“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you, yet to do it with gentleness and respect” 1 Peter 3:15 (ESV) To share our faith at any opportunity we are given, while also being gentle and respectful can be a difficult thing for even the most experienced Christian to do. Those who ask about our hope may do so for any number of reasons and respond in a variety of ways.
Sharing our faith is one of the most important things God expects us to do as Christians. How much time though, do we spend actively teaching young people how to share their faith? How much guided practice do we give them? In most cases, young people are told little more than “invite people to church” or “tell them they need to baptized”. Is it any wonder many Christian adults still have no earthly idea how to share their faith with others?
Obviously, there are many layers to faith sharing just as there are with other skill sets. You can give your Bible students a beginning though by teaching them (and helping them practice) these basic skill sets of evangelism:
- The overarching story of the Bible. Can your students clearly and somewhat concisely explain Creation, the Fall, the need for a Messiah and the promise fulfilled by Jesus?
- The story of Jesus. Can your students tell various stories from the life of Jesus and how they confirm he is the Messiah and how they fulfilled numerous Old Testament prophecies?
- The plan of salvation. Can your students explain the need for not only hearing and believing the Gospel message, but also repentance of their sins, confession that Jesus is their Lord and baptism by immersion for the remission of sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit? Can older students have rudimentary, respectful conversations about why infant baptism and the so called sinner’s or believer’s prayer don’t fulfill God’s instructions for becoming a Christian?
- Personal faith stories. Can your students give examples of why they believe God is real, how their faith impacts their lives and the ways they have seen God working in our world today?
- Next steps. Can your students suggest next steps for people to take in their faith journey? It may be as simple as knowing how to get them a Bible, or invite them to church, set up a more formal bible study or help them arrange a baptism. Your students need to be comfortable encouraging people to continue moving towards God – especially if they may not see them again.
- Personal spiritual growth. Serving others and sharing their faith will be easier for them if they are spiritually mature and healthy. Encouraging them to participate in spiritual disciplines that will keep their personal faith growing and strengthening is key for their future effectiveness in bearing fruit.
Taking the time to intentionally teach your Bible students how to serve others and share their faith will make it easier for them to do it. Otherwise, they may never have the confidence to do one of the most important things God has asked His people to do.