Growing up in church can be a disadvantage when it comes to sharing our faith.
Our youth pastor asked me to give an eight-minute “sermon” to 120 of my peers in a high school Sunday School event.
Most of my audience were either Christ-followers or bored kids whose parents dragged them to church. But, I naively decided to preach the gospel to them. Problem was, I couldn’t find the gospel in the gospels, and I read all four of them. No luck because “the gospel” isn’t in the gospels.
There is no Romans Road or spiritual laws presentation of the gospel in the scripture. At least I’ve never found it seven decades into my relationship with Jesus.
The Bible does ask us to get baptized as a declaration of faith. In the early days of Hope Chapel, we pressed baptism and encouraged candidates to bring a friend who knew them pre-Christ to describe the change in their lives. That often resulted in those friends asking questions that led to their own salvation, but I digress.
Back to my church. Growing up in church, I assumed the gospel was all about a short sales pitch followed by a prayer to close the deal. That prayer was another thing that I never found in my Bible.
Eventually, I discovered Christian apologetics and met with limited success arguing friends into a decision to follow Jesus. But, even then, winning arguments wasn’t all that effective. And it is less effective in today’s non-linear thinking world. Besides, I was able to count on non-believers carrying something of an understanding of the Jesus story alongside a lingering respect for God, the church and for Jesus. Those commodities are in shorter supply today.
What Does Work?
I’ve noticed that those who are most effective at sharing faith are the newest Christ-followers. This is partly because they still live in the mission field and enjoy many friendships with pre-Christian friends, not yet having entirely drifted into Christian ghettos. Effectiveness seems to stem from a vocabulary still free from churchy language. Finally, these folks can still talk about Jesus like they would describe politics or the weather without a hint of a sales pitch.
So, what’s to learn? Effective gospel-sharing begins with life-sharing. It moves into everyday conversations about prayer answers, etc.; I’ve noticed that everyday conversations seldom include a closing argument or a need to seal a deal. You mention a God-thing, follow the path where it leads and then drop it until your friend asks a question or shows some other sign of spiritual hunger.
My own gospel-sharing goals are to un-complicate things, speak normally, refrain from pressing anything and live in the patient expectation that the Holy Spirit still draws people to Jesus.
So, what do you think? Please add your gospel insights in the comments box below…
Catch the YouTube version of this https://youtu.be/YyNH89aG5D8