Not everyone you meet in the community already believes in the Bible. But far more do than you might think.
The witnessing experience is more powerful through use of the Scriptures. If you don’t have a Bible with you, don’t worry about it—just share in your own terms. But, if you do have a Bible, it helps to open it, because the basis of our Christian faith is in Scripture. Don’t begin by trying to sell that idea. That’s way too sophisticated. Begin by demonstrating it.
Explain that human beings are born separated from God with basic natural tendencies to go in the wrong direction (Rom. 1:28). If you leave humans to themselves without any education or relationship with God, things go badly. But God says in John 3:16 that He is willing to bridge the gap. He came in the person of Jesus to die for sinners. God is willing to pay the price and make things right. God reaches out to build a bridge and repair the problem we are born with.
Tell them that if we ask, God is quick to forgive us. In 1 John 1:8, 9 it says God is quick to forgive those who ask for forgiveness. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves” (1 John 1:8).1 We all know we have evil in our hearts. “If we confess our sins, [God] will forgive us our sins” (v. 9). All we have to do is reach out and ask for forgiveness, and God provides it. God takes away that barrier. We can have a direct relationship with God.
Do not share more than two or three texts. They should concentrate on the love of God, the One who takes the initiative and comes after us. It should be something you are comfortable with and something that you can easily share with another person. Point out that we are born separated from God. It is natural for us not to know how to relate to God, but God takes the initiative and builds a bridge.
All we have to do is reach across and say we want to know God and want forgiveness. God is quick to put His arms around us and accept us. It’s that simple.
Having shared that, they may have some questions. You may need to clarify some things. You may need to take a little time, but don’t add more concepts. Just help them to understand what you have already said. Ask if there’s any reason why they can’t tell God right now that they want that kind of relationship with Him. Be prepared to pray with them. If the person is ready to accept Christ and you don’t give them the opportunity to do it then, they will be frustrated. They will think they were not good enough to do it, or that they are not wanted.
If they’re not ready to accept Christ, they will be frustrated if you push them, so don’t push. But ask if there’s any reason that they can’t accept God right now. If they say they can’t think of any reason not to, then offer to pray with them so they can tell God right now. It may be a simple prayer. You may feed them one word at a time, but they need to say the words to God. Having prayed that prayer, Christ accepts them as a believer, and the Holy Spirit is able to relate to them in a new way that was not possible before. The Holy Spirit will not ever trick or manipulate people. Once people open the door to their hearts, then they have new access to the Spirit.
Don’t leave the person there. It is important that he or she immediately take some next steps in following Jesus. That’s what it means to be a disciple. A disciple is an old word that means “a follower.” Literally, in the time of Christ, teachers walked around, and a disciple followed them around and listened to them. A person who was a follower was somebody who stayed around, heard, and learned from the teacher. Individuals who have recently accepted Christ need to learn to follow Jesus.
There are some important things that need to begin immediately in order to follow Jesus and understand what it means to be a Christian: Begin some basic devotional habits—prayer, Bible study, meditation.
Connect with Christian fellowship, though this may not necessarily mean joining a church, which may come later. Invite them to meet once or twice a week or invite them to a small group. They need support and encouragement as they grow, because they will make mistakes and get discouraged. Or they will run into people who will try to twist them one way or another with false information either against faith or manipulating them toward particular beliefs. This may cause confusion and lead them to give up because of such ideas as: “It’s too complicated” or “How can you know the truth?”
Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in the church who never really decided to follow Jesus. They’re in the church doing other things. When you bring a person to church for the first time, you need to inoculate them a little so they know they’ll encounter people who may be religious but who may not know Jesus well. The Christian life begins with the simple decision: I want to follow Jesus. Our job in the process is simple. We share who we are and Who we know. And then we allow the Holy Spirit to do all the heavy lifting.2