The dreaded “e”-word

Jesus said, as recorded by Luke in Acts 1:8, that the disciples would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them, and that they would be his witnesses… to the ends of the earth. In Matthew 28, often referred to as the Great Commission, Jesus tasks his disciples with making more disciples, involving baptising and teaching.

So at the heart of what it means to follow Jesus is the necessity (compulsion?) to lead others into an encounter of this Jesus, witnessing to all He has done in our lives, and pointing others to Him.

So far, so clear… But actually how to do that is the challenge. That’s why ‘evangelism’ is such a scary word: it feels like something we HAVE to do, but feel ill-equipped to do. We are experiencing just how alien concepts such as ‘sin’, ‘salvation’, ‘cross’ are to people who live in a secular, rational and prosperous society.

That’s why courses such as Alpha, and our recent experiment, MyLife Workshop can be so helpful. They provide a framework and a content, and all we have to do is to invite (‘all’?, I hear you say, as if this in itself is huge?!?). However, the course model can have downsides in that they can favour a consumer (“feed-me”) mentality, the content is prescripted and not necessarily tailored to the person’s spiritual state, levels of understanding or maturity. Also, they are one step (or more!) removed from the Bible, and can inhibit the guests wrestling themselves with Scripture, which is one of the key hallmarks of a disciple.

sharingWe have found that the most productive and fruitful way of ‘making disciples’ (or ‘evangelism’) is to build natural friendships, and to bring Jesus into those. Some things we have learned:

Be natural: get to know your friends, spend time with them.
Be prepared: (1 Peter 3:15) it’s difficult to share what Jesus has done in and for you, if you don’t have a relationship with Jesus. Think about what you’ve discovered in your day-to-day walk with Him, think back on times He has intervened, and shaped you. Think of some stories you can share, and adapt how you tell them to each situation.
Be listening: listen, listen, listen to what your friends are sharing, what they are going through. Ask them what their obstacles are to faith, what they understand, what their dreams and challenges are. But also, be listening to the Holy Spirit and what He is saying in each situation.
Be bold: do not hesitate, when the time is ripe to offer to pray with someone, to naturally bring Jesus into the conversation, to show genuine love and affection.

And above all, pray, pray, pray! For without the action of the Holy Spirit in people’s lives, our words are empty and futile. To help provide the framework, we have also found it helpful to simply get together a read a passage of Scripture together (e.g. a gospel).

The most difficult thing can be stepping out, and to learn from the experience. Why not test the waters? Think of a friend this week that you’ve been praying for. Invite them for a meal or a drink, and aim to bring Jesus into the conversation. Pray hard, listen to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. And go for it… Let us know how you get on, and what the challenges have been.
—————— Remember, you are not alone!

“For you have not been given a spirit of fear (or timidity), but of power, love and a sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7)