Witnessing is the act of sharing one’s faith in Jesus Christ with others. For Christians, this is considered an essential part of following Jesus’s command to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the biblical basis for witnessing, different methods and approaches, common fears and objections, and practical tips for being an effective witness for Christ.
Witnessing is not about convincing people or winning arguments. It’s about sharing God’s love and the gospel message in the power of the Holy Spirit. As Christians, we are called to reflect Christ to the world through our words and actions. Witnessing is an invitation to others to encounter the risen Lord, who radically transforms lives.
Effective witnessing requires sensitivity, gentleness, and reliance on God’s guidance. Our role is to faithfully communicate the truth; it’s the Spirit’s role to open hearts and minds. When we let go of expectations and agendas, we create space for authentic evangelism led by the Holy Spirit.
- Witnessing is sharing one’s faith in Jesus with others
- Our role is to communicate God’s love and the gospel message
- Effective witnessing relies on the Spirit to open hearts and minds
- Letting go of expectations allows authentic evangelism led by the Spirit
The Biblical Basis for Witnessing
Witnessing rests on several biblical principles and commands:
The Great Commission. Jesus’s final words to his disciples were, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). This commission applies to all followers of Jesus through the ages.
Being Christ’s Witnesses. Jesus told his disciples, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). As Christians, we are empowered by the Spirit to testify about Christ.
Everyone’s Responsibility. Peter wrote, “Always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). Witnessing is not just for pastors and missionaries; it’s for all believers.
Motivated by Love. Paul wrote, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15 NIV). God’s love motivates us to share the gospel with others.
Saving the Lost. Paul felt profound concern for the lost, writing “I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome” (Romans 1:14-15 NIV). Witnessing is motivated by a heart to see people saved.
Different Methods of Witnessing
There are many biblically-sound methods and approaches to witnessing. The Spirit empowers each of us uniquely.
Personal Testimony. Sharing your personal story of how you came to faith in Christ can be very impactful. Focus on the gospel message within your story.
One-on-One Conversations. Meeting with individuals to dialog about spiritual matters provides opportunities to witness. Ask good questions and listen well.
Open-air Preaching. While public preaching is not for everyone, some boldly proclaim the gospel in city squares and other public forums.
Literature Distribution. Handing out gospels of John, tracts, or other literature can effectively introduce people to Jesus. Be sensitive and follow up.
Social Media. Many share their faith on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, blogs, and YouTube. Season conversations with grace and truth.
Lifestyle Witness. Our Christ-like attitudes, words, and behavior can spark spiritual conversations. Walk in the Spirit consistently.
Friendship Evangelism. Build genuine friendships with non-believers and let your life reflect the light of Christ. Look for open doors to share the gospel.
Aplogetics. Some are gifted to reason with non-believers and answer objections to Christianity intellectually. Study apologetics to be prepared.
Vocational Witness. Being excellent in your work and bringing Christian values of honesty, compassion, etc. opens doors to share Christ.
Meeting Felt Needs. Showing care and compassion to those in need with food, clothing, shelter, etc. can create opportunities to share the gospel.
Common Fears and Objections
Those engaging in witnessing often encounter fears and objections that can derail their evangelistic efforts if not handled with care, wisdom and discernment. Here are some common ones and tips for overcoming them:
Fear of Rejection or Offending: Witness with gentleness. You are simply sharing a message; you cannot control people’s response. Focus on showing God’s love.
Lack of Bible Knowledge: It’s ok not to have all the answers. Focus on the core message of salvation in Jesus. Offer to explore difficult questions together.
“All Religions Are the Same”: Make it clear you are talking about placing faith in Jesus, not just joining a religion. Salvation is found in Christ alone.
“I’m a Good Person”: Agree on our innate value and morality, but point to our universal need for redemption in Jesus due to our sin.
“I Could Never Give Up My Lifestyle”: Assure people following Jesus brings true life change. The Spirit empowers us to live differently.
Trauma or Spiritual Abuse: Listen well, lament past hurts, clarify truth, and extend grace. Jesus brings healing and real freedom.
Anger or Argumentativeness: Decline debates. Remain calm and focus on communicating God’s love. “Speak the truth in love” (Eph 4:15).
Disinterest: Don’t take it personally. Share your story and Christ’s love, and let the Spirit lead. Follow up later if openness arises.
Busyness: Affirm priorities and invite more dialogue in the future. Offer a gospel and your contact information. Uphold them in prayer.
The key is asking the Spirit for discernment and words attuned to where people are at. Avoid judgment and honor their free will. Trust God is at work in their lives.
Practical Tips for Effective Witnessing
Here are some key tips to keep in mind as you share your faith with others:
- Pray for open doors and the Spirit’s guidance
- Prepare your personal testimony and know the gospel well
- Focus on developing relationships and loving people, not just convincing them
- Look for openness and interest; don’t force unwanted conversations
- Ask good questions and truly listen to understand perspectives
- Discern objections and doubts that may be barriers to faith
- Aim for gospel clarity; don’t get sidetracked into peripheral issues
- Speak grace and truth – uphold God’s truth while conveying grace
- Use tact, sensitivity and respect when discussing controversial issues
- Trust the Spirit’s work. You are a vessel; conversion is God’s role
- Follow up with those who want to learn more or have professed faith
- Disciple new believers, including studying Scripture together
- Don’t become discouraged. Some seeds take time to bear fruit.
Witnessing rests on furthering Jesus’s commission to make disciples of all nations. God uses our faithful evangelism, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to expand his kingdom. Witnessing takes perseverance, courage, wisdom and above all, grace and love. As we yield ourselves to be used by God, he will open doors for Spirit-led witnessing opportunities. May we stay faithful to boldly and lovingly share with others the life-giving gospel that has transformed each of us as believers.