When the Holy Spirit nudges me to talk about faith, three soothing thoughts often come to mind. “Now isn’t the appropriate time or place.” “I can’t think of the right words to say.” “I forgot to brush my teeth this morning.” These convenient excuses mean I can get on with my day and no one has to feel awkward.
The underlying belief in our post-modern world is a me-centred relativism. “I can believe whatever makes me feel good and you can believe whatever makes you feel good, just don’t push it on me.” Feelings equal truth, and this creates some challenges when it comes to evangelism. And these are challenges within the Church as well. As a post-modern Christian, my motivation to witness is often dictated by my feelings, and my feelings often say no.
For me, evangelism begins beside the fireplace on my knees. When I seek God’s company, he reminds me that I’m his loved and accepted child. Regardless of what my feelings tell me, my identity is in the death and resurrection of Jesus. I can risk looking like a fool for him.
I’ve been encouraged to plan my day by asking God “Who?” Who is he wanting to bless through me and have a conversation with today? Once that’s arranged, I can sort out the daily what, where, when and how’s. I can risk being fruitful instead of busy, and risk partnering with God to reach the people around me.
Evangelism also begins on the deck reading my Bible. When our worldview is rooted in Scripture, we understand the spiritual condition of others. We can look beyond people’s feelings and see their desperate need for forgiveness, reconciliation, cleansing, wholeness. In Scripture we rediscover God’s passion for the broken. When God’s truth is more important than feelings, we can risk having an awkward conversation.
At the heart of evangelism is a lifestyle of love and obedience to God. If we don’t share God’s passion for transforming lives, then all of the tools and methods we learn are useless. As we work on our hearts, we can start exploring faithful approaches to help connect our culture with Christ. Perhaps you’ll find opportunities to apply the AAA approach below.
Jesus was labelled a friend of sinners by the religious leaders. What would it take for us to hang out with the ‘wrong people’? Here’s a few pointers:Create opportunities to spend time with not-yet-Christians. Joining an interest club or invite the neighbourhood around for lunch. Don’t be offended when not-yet-Christians act like not-yet-Christians. Good roots come before good fruit, and noticing, accepting and loving people for who they are is not the same as endorsing their behaviour. Ask God to put five not-yet-Christians on your heart. Try to pray for their salvation daily, visit them weekly, bless them monthly and include them in your activities whenever possible.
Jesus asks about 300 questions in the New Testament. Asking questions gives us a chance to truly listen, and listening is a rare yet powerful way to show love. Ask about their interests, family and dreams. Questions also allow people to evaluate their spiritual beliefs and consider new ideas.
Admit the Truth
While many hold that ‘all roads lead to God,’ Christianity claims an exclusive message. Only faith in Jesus Christ can lead us to a right relationship with our Creator. We need to believe this, and we need to believe that Jesus is the best gift that we can offer anybody. One way to speak the truth in our culture is to tell stories. Listen to their story, and be prepared to share some stories of how you’ve experienced God in your life. You can also share stories from Jesus’ life, as this is the Jesus we’re inviting people to follow!
Ollie is the Anglican Evangelism and Under 40’s Ministry Enabler for South Canterbury.
How does Ollie’s example challenge you?
What can your group do to put the AAA approach into action?
Exploring today’s missional issues from a variety of angles, each edition of Intermission will equip you and your group to engage with God in your community and beyond. Why not take up the challenge and start using Intermission in your community? For more information or to order copies click here.