Fall rolls out the red carpet for me each October when autumn leaves greet me on my morning drive. I almost feel guilty for how I anticipate watching the once-green and vibrant leaves die slowly and beautifully in my yard. Each tree that glows with gorgeous yellows, radiant reds, and bold browns signals that I’ll spend precious time with my family expressing gratitude for God’s blessings in the coming months.
These special moments of physical presence are a once-a-year opportunity to share my faith with my family in very practical ways. As I fantasize about Mom’s signature macaroni, I ask myself, How can I serve my family the hope of Christ, just as I would a warm, savory meal? But sharing the gospel with my family hasn’t always felt so practical to me.
I used to think that sharing my faith effectively meant that I had to be a perfect Christian. If I compared my perception of a “good family evangelist” to a tree, I’d describe it as lush and green, without a single withering leaf. Whenever life or my sinful nature revealed an imperfection—a dead leaf or broken branch—in me, I feared that my family would never truly know Christ because I was constantly failing to stay green.
Striving to be a perfect green-tree Christian overwhelmed me, so I revisited God’s Word and discovered that I had it all wrong. Jesus demonstrated that being a faithful witness looks more like showcasing my death than maintaining the facade of a perfect spiritual life (John 12:24). Sharing my faith can look more like the autumn trees I love, covered with wilted leaves that fall to the ground and give life to whatever God graces to come next.
As we approach the holidays, desperate for our loved ones to experience real relationship with Jesus, I want to share my own experience and three practical ways to share your faith with your family.
1. Glow with the rich colors of God’s grace.
Years ago my mother told me, “Nia, I know you just want to share Jesus, but your delivery lacks love.” It wasn’t easy to hear. Looking back, she contrasted my efforts then with my efforts now like this: “Whenever you shared Christ before, it was like you wanted us to hear you. Now it feels like you want to help us hear God.”
God used these words to show me that although I was passionate about his justice, I often failed to communicate his mercy. God values our heart motives more than our outward appearance, and instinctively, so do people. Above all, an attitude of genuine love and compassionate concern matters most when we share Jesus.
By acknowledging my failure to love, God showed me that the richest colors of his grace could be seen in my dead leaves—my failures and flaws. I apologized to my family and took time to learn how to share truth in love. Here are a few practical ways I did this:
- When I felt led, I’d send a group text sharing what God was teaching me, along with a verse or sermon that encouraged me.
- I resigned from my role as “correction officer” and committed to praying for my loved ones, trusting that the Holy Spirit would convict them of God’s truth and their sin.
- I decided not to hide my spiritual failures but to use them as opportunities to show how the gospel applies to my everyday life.
When we shed the facade of flawless Christianity, God can take our imperfections and use them to point to his perfect beauty—not our own. Instead of needlessly bearing the burden of exhibiting spiritual perfection, let’s invite our family to bring their sins to God, who can forgive and redeem it all for his glory.
2. Take delight in this temporary beauty.
Although fall boasts spectacular views of changing trees, the reality is those beautiful leaves are dying. Because tomorrow isn’t promised, knowing Jesus is an urgent need for our unsaved loved ones. However, it’s important that we don’t allow that sense of urgency to make us neglect the importance of pursuing and loving our family here and now.
Jesus never skipped relationship to get to redemption. Instead of going straight to the cross, he dwelled with humanity from the time of his miraculous birth to his sacrificial death. As believers, we love because he first demonstrated his love for us (1 John 4:19). While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). Now we get to imitate Christ’s love by pursuing and loving our family. Here are a few ways that God led me to do this:
- Where relationships were broken, I reached out and expressed my heartfelt desire for reconciliation and friendship.
- When a reasonable (healthy) need arose, I made my best effort to practically care for my family using my time, energy, and resources.
- I used my talent for painting to bless family members with portraits of themselves. It was my fun and creative way of expressing how I see and value them.
Although the changing trees are dying, this reality doesn’t make them any less beautiful. As far as it depends on us, we can choose to love our family by pursuing loving, healthy relationships right now, whether our loved ones choose to respond to the gospel or not. After all, it’s the love of God that draws people to repentance.
3. Trust that, in his time, God will bring forth new life from every little death.
Months after autumn leaves cover the ground, they decompose and create the rich, black soil we use to fill our garden beds in the spring. As a child, the sight of fallen leaves meant being tasked with raking and bagging them. I saw no practical value in the leaves (other than the occasional laugh I got from bellyflopping into my sister’s raked pile). But now that I’ve grown up and made a hobby of gardening, I can see the value and potential of the leaves to nourish what I sow.
We may feel like our efforts to share the gospel with our family are as useless as the leaves I raked up as a kid. We may not possess the eyes to see how God is using our witness in our family members’ lives. But we can trust that, in his time, God will use every prayer, gospel conversation, and practical demonstration of our love to nourish our family members’ spiritual lives. Some ways I practice that trust are:
- Inviting family to join me for spiritual activities such as doing a Bible study with me, visiting my church, or inviting them to family worship night at my house.
- Asking my loved ones how I can pray for and with them.
- Refusing to write off a family member as too far gone to desire the gospel.
By God’s grace, I’ve recently seen my brother trust Christ, and his enthusiasm for Jesus brings tears to my eyes. There are still family members who have yet to confess Jesus, but I choose to trust that God is working through me and in ways I can’t yet comprehend to win over their hearts.
Displaying Vibrant Life in Christ
Maybe you can’t relate, but here’s my honest confession: my biggest struggle in sharing my faith with my family is that I can’t point to my life and say, “See, I’m a Christian, so I’ve got it all together.” They’ve seen my good, bad, and flat-out awful sides, so that’s totally not an option. But my biggest strength, and dare I say, the biggest encouragement of the gospel, is that I can say this: “I’m a Christian, and I don’t have it all together…but Jesus does. And by faith, his perfect life is credited to me.”
The fear of my family’s rejection and my own sinful pride can tempt me to retreat behind a facade of spiritual perfection. But just as the autumn season displays the peak of nature’s splendor before it fades, I want to be like the trees I love—flaunting God’s masterful work in using a dying tree like me to display the vibrant life I have in Christ to my family.
Meet the Author
Titania Paige is a child of God, Gerald's wife, and mama to her baby girl Gabrielle. She owns a kingdom-first design studio over at DigitalMinistryMentor.com, where she specializes in making faith-led visionaries shine online. She loves watching her husband play Skyrim and learning Japanese with her daughter.