The ACTS of Outreach
I often get asked about “what is the best way” to approach outreach or evangelism. “How can I do it better?” or “This is so hard for me!" I certainly understand those questions. In fact, in some ways, I have witnessed or thought about those very things from both sides of the fence, so to speak.
As someone who came to faith as an adult, I was on the receiving end of many friends and acquaintances, even some people that I didn’t even know, who took time to share the Gospel with me. Sometimes it was very low key, almost undetectable. Other times it was delivered straightforward and unapologetically. At times I was pushed way too hard and at other times I was probably not pushed hard enough. But as I have thought about this question that tends to keep coming up, I have tried to come up with an answer that is both understandable and is rooted in truth.
I know for many of us the thought of sharing our faith is nerve-racking and hard. It makes us feel uncomfortable and inadequate. It is easier to think of reasons not to do it and leave it to others. However, I am not sure God gives us that option. Jesus last words on earth are, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). If you have accepted Christ, then the Holy Spirit has come upon you. So it looks like you have the power, and, I think, the obligation to be an ambassador of the Word.
That doesn’t mean this will be easy or that it will look the same for everyone. We tend to want to create a “delivery system” that can work for all. But God is a personal God. He uses everyday people with different gifts and different personalities to bring the Gospel to different people in different situations. It won’t look the same for each one of us and sometimes or in each situation. We have all been placed in different places, with different relationships and access to people that others don’t have. I don’t think sharing our faith is optional. So how can we approach outreach in a more practical and effective way?
I would like to suggest four basic principles that will serve as a foundation to help us take some of the fear and pressure out of sharing our faith. This is not a be all, end all. It is simply a place to start. I will use the acronym ACTS. Four steps to helping feel more comfortable as we seek to share our faith.
We need to be available both to God and to the people that God places into our lives. It sounds easy, but it comes with the cost of time and is often a sacrifice. We need to put the emphasis on the other person and take it off ourselves. We need to invest in the relationship regardless of whether it is short term or long term.
To do most things well, we need to be consistent. It is the same with outreach. We will become more effective and be more comfortable as we become more consistent. Consistency within the relationship also proves that you are invested and that you care. This a key factor to those to whom you are reaching out to.
Be real. Don’t try to be some version of yourself that your life does not back up. God will speak through your faults and weaknesses. In fact, sometimes the most powerful words you will share will come from how God brought you through your struggles. Your testimony is real and it is the story of God’s power in your life. Use it.
People need to know you care. Many times early on, I felt like I was just another “notch on the belt” of the person who was sharing with me. I felt they were doing something that they had to do and really didn’t care if was me sitting in front of them or the next available person. Let them know that you truly care about them. They will listen more intently when they realize that they are important to you.
I hope you find this helpful. Remember this is just a foundation to build on. There is more to the process. My prayer is that it will help with how you approach outreach.