In Acts 1:8, Jesus says his disciples will be his witnesses. They aren’t called to save the world or change the world — but to witness (testify) about the One who can.
Many Christians, however, feel intimidated by this call and struggle to faithfully witness about Jesus to those who don’t know him.
Are you a Private, Secluded, or Public Christian?
In a class I took with Tim Keller, he described how there are three kinds of Christians as it relates to witnessing in the wider culture:
1. Private — These Christians are out in the world and have many meaningful relationships with non-Christians, but they keep their faith to themselves.
2. Secluded — These Christians love the Lord and could share about their faith, but they don’t have meaningful friendships with those who aren’t Christians.
3. Public — These Christians have many meaningful relationships with non-Christians and are open about their faith. They talk comfortably about Jesus and witness about him to their friends.
5 Ways to Move from Secluded Toward Public
If you’re a Private Christian, you need to pray for courage and take a step of faith. God has put you around non-Christians and you can be a witness as soon as you have the guts to speak up.
But if you’re a Secluded Christian, becoming a faithful witness takes more time. But it can be done. Here are 5 ways you can take steps toward becoming a Public Christian:
1. Reflect on what holds you back.
We often think our issue is that we need more training in evangelism. But that’s usually not true. It’s often more that we’ve secluded ourselves.
Maybe we’ve lost touch with non-Christians for decent reasons — because of growing family demands or increased church involvement.
Or maybe we’ve lost touch for fearful reasons. Perhaps we’re afraid of non-Christian influences on us or our families. Maybe we’ve overreacted to our own godless pasts.
Whatever the reasons, spend a moment and ask the question, What’s holding me back from having more meaningful friendships with non-Christians?
2. Pray for and pursue meaningful friendship with those who don’t believe like you.
Before you go any further, check your heart. Do you want actual, meaningful friendships with people? Or are you just thinking in a utilitarian way — like you need some folks to help you check your ‘witness’ box?
Sometimes Christians are ineffective witnesses because we try to use relationships instead of building them.
Once your motives are checked, how can you pursue new friendships? A few ideas:
– Be a regular — go to the same restaurants, coffee shops, stores or parks. Chances are you already go to these places. Open your eyes and pray for opportunities to get to know the people you keep seeing.
– Volunteer outside the church — find places in the community that need help. Coach a team, volunteer at the kids’ school, or offer your time at a non-profit.
– Say YES — When friends at work or in the neighborhood invite you to do something, say yes. They’ll invite once or twice and if you say no, they’ll stop.
– Go out to eat — everyone has to eat multiple times per day. And meals provide a place to lower the intensity, relax, and build friendship.
3. Be like your friends.
As you build friendships with non-Christians, seek to truly understand them. What influences shape them? What TV shows do they like? What hobbies and interests do they have? What makes them tick?
We shouldn’t compromise our values or disobey God, but when we can we should seek to help our friends see that we’re not totally weird or different from them.
We want friends to be able to look at us and be able to imagine themselves following Christ because we’re so similar to them.
4. Be unlike your friends.
At the same time, followers of Jesus should be different. We might have similar interests or enjoy the same music, but our core values are different.
Don’t be afraid to let that shine through. Be who God is transforming you to be.
We want friends to be able to look at us and see that God really is doing something different in us because of Jesus.
5. Pray every week for your non-Christian friends.
God changes our hearts and keeps his mission on our radar as we pray. God is the ultimate missionary who is working in the lives of our friends in ways beyond just us.
So pray for God to work in the lives of your friends. Pray for God to open doors for conversations about faith. And pray for you to love them faithfully so that they can see the sacrificial love of Jesus modeled through you.
Without prayer, you’ll seek to be a witness in your own power. That won’t go anywhere.
Moving from Secluded to Public faith takes time, effort, and intentionality. It’s why so few Christians make the jump. But those who do find their lives filled with new relationships with beautiful people. And they find that God works in big ways.
Let’s go public.