or handing out tracts on a street corner?

“These things sometimes do make a difference, but I believe a whole lot of energy and resources are put into this kind of thing with very little to show for it,” said Resonate missionary David Kromminga. “I believe that the best channel for the good news to flow is through a relationship of trust between a follower of Jesus and someone who does not yet know him.”

Kromminga and his wife, Mary Buteyn, planted a church with and for refugees in Berlin, Germany. One of the ways the two meet and build relationships with newcomers in the city is through language cafes at Berliner Stadtmission (Berlin City Mission). They sit with newcomers to Germany and speak German with them. As they get to know one another, Kromminga said it becomes natural to pray for them or invite them to church. While Kromminga always hopes someone will come to know the hope of Jesus, he says the relationship is not a means to an end.

“It's important to care for the person regardless of their response to the good news,” Kromminga said. “Without that unconditional care, the relationship can easily become manipulative, making a person into our evangelistic project.”

Kromminga said many people today are lonely and longing for friendships and community. He believes loneliness is a huge ministry opportunity for churches in Germany and throughout the world.

‘I Don’t Have the Gift of Evangelism’

Some people are hesitant to share their faith because they don’t feel they have a gift for it or they don’t have all the answers.

“There are certainly some people who are more gifted in the area of evangelism than others, and it comes more naturally to them, but evangelism is a command for all believers,” Kooy said. “The great commission is for all of us as followers of Jesus.”

Kooy said she has also wrestled with fears about sharing faith but has come to understand that evangelism is more about building relationships and learning to “follow the nudges of the Holy Spirit.”

“What I have found most effective in evangelism is to start with prayer, ask God for opportunities, and then build relationships, invite people to church, events, Bible studies, and lead people to Christ,” she said.

Kooy works at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., with Momentum Campus Ministries, a Resonate partner. She’s witnessed several students decide to follow Christ after first building friendships through the campus ministry.

‘I Can’t Invite My Friends to Church’

Some people worry that inviting their friends to church is a step too far. They fear it will make things awkward in their friendship or even place an inconvenient burden on their friend to ask them to change their schedule to visit church on a Sunday when they already have commitments. But in Indonesia, inviting a friend to visit church could mean asking for a day-long commitment.

Indonesia has more than 6,500 inhabited islands, and a journey to the nearest church could include a canoe trip, a motorcycle ride, and a trek over a mountain. Still, many Christians in Indonesia want to share their faith with others, find answers to their own questions about the Christian faith, and belong to a community of believers.

To help meet this need, ReFrame’s partners in Indonesia have formed media communities. In 30 different locations—in homes, schools, or community centers—to listen to audio programs and watch videos on one of Indonesia’s popular social media platforms and to discuss what they learn. In this way, small groups held in accessible locations at convenient times can overcome many barriers to attending church. More than 600 people now participate.

These groups are founded or led by staff of one of ReFrame’s partner ministries, but the goal is always to develop local leaders in each community.

“This work empowers Christian leaders in remote areas,” said Arliyanus LaRosa, ReFrame’s Indonesian ministry leader. “We’re providing them with new resources and skills to do the Lord’s work.”

‘I Don’t Know What to Do Next’

Perhaps the most common fear that Christians have when it comes to evangelism is a feeling of inadequacy. Once someone expresses an interest in Christ or the church, what do I do? How can I help them move further in their faith?

ReFrame’s partners in India are wrestling with this question as they notice an openness to the gospel there despite the country’s struggles.

“The economic and social challenges in India today have led many people to question their faith and become more open to Christianity,” said Avyaan,* ReFrame’s Hindi ministry partner. “But the challenge is discipling new believers to make them strong in their faith.”

Avyaan’s answer to this challenge is the same one that applies to evangelism in the North American context: relationship-building. Building friendships and being open to having conversations even when we don’t have all the answers is the best way to walk alongside those new to Christianity.

Although many relationships with seekers or new Christians in India begin on social media, ReFrame’s partners follow up with their audiences for a deeper connection.

“They may have an interest in health, technical skills, or skill development,” Avyaan said, “so we offer training programs to connect with them and to share the gospel. If they're interested, we go to their nearest town and do a follow-up discipleship meeting, which helps us further develop relationships with them.”

*names changed or removed for security purposes

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