Evangelism is a hot topic today in church. You can find books on how to "market the church," you can attend seminars on church growth - there is more information now on how to share your faith than ever before, yet many Americans never come to an obedient relationship with the Savior Jesus Christ.
I believe this is because many Christians don't take an active role in sharing their faith with the unbelievers. In the book of Acts we have many examples of ordinary people sharing their faith with others.
In chapter eight, verse four, it says, "All who were scattered preached the word wherever they went."
Later in chapter eight there is a great example of Philip preaching the good news of Jesus with an Ethiopian. This story has served as a guideline for others helping them to effectively share their faith.
Philip was ready to go when and where called God called him to go. He had a vibrant ministry in Samaria and saw many people believe and be baptized. But when he was called to go south on a desert road he left and did not question God. We also must be ready to leave our comfort zone in the church building and take the message of Christ out on the road where He is needed.
When Paul is writing to Timothy he says, "Preach the word, be prepared in season and out of season." 2 Timothy 4:2. To effectively share our faith we must be prepared to speak to whomever God has called us to speak.
When Philip reached the Ethiopian he heard him reading from the book of Isaiah and asked, "Do you understand what you are reading?"
This is an important step of sharing our faith that can be easily overlooked. Philip's question is essentially, "Where are you on the road to salvation?"
When we share our faith with others it is important to find a starting point so we can determine how to proceed further. The gospel message meets people where they are, with some you may have to start at the beginning and others may just need a gentle nudge in the right direction. When sharing your faith it is very important to know something about whom you are talking to.
Philip, starting with the very scripture, began to preach the good news of Jesus to the Ethiopian. I have often wondered what that conversation would have been like and Luke leaves us so many clues to what was said. He preached the good news: Christ's death, burial and resurrection.
Also in Philip's message was how to respond to the good news. The Ethiopian makes this clear when he said in chapter eight, verse 36, "Look, here is water, why shouldn't I be baptized?"
Sharing our faith is more than just telling others of Christ. It's helping them to come into an obedient relationship with the Son of God. Jesus has a plan for church growth and it begins with all believers actively sharing their faith. Christ has no tongue to tell men how He died, He has no help but our help to bring men to His side.
• Micheal Hurlbert is the youth pastor of First Christian Church in Carson City.