By Stephan Teng

What If I'm Bad at Evangelism?

I don’t recall what she said, but I do recall how I felt as my Campus Staff Minister invited me and other students to do evangelism on the streets of New York.



A hint of panic.

My mind raced to think of excuses or ways of doing evangelism that would allow me to escape potential rejection, mockery, and failure. I had seen fellow Christians do evangelism who were great at it –– they were extroverted, fun, and winsome. Who wouldn’t want to hang out with people like that? I, however, was introverted and nerdy. Who would want to pause their life to listen to a guy like me? Even I wouldn’t!

Perhaps you’re feeling like I did. Perhaps you know God wants us to share his love with others (Matt 28:19), but you’re feeling like you’re just bad at it, that you’ll make a fool of yourself, that others won’t listen, they’ll walk away laughing, and that you’ll fail God. If that’s you, don’t worry. There’s hope.

Reasons We’re Bad at Evangelism

Several reasons come to mind when I think about what makes us (or me in particular) feel like we’re not cut out for evangelism.

Skill gap: You may feel you don’t know how to say something winsomely or persuasively. How do I bring up spirituality when it’s already such a messy topic? How do I make it feel natural? How do I not make it sound like an argument? Some may have a legitimate speaking impediment or struggle with social cues. How can we speak about the gospel if speaking is already a challenge?

Knowledge gap: You might wonder what to say. What if they ask about evolution? Or aliens? What if they ask about weird passages in the Bible? Or what the Bible says about sexuality? (Dun dun dun) Our sense of unknown can make us feel unequipped and therefore unqualified to evangelize.

Compassion gap: Others may struggle to honestly care about our friends’ faith journeys. As harsh as that may sound, you may not be completely apathetic, but you may feel like they’ve got a lot going on, and so do you. Grades, relationships, careers, family, housing, food scarcity, mental health, the list goes on. And so, you may struggle to tend to friend’s spiritual needs since there are more immediate felt needs.

Spiritual gap: You might feel far from perfect enough to witness. You might feel far from God. You maybe haven’t gone to church consistently, let alone read the bible consistently. You may have even cussed in front of our friends (gasp!). If you share the gospel with them now, would you feel like joke or a hypocrite?

What do we do?

If any of these resonate with you, I have good news. None of these gaps can hold power over you. Why? Because none of these gaps hold power over God. God is moving history to his glory and to the good of those who love him. And he promised that we aren’t alone in this evangelism thing ­­–– he has given us his Spirit to accompany us and empower us in our evangelism attempts. In fact, Jesus demonstrated this very thing when he chose ordinary, unschooled men and empowered them to be his apostles. (Acts 4:13).

Some Ways To Be better at Evangelism 

  1. Pray. It seems so simple! But the first place to start if you feel like you’re bad at evangelism is to pray. Pray for God to cover your gaps. Pray for him to let his love replace your fear. Pray for God to give you opportunities for evangelism and for you to notice. Pray for him to move in your friends’ lives and give them curiosity and hunger for him.
  2. Listen. The next step seems may seem counterintuitive but is one of the best things you can do. Listen to your friends’ problems, struggles and hopes. Empathize with them. Get to know their story. Grow and know them as a friend, not a project. Also, try sensing what the Holy Spirit may bring up for you as you listen, like a Bible verse or worship song that may encourage them. If your friend is quiet or not sharing vulnerably, ask them good questions. You can find some tips here.
  3. Ask for permission to share. If I see an opening for a spiritual conversation but I’m unsure if my friend will welcome it, I simply ask for permission to share my thoughts. If they respond yes, I can share how I’ve seen Jesus in similar circumstances.
  4. Invite. Lastly, you can invite them into some sort of response to Jesus. Maybe invite them to try praying or receive prayer from you. Maybe study a gospel passage or read a book together. Maybe invite them to church or fellowship. Or maybe even invite them to believe and follow Jesus. Jesus invited many who came to him to follow him. The most loving thing we can do when someone hears and encounters Jesus through us is to offer an invitation of some kind.

Remember, God’s Spirit is the one who will move in your friends. The pressure is off!

Evangelism isn’t a task to be done perfectly; it’s an opportunity to be faithful (and loving). Sometimes, we get to see our friends choose Jesus! Praise God! And sometimes, we’ll get to help them move a tiny bit toward Jesus. I’ve experienced both as I’ve tried to grow in evangelism –– but in both situations, I’ve felt God’s peace, assurance, and presence. I can’t wait for the same to happen for you.

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Stephan Teng serves as an InterVarsity Campus Staff Minister at Indiana University, where he currently staffs an Asian American chapter. He is a fourth-generation minister, alumnus of NYU, and is passionate about creativity and leadership. You can support his ministry at