Boldly Barna – Where to Start

Many Christians who believe people without Christ will, when they die, be separated from God forever and spend an eternity in hell, don’t like that idea and want to be part of the process of moving that eternal state to one of closeness with the Father. It’s how we go about it that sometimes gets us in trouble.

George Barna, in his book, Evangelism that Works, gives us a couple of key thoughts to consider about how and when to share our faith. First, he says “outreach efforts that take advantage of the credibility, accessibility and trust of an existing friendship have a better chance of succeeding than does ‘cold call’ evangelism.”

A friend of family member, who is deeply aware of a Christian’s genuine care for them, is more likely to respond favorably to a spiritual discussion than a total stranger on the street that we walk up to and ask, “Do you know Jesus?” But there’s more to it than just having a good relationship; there’s the matter of sensitivity.

“Evangelism that starts at the nonbeliever’s point of felt need and ties the gospel into that area of need has the greatest capacity for capturing the mind and heart of the non-Christian.”

A friend displaying pride, fear, anger, or any other hurtful emotion or behavior, may be perfectly comfortable with their actions and resent our telling them that God has a way they can change. However, when they share remorse at how they’ve behaved, and especially when God has cleaned up our life in the same area, the door to sharing is much more open.

So, as we work at exhibiting the behaviors featured in today’s ‘Comments on Quotes’, here’s a ‘simple’ way to spot a possible sharing opportunity. I call it “Grace Reminders” and believe it can be used by God to help make you more aware of the ‘right’ time to speak up about your faith.

Want More Comments on Quotes?

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Questions Deserve Answers

We know that’s true but sometimes, for many reasons, those answers are not easily forthcoming and may even be held back deliberately. Here are a few ‘Answer Practices’ you’ll definitely want to avoid.

  • Jump Right In – Don’t ask a question for clarification to show their question is important to you, just give your memorized response.
  • Go For the Victory – Quickly state your answer and then show by your reaction that they should just get over asking and believe.
  • Don’t Admit Ignorance – You can’t have them thinking you don’t know something…make it seem like they’re stupid for asking.

Those ‘rules to follow’ are from Answering Tough Questions on InterVarsity Evangelism, where I actually turned around a list of things to do and made them into a list to avoid at all costs. But wait there’s more.

Lee Strobel, in his book, “Inside the Mind of Unchurched Harry & Mary”, gives us a great reminder about the importance of questions…

“Unchurched Harry has a whole range of questions about Christianity, and they deserve answers. Whatever the nature of his inquiry, even if it sounds frivolous of elementary, it should be considered valid if it’s hanging him up on his spiritual journey.”

So Questions DO Deserve Answers; thoughtful, caring, illuminating, loving answers that can be used by God to draw people toward His Son and not drive another wedge between them and the Savior.

Want More Help?

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How’s Your Testimony

There’s a truth applicable to all professing Christians…we either have a testimony or not. By the time I reached high school, no one had ever asked me if I was a Christian but, if they had, I would have said yes. I might even have been able to tell them why I felt that way…I would have been wrong.

It wasn’t until after my discharge from the Marine Corps that I passed, from being someone who knew God existed, to a person who was a real Christian. I had a story to tell after that point and learning to tell it well has been a life-long process for me. And that’s what today’s post is all about.

My friend, Chris Walker is the Evangelism Coach, and in one of his blog posts, he talks about The Power of Testimony. We may not think much about our story of coming to Christ, but God can use it to bring others closer to, or all the way into, a saving relationship with His Son.

Chris’s article provides some valuable suggestions for crafting our testimony, offers a free download to help develop our story, and suggests some other articles that could provide beneficial help in our evangelism efforts. It definitely belongs with the other articles in my ‘Readables’ category.

Want More Help?

Got a testimony you want to improve? Don’t have a clue how to get started with your story? Not sure what a testimony is? If these or other questions apply to you, feel free to get in touch and I’ll do all I can to help. P.S. It’s Free!

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Who Knows You

Today’s ‘Character Challenge’ is all about letting others know what’s going on in your evangelistic endeavors. Thom Rainer wrote an article several years ago that still is worth thinking about today.

He said that believers who effectively share the gospel exhibit clear patterns of behavior which he terms “the seven characteristics of highly evangelistic Christians.” We’re looking at one of them today…

Be Accountable to Someone for Your Evangelistic Activities

We all probably know how easy it is to decide on something that needs to be done only to see the completion of the project never materialize. Good intentions aren’t always the cement that binds our list of things to do. But there is a way to increase the likelihood of a task getting done.

Give a friend the right to check-up on your progress and you just might find the necessary motivation to carry through with your plan. You could meet weekly or monthly with your partner but the main thing is to grant them the authority to ask you, very specifically, how much progress you’ve made.

What Are Some Things They Could Ask

You’ve told them one or more of the following steps you want to take…

  • I want to pray for a friend daily
  • I intend to share the gospel with my sister
  • I need to learn how to be a better communicator of the gospel

At an agreed upon time, they check in with you and ask for updates on your plan of action. Now, doing evangelistic work because you don’t want to admit to your partner that you failed to meet your goal, is not the best reason to work on sharing your faith, but it’s better than not being evangelistic at all, and, over time, you could find that the accountability factor gives you the encouragement you need to be out there for Christ.

What Else Might Challenge You

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Quick Rick’s – It’s Ok to Be Less than Perfect

“Often we think of evangelism as sharing our strengths, having it all together spiritually. We think that’s what it means to be a witness.”

With those words, from Reimagining Evangelism, Rick Richardson gives us the start of a wonderful lesson when it comes to sharing our faith…it’s ok to be less than perfect. In fact, our imperfections and how God is helping us change or deal with them, can be a wonderful asset.

For instance, you’re in a hospital after a terrible accident, and the doctor has told you the balance of your adult life includes a wheel chair. A good friend WALKS in and, after spending time with you, tells you everything is going to be ok as they saunter out the door. Don’t get me wrong…they care for you and it’s good to offer encouragement but wouldn’t you feel better if the same words were spoken by a person who wheeled themselves into your room in the same type of device you’re going to be spending the rest of your life in?

There’s a connection with shared experiences that’s hard to deny and that’s the essence of Rick’s quote we’re looking at today. His comments continue with these mighty words of wisdom…”Our weakness, our story of struggle, even the truth about the cost of our choice to follow God–these are the greatest gifts we have to give to others in their journey.”

Some Other Things to Consider

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Who You’re Talking To

People can be such idiots…hard to talk to, difficult to care for, impossible to love…yet loving them is God’s great command to His children of faith. The author’s of Irresistible Evangelism, using a thought from C.S. Lewis’ book, “The Weight of Glory”, point out that, “other than the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, the spirit of the human being to whom you’re talking is perhaps the holiest thing you will ever encounter.”

Keeping that thought in our mind and, more importantly, our heart, will help us to approach spiritual conversations with the type of care and respect needed. Because of the uniqueness that is humankind, the writers concluded, “so take off your shoes as Moses did at the burning bush. Treat the conversation with sacred seriousness and Christlike calm.”

What Else Can You Do?

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The Number One Response

The title for today’s post comes from a national survey, commissioned several years ago by Lee Strobel, which asked people what question they’d ask God if they could only ask Him one thing. ‘The Number One Response’ was: “Why is there suffering in the world?”

An example of that suffering occurred on July 20, 2012, when 82 people inside a Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, were killed or wounded as a man in tactical clothing, set off tear gas grenades and shot into the audience with multiple firearms.

Two days after the shooting Lee delivered today’s Readable at Cherry Hills Community Church in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, dealing with the recent tragedy and a question many were asking; “Why? Why did God allow this?”

He didn’t pretend to know all the answers and even admitted “we may not be able to make out all the peripheral details of why” pain and suffering occur, but he did lay out “some key Biblical truths that can illuminate some points of light for us. And if we follow those lights,” he said, “they will lead us in the right direction, toward some conclusions that I believe can help satisfy our hearts and souls.”

He shared five points of light and to encourage you to read the entire sermon, here are two of them…

  • God is not the creator of evil and suffering.
  • Though suffering isn’t good, God can use it to accomplish good.

He concludes the sermon with an explanation of the gospel, which could be just what someone you know needs to hear, and perhaps by reading through Lee’s talk, you’ll be better equipped to share your faith with someone who wonders about the pain humans experience.

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Believe in Their Value

“Jesus’ stories in Luke 15 tell us that you have never locked eyes with another human being who isn’t valuable to God.”  So say Bill Hybels and Mark Mittelberg in Becoming a Contagious Christian and I agree but do I always act that way?

People who jump onto the train in front of others already standing in line, take up more than one space on the bus, or nearly run me down in the parking lot don’t get me thinking, “wow…they need Jesus.”  I won’t tell you what I sometimes am thinking about them , but I can say it’s not placing them high on my value index.

We have a choice, however, with how we react to other’s actions.  Their behavior doesn’t ‘force’ us to respond in a certain way.  So here are three things we can try that just might help us think and act a little more Christlike, and which God might use to make those far from him curious about why we’re treating them differently than others.

  1. Pray for them – What if the person who speeds past and cuts you off on the highway has a sick child in the back of the car?  Would you feel a little less angry at them?  Since we rarely know what lies in the background of a person’s behavior, prayer is always a good start
  2. Step Up and Help – Letting the aggravating, pushy person behind you move ahead so they can get through the checkout line quicker might be doing them a favor they need.
  3. Don’t Judge – A judgemental attitude, in addition to usually being sin, can easily take the compassion we want to feel and replace it with resentment or anger.

What’s Next

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The Seven Steps

A writer starts typing furiously when an idea strikes and may never know the extent of their words on the reading public and others. Such might be the case with Howard Belben’s quote in The Mission of Jesus; the subject for today’s ‘Comments on Quotes‘ post.

“When the lost are lost, what matters most is that they should be found, and when they are found there is cause for joy in heaven.”

The quote comes in Chapter Two of his book, which deals with the approach of Jesus to the lost. There are seven things He did in relating to people, and one or more just might be something we need to add in our interactions with friends, family and acquaintances. Here are the Seven Steps!

  • He offered people His friendship
  • He started where they were
  • He listened to what they had to say
  • He sought the root of their problems
  • He took their questions seriously
  • He sometimes asked favors of them
  • He did not force Himself upon them

Which of these is easiest for you to incorporate into relationships? Which is most difficult?

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Fear of Failure

Who hasn’t had that ‘fear in the gut’ feeling when getting ready to share their faith? Yet, we can take some reassurance from today’s quote in”How to Talk About Jesus Without Freaking Out”.

“Talking about Jesus is taking a risk–and risk, by definition, involves the chance of failure. The thing to remember is that the outcome of a discussion about Jesus is not up to you.”

“But wait”, people say. “I have to convince them or they won’t make it to heaven. ” Actually, the convincing is done by the work of the Spirit. God might use the words you speak to do that convincing or He might work in a million other ways to accomplish the same end result.

What God wants from us is clarity and accuracy. Don’t tell your friends that eating fresh watermelon or buying a new car every 5 years will get them to heaven. Share with them it’s having complete trust that Christ’s death on the cross erased everything we’ve ever done wrong in God’s eyes and because of that faith God will welcome us.

What’s Next

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