Practical Ways to Share the Gospel – Part 2
William said that if he had been leading Part 1 last week, he would also have chosen 1 Peter 3:15, “but in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence” as the starting point, just as Claire had done.
So, Peter tell us to know how to answer this question,
‘What would you say to a person who asked you why you believe what you believe?’
The Holy Spirit will prompt us but it’s up to us to practice our response, so it’s clear and helpful to others.
William asked us to imagine someone asks us,
‘Why do you believe in God? How would you answer it?’
Maybe we’d mention creation but this might led to a scientific and theological debate, which might be worth having and many Christians would not see a problem having that discussion, but it might lead you away from talking about God.
William shared a ‘totally wonderful’ story he’d read in the Church Times. The previous Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, retold an event that happened to him. After preaching the gospel, he invited questions. A little boy raised his hand and John called him to the front. The boy asked, “Why do you believe in God?” John noticed the boy’s shoe lace was undone and bent down to tie it up. He looked him in the face and answered his question by saying that he, as a boy, was told Jesus could be his friend so, that night, he knelt by his bed and asked Jesus to be his friend and Jesus is still his friend now. Everyone was silent, many thinking could it be true for them too.
We decided it was best to focus on Jesus, as he gives us a concrete picture of who God is and what he is like. In Jesus, God came to be with us and introduced himself to us in a physical way. This makes it easier to share, as we can relate to Jesus.
We should also point to Jesus when people ask us why we believe in God. Homing in on Jesus takes you away from talking about a god from another religion and it enables us to share the gospel. The apostles, in the book of Acts, talked about Jesus, rather than God.
Some of the group said that they have always believed. Claire said their question could be,
‘Why are you still a Christian e.g. when there is so much suffering in the world?’
It is acceptable to say to people that you don’t know, as we are not God! But what I do know is that when I have suffered, my faith in Jesus has kept me focused and given me strength.
Other tips are to always use language that people will understand and not Christian jargon.
Some churches have cards with images on or little leaflets to give to people who express an interest. Why not have cards with you all the time so that when we get into discussions with someone, about Christianity, we can give them a card? Images might be the ‘gulf with the cross bridging the gap’. William told us about the ‘navigator’s website’ that has visual aids to download. Another good image is the ‘Four Points’ - a heart, an X, a cross and a Q. This is a way of sharing our faith:
God loves us; we have not lived up to his standard; Jesus died to bring forgiveness and how will you respond to this message?
Some people have the ‘Four Points’ printed on a t-shirt or have it on a bracelet, as people could ask what it means.
‘How can social media be used the spread the gospel?’
Instagram and Facebook in made for pictures or videos with short explanations. We could share images there and briefly explain them. We could challenge people to look out for the ‘Four Points’ in everyday life, take a photo of them and upload them.
We could also post quotations from famous Christians and briefly explain them.
‘How can we initiate interest and provoke curiosity in people with regards to the gospel?’
Helen shared that she is often asked when helping out at the Food Bank,
‘Why do you do this?’
People are amazed that she does it voluntarily because it shares the love of God with those in need.
It’s important that we listen to people and be in tune with them, so that we can pose provocative questions that lead to discussions.
In summary, William’s aim today was to:
· Explore how to be ready to answer people’s questions.
· Know how to engage with people and ask them questions,
· Arouse curiosity with visual aids and social media.
We continued the discussion from last week about having an enquirers’ course. We mentioned the ‘Alpha’ course, that includes short and snappy videos and supplies questions etc. for use on Zoom. Lea encouraged us to go for it and said he would attend – so we are gong to do just that!
William and Claire will talk over how it will be led, although it is really about everyone at the sessions sharing. We could possibly run this in September, after William has completed the 5-week course on “Come Holy Spirit”, that starts on Thursday July 23 and ends on August 20.
The Bible Study group will have a break next Thursday but reconvene, via Zoom, at 4pm on Thursday July 23. It’s open to everyone – just ask for the Zoom link - firstname.lastname@example.org