Dear Church Family,
Real church growth comes when we get on mission for the Lord. Church growth is not about our normal process of changing sheep from one church fold to the next. Church growth is about winning the lost and disciplining them so that they too can share their faith with others. Now I know that fear often keeps us from sharing our faith. And I know that at times we feel we don’t know what to do or say. SO, let me share with you some simple things to help us be missional and help other to know for sure that they too are on their way to heaven.
One of the biggest obstacles to being on mission is just getting a conversation started. Let me first break the ice with a good outline to a missional conversation, then I would like to remove eight other obstacles that often get in our way of being missional for Jesus.
First, How do I start the conversation which can be used to make a missional presentation of the gospel? I like to keep it simple and use the outline FORM. Each letter stand for a progression which flows naturally in a conversation.
F – Family. It is the basic introduction of ones self and telling a little about your family. Most of us like to talk about ourselves and our families. If you introduce yourself and family, there is a pretty good chance the person you are addressing will introduce themselves as well. If they don’t share about their family you might want to ask some basic family related questions.
O – Occupation. When you are not with your family what do you do for a living? Let them share about themselves. Take note of anything you might later be able to bring scriptural or a witnessing tie to. Remember Jesus used water from a well.
R – Recreation. Transition from work to play. Wow sounds like work is pretty important to you. But all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. What do you do when you are not at work? How do you like to spend your down time or days off. What are your hobbies?
M – Message. Great, now is the focal point of this missional conversation. Take to the cross. Sounds like you enjoy life. Have you ever given any thoughts to what might happen when this life is over? Or wow! You know I or my family also enjoy a relationship with Jesus Christ. Do you have a relationship with Him? And listen for a true understanding of what it means to be saved. Also listen for a willingness to hear or an interest in the Jesus you are talking about. If the person turns you off or says, they prefer not to talk about that, let it go.
These eight ideas remove obstacles that get in your way as a missional Christian for Christ. They will make it easier for others to focus on your message without being distracted by your methods. The irony is that when our method is skillful, it fades into the background. But when our method is clumsy or offensive, then it becomes the focus instead of the truth we want to communicate.
- Be ready.
We need to be clearly on the alert for chances to represent Christ. One guy on a plane had sat down between two other passengers, he had a captive audience on either side for almost four hours, and he was determined to make the most of the opportunity.
Though you do not need to squeeze each encounter dry, you should be willing at least to test the waters to see if there is any interest. Missional Christians are vigilant, always watchful for what might turn out to be a divine appointment.
- Keep it simple.
On the way to sharing about the cross, you don’t have to cover the entire ranged from young-earth creationism to Armageddon. That is a lot to have to chew on to get to Jesus. The basic gospel is challenging enough. Generally, you will have to deal with a few obstacles that come up. But if the listener is interested, why complicate things with controversial issues unrelated to salvation? Remember, if other issues don’t come up, don’t bring them up.
- Avoid religious language and spiritual pretense.
Your presentation does not need to be littered with spiritual lingo and religious posturing. Don’t come off as a “holier than thou.” And don’t be over bearing with your enthusiasm. Even when this is genuine, it sounds weird to outsiders. Words and phrases like “saved,” “blessed,” “the Word of God,” “receive Christ,” or “believing in Jesus as Savior and Lord,” may have meaning to you, but they are tired religious clichés to everyone else.
Experiment with fresh, new ways to characterize the ancient message of truth. Consider using the word “trust” instead of “faith,” or “follower of Jesus” instead of “Christian.” I try to avoid quoting “the Bible.” Instead, I quote the words of “Jesus of Nazareth” (the Gospels), or of “those Jesus trained to take his message after him” (the rest of the New Testament).
Avoid spiritual sentimentality like the plague. Even though a person is attracted to Christ, he may still be reluctant to join an enterprise that makes him look odd. Don’t let your style get in the way of your message.
- Focus on the truth of Christianity, not merely its personal benefits.
I appreciate evangelistic focus on truth rather than on experience. When one of his fellow passengers said he liked reincarnation, the Christian noted that “liking” reincarnation could not make it true. The facts matter. By focusing on the truth claims of Jesus instead of making a more subjective appeal, he gave his message a solid foundation.
- Give reasons.
Making assertions without giving evidence would be an empty effort. Be ready to give the support needed to show that your claims are not trivial. Jesus, Paul, Peter, John, and all the prophets did the same. Even in a postmodern age, people still care about reasons.
- Stay calm.
Don’t get mad. Don’t show frustration. Don’t look annoyed. Keep your cool. The more collected you are, the more confident you appear. The more confident you seem, the more persuasive you sound.
- If they want to go, let them leave.
When you sense the one you are talking to is looking for an exit, back off a bit. Signs of waning interest — wandering eyes, a caged look, darting glances toward the doorway — are clues he or she’s probably not listening anymore. Don’t force the conversation. Instead, let the exchange end naturally. Remember, you don’t need to close the sale in every encounter. God is in charge. He will bring the next ambassador along to pick up where you left off. When the conversation becomes a monologue (yours), it’s time to let it go.
- But don’t let them leave empty-handed. If possible, give the person a tangible way to follow up on what you challenged him or her to consider.
Keep on hand some tracts, booklets, and Christian paperbacks to leave behind to keep the thinking process going. You might offer your business card, a Christian Web site (e.g., http://theromanroad.org/), or something to read. A copy of the Gospel of John is a good choice. It’s small, inexpensive, and focuses on Christ. Offer it as a gift, suggesting, “It might be best for me to let Jesus speak for himself.”
With Many Prayers and Christian Love,
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