How do you engage loved ones with the gospel? Your family and friends can be the toughest people in the world to approach on matters of faith, especially those that want nothing to do with God. Attempts to share with family can be met with resistance, antagonism, and rejection.
Randy Newman, author of Bringing the Gospel Home, realizes that most Christians don't think of themselves as evangelists and that talking about the gospel doesn’t always come easily. Newman, a Messianic Jew and on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ, offers the following advice:
As you consider how to share the gospel with your family and friends, first review how Scripture describes God's work in salvation as a miracle.
- He ‘makes alive’ what was once ‘dead’ (Eph. 2:1–5)
- He delivered us from the domain of darkness (Col. 1:13)
- He explained that with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible (Matt. 19:26)
Once we realize that evangelism occurs in the realm of the miraculous, we can start praying more faithfully, trusting more wholeheartedly, and proclaiming more gently. When we relinquish trust in our ability to persuade and latch onto God’s power to save, we find hope beyond explanation.
Going forward, here are a few very practical steps you can take:
Develop a system for prayer for your family. Perhaps you can set aside a section in a prayer journal. Or maybe you can insert photos of your family members in a place where you look for prayer prompters.
Begin your prayers for your family with thanksgiving. This may be more difficult for some people than others. Regardless of your family’s well-being, thank God for the family you have and all the accompanying benefits you can identify. Thank God for his love for each family member and all the gifts he’s given them.
You may need to include prayers of confession as well—confession of your lack of love for your family, your idolatry of control in trying to change them, your reliance on your ability to convict them of their sin instead of trusting the Holy Spirit to do that, your coldheartedness, haughtiness, and self-righteousness, etc. Ask the Holy Spirit to shine his light of truth on your darkness of sin.
If you haven’t already done so, “come out of the closet” as a Christian to your family. Pray for gentle words and a gracious demeanor mixed with bold confidence. Decide who would be the safest person to tell first. (I do not advise a group announcement at a holiday dinner table!) Aim for your announcement to be informational rather than evangelistic. You can trust God to open evangelistic doors later. For now, it’s time to couch things in sentences like this: “Mom, there’s something I think you should know about me. I’ve come to the place where I’ve decided to embrace Christianity as my faith.” Or, “Dad, I’ve become a Christian and it’s beginning to have some good effects in my life. It’s all rather new, but I thought I’d tell you early on, just so you’d know what’s going on.”
Adapted from Bringing the Gospel Home by Randy Newman.