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

For Greeters: What to say to A Church Visitor

What Church Greeters can Say to First Time Church Visitors - small talk suggestions to avoid awkward moments.

How often have you heard this excuse for not having church greeters?

Greeting church visitors is every one’s responsibility.

However, you know this doesn’t always get done.

Thus, many churches  have organized greeting teams to serve a few weeks in a row.

In my experience, some times people who are recruited as church greeters may not be sure exactly what to say or how to give a greeting.  Read: 20 Crazy Things Church Greeters say.

You’ll need to find ways to improve the greeting ministry of your church.

Your Greeters might be nervous

It can be a little embarrassing to say “I don’t know how to do this” so in the privacy of their own home, they search the Internet for

  • “How to say a welcome to a church visitor”
  • “Welcome Scripts for Church Guests”
  • “Greetings to 1st time visitors at church”
  • “A word of welcome for church visitors”
  • How to Say the Welcome Greeting at a church
  • “Words of welcome to/for church visitors”
  • “What to say to welcome visitors in a church”
  • “How to say a welcome to visitors at church”
  • “Tips on welcoming First timers in Church”
  • Welcome address to visitors in Church.”
  • “Church Welcome Address to Visitors.”

This list above comes from my search logs just in the past 3 days.

So let me share some possible starting scripts that you can use yourself, or develop more fully into a resource you can use at your church.

If you are a church greeting coordinator, perhaps you might want to consider giving a script to your new greeters.  Once people say something a few times, they might feel the liberty to relax and put their own flavor to it.

You can give your new greeter permission to mess up.  Consider these as guidance to offer them.

At Entrances:

Sample one line greetings for parking lot or entry greeters or for your members to say in a hallway:

Welcome to [church name] this morning!

God bless you.

We’re glad you are here this morning.

I’ve not met you yet!  Welcome.

From the Front:

During the worship service, the leader can say something like the following to welcome visitors.

We are glad that you are here with us this morning.

If this is your first or second Sunday with us, we are grateful that you have come to be with us this morning.  It is our hope that you experience the love of Christ this morning and His presence during our worship.

If your church does the passing of the peace handshake ritual, the worship leader can go on to say this to help the church greet visitors (See #5 in this list of 10 practices to welcome church visitors).

Get up, turn and greet someone that you’ve not met yet. Shake their hand, introduce yourself, and take a few moments to welcome them to God’s house.

See more tips at How to Say the Welcome Greeting at a church.

After the Worship Service:

During the fellowship reception time after the service, church members can be encouraged to look out for and intentionally greet people they haven’t met.

I have find it helpful to break the ice and initiate the conversation by saying:

“I’ve not met you yet.  I’m Chris.”

With that, I offer my hand to shake and I continue with a conversation.

Follow up: 20 Blunders in Welcoming Church Visitors.

Your turn

Put your answer in the comment fields below:

What things do you say to greet visitors to your church?  Add your thoughts below.

A note to the reader:  Did this answer your question?  If not, use the comment field below to ask me more specifically what you look for so I can create a future article.

Do you lead your greeter ministry?

Here are a few resources

Photo Credit: Roswell_UMC via cc