Maybe you have experienced that awkward moment in a conversation when you have a chance to share your faith, yet the right words don’t come.
The fear of that moment is both natural and common to all who want to share Jesus with friends or strangers.
You can overcome that evangelism fear and prepare yourself to have the right words at a moment’s notice.
At the top of the list of evangelism fears in my anecdotal research is this one:
I don’t know what to say.
Why “I don’t know what to say” stops you cold
1. You don’t know all the apologetics.
In the 2014 movie “God is Not Dead,” you see a college student who he has to defend his faith in Christ against an atheistic college professor.
The professor threatens to flunk student because he is a Christ-follower. In the quick plot development, the student is challenged to present evidence in front of the entire class for the existence of God.
I think many Christians would go mute under such pressure when not feeling prepared with answers.
2. You don’t have the exact words.
I’ve talked with Christians that have an idea that the right words said in the right order will produce the right outcome.
This faulty logic stops us dead in our tracks.
This logic assigns some power to words and some power to our eloquence.
It places 100% of the evangelistic conversation on the right use of the right words in the right order, treating our words alone result in the renovation of the human heart.
Faith sharing conversations are not formulaic. There is no right order to words. There are no “magic” words of persuasion.
There are no “formulas” to perfect evangelism.
3. You don’t have a story filled life of following Jesus.
Tragically, if we are not maintaining our relationship with Christ, we’ll miss out on God’s work in our life.
We’ll not be able to see how God is transforming us.
We’ll not see how God is leading us.
We’ll not see what God is teaching us.
We’ll not see how God is using us.
In fact, without nurturing a private devotional life around following Jesus, our experience of our faith goes cold.
We have nothing to say about the relevance of following Jesus to modern life, because we will not have a bank of stories to draw on.
Read More: Twenty evangelism fears that you might experience).
This Fear can be Conquered
Most evangelism conversations in the ordinary course of my life happen at random moments rather than planned moments.
If I lived in the fear of not knowing what to say, I would miss all these moments.
I have surrendered the idea that properly ordered words or every correct answer to every conceivable objection will lead someone to faith.
- Do you think Philip mastered the right words ahead of time before he spoke with the eunuch of Ethiopia?
- Do you think Paul mastered the right words for his evangelistic conversations with Felix?
- Do you think Peter had a preplanned word order when he unexpectedly talked to Cornelius about Jesus?
Rather than trusting in my words or hoarding all apologetic knowledge, I have developed the confidence of Paul as seen in 1 Corinthians 2:4-5,
My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.1 Corinthians 2:4-5, NIV
4 Practices to Overcome the Fear: “I don’t know what to say”
In my own personal evangelism experience, the 4 practices below have helped me overcome the paralysis of “I don’t know what to say.”
1. Have current God at work stories, or stories of what God is doing in your life now.
Are you able to tell current stories of God’s activity in your life?
Are you nurturing your devotional life so that God teaches you from his Word?
Are you spending time with Him so that you cultivate the sensitivity to see His Hand at work in your life?
You’ve got to have personal experience with God through Jesus Christ. You’ve got to be growing in that.
Let me give you an example.
Recently, I walked with my friend. One of the discussion items that came up was the current topic of my small group – how do we live out our faith in the “fear of the Lord?”
After all, Proverbs 1:7 says
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.Proverbs 1:7
That opened up nearly an hour-long two-way conversation that dwelt in themes like:
- How to develop a relationship with God
- What about the people who have never heard the gospel?
- “All religions are true” and why that does not make any sense.
- How sin affects each person no matter how good they think they are.
- How Jesus reconciled us to God so that we might have a relationship with Him.
- How many good works does one have to do to secure the blessing of God and earn a spot in heaven?
Read More: Faith Story #1
2. Know your own testimony of how you became a follower of Jesus.
Take the time to explore the richness of your own journey to Jesus.
There were significant moments and key events that helped you own your own faith, or see your need to ask God for the forgivess of sin.
Regularly reviewing and then sharing your testimony will often remind you of the preciousness of Jesus.
You’ll find opportunities to explain why you became a follower of Jesus (like I did while sitting by the poolside)
One challenge to shortening a personal testimony is to get at this core question:
What difference has Jesus made in your life?
Read More: Faith Story #2
3. Master a gospel outline.
It’s a good theological study on various different gospel versions that are out there.
He reminds us that we need to know not only the gospel announcement, but the whole story.
My advice here is to find one of the gospel scripts and master it.
Be prepared to share your faith by mastering ahead of time a version of the gospel story.
What version of the gospel story have you mastered?
I develop this further in this article: How to use a gospel script, along with links to various gospel scripts.
Read More: Faith Story #3
4. Ask for a pause to do some apologetic research when needed.
When it comes to apologetics and reasoning, it is perfectly fine to graciously ask for a pause in the conversation so that you can go and do some reading.
I’ve done that before.
I learn more about my own faith when I take the time to do the research needed to develop a reasonable answer. The Christian student in “God is Not Dead” took the time to investigate and then respond to the professor’s challenge and objections.
Rather than obsess and stop over what I don’t know, I’d rather step into an evangelistic conversation and find the answer later.
Sometimes, apologetic objections have a spiritual thirst (read this story) underneath them.
It is more important to deal with the spiritual thirst than the actual objection.
Other times, apologetic objections are part of a centuries-old debate that you will not solve. While it’s important to have a reason and know the reason for your faith in Christ, some objections remain unsolvable for now.
Get comfortable with that.
Don’t let your inability to answer every possible question stop you from sharing your faith in a conversational manner.
Evangelistic Conversations Are Fun Filled Adventures.
As you talk about your own relationship with Christ with spiritually thirsty people, you will re-discover an element of joy that may have been lost because your devotional life has gone stale.
Evangelistic conversations will renew in a desire to pray for his discovery of Jesus.
Your devotional life perks up once again when you get out there and talk with people.
Order a Virtual Evangelism Training for your Small Group
I offer a virtual seminar on personal evangelism training: How to Have More Spiritual Conversations.
You can use this as an evangelism training event for your team or small group.
By learning what to look for in conversations that will open the door for you, you’ll discover the joy of sharing your faith with people who want to hear some of your story.
It is travel free, and you can offer it on any night that you choose. If you want this workshop in Spanish, I can do that too.
Read more about how to get your own evangelism training virtual seminar from me.