Sharing the story like me.
Inviting a response.
It can be terrifying, no matter what the response is! When we invite response, we are putting everything on the table; we are opening the door (or closing the door) to a new normal in the relationship. There is a weight to inviting response when it is about Jesus. It's a turning point. It's a risk! There are many potential responses. Yes or No are the obvious ones but more likely it will be a series of I’m not sure or a question back to you. Apathy is the worst just in case you feared no! It's all part of a person’s journey and a massive learning curve for them so give them time. Don't think of yourself as doing evangelism as much as coaching people. A coach will challenge, stretch, question, wait, try again and try a different approach and all within the capacity and ability of the relationship to hold the conversation. Inviting response is not forcing someones hand, not coercive and not an attack. It's helping them take steps and take risks and find the next space or chapter.
If asking is important, how do we do it?
Here are some reasons that giving an opportunity for a person to respond is helpful.
You might feel like this is out of your comfort zone but imagine how they feel, especially if they have little concept of what following Jesus means and limited ‘spiritual’ language to communicate that.
It keeps it a conversation rather than a presentation or a sales pitch. It keeps you at their speed and not yours. It respects and honours them.
Being invited to let your yes be yes and no be no as the bible describes decision making is basic good mental health. It helps clear the floor both of their mind and your conversation from clutter and keeps you on point.
It's the practice of Jesus and the early disciples and much of church history to invite response to following Jesus.
Moments of decision that are marked in some way verbally and in an action actually changes the composition of the thought it in the brain and filters out into their living. It's now a solid memory to return to.
A response to follow Jesus happens many times and not just once. We have many moments where we are faced with deciding again to follow Him.
You and they know where you stand.
For a fuller step by step guide you can click here to read more.
All of this requires one attribute from you more than any other. Courage. You already know enough to begin to speak to people about Jesus. Yes there is always more but when it comes to it, you know enough. It requires risk, stepping out of your comfort zone into someone else's. It means having to live with the word ‘no’ and the sensations that word generates in you. It may mean grappling with the images in your head of rejection or wanting people to like you. But even if you do all this it still comes back to taking risks, getting it wrong and learning from it. No one can do this for you but what we can do is be there as you do it or listen after you have taken your risk.
Some of you are thinking, I know what I want to say but I just don’t know how to start the conversation. I always encourage people to be honest. Why not tell that friend that you’ve wanted to share something important but you don't know how to start the conversation. After their blind panic when they discover you haven’t murdered someone, I think they will listen. The very act of an honest admission puts them in a position of strength and being comfortable on their ‘turf’ which we discussed a few weeks ago is exactly where the gospel story gets to be planted at its best.
Chose your words carefully!
There are words like gospel, sin or repentance that might make sense to you in church but hard to convey in a pub, or at a cash point in Tesco. It is worth doing some research around these words so you can translate them into the language of the people you spend your day in day out life among. Here are a set of short videos that cover some of those awkward words. It starts with the word sin. Try and get those big concepts down into simple language that you can sum up in a single sentence. If you get into a conversation you can easily build up from your baseline sentence.
So where do YOU start. It's unlikely to be where others are but every bit as important. It could be researching words. If it is, don’t stay there. That could easily become avoidance. It could be prayer and looking for opportunity/testing the water to see if they are open to talking about faith. You might still be at the stage of building connections and deepening relationships with new people.
Name your next small step then when you know what it is, name the next small step. Start small and simple. Big and complicated won't serve you or the hearer well. Be sure to tell someone as a kind of personal commitment and that will help make it more likely to happen.
Let's review and let's go!
Jesus told stories, lots of stories, every day everywhere to everyone. We covered that two weeks ago. Your starting point may be to get used to sharing your story, your experience of God and its impact on you. You don’t have to tell ALL in one go. It may be as short as telling the person that you pray and your experience is peace when you do. Keep your words open for response and I don’t necessarily mean to you but words that facilitate the person to respond within themselves to God even if that first response is to pray and you never know anything about it. Start seeding your word with your story. Go on, take the risks.
Jesus and Paul had less people and less moments where it shifted from telling stories to explaining the story. We looked at this last week. If you are at this point then chances are you are comfortable sharing your own faith story but the stretch would be to start explaining why Jesus is who he says he is (for you). If you are doing this then you may need to start including invitation to response. That response might be an invitation to find out more rather than to follow, at least not yet.
I hope you can see where you are in the above. You might have ‘how’ questions that you need to tease out either in your group or one to one with someone you see as ahead in all this stuff. You need to ask for this help.
If after all this you still want to communicate God but get stuck striking up conversations then you may need (with another) to gather people to an activity or event that is about faith. Alpha or the like are good examples. Perhaps use the season of Easter to do this. If Alpha is too intense what about something that teaches people how to pray, let's say a day on using prayer in mindfulness, a perfect opportunity to share something of Jesus to people. If you do organise something for people on your street or at work, keep it between a day and 4 weeks 4 weeks (in today's world a commitment longer is usually seen as too much) to do this but that you still invite response from those who are open, either to ongoing conversation with you and or an invitation to follow. The more bold will ask the very people you are trying to reach for help, ideas and suggestions for what might work.
On the next page you will find resources or links to people who are doing evangelism in different settings. You can browse to see if anything catches your eye. Like most things you will need to tweak it to fit you. If you do, please share which one you picked and how might you start to use it.
You may prefer to take time now to go back through this weeks notes to work out what is next for you in terms of sharing Jesus with others and how that might become your practice. Don’t worry you don’t have to enact it this week, rather a commitment to a direction of travel and some markers for how that might become reality.