The headstone that marks Helen Cadbury’s final resting place is engraved with the following verse from the Bible:
“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…”
Helen’s life was dedicated to others. She enthusiastically encouraged others to change the direction of their lives and to discover God’s grace and salvation through Jesus Christ. We hope that some of these hints will help you too, to point others to Him.
Hint #1: How to Share
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15, NIV)
Pray for opportunities.
Make it a habit to pray that you will have opportunities to share and give away a gospel.
Sharing is usually done by Christians who plan to do it.
Giving a Gospel is only one aspect of sharing your faith.
Sharing your faith is not only about giving away copies of the gospel. Our gospel booklets are tools you can use to help people search for themselves.
It is not always appropriate to give a gospel, particularly when witnessing to those with whom you have an ongoing relationship. Try to give the gospel to a friend at a time when they will be receptive and willing to read it – this involves wisdom and sensitivity.
We must see giving away a gospel as only one aspect of sharing our faith. We want you to give away gospels in the context of relationship building and friendly conversations.
Building bridges with those you know
Giving away gospels of John has to be put in the context of bridge-building. Most adults who are coming to faith in Christ have been helped through a relationship with someone who is already a Christian. Here are some ways you can help your friends or family find Christ:
Tip #1: Pray for Them
Pray for them by name. Pray that God will remove specific obstacles to them coming to Christ. Pray for the times you meet them, for opportunities to learn more about what they believe and to share your own faith. If they are going through a tough period, you could even offer to pray with them!
Tip #2: Listen
Take a real interest in their feelings and their views. Ask them questions about what they believe. Look for points of contact – things that they are interested in – to draw the conversation towards Christ. Give them a copy of the gospel to read and ask for feedback.
Tip #3: Honesty is the best policy
Be open about your own faith. Don’t gloss over the hard side of being a Christian. At an appropriate time, tell them how you became a Christian and/ or why you are still a Christian.
Tip #4: Examine your lifestyle
Our friends and family judge the quality of our faith by our lifestyle. Aim to live in obedience to God’s Word so that you may bring glory to Him.
Tip #5: Introduce them to other Christians
This may be through some low-key social events or inviting them to a suitable event or service at your church. People are often impressed by the warm and friendly community that they come into contact with.
Sometimes it is appropriate to give a gospel to a stranger. In fact, this is often easier than giving one to somebody you know well.
We are not suggesting that you push them into the hands of people with whom you have had no conversation, or that you just leave them where people might find them. Pray that the Lord will give you opportunities to talk with people before giving them a gospel.
What we would encourage you to do is to look for opportunities where you can share that you are a Christian and you can give the gospel away saying something such as: “You might find this interesting – it is part of the Bible”. If possible explain that at the back there are additional pages on knowing God and a card to send off for more information.
Opportunities to give the gospel to a stranger might come in all sorts of situations – in a hospital waiting room – on public transport – or any other place where you end up chatting to somebody. While wanting to share our faith with others we also need sensitivity towards people. It is important to choose the right time.
Make it a rule never to give a gospel away to anybody without you have had a conversation with them. It is our desire that our gospels are used in sharing 1-2-1 and not just distributed.
Hint #2: Using the Gospels
Our top 10 tips on the different ways to use the gospel of John:
Tip #1: Be sure to have a gospel handy!
Keep a gospel in your pocket or bag, in the glove compartment of your car or near your house phone, so that if the opportunity arises you can give it away. There is nothing more frustrating than having a worthwhile conversation with somebody, who would accept a gospel, and not having one to give to them.
Carrying a gospel also helps remind you that you’re aiming to make sharing your faith part of your lifestyle.
Tip #2: You could use the end pages
The end pages of ‘Love is the Bridge’ (pages 61-68) contain a gospel presentation using the bridge illustration. Read this through a few times so you are familiar with it.
It is possible to use these pages to explain the Gospel. You could read these pages aloud to somebody. You may prefer to share these pages using the illustrations and scripture verses and explaining them in your own words. It would help to practice this with another Christian.
After sharing with somebody from the end pages, always recommend that they read the gospel of John.
Tip #3: You could explain the first page is intriguing
When encouraging people to read the gospel of John, it could be helpful to explain that the first page (first 14 verses) may seem hard to understand initially. The story really gets going on the second page. Having said this, the rest of the gospel picks up many of the amazing things said about Jesus in the first 14 verses!
Tip #4: Get to know John!
In order to be able to use the content of the gospel, you will need to give time to reading and studying it for yourself. Ask the Lord to speak to you as you read. Often it is those passages or verses that have meant something to us, which we are able to point out and prove most powerful when sharing with others.
Tip #5: You could highlight one verse
Read this verse as you show it to the person. If appropriate you could put their name in the verse to show the impact for a person who believes:
“For God so loved (their name) that he gave his one and only Son, that if (their name) believes…”
It is a good idea to mark the verse with a pencil line in the margin or put a piece of paper on the page so they can find the verse again.
“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”
This can be explained using the diagrams on pages 64 and 65
Tip #6: You can share a number of verses to present a theme
For example – ‘The offer of life’
Page 58: John 20:31
The reason the Gospel was written – “that by believing you may have life”
Page 9: John 3:15
The life on offer is “eternal life”
Page 10: John 3:36
Eternal life does not start when you die but when you put your faith in Jesus.
“has eternal life” – a present possession
Page 48: John 17:3
Eternal life is “knowing God”
Page 10: John 3:36
This life is accepted by faith
A subject like this can be written on a card and you can go through it step by step. You can then give the card to the person allowing them to look at the verses again.
Tip #7: You could explain a passage from John
May I just show you one passage from this fantastic book?
John 1 Jesus the creator
John 3 Being ‘born again’
John 8 The deity of Christ
John 10 How to follow Jesus
John 20 The experience of Thomas
Tip #8: You could share a story – everybody loves a story!
John 2 Water into wine
John 4 The woman at the well
John 6 Feeding of 5000
John 11 Lazarus raised from the dead
There are many other passages and stories in the gospel of John which are well worth sharing in conversation.
Tip #9: You could invite someone to study the gospel of John
If you have a close enough relationship you could ask if they would meet with you regularly to study the Gospel of John together.
Read a chapter together and then encourage your friend to ask questions and to chat about the content of that particular chapter. Three basic questions to ask:
• What does the passage tell us about Jesus?
• What does it teach us about man?
• What does Jesus call us to do?
The gospel of John reveals Jesus to be the Son of God. Like God, Jesus is able to do things like knowing our hearts and lives (John 4), heal people with a word (John 5), produce lots of food from practically nothing (John 6) and raise someone who is dead (John 11).
It shows us that man often misunderstands Jesus or rejects him outright even though he demonstrates that He is God. We still do that today.
Jesus calls us to believe in Him.
Tip #10: You could ask them to read it then meet to discuss
If you give a gospel to somebody you see regularly, ask if you could meet up with them to try to answer any questions they may have after they have read it.
Don’t worry if there are questions which you don’t know how to answer. It is okay to admit that and your friend will appreciate your honesty too. But promise to get back to them and be sure you do. Ask a more mature Christian, your pastor or youth worker or email us – we would be happy to help if we can!
Hint #3: Hot Potatoes
Answering questions and objections
The fear of being asked a question you can’t answer stops many Christians from wanting to talk about their faith.
So the first thing to learn is to relax because you can’t possibly know an answer for every question. It is unreasonable for anyone to expect you to know all the answers.
A key verse for bridge-builders is 1 Peter 3:15, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”
Always admit if you can’t answer the question. If you try to bluff your way people will see through your lack of knowledge.
You could try to start an open and honest discussion rather than just trying to answer the question. Answering a question with a question is a technique Jesus often used. Randy Newman in his recent book “Questioning Evangelism” looks at this in some detail.
For example, somebody asks you, “Why do you think Christianity is the only way to God?”
You could quote and explain John 14:6, Act 4:12 or 1 Timothy 2:5 but this might only give the impression that you’re as narrow and intolerant as your questioner thought you were.
Alternatively, you could try to discover what your questioner knows about other religions and at some point demonstrate that the major world religions have very different beliefs which can’t be reconciled.
The most common question people ask refers to how a God of love can allow suffering. Often the question is very personal. “If God is so good why did he let my cousin die of cancer?”
One difficulty is that people ask big questions but demand short answers. It is impossible to come up with a relevant answer to the problem of suffering in a few sentences. Even if our questioner is willing to listen for hours we must admit we don’t have a complete answer to the problem of suffering.
Empathy and willingness to listen could be more helpful than a slick but inadequate answer. Whilst working for bridge-builders as an Evangelist I was visiting door to door when an older lady got very angry with me and talked about her husband’s painful death and how the Church showed no care. I had no answer but I asked if I could pray with her. As I prayed I saw her hardness melt. We both cried. She said to me, “You’re welcome to return any time”. I had not answered her question but I had demonstrated that I cared.
I often admit I can’t give a complete answer to their question and ask if I can explain why I am a Christian. If I get a positive response I either share my faith story or talk about the resurrection of Jesus. If I have a good discussion with a thinking person I often ask: “If Jesus did not rise from the dead, what happened to his body?”
Sometimes the questioner is a thinking seeker and their questions need answering. You can tell them that you will find out an answer. Say, “That’s an interesting question can I think about it and get back to you?” (It would be good to arrange with them when you will meet to continue the conversation.) Then you can seek the advice of your pastor or another mature Christian or look at one of the books suggested below. (Books with * are good for beginners). The first two books on the list would be ideal to give to somebody.
Books which have proved helpful include:
- ‘It makes sense’ by Stephen Gaukroder (Scripture Union)
- ‘Searching Issues’ by Nicky Gumbel (Kingsway)
- ‘Handbook of Christian Apologetics’ by Kreeft & Tacelli (Monarch)
- ‘Evidence that demands a verdict’ by Josh McDowell
- ‘I’m glad you asked’ by Kenneth Boa & Larry Moody
- ‘The Resurrection Factor’ by Josh McDowell
- ‘Who moved the stone’ by Frank Morison
- ‘The compact guide to World Religions’ by Dean Halverson
We would also recommend the following books:
- ‘So Many Questions’ by Simon Roberts & Tony Payne (DVD & Workbook)
- ‘Biblical Answers to Tough Questions’ by T Thornborough & M Wallace
- ‘Dead or Alive?’ By Daniel Clark (On the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus)
- ‘Questioning Evangelism’ by Randy Newman
Hint #4: Share your Stories
It is tremendously encouraging to hear what other Christians have done in sharing their faith 1-2-1 and we would love to know your experience too.