Overcoming Objections to Evangelism
Our churches love to see conversions and hear the testimonies. But why don’t they want to share the gospel?
Here are three common objections to evangelize I’ve heard people offer, and some guidance for helping our people overcome them.
1. I don’t know what to say.
Objection 1: “I don’t know what to say.” People object because they don’t know the gospel well enough to share it. No one in your church may actually verbalize this objection, but they may feel it. They do their best by inviting friends to church and praying for them.
What’s the solution? We can instill confidence in our members by making sure that they understand it, and teaching them to explain it.
In the church that I pastor, we ask every person who wants to join the church to explain the gospel. This helps to ensure a regenerate membership, but is also how we begin training our members for evangelism. Some members struggle through explaining the gospel, and that struggle prompts them to listen more closely on Sunday mornings, or to read a book like What Is The Gospel? by Greg Gilbert.
Others share the gospel clearly, and I simply respond to their explanation with something like: “Praise God. You have a good understanding of the gospel. I’d encourage you to look and pray for more opportunities to share it with others.”
Another way that we can meet this objection is to use every sermon to share the gospel with non-Christians, and this catechizes our congregation in the gospel. I want to preach gospel truths throughout the message, but I also want them to hear the gospel packaged in a way that can easily be reproduced in a minute or two.
If there’s anything that Christians should be able to explain, it’s the gospel. If we do not clearly preach the gospel on Sunday, then how can we expect our people to preach it during the week?
2. I don’t want to.
Objection 2 is a quiet “I don’t want to.” This is another one that is often more felt than verbalized. In our church, we try to address this in the preaching, discipling relationships, and prayer.
- We preach the realities of heaven and hell along with the temporary nature of this world. Against that backdrop, truths like forgiveness become more treasured and celebrated.
- We ask each other about how we are obeying God’s command to share the good news of Jesus Christ.
- And finally we pray regularly that the Spirit would create a culture of evangelism in our church.
In these ways, we’re exhorting one another and asking the Spirit to fix our minds and hearts on eternity, and to see people from this perspective.
3. I don’t know what to do.
Objection 3 is an honest “I don’t know what to do.” Some members know the gospel well and want to share it. Yet they’re so given to thinking of a program or system that will make evangelism happen that they find themselves frustrated by their lack of evangelism. They don’t evangelize because they don’t have the time to create a new event. Or in churches like ours, they can’t find the programs that will do it for them.
But the church body is God’s program for evangelism. Jesus said that people would know that we are His disciples by the way that we love one another (John 13:34-35).
So we tell our members to reach out to their unbelieving friends by living as faithful church members who love one another in Christ, and then inviting those friends to be a part of their lives. The Spirit uses this to make the gospel heard.
A friend who had served as a missionary in central Asia among Muslims told me that his team had discovered the silver bullet in converting Muslims: prolonged exposure to the Bible and prolonged exposure to Christians. That principle works everywhere, because God works through his Word and his people.
By his grace we have seen a young man raised as an atheist begin to open up to Christianity because of the marriages he saw in the church, and later come to faith. We’ve seen a young man raised in a Christian home realize that he was not a Christian because he saw members of our church committed to living holy lives together in a way that he wasn’t. As Francis Schaeffer once said, Christianity is an individual matter but it’s not individualistic. By inviting people to witness the corporate life of the church, non-Christians get a better picture of the gospel itself.
The power of the corporate witness of the church doesn’t completely replace the personal aspect of evangelism. If anything, it serves to overcome the specific hurdle of not knowing how to begin the conversation. Evangelistic conversations often spring from the attractive apologetic of the Christian life. When our lives embody sound doctrine, they help make sense of what’s good and right in the world the same way that the doctrine of sin makes sense of everything that is wrong with the world.
It’s not just new Christians who want to share their faith. It’s Christians growing in their knowledge and love for the gospel together who want to be more than just spectators—and so they speak.
 Francis Schaeffer, The God Who Is There (InterVarsity Press, 1998), 176.