And earlier this year, Presbyterian pastor, Campbell Markham, and street preacher, David Gee, were hauled before Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination commissioner for preaching the gospel.
The latest Australian Census data shows a steady decline in the number of people professing a Christian faith and in an increasingly pluralistic society, it’s no wonder Christians are fearful about fulfilling the Great Commission.
Helen Devenish is a Street Evangelist in the same town where Campbell and David are still waiting on the outcome of their court case. But she’s still reaching dozens of locals every week with the gospel message, simply by starting conversations in her local coffee shop, walking through the mall or while stopping to help a mother struggling with her pram [baby carriage].
Helen is an “evangelism expert” and she’s written a book about it called Let’s Go – Fearless Evangelism. In her book, Helen shares her experience of overcoming “Evangelism Anxiety” and some of the incredible stories of salvations and healings she has witnessed as she ministers to the homeless and the wealthy alike on the streets of Hobart.
In a world that’s increasingly hostile to the gospel, Helen has five tips to help you overcome “Evangelism Anxiety” and answer the call of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20).
1. What will other people think about me? Get over it! That’s fear of man and it’s a trap to stop you from being who God created you to be. You should be much more concerned about what God thinks of you. “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe” (Proverbs 29:25).
2. What if someone gets angry? It’s actually very rare for someone to get angry if you take a gentle, loving and kind approach. And most importantly, don’t be judgemental.
3. What if I can’t answer their questions? You might be surprised to hear that not knowing all the answers is a good thing! It shows that you’re not proud and arrogant or think you know everything. And it’s a great excuse to follow them up. Just say, “I don’t know the answer to that question. Let me find out and get back to you.”
4. How do I start a conversation with a stranger, without coming across as “weird?”Just be friendly. Say “hi” and ask a general question (ask God to give you a good conversation starter). Then gently, gradually find a way to bring up your faith in a general conversation. Look for a natural segue, rather than getting “straight into it.”
5. Does it matter what I say? Yes, it does. Don’t chase a “quick conversion” from someone who doesn’t really understand what they’re doing. A lot of the younger generation don’t even understand what sin is. Explain sin and explain the remedy — Jesus on the cross. Explain that repentance means turning away from your sin and asking God to help you stop. It’s going to mean change, so explain how good God is and how He can help them through the change.
Note: Helen Devenish is a Pastor, artist, evangelist, author and mother of 9. Find out more at www.lovehobart.com.