Are You To Be An Active Or Passive Witness?

In many of the small groups I have been in over the years, there is one question that has come up quite often. This may not be the most popular question or even the most passionately argued, but it does come up a lot. The question is this – are you to be an active or passive witness?


Passive Witness Camp

To be more clear, there are usually one or two people in the group that get a little uncomfortable when the subject of evangelism comes up for discussion. Immediately, they get images of standing on the street corner with bullhorn in hand and shouting out warnings to those passing by.

Maybe their picture is more subtle, but just as uncomfortable for them. Either way, they usually say something like, “I don’t have the gift of evangelism.” Maybe they say, “I don’t like to talk about my faith.”

Many suggest, “I think we should just live our Christian life by example. We should not have to tell people what and why we believe. They should know it by the way we live.”

Are these people in the “passive witness” camp wrong?

Active Witness Camp

Before you answer, let’s look at the other camp. When this discussion about our responsibility to witness comes up, these others jump all over it! They are quick to talk about the number of times they have shared Jesus with some complete stranger, a customer, or maybe a childhood friend.

They can tell crazy stories about how people have accepted Jesus as a result of them simply asking an innocent question that led to an intense conversation about eternity. This discussion really gets the people in the “active witness” camp fired up!

Are they wrong?

Who Is Right?

So what is the answer?

Are you to be an active or passive witness?

Fortunately for you, I have the answer! That answer is “Yes!”

Active And Passive Witness!

Yes, you are to be an active witness. Yes, you are to be a passive witness. You are to witness both actively AND passively! Neither of these options is acceptable only by itself. If we are to be fully committed disciples of Jesus, then we are to witness in every way available to us.

Sure, there are some personalities that are naturally more outgoing. These people will most likely witness to people in situations where the less outgoing may be uncomfortable. That is fine.

However, that does not remove the responsibility from the less outgoing! It only means that these people need to be more intentional about building relationships with the lost around them for the purpose of eventually talking to them about Jesus and their eternity.

The Workplace Needs Active!

When you look at the statistics of the workplace, Barna reports that roughly 40% of the U.S. adult population is unchurched. That means there are plenty of people around you in the workplace that need what you have. They need you to share your faith.

If you do not already have a solid relationship with them that would allow you to do this, then you need to get to work! Start intentionally working on your relationship with them. Get creative, but get closer. Of course, you are to do this with a sincere desire to touch their heart, not for a tally mark in your Bible.

The point here is that you are to be active as a witness for Jesus. Using a bullhorn is not the only way to do this. Whatever your personality or circumstances, find a method that plays to your strengths. Then start!

Example Still Necessary

And for you “active witness” campers, do not let your natural ability to witness to others overshadow the need for you to also live out your faith by example! Whatever your personality, you are also called to live a godly life as an example for those who are watching.

This means your business practices are to be above reproach. You are to walk what you talk! You are to live out all that Jesus has commanded us – in every facet of your life.

You are not free to live as you please simply because you are good at approaching complete strangers with the truth of the gospel. Your witness and your example should go hand in hand!

Scripture Backup

I will leave you with a few verses that can serve as back-up for what we have discussed here. There are plenty more where these came from, but this is a good start!

You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lamp stand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:14-16

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
Acts 1:8

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.
Philippians 1:27

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
1 Peter 3:15

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

  • Absolutely 110%. I believe the label passive is a label espoused by those who proclaim active as vocal witnessing. However, words without action are dead words (ref. James 1:22) – and even if in a stuttered or muttered manner, we should always be ready to give the reason for our hope that we reflect in our life. Active witnessing is action + words coming together to influence others. Thanks Chris….

  • Chris Walker

    I picked up a phrase once: Good Deeds lead to Good Will which leads to Good News.

    Good deeds alone are not sufficient. Lots of non-profits and non-believers do good deeds.

    Good character alone is not sufficient. I know several moral non-believers who love their families, live a reasonable lifestyle, and give to the poor.

    Without actively sharing about Christ, we can simply blend in with the other moral do-gooders and no one will notice the difference.