Some things change. Some things never do.
After almost 45 years in evangelism, I could tell you about a lot of things that have changed. But one thing hasn’t—people’s two biggest struggles in evangelism of “fear” and “not knowing how.”
They are the same today as they were in 1973, and I have found this to be true worldwide. Years ago, I spoke in Brazil and a pastor said to me, “The same two struggles believers in America have in evangelism are the same two struggles here. They are afraid and they don’t know how.”
Note that the problem is not that believers do not want to evangelize. I have met many who told me that they dream about leading someone to Christ. The difficulty those of all ages have is fear and not knowing how.
Fear and lack of know-how are sometimes related. For example if one is afraid he cannot answer certain objections, that is also a lack of know-how. This, of course, varies from person to person. One might be afraid of rejection while another might fear that he will speak too abruptly. One might be uncertain how to begin a conversation about spiritual things while another is uncertain how to close it.
Just as there are two struggles that hinder one in evangelism, there are two things that can help. The first thing is training. It may be two hours of training or two months of training. But just as in real estate the issue is location, location, location, the issue in evangelism is training, training, training.
It is appalling how many Christians want training and how few churches are providing it. So much is training needed that I have told many church leaders, “Don’t encourage your people to evangelize if you don’t offer training. Your people will feel both defeated and frustrated.”
But there is a second thing that is often overlooked—transparency. Your people need to know that their church leaders struggle in the same two areas they do. Among many things, that assures them that fear and lack of know-how is normal. There is no need for them to beat themselves up. Then tell them what you are doing to get the needed help in those areas. That encourages them that if you can reach out for help, so can they.
The struggles your people have in evangelism are practical and real, but so are the ways to help them. Combine real answers with real problems and you have real solutions — people who are doing what they thought they could not do — evangelize.