Possible causes of fear in relation to witnessing include shyness; past or perceived rejection or humiliation; an inability to articulate our personal testimony; a lack of knowledge of Scripture; a failure to trust in the Lord; and an ignorance of why men reject the gospel. Determining the actual cause of fear may be difficult, and understanding the reason may not dispel our fear. But we are commanded to be bold for Jesus (Ephesians 6:19), so we may simply have to persevere, one step at a time. In the meantime we can apply some basic principles and sharpen our skills, since fear can be overcome by preparation (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
If we are not walking with Christ, we will not be able to witness for Christ effectively, so we certainly need to be living a consistent, Christian life. “Let your light shine before men” (Matthew 5:16). If at all possible, we should be attending a Bible-teaching church. Also, we can always improve our knowledge of Scripture, and we should study well the book of John.
Our Lord shared the gospel with many different people. He understood Nicodemus and the woman at the well, and He used that knowledge in drawing them to Himself (John chapters 3 and 4). Our approach, too, should be personally tailored. As we speak with an unbeliever, we should try to ascertain what is keeping him from salvation. Generally speaking, there are three factors that keep people from belief: ambivalence about God, fear of God, and hatred toward God, which includes despising His teachings and His Son.
A study of the Gospel of John will show that the key to successful witnessing is love. Jesus loved people to the point of accepting the cross and separation from the Father. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can learn to love people more. When we do, we will be more motivated to share the gospel, since our desire to save people from eternal punishment will grow. Love compels us to communicate the good news. The Holy Spirit will open doors for us by convicting people of their sin and stirring up a desire for salvation, and He will arrange for our paths to cross. Our job is simply to speak with people and explain that salvation is available to every sinner, and to present the good news of salvation.
Speaking is what many find troubling, as did Moses (Exodus 4:10). However, if we are walking as Christians; if we study and plan; if we rely on the Holy Spirit, the One who convicts and regenerates (John 16:8; Titus 3:5); if we realize that failure is acceptable and that God blesses us when we are rejected (Luke 6:22); and if we truly love people and want to help guide them to heaven, we should be able to find a witnessing approach that works for us.
One method to consider is to prepare and memorize a simple testimony of what Jesus did for us, and this should include several keywords. We also should memorize a few key verses that relate to the gospel and to our testimony. Then, when any one of our keywords arises in a conversation, in a context that can be related to the things of God, we can discuss our testimony or recite a verse and explain the meaning. If we are asked any relevant questions, we can proceed with the confidence that the Holy Spirit has opened a heart. If the other person expresses no interest, we can simply continue the original conversation without anxiety. At the very least, we will have planted a seed.
Study the Word, live the Christian life, let the Holy Spirit do His work (John 3:8), and look for opportunities to share the gospel. It is a privilege to be a part of spreading God’s good news to the world. As we fulfill the Great Commission, we have Jesus’ wonderful promise, “Surely I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20). What have we to fear?