How To Share The Gospel: 4 Step Strategy That Works Every Time [2023]

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Are you trying to figure out how to share the Gospel in a way that doesn’t feel awkward, weird, and forced? 

Has the past advice on how to share the gospel with unbelievers not seemed to work well or even made people uncomfortable?

Well if that’s you, then this is exactly where you need to be. 

In this article, I am going to go over the most effective 4 step process on how to share the gospel with unbelievers.

Let’s get into it!

What Is The Gospel?

Let’s begin with defining the most basic question, what is the gospel message?

The gospel is the message of Jesus Christ and the good news of salvation through faith in him. The word “gospel” means “good news” in Greek, and the gospel is the message that God has provided a way for people to be reconciled to him through Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection. The gospel is at the heart of the Christian faith and is the central message that Christians believe and proclaim.

The core tenets of the gospel can be summarized as follows:

  1. God is the creator and ruler of the universe, and he loves all people.
  2. Sin has separated people from God and subjected them to death and judgment.
  3. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and he came to earth as a human to live a perfect life and die on the cross as a sacrifice for the sins of all people.
  4. Through faith in Jesus, people can be reconciled to God and have their sins forgiven.
  5. Jesus rose from the dead, proving his power over sin and death, and he will return to judge all people.
  6. Those who believe in Jesus and follow him will receive eternal life and live forever with God in heaven.

These beliefs are central to the gospel message and are fundamental to the Christian faith.

The apostle paul summarized the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15. These gospel verses read:

“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Corinthians 15:1-10).

These gospel verses affirm the centrality of Jesus’ death and resurrection as the key components of the gospel message. It also emphasizes the fact that Jesus appeared to many people after his resurrection, which serves as evidence of the truth of the gospel.

How To Share The Gospel: Top Evangelism Verses

Here is a list of the 10 most significant evangelism verses that can be helpful when learning how to share the gospel:

  1. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)
  2. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
  3. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8)
  4. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23)
  5. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16)
  6. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31)
  7. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8)
  8. “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me'” (John 14:6)
  9. “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12)
  10. “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10)

These verses emphasize the importance of faith in Jesus, the love of God, the forgiveness available through Jesus’ death and resurrection, and the exclusivity of Jesus as the way of salvation. These can be powerful and helpful verses to use when sharing the gospel with others.

Now that we have a better understanding of what the gospel is and what the bible says about it, let’s talk about how it feels to hear the gospel message when it’s presented ineffectively.

How It Feels To Hear The Gospel

Before we begin to share the gospel, we need to know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of our gospel presentation.

Suppose I came up to you and said, “Hi, I’d like to tell you about Siddhartha Gautama. He was a special guy who lived a long time ago and discovered that life, at its very essence, is suffering. The great news is that there is a way to escape suffering! You can escape the suffering that is life by achieving a state of non-existence called Nirvana! Would you accept and follow the 8-fold path to reach Nirvana?

Hearing The Gospel Is Uncomfortable: 

How would you respond to a stranger who opens a conversation in this unusual and uncomfortable way? 

If you are like most people, you would say something like, “Why are you talking to me about this? I don’t even know you. Please leave me alone.” 

This is the correct response. That is a weird way to open a conversation. It does not follow the normal way people relate to each other. People usually only discuss religion (or politics) with people they know and trust. And even then these conversations are very difficult. 

Unfortunately, this is basically how Christians are taught to share the gospel with unbelievers. 

Note: I’m not saying that there is never a time to open with the Gospel message. I am saying that this is often an unempathetic strategy that leaves people feeling uncomfortable.

Experiencing the Gospel in this way is uncomfortable because it breaks the normal rules of interpersonal engagement.

How To Share The Gospel Personal Experience – Bad Advice On How To Preach The Gospel To Unbelievers

Growing up in church I recall one leader telling me that a great way to open up a conversation where you can share the gospel is to “ask a stranger where they think they will go when they die”.

In case I need to tell you – that’s not normal behavior. If some stranger walks up to me in public and asks me this, I would be planning on how to defend myself in the scenario where this person turns into a crazed gunman. 

That was bad advice and I know you have heard similar things yourself.

But experiencing the Gospel is not only uncomfortable for your listener, but it is also OFFENSIVE

Instead of sharing the Buddhist “gospel”, suppose I came up to you and said, “Hello there, I’d like to tell you about my lord and savior Satan, and why you should live for the glory of the devil.”

Your innermost being shuddered as you read the example! “The Gall of this guy! Who does he think he is?!” 

If someone approached you with this Satanic “gospel presentation” you wouldn’t just be uncomfortable, you would be OFFENDED!

This is how people feel anytime they hear the Gospel message. Christ is the “stumbling stone”. He requires that we deny ourselves, our worldly desires, and our fleshly pleasures. He asks us to leave everything we love and come and follow him. JESUS IS OFFENSIVE TO UNBELIEVERS. 

This means that popular searches online like “how to share the gospel in 5 minutes”, “how to share the gospel in 1 minute”, or even “how to share the gospel in 30 seconds” are absurd. 

Assuming this is a one-on-one conversation with someone who doesn’t know and trust you already, asking how to share the gospel in 1 minute is a tall order. Barring some unusual circumstances where someone just had a life altering experience and is ready for the Gospel, it’s going to be difficult to comfortably and effectively share the Gospel in a short time frame.

That said, there are plenty of ways how to share the gospel in 1 minute if you are speaking to an accepting audience from a stage, but that’s not the scenario we find ourselves in here. 

The moral of the story is when you share the gospel in the stereotypical fashion you have heard in church, people often end feeling angry and defensive. 

They then become even more resistant to the gospel and other Christians in the future.

The great news is there is a more effective approach.

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How Not To Share The Gospel: Indicators Of A Poor Gospel Presentation

How do you know if you have been sharing the gospel inneffectively? There are a number of indicators that will help you know if you need to update your approach. 

You may be sharing the Gospel in a way that your listender finds difficult to hear if you have experienced any of these things while sharing the gospel with an unbeliever. 

  • Debating (from either person)
  • Discomfort (from either person)
  • Awkwardness (from either person)
  • Defensiveness (from either person)
  • Negatively Impacted Relationships
  • Controlling behavior – expecting them to accept because you “know the Truth”
  • A judgemental or shaming attitude on your part
  • You’re telling or explaining (vs asking questions)
  • You share the gospel before they have given you permission to

If any of these sounds like you, then let’s get to a more effective way of sharing the gospel. 

How To Share The Gospel: Indications Of A Good Gospel Presentation

Here are some key indications of a good gospel presentation:

  • You meet a deeply felt need
  • The other person feels cared for
  • There is no awkward intro to the conversion
  • The other person thanks you
  • The other person likes you
  • Comfort for both people
  • Openness to the message on behalf of the other person
  • Giving the other person complete freedom to do what they want with the choice you present
  • Giving grace and creating a judgment-free space to be authentic. “I’d never push anything on you, I’m just sharing what I believe. I support what you ultimately choose and I will love you either way.”
  • You ask questions and empathize with their feelings
  • You share the gospel after they have given you permission

Google Example Opener: How are you doing today?

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What A Successful Gospel Presentation Is Not

Many Christian have a difficult time sharing the gospel in a comfortable way (for both themselves and their listener) because they hold some false beliefs about what it means to successfully share the gospel. 

Let’s look at this first false belief. 

False Belief: A successful gospel presentation happens in one conversation.

This not always true. Sharing the gospel can take many conversations and they can sometimes last years. Not everyone is open to the Gospel the first time you speak with them.

How To Share The Gospel Personal Experience – Beating Around The Bush 

I once worked with a man named John for more than 2 years. I got to know John as he taught me sales. We had a good relationship and bantered about Christianity every day. We had discussed all of his objections to the faith, but I never pressured him to a point where he felt uncomfortable so he felt comfortable continuing our conversation the next time we worked together. After 2 years John knew everything he needed to know about being a Christian and I knew it. 

On a calm evening at work, we talked about faith and I again asked him why he didn’t believe in Jesus. He gave me one of his normal objection we had already talked about a dozen times before and I felt like I had built up the relational capital to challenge him. I said, “John, you have been giving me the same answers that you don’t even believe for 2 years now. What’s really holding you back? (To Be Continued…)

When you share the Gospel with an unbeliever, it may take many conversations before they come to a place where they are confronted with a clear decision that they must make. 

In the case with John, there was something holding him back from clearly identifying his choice and it took time to build a deep enough relationship to be able to comfortably address it with him.

False Belief: Many Christians believe that a successful gospel presentation is measured by whether or not someone comes to Christ.

This is also false and leads to conversations where your listener feels pressured and controlled to do what you want. 

Your job as the person who shares the Gospel is to “sow the seed.” Whether or not you see growth (salvation) is COMPLETLY between God and the other person. Trying to force or convince someone to do something they are unsure of is toxic and unhealthy. 

In reality, you successfully shared the Gospel when you have clearly articulated a choice that the listener MUST resolve for themselves.

How To Share The Gospel Personal Experience Continued – Beating Around The Bush 

So I said “John, you have been giving me the same answers that you don’t even believe for 2 years now. What’s really holding you back?” John thought for a while as he sat next to me on a couch. He gulped and said, “I was best friends with my brother who died of a debilitating illness. On his deathbed, he accepted a different faith. I know Jesus gives salvation, but I also know that if I accept Christ I will be separated from my brother forever. I think I would rather be in hell with my brother than in heaven with Jesus.” 

Take a moment to breathe, that’s heavy stuff.

To help you learn how to share the gospel with unbelievers, consider two takeaways from the personal experience. 

  1. John had clearly identified and voiced a decision that only he could make. That means this was a successful Gospel presentation. The rest is between him and God. 
  2. How bad would that conversation have gone if I had expected to get all the way there in one conversation? That was a critical issue for John, and there would be no accepting Jesus without addressing it. What if I had pushed him to share before he felt safe enough to voice it? That information was none of my business and he was under no obligation to share it with me. That is a truly terrible decision to know you have to make. I have no doubt it took a lot for John to voice that out loud and I wouldn’t expect him, or anyone else to share something like that with the one conversation evangelist.

How To Share The Gospel: Identifying A Successful Gospel Presentation

In a successful gospel presentation, you have clearly identified a choice and then given the other person the freedom, and grace (not shame or judgment) to choose whatever they want.

But let’s take this a little further. This decision your listener comes to does NOT have to be “accept Christ or reject Christ”.

Many people who are far from God have to answer many questions before they can accept the God of the Bible.

For example: How is the atheist expected to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior when they don’t even believe in a God, to begin with?

(In this example, I’m not talking about someone who is just angry at God so they identify as an “atheist”. This emotional atheism isn’t real atheism because it preassumes God in its anger with Him. This person requires an emotional approach to the gospel message. I’m talking about the intellectual who is actually persuaded by worldly philosophies and has believed in atheism as a result.)

The majority of true atheists have multiple decisions to come to before they are ready to accept Jesus. This is why gospel presentations can span years.

It is sometimes the case that the amount of realizations someone must come to in order to genuinely accept the gospel message may be too much for one conversation.

Think about it like this: Would it be hard if I told you to eat 10 full boxes of Cheerios? Not if you had a month. But what if I demanded you stuff it down in 5 minutes? That would be a very uncomfortable proposition because you can’t absorb that amount of change in 5 minutes. You would explode. 

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The same is true with sharing the gospel. If you don’t get through the whole box of cheerios in the time you have, God will find someone else to pick up where you left off.

Look at the diagram below to see one path that many people must go through before accepting Christ.

ATHIEST (No God!) → AGNOSTIC (Maybe God maybe not?) → DEIST (There is a God but I don’t know which one) → THIEST (I think it’s a God who loves me) → CHRISTIAN THIEST (I believe it’s Jesus exclusively)

Each one of these positions between atheism and Christian Theism can lead in numerous directions. For example, a theist is someone who believes in one loving God. But this could be the Jewish God, The Christian God, Or Allah, the God of Islam. Some people are ready for the gospel on the spot, others need more time.

How To Share The Gospel Personal Experience: The Pantheistic Photographer  

I have a good friend who I deeply care about to this day named Phillip. I met him at a men’s campout in Hawaii. We started talking as he slowly swung back and forth in his hammock with a big hat over his face to block the sun. He lifted it occasionally to take a puff of his joint throughout our conversation. Phillip had made it big and found that since he had reached the pinnacle of success in Youtube and filmmaking, nothing really satisfied him anymore. 

As I talked with him and asked him questions about himself, he began talking about his struggle to find the “Truth”. By this, he meant, “something that really has meaning”. He abruptly sat up and dug a book he had been reading out of his bag. It was a book written about an eastern religion that is broadly known as a pantheistic religion (Pantheists believe that the whole universe is God. That you and I and the chair you are sitting in are God. God is an impersonal force who doesn’t care about you). 

He said he felt that the pantheistic religion had it right and also said he felt that Jesus was God because he felt a weird conviction about it. I asked permission to ask him a question, to which he said, “yes.” I briefly explained pantheism and what it teaches about God. I then asked him, “How could God be personal, relational, and spiritual like Christianity claims but also be non-personal, non-relational, material like this pantheistic religion claims – at the same time?” Phillip’s eyes opened wide for a second. The two palm trees bowed a little as he leaned back into the hammock and put the hat back on his face. From underneath I heard him say, “I never thought about it like that.” When I saw Phillip a week later, he had fully accepted Christ and rejected the other religion (I only discovered that he had accepted Christ months later).

What you didn’t see in the story above is that Phillip had been on a long journey that culminated some time after our conversation. Phillip had made many decisions along the journey, and I just happened to be one of the last few people in a long line of other people who happened to bring Phillip to where he finally landed – in Christ. 

To share the gospel successfully, you have to realize that many of your conversations will come to a choice that may not lead to a gospel presentation but instead will lead to a decision that is the next step toward knowing Jesus. And that is still a huge success

If you are a ministry leader and love this article on how to share the gospel with unbelievers, you may also love this post titled: 8 Bad Habits That Kill Church Growth.

How To Share The Gospel Step 1: Build Trust

People will not open up and share difficult things with you unless they first trust you. If you try to force a conversation before the other person trusts you, you are breaking their trust and are setting yourself (and the other person) up for a toxic experience

In a one-on-one conversation with a stranger, you can’t ask someone to make any decisions or accept Jesus before you have built an adequate level of trust in the relationship.

The only way you can build trust is by meeting needs.

Salespeople call this “building rapport”. (John from the story above taught me this.) If you have ever been in professional sales, you know about rapport.

Rainsalestraining.com defines rapport in this way: “In the sales world, building rapport means gaining a person’s trust by showing concern for their needs and communicating well.”

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If salespeople the world over are trained to build rapport with their listeners before asking for a financial commitment, we should be building TONS of rapport before asking for an eternal commitment.

Rapport simply means that you build trust with the person you are speaking with by letting them know you REALLY care about their needs, their concerns, their fears, etc. 

If you only pretend to care about the person you want to share the gospel with and then pop the “gotcha” question – they will sense your insincerity and shut down. 

When you build trust with your counterpart, you have to ACTUALLY CARE about their life more than your desire to share Jesus, even if that means you don’t get a chance to speak.

Here is the rule of thumb at the beginning of for the beginning of a gospel presentation.

If you’re talking, you’re doing it wrong.

You can take this to the bank every time.

Whether it’s in sales, negotiating a win-win opportunity, or sharing the Gospel – whoever is doing the most talking is in the position of strategic weakness.

Is this counterintuitive? Absolutely!

But Brett you ask, how do I share the Gospel if I’m not supposed to talk?

This is a great question and it is what we will cover in the next section.

In this section on building trust, your goal is to open a conversation in a comfortable way.

Here is another rule of thumb to remember when you are opening a conversation:

If you feel awkward, you’re doing it wrong

Another good rule to follow is: 

Don’t be weird

Now, I know that’s a bit harsh, but I have personally had strangers come up to me and share the gospel, without asking enough questions to understand that I’m already a Christian. Additionally, the way they went about it made me (someone who is already a Christian) feel uncomfortable, awkward, and weird talking about Jesus. If a bad gospel presentation has this effect on me – it’s no wonder people don’t like talking about religion with Christians.

Here is how you open a gospel presentation and build trust with your listener at the same time.

Believer: “Hi, how are you today?”

Unbeliever: “Eh, not so good actually.”

Believer: “Oh, I’m sorry to hear about that. I don’t mean to pry but what’s going on?” (Hint: The other person said their day is “not good” because they NEED to feel cared for and understood)

Unbeliever: “Oh no, not at all. It’s just that my mother is in the hospital again and I have been missing work. It’s just been a stressful week.”

Believer: “Wow, that sounds really stressful. What is the reason your mom is in the hospital?” (Hint: Here, all you do is reflect the emotion so they know you understand their feelings. This is empathizing)

Unbeliever: “Well, she has been in and out of the hospital for a few months due to some pain and we just found out that she has stage 4 cancer.”

Believer: “Oh my goodness. Thanks for being so honest about your situation. That’s a much bigger deal than worrying about missing a few days of work. How are you processing all of that difficult news?”

Unbeliever: “I think I’m trying to avoid it. I don’t think she is going to be around this time next year and …”.

Okay, take a deep breath, and let’s debrief on this conversation.

Firstly, you might be thinking that this conversion would never happen. I beg to differ. When you let people know that you are a safe person and you are not judging them – they will dump things on you you can’t imagine.

People I have never talked to before in my life had brought up issues they are facing like military hazing, conflictions about faith from church abuse in childhood, unresolved grief from death, loss of relationships, suicidal thoughts, issues with alcohol, issues with drugs, and their religious beliefs such as Wiccanism, Satanism, Buddhism, Judaism, Mormonism, new age, etc.

The only goal in the beginning of your conversation is to ask open questions about someone’s life and reflect their message and emotions back at them as they process the things that matter most to them.

Now that we can open a conversation in a comfortable way for everyone, let’s discuss how to tie in the gospel message.

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How To Share The Gospel Step 2: Create Reciprocity

Before we can share the Gospel in a way people can comfortably hear, we have to successfully do one more thing in our conversation. 

There is a well-documented phenomenon in psychology that scholars call the Law of Reciprocity.

The Law of Reciprocity states that when one person freely gives to another, the receiving person feels an unconscious and overwhelming need to give back to the person who was generous.

The Basic idea from a Biblical worldview is that people are created to participate in relationships. When they feel their needs have been freely met, the freely want to give back.

There was a religious group I won’t name that was asked to permanently leave an airport after they began using the law of reciprocity to increase their donations at the airport exits.

They had one person in uniform handing out 2-cent plastic flowers as people approached the exit doors. These flowers were essentially worthless. They then had another person in the same uniform with an offering plate at the exit door.

When this religious group started doing this, they saw a massive increase in their daily donations. In this situation, people felt obligated to give back after they had received first. 

The good news is that you have something way better to give that cheap plastic flowers. 

When people know you care about them, they will suddenly and inexplicably care about you and what you have to say.

This is one of the most critical elements in a gospel presentation.

If you share advice (or the gospel message) before the person you are speaking with has begun to reciprocate your care for them – your advice WILL OFTEN BE RECEIVED AS CRITICISM.

This is why sharing the gospel message feels awkward and uncomfortable for the sharer and it’s also why the listener often gets defensive or checks out.

Here is a universal rule of communication:

Unwanted advice is perceived as criticism

This means there is no gospel presentation until the other person asks to hear your opinion. You have to earn their trust before you can break out your Bible verses (or your actual Bible).

You will know when the other person is ready to hear what you have to say when they say something like:

  • “Oh, I’m sorry, I just realized I’ve been talking for 30 minutes. What about you?”
  • “What do you think?”
  • “What would you do in that situation?”
  • “Have you experienced that too?”
  • “What do you believe?”

When you show someone that you care about their opinions, feelings, stories, and experiences, they will suddenly be open to yours too – and they will actually let you know when they WANT to hear your thoughts.

[Note: It’s also possible in some situations for the conversation begin here. This is especially the case if the person you are speaking with already knows or trusts you.]

When you meet the needs of the person you are talking to by listening and caring about them, they will reciprocate your kindness and invite you to share your thoughts and opinions with them.

How To Share The Gospel Step 3: Create Cognitive Dissonance

When learning how to share the gospel, there is one final step you need to know to clearly help someone identify a choice they are faced with. That is cognitive dissonance. 

Cognitive dissonance is another element of human nature that is useful to understand when sharing the gospel.

Cognitive Dissonance happens when someone realizes they are holding two conflicting beliefs at the same time.

This is what happened when I talked with Phillip in the story above. 

Human nature hates cognitive dissonance. A word many Christian may have heard that is very similar is “putting a rock in their shoe”.

By putting a small rock of truth in someone’s shoes, they accept that one small truth you shared with them. Afterward, they begin thinking about it more because they realize that if what you said is true, something else they believe must be false.

When people become aware of the fact they hold two conflicting core beliefs at the same time – something in their mind breaks and they suddenly have only 3 options.

  1. Accept the new belief (and often the following beliefs that it supports) while also rejecting the older, false belief.
  2. Reject the new belief and reorient their worldview and morality back around the original belief.
  3. Lie to themselves about the disjunction and pretend everything is fine.

For Example: 

Accepting The New Belief: Suppose someone begins to experience events in their own life that leads them to believe, “maybe God does love me”. As your conversation progresses you can tell that they have accepted the new belief. As they solidify their agreement with the idea the God does love them, they are then much more open to accepting follow-up beliefs that build upon the fact that God loves them. Of course to believe God loves them, the have rejected a dozen beliefs like, “there is no God, God doesn’t care about people, God is impersonal, and many others)

Reject The New Belief: If however, they begin to see that God loves them, but they really hate God because of what happened to them in their childhood church, they may try to reject the belief that “God really does love me”. If this is the case, they will double down on the lifestyle they are living.

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Lie To Themselves: If they come to the belief that God loves them but they don’t want to give up their life of partying that they themselves expressed feelings of guilt about- they may try to lie to themselves and say that there isn’t really any problem. They will then try to hold and live out both beliefs at the same time. 

In the early moments of a conversation where you suspect you may be able to share the gospel, your goal is not to preach a sermon, share your testimony, explain the Bible, quote verses, etc. None of those tactics clearly reveals the big picture.

As we said earlier, your goal is to help the other person clearly understand a choice. It could be a choice between “there is no God” and “maybe there is a God.” Or it could be a choice between God hates me” and “God cares about me.”

The way you identify the choice that may lead someone closer to Jesus is by helping them identify a contradiction in their own thinking. By identifying a real contradiction, you simply activate the cognitive dissonance between two things they already believe.

As you ask open-ended questions during the first part of the conversation, you should be processing all the information they are giving you and trying to diagnose the core reason or belief that is keeping this person from a relationship with God.

This can sometimes be challenging and it take practice. But the more they talk, the longer you have to think about what’s holding them back.

There is great news in this regard. Because Jesus truly IS GOD, anyone who doesn’t have a relationship with Him does have beliefs in their mind that run counter to what is True. As you have conversations with people, follow up by searching for the types of beliefs they mention and dig into them to understand them. I had no idea how to share the Gospel until I started treating every interaction as a potential learning opportunity. 

One common example of bringing out cognitive dissonance goes like this. The person you are speaking to says “I don’t believe God is real”. When you ask the reason they believe God isn’t real they answer, “because of the bad thing that happened in church that one time.”

A response that identifies their faulty logic is something like: “Wow, that sounds like that was a deeply painful experience. I’m sorry that happened. Is it okay with you if I ask a question about that? (They say yes.) I agree with you (you’re on their team) that there are bad people in the church and in every religion. But does one person doing something evil really prove that the entire belief system is false? (I have seen multiple people soften their hearts toward God once they acknowledge that this was clearly not the case.)

I saved one of my favorite personal experiences of sharing the gospel till the end. 

If you are a ministry leader and love this training on how to share the gospel with unbelievers, you may also love this post on How To Hire Your Ideal Church Consultant.

How To Share the Gospel Personal Experience – The Satanist At The Hot Tub 

I was once hanging out in a hot tub with some friends from my Bible study and we were talking about Apologetics. Suddenly, a guy and a gal, both in black with lots of tattoos and piercings walked quickly over to us. Standing over us, the man asked, “are you Christians?” 

Step 1 – Building Trust: He had come over to start an argument with us. We said we were Christians and I asked, “What are you?” He responded by telling us that he was a Satanist and she was a Wiccan.

I knew that was a critical moment and my response to his admission of faith would determine how the rest of the conversation would go. I said, “That is so interesting. I would love to hear more about what you believe. I have never met a Satanist before (I had met Wiccans). He paused for a moment. He seemed surprised that I wasn’t condemning him for his beliefs, then said, “Okay, well it’s like this…”

He then shared with me for over 40 minutes about his beliefs. My mind was boggled as he shared how he believed that every religion had an element of truth. He shared that he had experienced abuse growing up in his church. He hated the church and I could tell he had been waiting years, maybe even decades to get this off his chest. He shared that he believed that Christianity, like other religions, had elements of truth but that Jesus wasn’t real. Jesus was a mythical figure intended to inspire people to live “good” lives.

I was panicking internally because I was completely confused. How did he believe in Satan, Buddha, Christianity, and every other religion at the same time?

He then told me that his goal every day is to wake up and be the very best person he can be. He wanted to be the best person he could be because whichever did turn out to be the True God, he would come back for the good people. 

Then it clicked in my head. He wasn’t a Satanist. He was a Religious Pluralist. [A Religious Pluralist believes that each religion is some group’s best attempt to explain a God we do not have access to. It’s like a bunch of blind people trying to explain an elephant. One person says an elephant is a trunk, another person says it’s a huge beam, and another says it’s small and fluffy (the tail). But none of them have the full picture because the elephant is so large.] 

So I responded to him. I said, “wow, that is really honorable. I also try to be the best person I can be but something tells me you probably do a better job than me on most days.”

Step 2 – Reciprocation: Hearing this, he then began to reciprocate. He said, “I feel so bad, I just realized I have been talking for like 40 minutes and you haven’t even gotten a word in.” I replied, “It’s no big deal, I appreciated your willingness to share.”

Step 3: – Cognitive Dissonance: I then said, “If it’s okay with you I just had one question about what you said.” He kindly replied, “Sure.” I then rephrased what he told me saying, “You said your goal is to be the best person you can be so that whichever God comes back, he will take you with the other good people. Did I understand that correctly?” He said, “Yes”. I then said, “Well there is just one thing I don’t understand about that.” He looked at me inquisitively and nodded me on. “What if the God who comes back isn’t looking for “good people”, what if he is looking for perfect people?” He quickly responded with the instinctual answer from his church days as a child, “That’s what Jesus is for.” I responded, “You said Jesus wasn’t real.” When I said this his posture relaxed and his should slumped over. He sat there for about 30 seconds, slackjawed. Then he slowly looked at me like deer looks at oncoming traffic and said, “I really enjoyed our conversation. I’m going to go now.” Then he stood up and slowly walked away.  

I really believe that the conversation with the Satanist clearly identified a choice between two of his own beliefs. 

Option 1: He could choose to believe the new belief – that Jesus exists. This would enable him to accept Christ’s perfection. If he does this, he knows he will also have to accept all the other things Jesus said, like “I am the Way, the Truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through me.”  

Option 2: He could reject the new belief and the reasoning I brought forth and continue doing things his way. He would then get to continue his normal lifestyle. He would also have to live with the looming possibility that there may be a God out there who expects perfection, and he can do nothing about that possibility. 

It’s also important to note that you don’t always have to share the Gospel word for word in order to share the gospel. While listening to the satanist, I already knew he understood how to accept Christ. So I didn’t need to re-explain what he already knew. My job was to help him clearly identify his choice.

In my opinion, I don’t think in this case that the Satanist could pretend that the dilemma doesn’t exist. By the look on his face, this wasn’t a rock-in-the-shoe conversion. It was a sack of bricks in the shoe and he was going to have to deal with it one way or the other. I could be wrong, but I think I’ll get to talk with the not Satanist again in heaven.

How To Share The Gospel Step 4: Ask For Permission

The final step in how to share the gospel with unbelievers is to simply ask for their permission to share. 

This article is presented in 4 steps simply because I have found them to work in this order most often. But there are of course times when it may be appropriate to start a conversation off with a request to share what you believe.

It’s also important to understand that sharing the Gospel may not happen in many interactions and that’s okay too. Someone else will get to finish what you started. Or they will see you at the store and unexpectedly run up to you and start talking to you (because they felt cared for the first time you talked). Just because step 4 doesn’t happen on the first attempt doesn’t mean it won’t happen. So have some faith and be patient if it doesn’t play out the way you expect. 

It’s important to be okay with this because if you feel that you MUST SHARE THE GOSPEL, you will accidentally send pushy signals to the person you are speaking with and they will shut down – and they will avoid you in the future. 

That said, if you feel the moment arises when the other person is trusting, reciprocating, and they are experiencing cognitive dissonance – it’s time to share the gospel. 

If the situation feels right, you may respectfully ask something like this: 

  • “If you don’t feel it would be an imposition, I would love to share with you what I believe”
  • “If it’s okay with you, I can share what has helped me overcome ____________.”
  • “If you are comfortable with it, I would love to share what brought me peace after my ____ passed away.” 

If they say they do not want your opinion, you need to respect it. This will further build the relationship and open up opportunities later on. 

However, when you read the situation for this type of statement correctly, it’s uncommon that you will be rejected because you have navigated the conversation in a way that the person knows you are genuinely on their team. 

When you begin to share – don’t speak objectively. Talk about your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and experiences with Jesus. Don’t go full objective mode on them and tell them they need to accept the truth of the gospel. That will blow up in your face every time. 

Share what’s on your heart and listen to their response. If they respond positively, you can then offer to lead them in prayer if they feel they would like to have the same thing you have. 

If the individual has been repeatedly difficult to reach, there is one other – much more dangerous – way you can share but I caution you to be careful when you do it. 

This throws the “get permission” option out the window. This is a direct challenge to the other person. 

In order to challenge the other person directly (like I did with John from work), you need to have an enormous amount of relational capital built up with that other person. They need to know that even though you are saying something very difficult to hear, they can still remain open because they truly believe you’re in their corner. 

This scenario done correctly is as common as a blue moon. 

I think I have only taken the direct challenge route one time other than the story with John I already mentioned. I’ll share it to wrap up this article. 

How To Share The Gospel Personal Experience: The Christian That Needed Permission

I was taking a break (probably from writing some blog) and met a guy my age in the hot tub. 

Building Trust: While I was asking questions and building trust, I discovered that he was a Christian, he grew up in a Christian home, he believed the Bible is the word of God, and that Jesus died to save his sins. 

He then explained that he hadn’t really been living his faith since he joined the military. The guys he was surrounded with were hazing him and pushing him to drink heavily and do other things he felt convicted about. He said despite his convictions, he thought it was pretty fun. 

I spoke up and said, “It sounds like you are feeling conflicted between what you want to do and what you feel convicted to do. Is that right?”

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Reciprocation: Because we both had so many things in common, and because I was listening, he quickly began to reciprocate saying, “I don’t know what to do. What do you think?”

Initially, I said, “I’d love to share what helps me find clarity in my mind if that’s okay with you.” He said, “yes”. I explained that when I die and show up to God who asks for an account of what I did during each moment of my life, I don’t want to say I was drinking, parting, etc. I want to be able to give a good account, not because I am afraid of losing salvation, but because I want to tell the king of the universe that I was living the very best I could – in a way that shows love for him and others. I told him I want to hear God say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”

He excitedly responded to me and said, “That’s what I want too!”.

I said, “I think that your situation is harder than mine. I run a marketing firm for church pastors from my home and I don’t have to deal with hazing, pressure and the backlash for standing my ground against those things. I also think there is a bigger reward for you if you can have the faith to stand strong in the face of that kind of treatment. Either way, I don’t have any judgment for you no matter what you do.”

I could see that he was still intently with me and nodding his head. 

The Challenge: I continued “It sounds to me like you really need to own what you want. If you are going to take the harder path then you need to put your shoulders back and take it on the jaw like a champ, come what may. 

He practically jumped to my side of the hot tub and gave me a hug. He said, “That’s exactly what I needed to hear! I think I just needed to feel like I had permission to do that.” He then hurriedly asked that I add him on social media and then quickly got his towel and left as if he was on a mission.  

Conclusions On How To Share The Gospel With Unbelievers

When you follow the steps in this guide you will find that you no longer need to be the person who is trying to force-feed other people the truth of Jesus. 

You don’t need to have any more awkwardness or defensive conversations. 

They will thank you for listening intently and caring about them.

They won’t feel the need to debate with you because they aren’t battling you. Instead, they have begun wrestling with God over what they need to do with the choice they have discovered from within themselves.

[Note: If you would like to know more about the technical elements of this post like atheism, pantheism, Wicca, etc; I recommend you look more into websites that cover Christain apologetics like CrossExamined.org or ReasonableFaith.org.

That about sums it up for this article on how to share the gospel. 

What else would you like to know about sharing the gospel? 

Let us know in the comments!

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