Clearly the biggest obstacle I have always faced in sharing the gospel is the fear of failure. I also experience all of McRaney’s other fears as well: fear of rejection, fear of loss of relationship, fear of the lack of knowledge. (McRaney p192) But the fear of failure is the most personal to me. The words in that chapter cut into me like a knife. I have struggled with that my entire Christian life. It really is all a matter of perspective, also pointed out by McRaney. (McRaney, p193) It is just not about ME! It is about the needs of other and putting them first.
McRaney also cuts to the quick in his definition of the highest level of evangelistic motivation. Stated another way is that if we do not engage in evangelism we do not love God enough. Our love of God may be measured by our level of personal evangelism. Ouch! The statistics indicate that as many as three quarters of us love God for convenience, to answer our prayers or as a ticket to Heaven. We just don’t love him enough to share his gospel.
How weak we are compared to the original apostles left after Jesus returned to Heaven. To a man, they gave their lives as a sacrifice to share his word. I have always wondered about what the Bible doesn’t say about them in those years. They each had to know about the horrible deaths of the others. They all had to know about the stoning of Stephen, the first martyr for Christ. (Acts 7:51) James had to know death was possible, dying as the second martyr. (Acts 12:2) Peter was next. He had to have known about both Stephen and James (John 21:18-19) On and on until they were all dead. Each had to have known about some if not all of the others. They easily fit McRaney’s standard for showing their love of God. How about me? I hesitate to walk across the street at times.
Earley & Wheeler show that you can offset personal fear with the presence of others at your side as you share the gospel. “You don’t have to work alone.” (Earley and Wheeler, p51). In fact, you can’t fail if you share the gospel. Bill Fay taught us that “you have not failed because you were obedient.” (Fay, p3) Ok, so there is strength in numbers. The disciples modeled that somewhat as they followed Jesus during his lifetime. Paul has Silas. (Acts 16) Mary had Martha. (Luke 10) Peter had Andrew. (Matt 4) “Connecting good works with good news” is often easier and more effective in a group setting. (Earley & Wheeler, p56) “Join someone who is currently serving others” is great advice and a strong technique for overcoming the fears that plague us all in personal evangelism. (Earley & Wheeler, p60) The first step toward effective personal evangelism in our work, homes, play and in our neighborhoods is to just get started. The Church is a powerful tool to use. It provides barriers to our fears in the form of “greater strength, focus and support.” (Earley & Wheeler, p53)
The only way to really fail is to fail to get started.