Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Mike Bechtle's book, Evangelism for the Rest of Us: Sharing Christ within Your Personality Style, (Baker Books, 2006).
You know that God wants you to share His Gospel message and you’d genuinely like to see others come to know Him. But if you’re an introvert, you probably dread evangelism, because the traditional methods turn you off. Knocking on strangers’ doors? Forcing conversations with people in public places? Not for you.
Still, God has called introverts to evangelize just as much as extroverts. There are many ways to share your faith. You may never preach the Gospel from a street corner, but you can evangelize just as successfully as any extrovert. In fact, as an introvert, you have unique strengths that extroverts don’t have, and tapping into those will help you share your faith in powerful ways.
Here’s how you can use your unique strengths as an introvert to share your faith:
Stop trying to be someone you’re not. Trying to act like an extrovert when you evangelize will only frustrate you and make you less effective. You’ll work hard with few results and likely give up. So instead of trying to be faithful to someone else’s idea of what evangelism should look like, be faithful to God’s customized idea of how you should evangelize. Keep in mind that God designed you the way He did so you could carry out His purposes in a unique way. If you try to evangelize like someone else does, you rob the people you want to reach for Christ of the distinct blessings God wants to give them through you. So be yourself when you evangelize.
Recognize your advantages. As an introvert, you have some advantages in evangelism that extroverts don’t. Some of those advantages are: You tend to be sensitive when you approach other people. You tend to be more aware of your dependence on God to work through you rather than relying on your own personality to draw people. You tend to have the patience to let God use you over a long period of time in someone’s life instead of focusing just on that person’s immediate decision about Christ. You tend to build deep relationships with the people you reach.
Keep key biblical principles in mind. Take unnecessary pressure off yourself by remembering these key concepts of evangelism: Evangelism is a team effort, so you’re just one of several or perhaps many people who God will use to move someone closer to faith. Hanging out with non-Christians is essential; you can’t influence people toward faith if you’re not involved with unbelievers. You don’t “do” evangelism; God does. It’s God’s job to actually draw people to Himself. Your job is simply to lift God up before other people. God will use you the way He made you. The more you get in touch with your uniqueness, the more effective you’ll be sharing your faith and doing whatever else God calls you to do. Satan does the opposite of what God does, so be aware that he’ll try to discourage you and render your evangelism ineffective. Learn how to resist evil so your evangelistic efforts will be successful.
Distinguish between form and function. Although the form of evangelism can be different for different people in different situations, the function is till to bring people to Christ. Focus on the function and be open to whatever form works best for you to share your faith, as God leads you. Don’t restrict yourself to traditional forms of evangelism. Be creative and open to hearing from God about to share your faith in different ways.
Overcome your fears. Face your fears about evangelism: from being the focus of attention and wondering how you’re being perceived to being embarrassed after saying the wrong thing and risking rejection for what you say. Notice the common element that runs through all those fears – a focus on yourself. Shift your focus outward, toward the people you hope to reach for Christ and their needs. Remember that God will empower you do whatever He calls you to do, so you won’t have to try to muster enough strength on your own. Instead, simply pray for God to work through you, and trust Him to do so. Focus on loving the people you’re trying to reach rather than your technique in reaching them, because perfect love drives out fear. Pray about your fears and expect God to help you, working through you in powerful ways.
Become a channel of God’s grace to people. You can communicate God’s grace to unbelievers in ways they’ll understand if you pray for the wisdom to do so well. Keep in mind that you don’t always have to communicate through speaking; you can share your faith in powerful ways through writing, as well (such as through e-mailing non-Christian friends). Stay close to God so you can see where He wants to use you and how He wants you to respond in each situation. Relax and let God work through you in His way, in His time, and in His strength.
Make Jesus your role model for evangelism. Just as Jesus turned ordinary encounters into supernatural appointments, you can minister to people you encounter while going about your daily life. Be available to respond to needs as they arise, in the way that you’re wired to meet those needs. Remember that you don’t have to meet every need that’s out there – just the ones that God puts in your path. Just as Jesus met people where they were and moved them one step closer to God, you can do the same. Ask God to help you avoid distractions, be completely present with each person, and be sensitive to what God wants to do through our conversation. Just as Jesus prayed often to His Father, you need to pray often for God to minister through you. Spend plenty of focused time with God in prayer, so He’ll work through your life to draw others to Himself.
Listen well. Approach each conversation you have with unbelievers with the mindset of learning something from them rather than worrying about how to accomplish your agenda with them. View them as people to get to know better and love rather than as projects to complete. Keep in mind that unbelievers have valuable knowledge and experience you don’t have. Give them a chance to share it with you. When you listen to them, you’ll build trust between you, which will gradually make them open to hearing what you have to say about faith in Christ.
Resist Satan’s schemes. Stay alert to what Satan is trying to do to interfere with your efforts to share your faith. He wants you to be distracted, so stay focused on what’s most important. He wants you and your fellow Christians to be divided, so don’t compare your gifts to others and guard against jealousy and pride. He wants you to be deceived, so spend time regularly reading the Bible so you’ll know the truth and be able to apply it to any situation. He wants you to be discouraged, so remember God’s promise to always be with you and pray for the courage you need to share your faith well. If you resist Satan, he will flee from you.
Influence people. You don’t need to be concerned about trying to control or coerce people into coming to faith in Christ. All you should do is aim to influence them by introducing them to Christ and encourage them to develop their own relationships with Him. You can do that naturally by simply finding common ground in the relationships you have with others. Share more than just the religious part of your life with others; show them how your faith permeates your entire life by discussing all subjects with them – parenting, your job topics, news events, etc. Ask God to reveal the needs of the people He brings into your path. Build friendships with them so they’ll trust you enough to open up to you and discuss their real concerns. Offer to pray for them. Let them see how you handle similar challenges in your own life. When they observe how your relationship with Christ makes a positive difference in your life, they’ll be drawn to Him themselves.
Become a good conversationalist. Don’t try to force a canned presentation of the Gospel into your conversations with unbelievers. Instead, carry on personal, natural conversations that will motivate them to think more about God. Make sure you stay current with the latest news so you can discuss current topics in interesting ways from a biblical perspective. Ask lots of creative, open-ended questions about people’s lives to encourage them to open up more with you. Talk about some of your own areas of interest or expertise to build common ground with people who can relate well to them. Make eye-contact with people. Refrain from giving unsolicited advice. Simply listen and let people know that you genuinely care about them.
Be intentional. Make sharing your faith a natural part of your daily life on purpose by: being around non-Christians when you can, remembering that you’re part of a team effort when evangelizing so you just have to be faithful to do your own part in any person’s life, being creative about building relationships with others, being patient for God to work in the evangelism process, sharing your faith in your unique style, being available for the encounters God has for you, being aware that your real enemy is Satan – not unbelievers, being involved in your local community (such as volunteering for an organization you support) to reach out to others, finding natural ways to mention your faith in conversations about something else, and shifting people’s focus off of you and onto God.
Adapted from Evangelism for the Rest of Us: Sharing Christ within Your Personality Style, copyright 2006 by Mike Bechtle. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Mich., www.bakerbooks.com.
Dr. Mike Bechtle is a senior training consultant with an internationally recognized time and productivity management firm, where he's taught over 2,500 seminars to the majority of Fortune 500 companies. He is a frequent speaker and the author of Evangelism for the Rest of Us: Sharing Christ within Your Personality Style.
Original publication date: May 14, 2009