The third 'C'
Our starter for 10: Have you ever had someone trying to sell you something? Did they give a successful pitch? We shared stories and Claire showed a couple of minutes of a disastrous sales pitch from the TV programme ‘Dragon’s Den’! Reassuringly Claire told us we are not trying to be this sort of salesperson when we share the good news of Jesus!
We recapped the 3 reasons discussed last week for why Christians share the gospel:
1 Jesus asked us to.
2 So people can hear the good news and believe.
3 To help the growth of our own understanding of the gospel.
How do we start communicating? Let’s learn from Peter. We read from 1 Peter 3:15:
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…”
People will not always like what we have to say so Peter’s words guide us.
Principles from Peter:
What do we do first? Our starting point is to consider the place Jesus has in our lives. If he’s truly Lord of us, we can talk to others about him. If we honour God and if Jesus has the special place in our lives, we have something to tell. Also, it’s out of the overflow of the heart that our mouth speaks.
What does it mean to be prepared? Thinking about it before hand. Checking you’ve got the tools you need, which is your knowledge of God and his word and hope that you reflect the good news in your life and face.
What’s the manner in which we are to talk to others about Jesus? It’s with gentleness and respect. Why is this? Claire encouraged us to think of times when people don’t share the message with respect. It makes people feel uncomfortable and threatened. Those sharing start a debate that they are determined to win and become nasty about it. This is not how we should be. Instead, we are to get to know people and genuinely see them as people or friends, as we share the good news with them.
Invest in relationship. People and friends do not want to be a ‘project’ or ‘number’ or to feel that you don’t really see them as a person or friend. We mustn’t be fake or inauthentic in our friendships with others but want a relation with others, taking an interest in people and what matters to them. We want to pray for others and be a person with an understanding face, sharing our lives and time with them, as well as the good news. We need to be open enough for people to see the difference Jesus makes in our life.
What if I don’t know anyone who’s not a Christian? If this is the case, we need to sit and think who we meet regularly e.g. cleaners, landlords, taxi drivers, hairdressers, those who go to Foodbank … We need to recognise who is in our social sphere and be more intentional about sharing our faith and invest more time in people.
We read from Colossians 4:2-6:
2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
Make good use of the time and use every opportunity to the full when speaking to people who are not Christians. We must be good at spotting windows of opportunity. It’s rare that someone will say to you, “So what is this Jesus all about?” If this does happen, you’ll be able to share the good news! But more often people might say, “How can you believe in Jesus when people are dying?” As Lea explained, this is a world with free will, we can choose to acknowledge that we have done wrong, repent and change our ways and become right with God, despite what is happening around us and this is what is the most important. Claire explained that there are two parts to the gospel: We have all fallen short and yet God forgives! (as the hymn proclaims: “The vilest offender who truly believes that moment from Jesus a pardon receives.”)
Making the most of the opportunities could be to listen to a person’s situation and then offer prayer, either with them there and then or, if they prefer, later, on your own. Also, when people are conversing about lockdown and are questioning their immortality and what life is all about, we can speak about God and his love and rule. Also we can sow a seed by asking good questions to make them think and open up the conversation still further e.g. they agree to a prayer being said and after the prayer you could ask, “Do you think God listens to prayer?” If you are talking about bad people, you could ask, “What does it mean to be a good person?”
Give an invitation. “I’m going to church on Sunday, would you like to come with me?” Invite a couple of friends and some Christian friends to your house to watch football or have coffee. This introduces the non-Christians to people who are Christians, besides you. Invite people to an evangelistic event or course – a safe place for people to come, listen and ask questions.
What can we do about this? Can we put on a Zoom event, until we can meet in person? We could host a quiz night and ask people if they’d like to be a part of it and hear about Jesus. We need to be transparent and open with people. One event could be called “Life after lockdown” – how it will change for us and how faith fits in with it. We could offer an Alpha course or something similar. Lea advised us to keep it very, very simple: invite, warm welcome, easy to listen to speakers. We could have an evening where people share their heroes and Christians share the gospel through the heroes they choose to talk about e.g. Bear Grylls and Christian sports heroes.
Claire asked us to think about this, ready to share at a future Bible Study.
Word for You UCB: Pray for an opportunity to show God’s love or use your God-given skills today.