The Bible is pretty clear that we are to minister to others the good news of scripture. Mark 16:15-16 says “And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” It’s pretty clear that we are to spread the good word. I know that early in my faith I didn’t know a lot of about ministering to others, or answering questions.
This is a list of good tips to use when speaking to non-believers.
Before I was converted I was approached many times by individuals attempting to convert me. They very rarely made a good impression. I didn’t understand anything about it, and they just kept quoting verses. You’ll have to do more than that. Talk to them on a level they can understand. Be as a friend conveying a message. Patience is very important here. Answer any questions they have, and offer, don’t demand! It’s highly unlikely that they will agree to start attending services, so just plant the seed! Encourage them to explore it on their own.
I think the first thing to do is just talk to the person. Don’t dive right into the stories of the Bible and overload them. Just talk to them as you would with a friend. And be sure to use good listening skills. Once you’ve reached a good point in the conversation, start discussing faith.
1. Be Prepared 1 Peter 3:15 But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.
It’s important to be prepared when ministering to family, friends, or strangers. Go through the Bible and write down quotes that really touch you. Think about why you’ve become a better person through faith. Tell them what you like before and then after your faith. Using quotes from the Bible is OK, but remember many strangers you’ll approach won’t know anything about the Bible. Be sure to start with the basics.
2. Be Polite Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
It’s always advisable to be polite. Patience is also extremely important. Don’t get angry or disgusted with them. Remember that everyone has trials and tribulations. The person you’re approaching may have gone through a lot. Listen and learn about them. Talk to them as a friend would. Use proper language, and be nice!
3. Let God speak through you Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
If you’ve accepted Christ and are active in your faith, don’t worry! God will work through you. I always say a little prayer in my head before I approach someone. I ask God to give me the right words and to speak through me. I recommend saying a prayer before approaching anyone. And once you’ve finished your dialogue with someone, pray again that they will be curious about the Lord. Don’t worry, the holy spirit will guide your actions and words.
4. Show your joy and peace Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Tell them about the changes in your life. Tell them how much better you feel now, with God working in your life. I remember when my grandfather ministered to me about the truth he had a big smile on his face. His body gestures and tone showed a new joy and peace in his life. Don’t be afraid to show how peaceful and joyful your life is. You could list examples of how your life has been positively impacted by spiritual pursuits. I remember after I spoke with my grandfather my first thought was: I want what he has!
5. Let your life be an example Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
I am a firm believer that showing people by example is extremely powerful. I know that if I see someone who I once thought to be doomed or lost reborn and rejoicing in the Lord that’s a powerful experience! People will see the good works you’re doing and think “wow, I wish I had that.” Be sure to dress properly, but I don’t recommend dressing too formerly either. Just make sure you’re properly groomed.
6. God loves us all Ephesians 2:4-5 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved-
I’ve found that in street ministry a lot of the information about crucifixion and creation can be confusing to new comers. A universal truth that makes sense to everyone is that Love is powerful. Let them know that God loves them unconditionally. There is no condition. God loves us whether we follow him or turn away from him. He still loves us either way. So let them know! Something deep within every human being wants to be loved. Share that truth.
7. Don’t judge them James 4:12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
Get off your pedestal immediately before ministering. James 4:12 makes it clear that we are not to judge our fellow man. I know that some verses suggest judging those within the church, but that does not include non-believers. The worst thing you can do is be up on a high horse about how much you know, or how much better you are then them. Be open and be sure to listen to their story intently.
8. Freedom from Sin Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
If the person you’re ministering to is lost in sin and troubles, let them know that there is a way out of that. As I said earlier, do not judge their actions no matter how terrible, for we are all sinners. Let them know that through a spiritual life with Christ their burdens will lessen. You may want to let them know that God often gives non-believers difficult trials so that they may learn to know the love of God. You may want to tell them that being with God frees us from our addictions and immoral behaviors.
9. Eternal life is yours! Proverbs 11:30-31 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise. If the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner! Once you’ve gotten the basics of the faith taken care of and ministered to them about love, hope, freedom, and joy;
Let them know that this life is temporary and our rewards await us in the next life. Many non-believers simply think that there is nothing after death. The way I approach them about this is using a technique I called perfect moments. I tell them about times when I just stop, and look all around me and see just how perfectly everything fits together on earth to allow for the existence of life and civil society. I tell them that in those moments I know that there is more to life than meets the eye. This is an example of just being totally real with them. Don’t stand from the pulpit preaching doctrine. Get into the little things that changed your life for the better. Use examples from your life that caused you to believe.
10. Offer resources and invite them to services 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
When you’ve reached the end of your discussion offer them free literature about the good news. Sometimes churches will provide pamphlets to use when ministering. I’ve found that handing them a full Bible, or at least a small new testament Bible is a good idea. It shows that you care enough to hand them a full book of God’s word! I usually keep them in my car and then bring them out if they’d like one. Don’t bring them to your car though, it could make them nervous. Offer that they can wait and you’ll run and get one. If they’re particularly interested, invite them to the next service at your church. Tell them the basics of how it goes and where they can sit. Don’t make it seem like they have to, just offer.
Final Note: If they are completely against the works of the Bible, I suggest telling them to look into various faiths and find a spirituality all their own. I know this isn’t common practice in street ministry, but I personally found it effective in my own life. I was very resentful against Catholicism and rebelled against it. I wish someone had told me to just research spirituality in general. Eventually I did though and discovered plenty of truth and peace in many world religions like Buddhism, Taoism, and alternative spirituality. By journeying through these various faiths I found new profound truths, but throughout I always knew something was missing. And this eventually lead me back to Christianity. So I highly recommend, if they are very anti-Bible to suggest that they research all spiritualities! It plants the seed, even if indirectly. They will eventually find their way back, hopefully, I know I did.