Is there any word that strikes terror into the heart of a committed Christian than “evangelizing”, the verb? I have always been afraid to do it. I’m not persuasive, I get tongue-tied and I feel like Moses did when God sent him to deliver the Israelites out of Egypt. “Who am I, Lord…?” And yet, as Christ followers, we are called to ‘share the good news’, which is what the word means.
I had tried – and done miserably, in the past – but perhaps it was time to give it another go. Our church is preparing for the Festival of Hope, which Franklin Graham is bringing to our city in September, and the Christian Life and Witness Course (CL&WC) is preparation for that. Three of my friends and I went and so, in fact, did 35 others from our church! That in itself was something of a miracle!
The first session was an overview and introduction (confession: I found some if it boring) but there were nuggets. As the course reminded us, “in the Christian life there are always new lessons to learn”. We were asked to answer this question honestly: “Do you want to be used by God?” my head answered, “Sure, when it’s convenient and easy and I know it will be good for me and others” but my heart countered with “Remember when you were saved? That was one of the first things you prayed for – God, use me.”
We continued, through scripture verses and examples of ‘old nature’ (the flesh) vs the ‘new nature’ (Christ dwelling in us by His Spirit). The one that resonated was Romans 7:18 “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good but I cannot carry it out.” What’s more, I was doing what Paul talked about in one of his letters, when he said ‘the things I want to do I don’t do and what I do are things I don’t want to do.’ That summarizes the duality, the ongoing inner conflict, that most Christ followers face (I know I do!). The good news is, Jesus has it covered. Us covered. And “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) That’s one of the most amazingly wonderful thing about God; he is SO patient with us.
This past Thursday was the second session and this one was awesomely good! Here’s why.
Gary, the instructor, told us that a friend encouraged him to go see the Titanic exhibit when it came to his city. It was expensive but worth it – as he told us about his amazing experience. Every visitor was given a ticket identical to one held by a Titanic passenger; in fact, each bears the name of one passenger. Gary’s bore the name John Harper. He shared this video with us and it was a perfect demonstration of the need to share the good news, whenever the Lord presented us with an opportunity to do so. Please watch and see for yourself the difference a few hours can make in a life. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhC3VCk47IU
Step by Step
The course provided a framework, gentle non-Bible-thumping ways of sharing the love of God, the person of Jesus Christ, our own experiences. The #1 ingredient that’s needed in order to share the Gospel is – relationship. First and foremost with God through Jesus and Holy Spirit help. Second and just as important, with the people we want to share with. I don’t remember who it was it that said “people don’t care what you know until they know that you care”. Amen.
The first step is vital: pray for open doors to share the message of Christ, in this way: Lord, open a door… Lord, open their heart… Lord, open my mouth. The second step is just as important: listen to people – open doors often come through needs. Everyone has some need that is not being met. They can be categorized this way:
- Broken and disappointing relationships
- Guilt over the wrong things they have done
- Life without meaning
- Inability to overcome their dark side
- Pain of the present or the past
Anyone who has had a measure of inner healing recognizes that these are symptoms of a disease – sin, which is a broken relationship with God (itself, the reason we were created) – and then through time and a deepening relationship, the Christian can share the cure, Jesus on the cross and then resurrected. These rare questions we evangelizers were to ask, in order to determine how best to share Christ with our friend:
- what need is this person feeling?
- what difference does Jesus make to that need?
- how can I introduce the difference Jesus makes?
- what faith story do I have that shows what Jesus can do?
The next step was to L-I-S-T-E-N:
Listen to his or her story and understand the need
Identify the difference Jesus can make with his or her need
Share your story and the difference Jesus made in your life
Take your friend to the cross and the empty tomb
Encourage him or her to receive Christ
Nurture your friend in this new relationship with Jesus
One of the homework assignments is to write out our own Faith Story. I’m going to do that now… perhaps I’ll share it in a future post. May God bless you all. Note: * Course content and materials and quotes herein from Christian Life and Witness Course, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.