What comes to your mind when you think of evangelism?

For years my answer to that question would have been something involving a Christian approaching a stranger in some vaguely terrifying social situation: doorknocking, walking up randomly, or standing on a street corner preaching loudly. Indeed, due to the wonderful influence of both university and beach mission ministries, for many of us that has been our primary exposure to evangelism! 

However, while God can and does use evangelism between strangers in powerful ways to bring his people to Christ, it is actually a relatively rare occurrence. Studies indicate that the method most commonly used by God to win people to Christ over the past few decades – far more than any other – has been the influence and impact of Christians with whom they already have an existing relationship. In more than 75 per cent of cases, the common denominator in salvation through the gospel is Christian people.

While this information has consequences for all of us who are Christians, I want to suggest that it has an especially profound impact on women, for two reasons. 

First, there are more Christian women than men in Australia (54.7 per cent of those who identify as Christian, and 60 per cent of church attenders). Second, women on average tend to have more, and deeper, friendships than men. So, it should come as no surprise to us that there are more Christian women than men, because women are far more likely to invest relationally with more people (usually other women) than men.

What are the top three things you'd say to help them make the most of opportunities?

The question is, how can women approach evangelism within these relationships in a wise and godly way? I approached Sarah Seabrook, the director for lay evangelism with Evangelism New Churches (ENC) to get some answers.
Sarah, tell us about your journey into evangelism.
I was an ESL [English as a Second Language] teacher in Western Sydney before going to Moore College with the plan to be a missionary. I had been involved in summer missions and church evangelism for years, though I’m not a naturally gifted evangelist! I now spend my time helping equip everyday Christians to be courageously speaking about Jesus.
What are some challenges and opportunities women face in this area?
We do long to see our friends and family won for Jesus, but women are often concerned about evangelism leading to relational fallout. That can come from, or lead to, a lack of confidence in speaking up when the opportunity presents. Then there's the fact that lots of us are stretched relationally and investments in evangelism can feel a bit much.
However, the opportunities for women to share the love of Jesus and to explain the hope we have are enormous, especially because many of us have a vast array of connection points with other women in our community. It may be through work, or secular community groups, or even through church activities, like ESL or playtime. Sometimes we just need encouragement to know how and what to say when!
If you could sit down with every Christian woman to talk about evangelism, what are the top three things you'd say to help them make the most of opportunities?
First, it’s so important to feed your own spiritual life with the Lord. We want to be women overflowing with the gospel of Jesus, which helps us remember that what we have is what others are eternally lost without.
Second, pray expecting Jesus to do what he loves to do: find the lost, save sinners and gather the harvest! God isn't done saving people in Australia; he does so all the time. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know on the last day that we were part of God’s salvation plan in that way and to discover that our evangelistic efforts were the answer to other Christians’ prayers!

Finally, start addressing what’s stopping you from talking about Jesus. If it’s something you’re afraid to be asked about, investigate it. Listen to podcasts like Fire up! or Undeceptions, look up a website like christianity.net.au or get some training on storytelling, testimony giving, or how to evangelise. If anyone would like to chat or think more about any of this, they can reach me through the ENC website

Main Photo: Sarah Seabrook