Paralyzed by Silence


During January, I received a series of questions via Ask Evangelism Coach section.

I’ll take a few posts to answer them.  If you have a question to ask, please do so there, or on Twitter or Facebook.

The question for today:

Do you have a comment on the issue of becoming silent when one has an opening to share his/her faith?

Yesterday I went skiing and the girl with whom I took the lift used the word “Jesus” when she saw a friend down below.

I froze and didn’t say anything, but later reflected on the various responses I could have given that may have led to some significant conversation…

Why does this happen?  I have prayed for boldness a lot – why do I clam up?

Well, I just stayed there and didn’t say anything and thought later how sad I was that I didn’t talk about Jesus with her.

Evangelism Fears

While I can’t answer the particular question about why you go silent, I can offer a summary of common evangelism fears that paralyze us.

Here is a list that I have compiled over the years of teaching workshops and seminars and the most common responses that I get to the question “Why are you afraid of evangelism?”


  • Fear of Rejection
  • Losing a friendship
  • Fear of offending
  • Feeling inadequate
  • Embarrassment over unanswerable questions


  • Fear of what others will think about you.
  • Rudely Interrupting somebody’s life
  • Being seen as arrogant
  • Your own weakness, hypocrisies, and inadequacies
  • Personal Doubt


  • Pastor says so.
  • Jesus says so.
  • To mess up somebody’s eternity destiny is your fault.

Debriefing your encounter:

In the original question, I want to highlight a useful step being made:

I later reflected on the various responses I could have given that may have led to some significant conversation…

This is a good practice to do, and one that I do after nearly every possible conversation.

Continued rumination after every event can help you grow in your skill.  It can also help you grow in your confidence.

Learn from every possible conversation.

  1. What would you do differently?
  2. What would you say if a similar situation encountered.

Instead of analyzing the fear, think forward: what would you do differently next time?


While not evangelism, here is a life example where reflection, rumination and training paid off.

We live in a high rise apartment building.  My youngest cannot reach the buttons for our floor.

What would happen if we were getting in the elevator, but the door closed with my youngest in the elevator without an adult and it started moving to another floor?

We talked with my youngest about what to do.  Every few weeks we ask: what would you do if that happened?  Would you need to be afraid?

She is now able to give an answer without thinking about it.   No fear.  Go to the lobby and wait.

Believe it or not, about two weeks ago, it happened that the elevator doors closed and it moved to another floor before I could get on.  My youngest calmly followed the directions of her training.

There was no fear, no paralysis, no panicked child in the elevator alone.

Coaching corner

Reflect on the last possible evangelism conversation that you had where fear paralyzed you.

  • Instead of wondering why, push forward — what would you do differently the next time a similar situation occurred.
  • What question would you ask to possibly see if there is an open door to talk further?

Image credit: pilens / 123RF Stock Photo

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