When it comes to sharing their faith, most Christians get nervous. It's a difficult task to be sure. After all, it's not easy to know exactly what to say or how to explain things or answer questions. Plus a lot of Christians might feel they are being invasive or rude by sharing their faith with a stranger out of the blue. We usually think that if someone wanted to know about our faith, they'd ask.
Other times people open the door and practically invite you to share the things of God with them. I had one of those times today. And I blew it.
A woman called the church office today and asked if we "did baptisms" at our church. I must admit that the question caught me a bit off guard, so I answered hesitantly, almost questioning: "Yes?"
She then said, "Are you a non-denominational church? I'm not sure what kind of church you are, whether you're Catholic, Presbyterian, or whatever."
"We're a Baptist church," I answered.
"Oh, OK," she said. "I just need to get my son baptized."
By this time I had pretty much pieced together what she was driving at. At first I didn't realize that she was not affiliated with our church in any way. I didn't realize she was "baptism shopping."
"Uh, how old is your son?" I asked.
"He's seven months old," she responded.
"Oh. Um, we don't baptize infants at our church. Just children and adults who have professed faith in Jesus. You'll need to contact a different church."
"OK, thanks," she said, and hung up the phone.
After I hung up the phone, I was still reeling a bit from what had just transpired in that short conversation, but I definitely knew on thing: "You blew it!"
What a perfect chance to share the gospel with someone! Here was this woman, telling me that she was going to engage in a spiritual activity, and I had the chance to share with her the meaning of baptism, and why we believe it is performed on believers and not on infants. I had a humongous foot in the door to open up a spiritual conversation with her, but what did I say?
"You'll need to contact a different church."
But this wasn't the only fail I've had recently in the evangelism department. This past January Riverview participated in Project Home with another local church, in which we helped to provide emergency housing for those in need. Here again, I had a golden opportunity to provide a reason for the hope that lies within me, but here again, I blew it.
As the Project Home "host" for the evening, I was instructed to tell the residents that their last chance for a smoke break was at 8:30 PM. So at about 8:20 I went around and asked everyone if they smoked, and if so, they should take their last break now. I found a couple people in the lounge area talking and asked, "Do you all smoke?"
"Yeah," one lady answered. "Everybody here smokes. You probably wouldn't know what that's like though, since you're a good Christian."
Actually, I didn't say any of that. Instead, I gave a nervous chuckle and said they needed to take their last smoke break of the night, to which the woman and her companion said they already had.
I missed another opportunity to share the gospel that was served up to me on a tee.
If nothing else, these examples are good reminders for us to thank God that the eternal destinies of people do not rely on our efforts. Instead, God is sovereign over how, when, and if people will hear and believe the gospel. If it were all up to me saying the right words at the right time, then pretty much everyone would be damned to hell, because I'm flawed. I don't make the most of opportunities, and I don't say the right things. So praise God that he does his work even if and when I botch it and blow a chance to share the gospel with someone. And it's also a good reminder to keep our eyes and ears open for every chance to share the good news.