Igrew up in a conservative church. From my youth I have been taught the importance of witnessing for Christ. I’m not sure my church knew how to do it, but it did teach that “the supreme task of the church is the evangelization of the world.”

I believed it then. I believe it now.

I am certain that most Christians believe this too, and take Christ’s last command seriously. You are to “go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation,” he told his followers (Mark 16:15).

But how many of us, if we will be truly honest, actually enjoy witnessing for Christ? How many find it easy? How many have tried but were always scared? How many have quit witnessing because they became too discouraged?

And how many still feel they ought to be witnessing more for Christ but feel guilty because they’re not?

If you feel this way, you are not alone. Time and again I have asked congregations how many among them really love to witness. Very few respond in the affirmative. But when I ask how many, like me, are afraid to witness, almost everyone quietly slips up his or her hand.

One can almost feel a great relief among people when they discover they are not alone in their struggle—and that even many Christian workers and ministers, like me, feel the same way.

Sad to say, much legalism and false guilt have been used to try to motivate people to witness. Legalism and guilt are poor motivators, with damaging side effects. Could this be why so many of us “hate” or are afraid to witness? Or why so many of our witnessing programs seem to break down? As Paul said, man-made guilt produces death, and legalism kills the soul (2 Cor. 7:10; 3:6).

To communicate the Christian message effectively is not to follow a set of rules or be motivated by guilt. It ...

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