Obstacles to evangelism

Fear of failure

We are afraid that the person does not come to know Jesus even after we have tried. We do not want to feel like we are a failure. If we feel this way, we have not understood our responsibility in evangelism. We are not called to convert someone to a Christian. That is the work of the Holy Spirit.

(1 Cor 12:3 NIV) Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus be cursed," and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.

Our responsibility in evangelism is simply to share the good news of Jesus. We are simply called to be witnesses of God.

(Acts 1:8 NIV) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

Therefore if we have told someone about Jesus and he refuses to believe, there is no failure on our part. There is failure, however, when we fail to be His witnesses, as we have been commanded to do.

Fear of rejection

We are afraid that our friends will reject us if we start to share the gospel with them. But if we really love someone, we will know that it is more important to share the gospel with them even if we risk rejection. If we are afraid of rejection, we usually love ourselves more and we would rather keep our reputation and pride.

Rejection will come in some instances when we are doing serious evangelism. People do not take things sitting down. There will be objections. The devil will stir hostility if he knows that his territory is being invaded.

(John 15:20-21 NIV) Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. {21} They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.

To overcome fear, we need to pray for boldness. Even the apostle Paul had to do that.

(Eph 6:19-20 NIV) Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, {20} for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Afraid of contamination

Some people are afraid to evangelize because they are afraid that contact with non-Christians will contaminate them. Non believers may not have Christian values or they may speak in a different way which the Christian does not like to follow.

However, Jesus instructed us to go into the world to bring people into His kingdom. We are not told to just wait in church for them to knock at our doors. We are told to go out to the nations to make disciples.

(Mat 28:19 NIV) Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

We are told to mingle with non-believers so that we can be a light to them.

(Mat 5:14-16 NIV) "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. {15} Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. {16} In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Even Jesus realize that it is possible that we may be contaminated with wrong values if we mix too much with people who have wrong values. That is why His prayer is to be protected from the evil one, even while we remain in the influence of the world.

(John 17:15 NIV) My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.

Lack of skill

Another reason why people do not want to evangelize is because they feel inadequate to do so. Yet God has promised that He will give us the words to speak when the time comes.

The disciples of Jesus were not trained in theology. They were not even educated in normal schools! Yet when they speak, the people were filled with awe because they spoke so well and so boldly.

(Acts 4:13 NIV) When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

The reason why the disciples could speak so well is because they had been with Jesus. We need the presence of Jesus so that we can speak well. God is the one who will teach us to speak.

That does not mean that we should not equip ourselves with the word of God so that we can tell the gospel to people more effectively. We can do so in the meantime but when the opportunity comes, we must believe that we are prepared for that particular task and God will be our help.

Lack of passion

Why would anyone take the time to evangelize and risk ridicule and rejection unless he has passion for the lost? A person can do so out of pure obedience to God but after a while that obedience will become more and more difficult. In order to sustain a lifetime of evangelism, there must be passion.

"Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care."

If we don't have passion and love for the lost, our unsaved friends will know it and they will not be touched to respond to the gospel.

When Jesus saw the lost, He was filled with so much passion for them that He wept. Let's ask God to give us this passion for the lost.

(Luke 19:41-44 NIV) As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it {42} and said, "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace--but now it is hidden from your eyes. {43} The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. {44} They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you."