By Justin Tucker
Grace Community Church, Nashville
What keeps the church from sharing the gospel with those who have yet to believe? An even better question to ask is what will motivate the church to overcome the barriers to sharing the gospel message? The greatest motivator to evangelism is not a massive list of our failures, or the sad statistics that often flood mission magazines. Rather than guilting the church, the greatest motivator for unleashing people who would passionately share Christ, is what saved them in the first place, which is the love of God. In II Corinthians, Paul says that the love of God compels him, thus leading him to be an ambassador for Christ (II Corinthians 5:14-21). What are the barriers that often keep us from sharing our faith, and how does God’s love help break these barriers?
Barrier #1: Lack of intimacy with God. This is the greatest and most significant barrier to evangelism. If we are not close to God, then we are not daily experiencing His love. Intimacy with God is more than merely reading the Bible and discovering some important facts. Intimacy with God means walking with God closely, being honest with God, and meditating on His Word. If we cannot draw close to God then we will not know His love, and we will not overcome barriers to share the gospel. As the great preacher Thomas Chalmers once said, “Love awakens love.” By experiencing God’s love daily, we then will be moved to share that love with others.
Barrier #2: “It’s not my responsibility.” We often think we do not have the “gift” of evangelism so we are off the hook. Or, we see someone that has a different approach to evangelism that does not fit our personality. It is true that we are all different. God made us different to reach different people with the gospel. Introverts will reach out differently than extroverts, and that diversity is good. God’s love reminds us that we have been given a new mission, and we are called to “go and make disciples.”
Barrier #3: The Christian bubble. Do you have non-Christian friends? We love people that think like us and we often fill our schedules with a lot of Bible studies with other Christians, attend Christian sports camps, and send our kids to Christian groups. All of these are helpful and meaningful in the life of a believer. However, if all we do is spend time with Christians, we hurt ourselves in two ways. First, we keep ourselves from building friendships with non-Christians. Second, we forget what it is like to not know God, thus making it hard to relate the gospel to non-Christians. The love of God reminds us that we were once far off from Christ. God’s love helps us remember what we have been saved from, thus giving us greater urgency to draw near to those who are far off.
Barrier #4: I’m too busy. Soccer practices, working out, e-mails, text messages, social media, family responsibilities. On and on we could go. We have a lot on our plates. When we get busy, we bury our heads into what we need instead of what others need. God’s love invites us to pause and look around to others. Instead of adding something extra into the busy schedule, look for opportunities to share the love of God in your current activities. What would it look like to turn soccer practice, working out, and other responsibilities into the mission field?
Barrier #5: Fear of man. We all fear rejection, and we hate hearing the word “no” from someone we share the gospel with. Even worse, we hate when people ridicule us. God’s love reminds us that we are His children (Romans 8:15-17) and that He will never abandon us (Hebrews 13:5). When we are rejected, God’s love floods our minds reminding us that He will never reject us.
Barrier #6: Knowledge addiction. Christians love knowledge. Have you been to a Christian bookstore lately? They are full of books on many subjects of the Christian faith. Knowledge is important, and we should pursue information so we grow. However, if we hide behind our books while people are dying without Christ, then something is wrong. How does God’s love help destroy this barrier? When we experience God’s love in our own lives, instead of theorizing about it, we remember how important and life changing the gospel is. This keeps us focused on what the world needs most, which is the message of Christ.
God’s love is amazing and it can break through our fears and insecurities. Take a moment to reflect on your life. Is evangelism happening? Before you jump into sharing the gospel with people, first draw near to God’s love. After all, His love saved us from our sin, and I am confident His love will cure our tendency to avoid evangelism.