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:
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.
- 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
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Tim Chester, The author of the Gospel-Centred Life and creator of the 4 Gs, recently finished a series of blog posts on the book of Titus and Church Planting. I’ve been catching a few of his posts and decided to go through them over the next two weeks as a daily devotion. This would be a good things for any of us in our church plant to do at some point. To make it easier on me, and anyone else who’d like to study Titus with me, I’ve put links to Chester’s posts below.
- Titus for Church Planters 1
- Titus for Church Planters 2
- Titus for Church Planters 3
- Titus for Church Planters 4
- Titus for Church Planters 5
- Titus for Church Planters 6
- Titus for Church Planters 7
- Titus for Church Planters 8
- Titus for Church Planters 9
- Titus for Church Planters 10
- Titus for Church Planters 11
- Titus for Church Planters 12
- Titus for Church Planters 13
- Titus for Church Planters 14
- Titus for Church Planters 15
- Titus for Church Planters 16
Image found here
One of the Greatest aids to my spiritual growth over the last couple years are the 4 G’s, outlined in Tim Chester’s book, You Can Change. Chester says that All Sin and Negative emotions are the result of not believing some truth about God. Sin and Negative Emotions happen when we believe lies, and the lie of Satan, instead. To combat sin and negative emotions we then need to hold up the freeing truth of God. The four truths that Chester suggests are:
1. God is great – so we don’t have to be in control
2. God is glorious – so we don’t have to fear others
3. God is good – so we don’t have to look elsewhere
4. God is gracious – so we don’t have to prove ourselves
You can see how Chester links each truth to the freedom to us they give to follow God. One area where I find the 4 Gs harder to apply is to Stewardship. Yes, they do apply in part, God is Good so I don’t have to look for my good in what my money and time can give me. God is Great so I don’t have to look to my money and time to give me the power to secure my life. Yet I’ve been looking for another truth that could be memorized that specifically connected to us giving of what we are and have to God’s mission and glory.
The 5th G I suggest is: God is Generous – so I don’t have to cling to what I have. God promises to provide for us as we live for Him. Look at Mark 10: 28-30 where Peter reminded Jesus of everything that he and the other disciples gave up to follow Him:
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields–and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.
As we give God will keep giving to provide for our needs and ultimately our eternal need of life with him in a renewed creation.
Paul says, “We are God’s Workmanship, Created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph 2:10). When God asks us to do something, He enables us to it.
2 Corinthians 9:6,8-15 Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and whoever sows generously will also reap generously….And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work…
10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your resources and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way for great generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God; 12 for the rendering of this service not only supplies the wants of the saints but also overflows in many thanksgivings to God.
God generously gives to us so that we might give to others. He supplies all our needs and gives to us what we need to serve others. Sometimes we’re moved by God and asked by God to give what we think we’re unable to give. Yet even then, he provides for us. The Widow at Zarephath gave more than she thought she was able to when she gave the last of her food to feed Elijah, yet God provided for her in greater ways than she could imagine. In John 6:9 the disciples forgot the truth that God was Generous and they didn’t want to serve others because the cost seemed to much for them to bear. Yet they forgot that God was Generous and would bear the cost themselves and supply what they needed to accomplish Jesus’ request to feed the 5000 people who had come to see him. A little boy, with the faith of a child, remembered that God was Generous, so he didn’t have to cling to what he had. He gave up all the food that he had for that day trusting that God could use it to help feed the crowd. The amazing part is that the boy probably ate more than what he had given and they had far more left over than what they started with.
God is Generous – We don’t have to cling to what we have. We don’t have to run after other things either. We can serve others and give of our time, talents, and treasures because God will give us all we need for our well-being and all we need to accomplish his will.
- How often do you give of your time, talents, and treasures? How often do you find yourself serving and sacrificing for others? What positive and negative thoughts do you have when you give and serve others?
- How does remembering God’s generosity give you freedom to be generous?
- What truths do you have to remember about God to give you the freedom to follow him joyfully?
Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. Pr 23:17-18
I’ve been reading through Proverbs over the last week and this verse seems to sum up the theme of proverbs: to be wise is to see that God is better and the only lasting good. How often I’ve envied sinners in my heart. How often I’ve wanted what was forbidden me because I doubted that God had something better in store. When I’m tempted to secure my own good and pleasure, when my heart starts to yearn for that which it wasn’t meant for, I need to remember that, “God is Good so I don’t have to look elsewhere.”
The brokenness and emptiness that we often feel in this world will never be cured by attaining some other broken and empty thing. This world is fading. This world will one day end and my life here will end as well. Yet while my life will end here, there is surely a hope for me. God sent His Son, Jesus, into this broken world. He repaired my broken relationship with God by paying the debt I owed Him because of my rebellion. One day he’ll also repair this broken world, my broken body, and my broken soul. I’ll experience the ultimate good when God restores all things and I’ll see him face-to-face and live with him forever.
God is Good. I don’t have to look elsewhere. I don’t have to chase fleeting pleasure I can never keep. Rather I can be zealous for God’s good, because his good will last. My hope in His good will not be cut off. There is surely a hope for me. There is surely a hope for us.
picture found here
Great thoughts on sharing your faith. I would add that foundational to all of this is to share life regularly with those around you.
I read these on Tim Chester’s blog today and thought it was too good to keep to myself:
- Let people around you know you are a Christian (in a natural, unforced way)
- Ask friends about their faith – and just listen!
- Listen to your friends’ problems – maybe offer to pray for them
- Share your problems with others – testify to how your faith helps you
- Give them a book to read
- Share your story
- Answer objections and questions
- Invite them to a church event
- Offer to read the Bible with them
- Take them to an explore course
The kicker comes in his explanation. These are arranged from 1-10 as a progression. We too often start with numbers 8-10, but we need to start with 1-4 with most people. In fact, he says, we may need to loop through 1-4 multiple times before getting to the later steps. Not only…
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A passion of mine has always been how to reach the unreached, how to give a credible Gospel witness, how to share the Gospel in such a way that the current generation hears and understands it. I’ve studied church planting for years and have studied Missional Communities for the last couple years. Yet I’ve found that often times it’s difficult to put what you learn into practice. I wish I could give 6 months of my life to join a church that did MCs well and then come back and do what I’ve experienced. However, we often don’t have the luxury of that. We simply have to try what we’ve read about and adapt as we need to along the way.
Over the last four months we’ve been involved in the business of planting a church. In late September, our sending church approved of our mission plan and funding. In October we gathered a core team. We began this blog so that we could share many of the things that we’ve studies and discussed.
Where We’ve Been
Here’s what our Core Team has been doing as we’ve gathered weekly:
- In those meetings we discuss a chapter of the Gospel-Centred Life over a meal. This volume, written by Missional Community pioneer, Tim Chester, does a great job of sharing how the Gospel addresses everyday life and how we’re called to live in Gospel Communities on Mission. Most of our MCs will use this material at some point.
- After each meal, we’ve gone through The Story Formed Way, a ten week session of interactive dialogue and story telling through the key narratives of scripture. The idea behind it is to give the participants a biblical and systematic theology yet be equally accessible to the novice and the mature Christian.
- Almost every week, I’ll also put up a blog post entitled Missional Training. I ask that our core team review that video or post and we often discuss those posts in our meals as well. I recognize that not all people have time to watch the videos, but it gives the self-learners some direction and also posts that our future leaders can point their MCs to for training.
Where to begin with starting MCs?
We are near the conclusion of our training and are ready to plant our first two Missional Communities. For the mean time, we’ve called these MC East and MC West. As each MC gathers and discusses where meeting place and their mission, they will probably take on a more specific name for a neighborhood, development, or street they meet on. We’ve divided the members of our Core Team into these groups based off of their proximity to one another and their affinity. We have diverse ages in each group. Yet we chose to keep our three guys in their early 20s together and our three families with young children together at this time.
My wife and I will attend the group with young families since we have a 9 mo old daughter. Since I’m the pastor, I plan to be at both MCs initially for the first 4-6 weeks to guide, mentor, coach the leaders and be present to answer (if I can) any questions that come up. (I wont need to do this at the beginning of each MC, but my initial leaders felt like they needed me present since we’re really learning what it means to be a Gospel Community on Mission. After that initial period, My wife and I will probably take a few people back to our neighborhood, or somewhere else, to help start another MC.
So, As we seek to launch these MCs, there’s a few things that will need to be done.
- The leaders of each MC will pick a date for starting The Story Formed Way. They will consult their MC members and pick a date about 4-5 weeks out.
- In the mean time, the leaders will work with their team to make sure that there are social and/or service events planned for the weeks leading up to The Story. They will invite their prospects to those events to introduce them to other members of their MC.
- As well as big social events, they will make personal plans with those prospects as well. We’ve been talking about this from the beginning. Most members of our core have been trying to engage their unchurched friends and neighbors. We’ve encouraged our members to invite them into their live before inviting them into their MC.
- At some point in those 4-5 weeks, their to invite their prospects to come to The Story. They’ll explain that it will include many of the people you’ve been hanging out with. It’s low key, in a home, with no expectations of biblical knowledge. Trust the spirit on when to invite them and how to invite them. If they say, “No,” keep inviting them to social and service events. You might have to build your relationship a little further before they trust you enough to open up.
- Who should you invite? We’ve been talking about those people in our lives who need Jesus. Each member should have been trying to build relationships with someone that is unchurched or dechurched. Are they family, friends, acquaintances, coworkers? Who can you engage? Who have you engaged? Who has asked you about the Church Plant? Who has shown interest in joining us? Are there members of St. Paul who have left the church in the last year or so for various reasons, but might be engaged in a Gospel Centered Community on Mission?
In the mean time, my core group will continue to meet weekly. After listening again to Jeff Vanderstelt’s Gospel Fluency, I realized that I had made a near fatal mistake in our core group training. I hadn’t been asking my core to rehearse the Gospel. I simply asked them a couple weeks back, “What is the Gospel?” I received blank looks, the names of the Gospel books in the Bible, and “Jesus on the Cross.” Now my team knew the Gospel. Yet they weren’t prepared to share it.
So in the following weeks, we will be asking “What is the Gospel?” and will look for an answer that speaks of the whole story of God: Creation –> Fall –> Redemption –> Restoration. We will also bring up hypothetical situations and role play by asking, “How does the Gospel Address this. We have been studying the 4 Gs since the beginning, but last week I made up cards with the 4 Gs and how to use them. We’ll encourage each member to actually memorize them and use them in explaining how the Gospel addresses sins and anxieties in life.
A second big mistake that we made was that we’ve talked a lot about reaching out to our unchurced family, friends, neighbors and acquantainces, yet we were not intentional about keeping each other accountable. Because of this, it was easy to think about making plans to grow in our relationships with these prospects, but not actually get around to doing it all that much. In the future, we will share with one another who are prospects are, ask one another how we’ve engaged them in the previous week, and we can also pray for those people our fellow MC members are working to win over.
Again, we are learning how to church plant and launch Missional Communities as we go along. I hope what I’ve shared here might help some future church planter or MC leader. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment.
In fall of 2010, I attended Soma School in Tacoma, WA. When I was there, I was exposed to a great way of examining our lives, and preaching the Gospel to ourselves, called the 4 Gs. They are from a great book called, You Can Change by Tim Chester. The 4 Gs are a way of looking at your own life, sins, insecurities, and compulsions and examining them with the truth of the Gospel.
Chester asserts that under all sin and anxiety is a disbelief about God. So if I sin or am having difficulties in life, I ask myself the question: “What am I not believing about God?” Below are the 4 Gs that Chester has distilled as the main catch-all truths that we tend to forget.
1. God is Great – so we don’t have to be in control
2. God is Glorious – so we don’t have to fear others
3. God is Good – so we don’t have to look elsewhere
4. God is Gracious – so we don’t have to prove ourselves
Knowing these truths have been liberating in my life. They Address my sin with the life-giving Gospel and not just the law. The result is that I’m motivated out of what God has done for me, not out of my fear of what he could do to me. This is how the 4 G’s can work in Life:
God Is Great
Bill is anxious. He’s been working at the same job for the last 8 years. At one point, that would have given Bill a lot of security, but it seems that every other month they start talking layoffs. Some days Bill works twice as fast as anyone else, pushing himself constantly into exhaustion. When he gets home, he can’t rest. He just wonders if it’s going to be tomorrow, next week, or next month, that he’s going to get that pink slip.
Bill need to remember that “God is Great so we don’t have to be in Control.” God created the universe and keeps it running. The seasons always change. The sun never fails to come up. Though there is drought, rain eventually falls, and the land produces what we need to live. God provides for all we need for our bodies and lives. God moved and worked in History to preserve Israel and the line of the Messiah. Jesus demonstrated power over raging winds and water. He healed the sick and the lame. He opened the eyes of the blind and the hears of the deaf. He even demonstrated power over death as he raised Lazarus and after he himself was raised from the dead. God is great – greater than anything. Bill, and all of us, don’t have to worry, because He’s in control.
God is Glorious
Jamie been a Christian for about 5 years now. She was out with her friends last night. They don’t live like she wants to, but she stays in their lives because she wants to witness. Yet she’s always afraid to bring up anything about Christ. At around 11pm, Jamie told them she had to get going so that she could get up for church the next morning. Yet they convinced her to stay ’til the bar closed down. Jamie ended up drinking more than she wanted to. She said some things she regretted, and was too tired to go to church the next morning. She’s been kicking herself all day because she was influenced away from Christ rather than towards him.
Jamie needs to remember that “God is Glorious so that she doesn’t have to fear others.” God is the all-powerful creator of everything. He dwells in unapproachable light. The mere presence of His angels cause men to fall to their knees in terror. Those who enter his presence fall on their faces and expect death because of God’s Holiness. The earth trembles at his voice. His Justice is perfect. His Grace is all extending. He is merciful and forgiving. He clothes himself in splendor and is the desire of all human hearts.
Chester suggests that when you fear someone and seek their approval over God’s, “Imagine God next to him or her. Which of them is more glorious, majestic, holy, beautiful, threatening, and loving? Whose approval really matters to you?” All should fear God because he has the power over your life and the power to give you paradise or hell. Yet as Christians, the fear should really be expressed as awe, because God has given us assurance in life because of Christ. He could bring us to justice, but he took our judgment upon himself, so that we’re now given mercy. CHrist is more glorious. His opinion of us should matter more than anyone’s.
God is Good
Robert has been failing sexually. It seems like all of his Christians friends are happily married and are allowed to have sex. Robert on the other hand is still waiting and wonders if God will ever give him a wife. His other friends don’t care at all about what God says and seem to be enjoying one sexcapade after another. They keep telling him that what he does with his body doesn’t matter, that God would want him to be happy, that he’s missing all his opportunities. Robert’s stumbled onto pornography sites at times. He choses to watch questionable movies, hoping to stumble upon some vivid sex scene or nudity. Almost every girl he knows has had sex and seem to even expect in relationships. He’s starting to think that he should be willing to have sex to keep the girl he’s been dating.
Robert needs to remember that “God is Good so we don’t have to look elsewhere”. In our day-to-day moments, we call fall under the illusion that we need to get the most joy out of the time we have. Waiting in abstinence for a husband or wife seems far crueler than enjoying the high and pleasure of casual sex. We forget the promises and love that is intended in a life long monogamous marriage. We know how God says we ought to live, be we lose sight of the blessings of living in his ways now, and the never-ending joys of eternity, and so we indulge in sinful pleasures acting as if they are our only chance at happiness. We need to remember that God is Good. He has our best good in mind. He is better than any fleeting pleasure in this life. In his presence there is fullness of joy forevermore. God is Good, so we don’t have to look elsewhere.
God is Gracious
Angie has spent her life trying to be the best, trying to succeed….and she usually does. Yet as she’s gotten older, she just doesn’t have the energy. She can’t be the most productive at work and the most attentive Mom at home. The cracks are starting to show in her perfect life. She’s starting to feel incompetent, the very fear that drove her all her life. Her boss has had to go to other people because he’s noticed the strain she’s under. Suddenly, she doesn’t sense his approval. Suddenly, because she doesn’t feel the approval of the people around her, she starts wondering if she has God’s approval as well.
Angie, and we, need to remember that we have God’s approval already. His approval is not even something that we’ve earned. In fact, what we have earned is death with our lives. Yet God gives us life freely. We have his approval already because of Christ. At Christ’s baptism God speaks over Jesus, “This is my Son, with whom I’m well please.” Because of Christ, God speaks those same words over us. You are His son or daughter, with whom God is well pleased because of Christ. We dont’ have to perform. “God is Gracious so we don’t have to prove ourselves.” We can rest in God’s grace.
These 4 Gs can be uses to preach the gospel to yourself but also to others. They help us find the lie beneath the sin and confront it with the truth of the Gospel. Ideally, all Christians in your MC or church will learn how to use these 4 Gs so that we have a common language to use in addressing each other’s lives and encouraging eachother in the faith.
Here are some Questions to ponder:
- Where do you tend to not beleive the Gospel?
- What “G” speaks most into your life? How is it freeing you?
- What truth do the Christians around you need the most?
- Who can can you walk closely with that can use the 4 Gs to Gospel you?
Here is a link to the Sermon I preached on the 4 Gs entitled, How to Kill Sin.
Soma School covers the 4 Gs pretty extensively. Here is a link to the Audio of their training as well as the material they hand out.
Chester’s book, You Can Change, is a must read on the topic.
I’m a church planter and this blog is published to help my core group and missional community grow in their understanding and living of the Christian life on mission through missional training.
One of the resources that I’m using is Steve Timmis & Tim Chester’s The Gospel-Centred Life: becoming the person God wants you to be. This material was created to help “Ordinary Christians live the truly extraordinary life that God calls us to.” It continually teaches and demonstrates, through scriptures and stories, how the Gospel message changes everything. It will help reshape your identity, how you spend your time and money, how you prioritize your life, how you deal with heartache and how you witness to others in everyday non-threatening ways.
This booklet could be used as a small group study. Yet we are using it more for a weekly devotion for each of our leaders. Our Core group meets every Tuesday. I ask them to read each chapter on their own every Wednesday and come back to it once or twice a week. I want my core group to not only read the content but to live it and incorporate it into their lives. Then at the next meeting we discuss the content and how we’ve put it into action or how it’s changed us. This material has been a helpful tool to slowly shift our perspectives and priorities. Its helped us to understand the Gospel more and to understand how to live with greater Gospel intentionality.