How to Witness

Three Parts:Prepare YourselfWitness by ActionsWitness with Words

Oftentimes, one of the most difficult aspects of living a Christian life is the practice of witnessing. Being a witness to God's truth and the Gospel of Jesus Christ can be remarkably intimidating in today's secular world, but that doesn't make the practice any less important. Prepare yourself spiritually for the task at hand, and be ready to witness in both your actions and words.

Part 1
Prepare Yourself

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    Understand from where the power to witness comes. The power to witness—and do so effectively—comes directly from the Holy Spirit. This might seem like an easy truth to remember as a Christian, but even the most devout Christians can occasionally struggle to rely on God's strength instead of their own.
    • Think of it this way: if you start to tire out and wonder how you can keep making an effort to witness, you don't need to worry about drawing strength from your own worn-out spirit. The strength you need will flow in through the Holy Spirit, as long as the efforts you are pursuing are efforts that God wants you to continue with.
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    Keep your focus. The power to witness comes from God, and the glory must also be given to God. Witnessing to others is an action that should be done to spread the gospel—God's good news—so your focus should remain on that cause. It can be easy, however, to slip up and start focusing on how your actions reflect on you.
    • In 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, the Apostle Paul essentially defines the gospel, or "God's good news," as the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.[1] Meditate this message and make it the center of the message you share with others.
    • When you catch yourself worrying about how others might look at you or feeling prideful about your efforts and accomplishments, pause, and refocus on the central theme of witnessing described above.
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    Pray.[2] Prayer is a powerful thing. It allows you to communicate with God on a personal level. Praying for the ability to be an effective witness can bring you a sense of comfort, strength, and guidance.
    • Pray for guidance at the start of each witnessing experience and throughout each experience.
    • Pray for those who you are in the process of witnessing to.
    • Pray for guidance and courage even when you do not expect to witness to anyone. You never know when an unexpected opportunity to share the gospel might come up.
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    Be brave and have faith. Witnessing to others in today's world can be more than a little intimidating. More likely than not, you'll eventually end up speaking with someone who not only disagrees with what you're trying to say, but does so aggressively. Throughout your efforts, though, it's important to keep in mind the source of strength backing you. Doing so may not make a difficult situation any easier or less frightening, but it can give you the boost of courage you'll need to make it through.
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    Inform yourself beforehand. Your personal faith experience will probably make up a large portion of your argument, but someone you witness to may have a question that cannot be answered with insight from your own experience. As such, it's important that you have a decent understanding of Scripture.
    • You don't need to be a theologian to witness to people, of course, but having a good layman's amount of knowledge about Scripture certainly helps.
    • If you don't know the answer to a question or challenge posed, offer to do a little reading and research about it. Follow through and return with your insights after consulting the Bible or biblical sources.

Part 2
Witness by Actions

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    Live out your virtues. In other words, don't be a hypocrite. In spite of what the world might tell you, there is nothing wrong with sticking to Biblical principles regarding the right way to live and behave. Explaining the benefit of a “clean” life to nonbelievers who disagree with those principles will be far less meaningful if you are known for breaking those rules in your own life, though.
    • Philippians 2:15 encourages the Christian to be "blameless and harmless [and] without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world." Living a godly life is about more than just making yourself look good or trying to prevent yourself from looking bad. In living out the virtues you've gained through your acceptance of Christ as Savior, you can demonstrate to the secular world that something about you is good, different, and desirable.
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    Forgive. Forgiveness can be a difficult thing, but it is essential nonetheless. Just as you have been forgiven by God, so must you forgive others. Only in your willingness to do so can you hope to convey the message of God's forgiveness to others.
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    Seek forgiveness. When you wrong someone, be honest about it and apologize. Even if he or she does not grant you forgiveness, you have done your part. Admitting that you are imperfect does not weaken your position as a Christian witness. On the contrary, doing so makes it easier to demonstrate the need for divine mercy since you can use your own life as an example.
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    Form personal relationships with people. You can witness to strangers, but as a general rule, try to form personal relationships with the people you intend to witness to. Take an interest in their lives and be genuine about it. If all you do is preach to people without treating them with love and as individuals, your message may end up being tuned out.
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    Extend the grace you receive from God.[3] God's mercy and grace can get you through the tough times in your life, but those who are without God do not have the same source of encouragement to lead them through life's difficulties. They may have their own ways of coping, but even if someone seems “fine” without your help, you should still demonstrate a genuine willingness to offer support.
    • Treat nonbelievers around you with the same care and love you would treat your church friends with, as well as the same care and love you would hope to be treated with by others.
    • Do not force your goodwill onto others, though. Make the offer, but if the other party seems uncomfortable or suspicious, let it rest.
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    Look for opportunities to draw people into your faith experience. When your church holds a community event or when you have an extra ticket to a good Christian concert, invite one or more of your non-Christian friends along. Present the invitation as a way for them to learn more about your life and the things that are important to you, rather than trying to guilt or pressure them into attending.
    • The events and activities you invite nonbelievers to do not need to be heavily steeped in a Christian message, though. Invite them along to a festival at your church, but also invite them to things like secular concerts, ball games, and picnics. Let them see you as a Christian among Christians, as well as a Christian living within a secular world.

Part 3
Witness with Words

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    Speak with others one-on-one. You can witness to people in a group, but having a meaningful discussion with someone is often easier when done one-on-one. Even when you do witness to people in a group, you must treat each person as an individual with separate interests, ideas, and concerns.
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    Share the gospel in casual, everyday settings. You don't need to schedule or set aside a specific time to witness to the people in your life. Instead, try bringing up faith-related matters naturally as a part of standard conversation. For instance, you could talk about God over lunch or on the commute home.
    • Try to bring the topic up as naturally as possible. For instance, if a friend or acquaintance asks you how your weekend was, you could talk about what happened at church. On the other hand, if he or she is trying to hold a conversation with you about the previous night's ball game, don't abruptly change the topic to something of a religious nature. Forcing the topic will only seem rude and unpleasant.
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    Approach the topic from a point of interest. People are generally more willing to participate in a conversation about Christianity when you connect to them on pre-existing points of interest. For instance, you could speak to an artist about Christian art in the present and past. On the other hand, someone with an interest in archaeology might be more captivated by a conversation about various Christian artifacts.
    • Consider the story of Jesus speaking with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-42). As she drew water from the well, Christ told her about the "living water" he could offer her. He captured her attention by communicating with her about a basic interest—water—and, after connecting to her on a point of interest, he introduced the topic of salvation.[4]
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    Keep it simple and avoid unfamiliar terminology. If the person you're witnessing to already has a firm understanding of theological terms and Christian culture, you can probably get away with speaking in a theological manner. For most people, though, you'll need to explain things in the vernacular. Try not to throw around doctrinal terms like “consubstantiation,” as well as Christian slogans like “born again,” unless you plan on explaining the meaning of each.[5]
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    Describe your personal testimony. Your deepest, most intense understanding of God's gospel message likely comes from your personal experience with it. Share that experience when you witness to others. Be brief, yet precise, and make sure that those listening understand that your salvation came from Christ.
    • Essentially, your testimony should describe your condition before you accepted Christ, how you realized you needed a Savior, how you came to accept Christ as that Savior, and how your life has changed as a result.
    • Preferably, your testimony should only take up a few minutes worth of time. Any longer might cause the person listening to you to tune out.
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    Be present and transparent, but avoid pushing. You need to be present for a dialogue with people and transparent about your faith. Be firm about your beliefs, but try not to appear “pushy.” Let the people around you know that you are very interested in speaking with them about Christ on an ongoing basis, but also engage them in unrelated conversation from time to time to avoid pressuring them and straining the bond between you.
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    Break down barriers in the right order. When you intend to speak with someone about Christianity, there are a few natural barriers you can expect to face when pushing through the conversation. Only in pushing past the first can you get into the second, and only by moving on through the second can you get to the third.[6]
    • Confront the first barrier by mentioning the name of Jesus. When you're in the middle of a conversation about sports, fashion, entertainment, or something similar, turning the conversation away from its current topic and onto Jesus Christ is as simple as mentioning the name of Christ. For something so seemingly simple, though, the introduction of the topic can be the most intimidating part of the experience.
    • Attack the second barrier by introducing the gospel. As the conversation continues, you'll need to share God's good news—the gospel—with those to whom your speaking. The idea is to concisely summarize who Christ is, what He has done for them, and why they should want Him in their lives.
    • Break down the final barrier by asking the individual to receive Christ. Understand that this part may or may not come up in your first conversation with someone. Eventually, though, you'll need to directly encourage the individual to turn to Jesus. You can share the gospel until you're blue in the face, but your duty as a witness is not over until you directly encourage the individual in question to accept Christ as his or her own personal Savior.

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