Most Christians want to be effective in sharing their faith with their friends, family, and colleagues. Missionaries working closely with churches are helping them overcome barriers such as fear and not knowing how to make a start.
Here’s a situation that might feel familiar: a Baptist church in north London has a long-running community tea and coffee morning. There’s a great rapport with the people who attend and a warm, caring atmosphere. But the church volunteers haven’t found a way to start talking about Jesus. Bursting with opportunities to share the gospel, but unable to find a way to act on them.
LCM Missionary Angel Tiebas is working to release churches’ potential. For the past year, he’s divided his time equally between front-line evangelism at the Paget Centre in King’s Cross and helping local churches to be more effective in evangelism.
It begins with an open-ended conversation with church leaders about what evangelism is being done, the church’s vision for the future what practical support might be useful.
Having these engagements with church leaders has been so positive, he says. Every church is different, but there are a few consistent themes in what they say and what they need. In terms of support, churches are less interested in seminars and training workshops, and more attracted to hands-on training. ‘They tell us that what they lack is the confidence to set out,’ Angel says. ‘There’s a real fear factor, so it’s about coming alongside church members and showing them how it looks in practice.’
As a long-serving missionary, Angel brings expertise and years of experience. Yet what seems to be more significant in helping people start sharing their faith is passing on his own enthusiasm and confidence.
‘Our responsibility is to make Jesus known to others,’ he says. ‘I’m excited about telling people about Jesus. With God’s help, that rubs off on others.’
Angel has been surprised by the energy and willingness for evangelism in the church, and at the same time struck by people overestimating how difficult it is.
He started attending the coffee morning run by the local Baptist church with a view to helping the team open up conversations that led to the gospel. One Christian woman at the coffee morning first joined in a conversation about faith that Angel initiated, then spoke up for herself about Jesus.
By the end, she had completely surprised herself how easily she had been able to talk about her faith. She said afterwards that she felt she could now talk to her neighbour about Jesus. ‘That’s what we are looking for,’ says Angel, ‘people in churches who are able to talk freely and with confidence to their friends and neighbours about the gospel.’
To another person, Angel suggested making an opportunity of the standard Monday morning question, ‘What did you do this weekend?’ Be deliberate about mentioning that you went to church on Sunday. It opens out the possibility of a conversation about faith that’s not threatening or intrusive.
Some things are so simple: what about praying that God will remove fear from the hearts of church members?
This article first appeared in the Autumn 2019 edition of our free supporter magazine, Changing London.