7/18/97 Christians called to overcome 4 common 'fears' in witnessing
GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)--"The hardest door for a Christian to go through in witnessing is their own front door," said Dale Griffith. "The best way to overcome fear in witnessing is to practice witnessing every chance we get.
"Most Christians do not witness because they are afraid," Griffith, a Missions Service Corps volunteer with Southern Baptists' North American Mission Board and founder of Messengers for Christ, Inc., Ashland, Ky., told participants at North American Missions Week at Glorieta (N.M.) Baptist Conference Center July 12-18.
"The question Christians should be asking themselves is, 'Will I let fear control my life or will I allow Jesus to control my life?'" Griffith said. "If we will put Christ first in everything we do, then our fears will diminish greatly and we will focus on him instead of ourselves."
Griffith cited four basic fears most Christians face that hinder them from being a witness for God -- fear of failure, rejection, how to begin a witnessing conversation and their own ignorance of the gospel.
"The fear of failure is one of the greatest deterrents in soul- winning," Griffith said. "But we should remember that all we are commanded to do is share the gospel and leave the results to God.
Concerning the fear of being resented or rejected, Griffith said, "Christians should keep in mind that we are not responsible for a person's response to the gospel."
Griffith outlined some aids to overcoming the fear of rejection. "Be friendly. Smile and be pleasant. Look for ways to compliment the other person. Talk to them about their interests or hobbies. If you are genuinely interested in the person, he or she will be more open to your testimony.
In beginning a witnessing conversation, Griffith noted that some people "are able to talk about family, interests, occupation, etc. with very little difficulty, but when it comes to talking about their faith a problem arises. One of the best ways to overcome this area of fear is to master some good transition statements and questions."
Griffith offered several transitional phrases as tools for overcoming this fear:
-- When you attend church, where do you attend?
-- Do you ever think about spiritual things?
-- There are at least two things we can agree on: "We are all going to die" and "We do not know when we will die." If you were to die today, do you know for sure that you would go to heaven?
"Gain their confidence, find out about their spiritual condition and get them to respond as much as possible," Griffith advised. "Most nonbelievers are hurting and searching for what we already have. Most people will respond politely and will show interest if we approach them the way Jesus would.
"Not knowing how to share the gospel is a fourth fear many Christians face," Griffith said. "Remember, salvation is not a plan. Salvation is a person, Jesus Christ. This fear can be overcome by mastering a way of introducing Jesus to lost people."