Top 10 Reasons Christians Don’t Witness
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Martus, translated as both “witness” and “martyr,” refers to those who, because of their testimony, give their lives either all at once or one day at a time for Christ.
What is a witness? A witness is not a prosecutor, defense attorney or judge. A witness is required simply to tell what he knows. For the Christian, it means telling what we know personally about Christ our Savior, and the simple way of salvation: repentance towards God (agreeing with Him about the problem—our personal sin) and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ (agreeing with God about the answer—the value of the person and finished work of the Lord Jesus).
Here are the top ten reasons Christians keep their mouths shut when it comes to witnessing.
10. They don’t know they are supposed to witness.
It is a strange fact that some believers say they thought the witness of the Church was only to be conducted by those especially gifted as evangelists. Was that what the early church did? In Acts 8, we are told that the persecution that arose under the direction of Saul of Tarsus drove the Christians across the Roman empire. And the result? “Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching (euaggelizo, evangelizing) the word” (v. 4). But the “they” in verse 4 does not include the men who were given the Great Commission by our Lord. Verse 1 of the same chapter tells us that the apostles stayed in Jerusalem. However, the real question is: how can any Christians keep their mouths shut about the world’s greatest Friend (the Lord Jesus), the world’s greatest need (salvation), the world’s greatest offer (the gospel) and the greatest event in a believer’s life? We ought to be like Hannah, who said “my mouth is enlarged” because she just couldn’t keep from speaking about her Lord.
9. Because older Christians haven’t given a good example.
This is often true, but it is still not a good reason. If you have no good examples, then be one. Timothy, a young man, was called on to be an example (see 1 Tim 4:12). The best way to learn evangelism is to do it. Memorize some good gospel passages. Practice explaining how to be saved with a Christian friend. Pray for opportunities and for increased love for the lost. Then go with the confidence that the Lord Jesus is with you (Mt 28:20), the Spirit has gone before you to prepare hearts (Jn 16:8), and that God will give the increase (1 Cor 3:6).
8. Everybody already knows the gospel.
That’s just not true. When we made a gospel foray into a city in the midwestern U.S., we were told by Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) that they estimated 70% of the children under 15 in that city had never heard the gospel once. And while many have attended church services and may be familiar with the facts of Christ’s life and death, they have never been told why He died and how they can be sure of heaven. That is our mission.
7. No one is interested.
Again, not true. Millions today will receive earth-shattering news—inoperable cancer, a spouse leaving them, job loss, or a child in trouble. Jesus said He came for the broken-hearted, and there are more of those every day. Sometimes when a person responds, “I’m not interested,” I ask, “Not interest in what? What do you think I’m offering you?” Often they think we are going to ask them to change holy clubs—to leave their church affiliation and join ours. Are they not interested in peace? Certain hope beyond death? Unchanging love? The secret of true happiness? It’s my experience that almost everyone is interested in those precious commodities. Few will turn away someone who really cares about them, is willing to listen and offers to pray.
This very often is the case. If we delay for months or years, then tell someone that they are in danger of hell fire, they might well ask, “You knew this all the time you’ve known me, and you never told me? What kind of a friend are you?” This is a situation that must be corrected and demands a good dose of honesty. Something like, “There is something very important to me that I should have told you before. But I was afraid of losing your friendship. Please forgive me. Can I tell you now?” Procrastination is not only a major reason for delaying in sharing the gospel, it is also a prime reason why people go to hell. As Paul wrote, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost” (2 Cor 4:3). If today is “the day of salvation,” what day should we tell people that today is the day of salvation? Tomorrow? Or today?
5. Because sinful or worldly habits have shut our mouths.
King David knew this. In his penitential psalm, he wrote, “Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin” (Ps 32:2-5). We need to seek the Lord’s help so our lifestyle suits the gospel (Phil 1:27).
4. Preoccupation with other things.
A divided heart is a dangerous heart. As someone said, “Wouldn’t it be a terrible thing if, when you got to heaven, you discovered that all you had done on earth could have been done by someone who wasn’t even saved at all!” It is said of those called “the enemies of the cross of Christ” that they “mind earthly things” (Phil 3:18-19). How quickly most of us join in conversation to give our opinions about politics, business or sports. I am always deeply convicted by the verse: “Out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Lk 6:45). Let’s set our minds on things above where Christ sits. Nothing ever falls up. You’ll have to keep putting your mind up there every time you find it down where worldlings graze.
3. I’ve never been shown how.
That may be the case since, in many places, the gospel momentum has been almost completely lost. However, as one young disciple said to me, “If we talk to God every day, and if we talk to people every day, how hard can it be to talk to God about people and to people about God?” The Spirit knows how to do this; He has been at it for millennia. And the Word is full of the best tactics used by Peter, Paul, Stephen, and our Lord Himself.
2. Afraid of looking stupid because I might not have the answers.
It’s good to look for helpful answers that thinking people ask. But it is also amazing to see how the Holy Spirit helps in providing answers just when we need them. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Ps 46:1). One thing we all should practice saying: “I don’t know the answer to that. Can I get back to you?” Remember the man born blind. When asked things he didn’t know, he replied “One thing I know…” You can always say, “I don’t know that, but here’s one thing I do know.” After all, if you wait until you have all the answers, you’ll be in heaven, and no one there needs your witness.
1. Fear of rejection.
Without question, this is the Number 1 reason for our lack of witnessing. But is it a good reason? We wouldn’t worry what people thought of us if we realized how little they did. And besides, what people think of you won’t matter a snap of the fingers, but what they think of Christ will determine their eternal destiny. In many western countries, the worst we suffer is an unkind word or angry glance. Many of our brothers and sisters around the globe suffer far worse. But we will overcome this fear of rejection if we focus on our Lord who was “despised and rejected of men” (Isa 53:3) and was abandoned by God at Calvary to save our souls. “The fear of man brings a snare: but whoever puts his trust in the Lord shall be safe” (Prov 29:25). Once we overcome this inertia through prayers for boldness (see Eph 6:19-20), we will feel the wind of God at our backs and see with amazement what He can do with the likes of us.