In the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil, Haitian hurdler Jeffrey Julmis shot out of the blocks quickly, only to hit the first hurdle and fall to the ground. While certainly embarrassed, Julmis could have easily walked off without completing the race. Instead, he got up and finished, successfully jumping over the remaining hurdles. That hurdle did not stop him from finishing the race — that’s what he was there to do.
Many people do not engage in gospel conversations with others. When seeking to train and mobilize people with the gospel, there are often hurdles that stand in the way. Let’s examine three common hurdles that seem to emerge frequently when examining why believers do not share the gospel.
One large hurdle for evangelism is that someone’s heart simply hasn’t been captivated by the grace of God displayed in Jesus. This is a heart issue. Paul says, “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). If the love of Christ does not control or compel you to persuade others about the coming judgment and the gracious gift of salvation, then repent. Let the gospel melt your heart until a deep sense of God’s love fills it.
Perhaps you have been captivated by the love of Christ, but you view salvation as an individualistic package. Another big hurdle that impedes personal evangelism is that opportunities to share the gospel with others often isn’t at the forefront of believers’ minds. This is an awareness issue. A mentor once taught me to pray every day for at least two things: to preach the gospel to myself each morning and to pray for opportunities to share the gospel. The first puts you in a posture of humility while the second puts you in a posture of readiness. Both are necessary to recognize opportunities where the gospel is needed. Paul says, “From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh,” and that part of being a “new creation” in Christ, is to be an “ambassador for Christ,” which means that “God (is) making his appeal through us” to others (2 Corinthians 5:16-20). One helpful tool for becoming more conscious of evangelism opportunities is drawing out a “sphere of influence map.” This is a tool that DiscipleNC uses to train believers in order to help them become more conscious of gospel opportunities.
A third hurdle that hinders people from sharing the gospel is the low level of confidence they feel about their ability to communicate the gospel clearly. Perhaps you are compelled by the love of Christ and you are conscious of opportunities, but you have no idea what to say or do in those situations. One of the key ways confidence is gained is through simple, reproducible training that involves practice. One helpful tool that DiscipleNC trains believers to use is the 3 Circles evangelism method, which is a simple framework of understanding the gospel in order to be able to communicate it more confidently as opportunities arise.
These hurdles are real, but they are not insurmountable. With a deep confidence in the Spirit’s leading, we can overcome these hurdles. We are ambassadors for Christ and ministers of reconciliation — that’s what we are here for!
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was adapted from an evangelism and discipleship workshop by Robbie Christmas of Family Church, West Palm Beach, Fla.