Monthly Archives: August 2012

Missional Training # 19 – Sharing the Gospel…with a little help from your friends

Sharing the Gospel or inviting someone to a church service, missional community, or a small group can often feel intimidating.  Christians all know that we’re called to make disciples of all nations, to be witnesses of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.   We know we’re called to be the light of the world, the salt of the earth.  We even want to be effective at this mission.  We want to see or family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers know the life and love they can have in Jesus. Yet, at times we don’t know where to begin.

We have all  seen or heard about a lot of high-pressure evangelist encounters that seemed more like an argument than a sharing of the hope we have in Jesus.  Maybe you’ve actually been the one pressuring someone else to come to become a Christian.   Or maybe you’ve sat there and heard a friend or coworker vent about someone who was “trying to push their faith” on them.   Perhaps, you were just minding your own business and some well-meaning Christians kept pushing tracts in your face, forcing conversation, and if you, a fellow Christian, felt uncomfortable.  We know we don’t want to reach out that way, but we are left unsure of how to go about it.

For most of us we have one big problem with evangelism.  We fear others.  We’re afraid of what people might think of us after we mention the name of Jesus or the word, Church.  We are afraid of what might happen when we step on a stranger’s door step.  We’re even a bit afraid that they might view us as that angry judgmental person.  Perhaps we have all these fears and negative emotions because we view evangelism in the wrong way.

Tim Chester and Steve Timmis suggest that evangelism is actually meant to be a team activity, that we’re meant to share and show the faith together, over time, through relationships.  We recognize here that not everyone shares the same gifts.  Chester and Timmis suggest that there are a few ways that everyone can be involved in witnessing: Building relationships, Sharing the Gospel, and Introducing to Community 

In their book, Total Church, they share this diagram to show how multiple Christians can be involved in witnessing to one person:

Building Relationships

As Christians we should always be interested in knowing new people and getting to know the unchurch people around us.  Especially in a church plant, it is essential that all of our member are regularly starting new relationships with people on the fringes of their life, and depening relationships with the unchurched people they know.  There are people who are extremely gifted at meeting new people and starting relationships with them.

Sharing the Gospel

When we live the Christian life in front of an unbeleiving world, people will take notive of the way we love, sacrafice, and serve and will ask us of our faith.  All Christians all called to be ready to answer when someone asks the reason of our hope.  When we have opportunity, and the Spirit moves us, we’re called to speak.  Yet, for some this come much easier.  Some people can turn everyday conversation into a exhortation to beleive in Jesus.

Introducing to Community

Most of us have people in our lives that are unchurched or dechurched.  The difficult thing is trying to figure out how to get them to church or to sit down and talk about Jesus in a productive way.  Yet, often times all we have to do is to introduce them to the wider community.  It’s hard to just start up a religious conversation and it seem natural.  Its even difficult to simply get someone to agree to go to church, yet its pretty easy to ask them to a barbeque or a movie.  Somepeople are naturals at connecting people.  Someone great in this area might host great parties or plan some great events or they might be simply good at inviting a unchurched friend and beleiving friends to the same place.  The more relationships built, the better, because the unchurched person sees the Gospel play out in the lives of Christians.  There is also, then, a greater chance that the unchurched person might really connect with one of the Christians, which can open the door to greater Gospel converstaions.

When evangelism becomes a community project, it becomes easy and fun.  Everyone has a part to play.  No matter your gift.  God can use you.  He’s save you for this very purpose.  Trust in his Spirit to lead you.

Questions:

  • Who do you know that is far from Jesus?  How can you start to build relationships with them?
  • If you’re not gifted at sharing the faith, who do you need to introduce them to?
  • What kinds of events or settings can you imagine your unchurch and your church friends mingling at?
  • What strand or strands of evangelism are you most comfortable and gifted with?  What other types of Christians do you need to partner with to help reach your friends?

Read more about outreach in missional communities here

Images found here

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Tim Keller on Jesus in the Old Testament Story

This is a video from Tim Keller’s talk at the Gospel Coalition conference in 2007.  Keller shares in this video how the story of the Old Testament is really a story about Jesus.  Since we are big in story telling through the Bible, I figured I’d share this post on how a number of the figures and stories in the Old Testament really point forward to Jesus.  When you think about Jesus being central to all of the Biblical Story, it helps make sense of everything in the Old Testament and New Testament.  It gives a much greater take away than just lifting up an OT figure as a hero or example and keeps you from simple moralizing a story.

This could have been a much longer video, but Keller kept it to a few key points of where Jesus is seen in the Old Testament.  What other people or events, in the Old Testament story, point forward to Jesus?   How could knowing how Jesus connects to the Old Testament story help you in sharing the faith with others?

 

Resources

For more on Jesus in the Old Testament, I highly recomend getting a Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones.  Its even a great resource for adults to understand the biblical story.  The subtitle of the book is: Every Story Whispers His Name.  Every story points to Jesus in some way.

More Than You Can Imagine

I love the book of Ephesians.  One thing I like about it is that Paul prays some amazing prayers for the people he was fathering in the faith.  One such prayer happens at the end of chapter 3:

For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

In this majestic prayer, Paul prays that the Holy Spirit my dwell in us and cause us to treasure Christ in our hearts, that we might have faith and a relationship with the Son of God (16-17)  And, being rooted in that love, that our eyes might be opened even more to the fact that God’s love is greater than just what we experience, but that it fills all things, not even the dimensions of creation (width, length, hight, and depth) can hold His love.  Paul wants us to be astounded by and filled with awe and warmth by the awesome power and love of God.

Then he ends with this rousing doxology,

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Paul wants our wonders to overflow into praise of the great and awesome God who has loved us so deeply.

recently, verse 2o has been speaking into my heart, That God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.”  As I try to live for him and as we continue to move forward in church planting, I remember that God is able to do far more than we can possibly dream.  His love is greater than the dimensions of this world.  He has a greater passion and desire to reach the lost than any of us do.  He has greater love for anyone I’m trying to reach than we do as well.

As we’re trying to forge relationships, show love, and share the Gospel, I’ve been keeping this in mind.  While I pray for specific things, I remember that his love, his plans, his desire to save are greater than mine.  So every conversation and at every transition in my day, I pray,

You can do so much more than I can possibly ask or imagine.  So surprise me, Lord!  Astound me with your love.  Amaze me with your power at work in me.  Show up in a way that I do not expect and work awesome things to your glory and to the salvation of many.” 

This week our glorious and great God has done some amazing things.  He’s done way more than I’ve been praying for.  He’s done way more than I had expected.  Trust him in all that you do, and look for his power at work.

Pictures found here and here

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