Tips for Witnessing
© October 2004 by Asher Intrater
One of the purposes of an apostolic team ministry is to help the evangelists receive equal support along with pastors and prophets. Not every believer is called to the "office" of evangelist, but every believer is called to be a witness, and to share the gospel personally. This is one of the core values we endeavor to impart in our discipleship training. The great commission of the apostles is still our great commission today (Mark 16, Matthew 28, Luke 24). Here are some simple principles for witnessing:
1. Once a day - As we believe in the godly habit of a daily devotional time of Bible meditation and prayer, we also should develop the habit of daily sharing with at least one other person. Sometimes that sharing will be successful, intimate and time-consuming; other times it is as brief and superficial as giving a tract along with the tip to a waitress. The point here is that it becomes part of our life style. Let us pray that once-a-day sharing would become reestablished as a core value for believers everywhere.
2. Inside and small - Yeshua said that the kingdom is like yeast placed inside the dough that later spreads to fill the whole batch. He also likened it to a small seed placed in the ground that later grows up (Matthew 13, Mark 4). The best way for the gospel to be shared is small (on an individual, personal basis) on the inside (within the indigenous culture and language). Media evangelism and foreign "crusades" tend to be large and from the outside. We are enthusiastically in favor of all types of evangelism. However, an apostolic team desires to break through in people groups that are difficult and establish a witness from "within." In Israel, we believe the local, Hebrew speaking, Messianic Jewish, lay-citizen, native-born witness is the most effective.
3. By example, not just words - Our actions often speak louder than our words. If we are to "be" a witness (Acts 1:8), then our character and integrity must "back up" our testimony. Doing acts of love and service is part of sharing the gospel. Once "unbelievers," family, co-workers, and neighbors know that you are a believer, they will be watching you. They are looking for your hypocrisy to disqualify your message. The opposite is also true: your integrity is a proof of the gospel truth. They can experience a bit of the kingdom by tasting a bit of the fruit of the spirit in you.
4. Chores are for sharing - In my zeal to fulfill our ministry "calling," I usually find daily chores a frustrating waste of time. However, for those of us "in the ministry," chores such as buying office supplies, dropping off a package, stopping by the pharmacy, calling a computer technician, getting a hamburger or falafel, often are our only opportunity to make contact with new people from the world around us. When we are a client making a purchase, the businessperson has a certain openness to listen to us. Those quick interchanges are the opportunity for a brief "seed" to be sown. Whenever we are in contact with those around us, our spiritual "antennas" should be alert for sharing. This is also true for social events, such as weddings, holidays, birthdays, office parties, brits and bar mitzvahs, etc.
5. In the field - My oldest son, Heskel, is in charge of an officers training program in the Israeli army. I asked him the other day how often they take the trainees out in the field. "Is it about 20% field exercises with 80% in the classroom?" I ventured. "No," came his reply, "we're almost 60% percent in the field, with a little more than 40% in the classroom." While the ministry is not an army, there is still a truth that a good part of the battle must be done "out there," not just in the office. It takes time to get in a car and go visit someone at a coffee house or in their home. It takes effort to break away from the routine and daily demands. But we must figure that percentage of "field" time into our schedule.
6. Tracts (or other short pieces of literature) - I have an expression, "Tracts are the worst form of witnessing, but..." Tracts are impersonal and superficial. But... they are quick, inexpensive, and available. They contain concise spiritual points and scripture quotes that go beyond a smile and a "God bless you." If you can have a real dialogue with someone, then don't use a tract. However, many times a tract will work for seed sowing, when nothing else will. Particularly when I'm not feeling bold, a tract can leave a message when I wouldn't. We should have tracts within immediate reach of our hand at all times. Try to make a personal contact before just handing a tract to someone. Yet that acquaintance can be very brief - just so the person associates the tract with "someone" he has met.
Note: You also need to agree with the style and content of the tracts you are using. In Israel I feel more comfortable with the tracts that I have written. It's not difficult for anyone to write a brief tract of his own.
7. Always the wrong time - Whenever I try to share with someone, a little voice from somewhere tells me, "This is not the right time." Since human society is not designed for sharing the gospel, almost any opportunity will seem "out of place." (There are some instances that really are the wrong time, and we must be sensitive to the leading of the spirit). Even when it is God's timing, we will often feel "out of timing." Be prepared; your flesh is likely to feel awkward and uncomfortable. That's why the Bible says, "Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season (II Timothy 4:2)."We are to speak of the word in the morning and the evening, coming and going, sitting down and standing up." Read again the great commandment of Deuteronomy 6:5-7.
8. Listen first - To one of our boldest young evangelists here, who was making some mistakes of insensitivity, I said, "Did you ever wonder why God gave us two ears and one mouth?" A common mistake of witnessing is throwing verses and theology at someone, while not perceiving where the person's heart is. When someone asks a real question from his heart, we must talk with him about a real answer from his worldview. If the question is a phony, then we should just ignore it and proceed with spiritual issues. Most people have something to say. They are not ready to listen until they have "had their say."
(Example: This week Shani and I sat for an hour and a half in a coffee house in downtown Jerusalem with a young Israeli man who, although from an ultra-Orthodox background, had joined an elite commando army unit. For 45 minutes he talked non-stop about how he knew everything about God. When he paused, I said, "Would you like to see some prophecies about the Messiah from the Hebrew bible?" He said, "Okay." I read with him in Hebrew from Psalm 2 and Isaiah 53. When we finished, he gave me his cell phone number and asked me to call him).
9. Supernatural Gifts - The message of Yeshua is designed to be accompanied by supernatural signs (Mark 16, Matthew 10, Luke 9). That is not just for an evangelistic rally, but for personal sharing as well. Many people will argue with you about theology, but will be delighted to have you pray for them to be healed, to solve family problems, to overcome financial problems, etc. Sometimes it's appropriate just to stop and say, "Can we pray for you?" Many times unbelievers have more faith for miracles than "believers" (Acts 3:5). We need to be ready to listen on the inside for direction. A "word of knowledge" (I Corinthians 12) can be more persuasive than any argument. Let us give the Holy Spirit opportunity to touch the person with His power and presence.
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Please PRAY for our ongoing ministry in Israel of indigenous evangelism, planting Messianic congregations, the discipleship training center, prophetic praise and prayer watches in Hebrew, and financial aid for the needy.