You may agree wholeheartedly that sharing the Gospel is important. You may be bursting to shout out the news. But where do you start? There are endless DVD courses, how-to manuals, and punchy tracts that ask the big questions, all at your local Christian bookstore. It can be overwhelming to sort through them!
In our post-modern era, simply inviting every non-Christian you know to a course at your church often doesn’t work. What’s so appealing about spending two hours a week in a church building awkwardly watching a DVD that answers questions you weren’t asking when you’d rather be hanging out with your girlfriend, playing sport, or simply lounging at home with some mates?
The buzz-word in cross cultural missions these days is contextualisation. This means you don’t just come striding into a people group declaring Jesus died for their sins. That phrase only makes sense if people first understand each component of it. Missionaries are now learning to understand a culture, master the language, and present the Gospel as winsomely as possible.
In our home context the same principle applies. This doesn’t mean you never share the Gospel with people you don’t know. It simply acknowledges that by removing barriers of awkwardness and miscommunication, the Gospel can be shared more effectively.
Where’s the appeal?
Jesus told his disciples that our lives should have a light to them that causes people to turn to God and glorify Him (Matthew chapter 5, verse 16). Our joy and peace in knowing God should spark curiosity in people. What is it about our faith that makes us different? It sounds obvious, but I’ll say it anyway: for people to see that in us, they need to be with us.
It isn’t enough to assign people some reading or sit with them as they watch a DVD. Although God can and does use these things, it isn’t the key. Relationship is. Relationships take time and effort to build. They need to be based on more than just “I have the answers to life, the universe, and everything. Listen while I tell you.” How can we build the kinds of intentional relationships that lead to Gospel sharing?
Create a space
Having a place to rub shoulders with non-Christians has to be more than inviting them to church, or even church sponsored events. Instead of expecting people to leave their comfort zones, go into a mutual comfort zone. This can be inviting people over for a BBQ, joining a mum’s group, having a games night, or joining the local model building society. A senior citizen can join a knitting group; a young man can join a sports team. Suddenly, you have a mission field.
Once you are out and about in the real world, make friends! If you have found a place where you are hanging out with non-Christians with common interests, this shouldn’t be too hard. Building real friendships with people helps you to know and respect their perspective on life. It also helps you develop true love and compassion for your new friends.
Invite God there too
Of course, God is in these places long before you show up. But now you’re there, you are available to be His mouth piece. This doesn’t necessarily involve an impromptu sermon on the golf course (rest assured, it’s quite unlikely that it does involve that). Instead, you are called to be salt and light to the world—those around you.
I like to call it “God-talk” and I think it should come naturally to Christians. We are told to “rejoice always” and “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians chapter 5, verse 16 and 17). Surely that means that our non-Christians are going to hear us thanking God, praising Him and asking Him for things all in the course of a normal day.
Jesus’ twelve disciples spent three years following Him around, watching Him interact with God the Father. They saw Him at His best, but also at His most vulnerable and exhausted. He was totally real with them.
In the same way, we can’t just put on a nice façade, giving those we are evangelising a false impression that following Jesus is a walk in the park. We can be real too. We can share our doubts, our struggles, and then lean even more on God, being a living example of what it looks like to trust God.
All of this honest Christian living is designed to provide opportunity for conversations. Sometimes people might ask what you believe about a certain topic, other times they might just ask why you do something. But as you give answers, you are planting seeds that can lead to faith. It is most often a gradual process.
Finally, remember to bathe your whole evangelistic efforts in prayer. God will be with you and go before you. So go out into the world and make disciples of all the nations, just as God has commissioned you to do.
Lucinda is a stay-at-home mum who runs a Girls’ Brigade Company, studies languages, and bakes delicious things. She ponders long and hard how to fulfil the Great Commission that her Lord has given.
Lucinda Glover's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/lucinda-glover.html
Lucinda is a mum to two little girls. She loves baking, reading, and sewing.