How can I urge my church to engage with non-believers?

 

As a leader of a church, the weight comes on you and your team to inspire people to move forward in their relationship with God. You want to see them living their faith outside the four walls of the church. You want them to engage with the people they have been sent to and bring them into a Christian community.

However, leading them to do exactly that takes some work and planning. This blog post aims to give you some ideas of how you can encourage people in your church to engage with non-believers.

You don’t have to be a church leader to apply these principles. As a church member, you can also influence the people you serve with—your small group, your family, and friends—to go out into the world and reach people for Jesus.

 

 

  • Do it yourself and talk about it.

 

People want leaders who act on what they speak. You can’t afford to stand a platform and encourage your congregation to be brave and speak to people about Jesus and you not do it. You will very quickly lose your credibility. Do it yourself. Set an example. Pave the way forward. Share your successes, your failures, your awkward and funny encounters. This will make you approachable and the people you lead will be encouraged by your example and vulnerability. This will also communicate to them: “If I can do it, you can do it too!”

 

  • Have believers share about doing this during church services. 

 

There is so much power in testimonies. They stir up faith. Hearing about someone coming to Jesus brings joy in the hearts of believers and encourages them to keep witnessing to people and to look forward to the day when those people come to Jesus. Keeping testimonies about believers witnessing to nonbelievers constant in your church life will keep the topic of evangelism and witnessing at the forefront of your congregation’s minds.

 

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  • Help them understand that they don’t need to share the gospel outline in their first conversation with someone.

 

The gospel is not a ‘presentation’ that you make. Rather, you want to have gospel conversations with people. Train your people in how to ask questions that can lead to meaningful conversations around God and the gospel. Encourage them that those they speak with will gradually come to a real understanding of God’s grace in the gospel over time and multiple conversations. Realising that they don’t have to force everything into one conversation and demand an on-the-spot decision helps believers to relax and enjoy the process of being a witness, trusting that God will take conversations where he wants them to go.

 

When people who attend EvangelismSHIFT grasp this principle, we often hear how they are set free from performance anxiety and how they feel encouraged to build relationships with people and allow the Holy Spirit to use them to lead people to Jesus in a way that is natural and not staged.

 

  • Help them see that people take steps towards faith in Jesus.

 

Being born again is an event that happens all at once at the moment of faith. But conversion is a journey. There is a point in time when a person begins moving towards God. Many different factors keep them taking steps along this journey until they are ready to put their trust in Christ. Our responsibility as believers, whenever we come in contact with people is to move them closer to Jesus. That’s what you need to communicate to your congregation. This will empower them to go out into their world and bring people one step closer to Jesus. It might be the final step when they commit their life to Jesus, or the first step when they first get to know a real Christian.

 

Have you found these tips useful? Which one is your favourite and why? Leave a comment down below. We would love to hear from you.

Three faith heroes who were in the world but not of the world

Dwight L. Moody said this: “Christians should live in the world but not be filled with it. A ship lives in the water; but if the water gets into the ship, she goes to the bottom. So Christians may live in the world; but if the world gets into them, they sink.” Today we look at three individuals who were in the world but not of the world and what that looked liked for them.

 

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George Mueller (1805-98)

Pastor with a passion for orphans

 

 

 

 

George Mueller was a native German who lived in England. He did follow up work for D. L. Moody, preached for Charles Spurgeon, and inspired the missionary faith of Hudson Taylor. But that is not what he is most remembered for.

He spent most of his life in Bristol, England and pastored the same church there for over sixty-six years. In 1834 (when he was 28) he founded The Scripture Knowledge Institute for Home and Abroad. Five branches of this Institute developed:

  • Schools for children and adults to teach Bible knowledge
  • Bible distribution
  • Missionary support
  • Tract and book distribution
  • “To board, clothe and Scripturally educate destitute children who have lost both parents by death”

The accomplishments of all five branches were significant, but the one he was known for around the world in his own lifetime, and still today, was the orphan ministry. He built five large orphan houses and cared for 10,024 orphans in his lifetime.

 

 

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Joseph Lister: (1827 – 1912)

A Christian, British surgeon with a passion for patients

 

 

 

 

 

 

During Lister’s time in the 1800s, sterilisation standards were not high in hospitals. Doctors would wear their blood-stained coats around as if they were a badge of honour and rarely wash their hands or tools they used on the last patient when dealing with a new one.

Many patients who went into hospitals with one problem would end up dying from another, as bacteria and viruses were unknowingly shared.

Lister, a Quaker, called on hospitals, nurses and doctors to do a better job cleaning so they wouldn’t spread viruses and bacteria among their patients. This led to a reduction in postoperative infections and made surgery safer for patients, distinguishing himself as the “father of modern surgery”.

 

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St. Basil of Caesarea (330 AD – 379 AD)

A bishop with a passion for the poor

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basil, the bishop of Caesarea, ardently defended the truth of the Christian faith as well as being generous toward the poor.

Ordained as bishop in 370, he had long preached social justice in his sermons. Soon after becoming a bishop, he put his authority into action, establishing soup kitchens, hospitals, hospices and poorhouses throughout the region.

In one of his infamous sermons he stated, “The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked; the shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot; the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor; the acts of charity that you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit.”

 

Last thoughts

Being in the world, but not of it, is necessary if we are to be a light to those who are in spiritual darkness. We are to live in such a way that those outside the faith see our good deeds and our manner and know that there is something “different” about us. Being in the world but not of the world means that we are present in the world enough to see the needs of hurting people and do something about it by God’s grace. How can you make the world a better place in the name of Jesus?

How should I tell someone that they are going to hell?

 

I was at a BBQ with friends and God gave me the opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ. And then the question came, “So what you’re saying is, if I choose not to believe in Jesus I’m going to hell?” Wow—what a question! How do I tell someone they are going to hell?

 

That wasn’t the only time this question has been asked of me. I take some comfort in knowing that people have heard and understand the gospel to be able to articulate such a question. But it is an important question that demands a thoughtful explanation. After all, the good news of Jesus is just that because without Christ it is very bad news.

 

John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

 

When we see Jesus in the Bible, he never wavered from speaking the truth. He was straight in pointing out the sinful behaviour of people and calling people to repent of their sins – Matthew 4:17. Why is it that we often avoid confronting people about the eternal consequences of sin? Maybe it’s because we feel the weight of our own sin and don’t want to judge others. Maybe we think this will offend them, but most often it’s because we don’t want to ruin our relationship with people. But what was the result of Jesus speaking truth?

 

“News about him spread” across the land. Matthew 4:24

 Why did news about Jesus spread when he preached such a clear message of truth and repentance? Why was it that hell-bound sinners were attracted to him?

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Remember, John tells us that Jesus came “full of grace and truth”. Even though some received his message as a hard message, in his actions Jesus loved them with a sacrificial love. They felt Jesus’ heart to see them restored to his Father. Jesus said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The people saw Jesus’ words match his lifestyle—a lifestyle of grace and a message of truth that brought life to their souls—and this was attractive to them.

 

Isn’t this the very thing that the people in your life are so desperately searching for? Grace in a world that judges them and truth in a world of lies and deception.

 

2 Peter 3 talks about the coming day of judgment for all that reject Jesus. A day God promises will come. But in that same passage we read “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise [to return] as some count slowness, but is patient towards you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

 

What a true picture of God’s grace in light of the truth of Jesus. He is patiently waiting, desiring all to be saved from the coming judgment. In grace and truth the Word became flesh and it is in grace and truth he waits for the day of judgment. As we live and speak the gospel are we characterised by those two words—grace and truth? God will provide you the opportunity, the open door to speak the truth for him. He will also give you each day to walk in his grace and display his grace in every encounter you have with people.

 

Last thoughts:

1 Peter 3:15 says, “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”

How do I respond to someone who asks if they are going to hell? As Jesus would—full of “grace and truth”, and as Peter explains—with “gentleness and respect”.  

 

Jesus’ model—relational time with secular people

What does ‘following Jesus’ mean to you as a Christian? What does it mean to be ‘Christlike’? I want to suggest to you that a person is not Christlike if they are not spending significant relational time with secular, non-churched people. Here’s why.

 

We’ve come to think of Christ-likeness as defined by Jesus’ character, his resistance of temptation, his purity. We think of his relationship to the Father, his prayer life, his servant leadership, his love of scripture. All of these things are beautiful marks of Jesus’ life on earth and will also mark our lives as we grow to be more like him.

 

But there is something else that we see again and again in the descriptions of Jesus by those who knew him best and gave us his story. In fact, this something else is presented as such a foundational characteristic of Jesus’ life, something he himself spoke of with words overflowing with purpose and significance, that we can truly say that a person is not Christlike if this thing does not mark their lives as his followers.

 

What is this other thing? Jesus constantly spent quality relational time with secular people!

 

Maybe you think, “Of course he did. Culture was much more relational back then and people had way more time for relationships than they do today.” But you would be wrong. What Jesus did was not normal for his culture.

 

The origins and history of the nation of Israel were all about religion and commitment to God. But in Jesus’ day a large chunk of the population had become secular. They didn’t go to synagogue; they didn’t learn the Bible; they didn’t worry about keeping the rules laid down by the religious leaders.

 

The gulf between these people and the religious people was huge. To religious people there were two categories of people: on the one hand were those who attended synagogue and kept all the rules and rites of purification, and on the other hand were the “sinners”. They used this word “sinners” as a technical term to refer to the secular, non-synagogue-attending Jews. In their minds, if you spent relational time with “sinners”—if you spent time in their homes and ate and drank with them—it made you unclean.

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That’s why they were so puzzled at Jesus’ actions. And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  Mark 2:16

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”  Luke 15:1-2

 

Later in his ministry when they were really criticising him Jesus would point out: “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’

 

It wasn’t normal in his day for a person who followed God to spend time with secular people. It wasn’t natural among Jesus’ friends to eat in the homes of people who didn’t attend synagogue. It was looked down upon for Jesus to be a friend of “sinners”.

 

So why did he make it his way of life to do so? He answered this very question: Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

 

Those secular, non-synagogue-attending Jews would not come to synagogue to get right with God, and they would never be reached by those who stayed aloof from them. They would only have their hearts turned back to God if someone reached into their world, became a part of their lives, hung out in their homes, and pointed them to God.

 

Last thoughts

 

Jesus was committed to doing just that. He wants you to have an equal commitment to it as his follower. If you want to follow Jesus, then spend relational time with secular, non-churched people!

 

 

Should Christians open up about their struggles?

 

Life is an incredible gift given to us by our Creator. It is filled with beautiful moments but oftentimes our reality is interrupted by the noise of hardship. Jesus never promised us an easy life. He warned us that in the world we will have problems. What should our response be when we go through hard times?

The reality is that there are so many Christians who choose to put on a brave face and keep doing life without admitting that they are going through a tough season. This can often be exhausting for a person and it can also be extremely isolating.

Should Christians open up about their struggles? What should our response be when life becomes hard?

 

Go to God

 

When the Christian life gets hard and there are no easy answers or explanations, let your first response be running to God for comfort, wisdom, and strength to help you handle the situation.

David was a man after God’s own heart, and he often wrote about his doubts and struggles during times of hardship in Psalms. Being honest about your struggles doesn’t make you less spiritual, it actually brings you closer to God because it forces you to let go of your pride and self-sufficiency.

You don’t overcome the difficulties of life by ignoring the struggles; you overcome them by inviting God to work in those areas! Psalm 43:5

 

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Go to people

 

You might think that you need to hide your pain, because showing it diminishes credibility and makes you come across as a weak, faithless Christian. But that’s not true. In fact, the opposite is true: vulnerability creates intimacy, and this leads to credibility.

Listen, I am not suggesting that you write about your struggles on Facebook or Instagram for the whole world to know. Choose people you trust and let them know that you are struggling and that you need their support.

You might think that you don’t want to share your burdens with people because you don’t want to weigh them down. But consider this verse: “Bear one another’s burdens . . .” Galatians 6:2

How can someone bear your burdens if they don’t know about them? And how can you bear someone else’s burdens if they don’t tell you?

 

Be real even with non-Christians

 

If a co-worker or your neighbour notices that you haven’t been yourself recently, don’t try to hide it. Let them know that you are going through a tough time and how you couldn’t be coping without your faith in Christ and your friends and family. People are looking for a Christianity that is real.

Who knows? Maybe your honesty will open a door for them to share their struggles with you and for you to minister to them.  “Blessed be God … who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction.” 2 Corinthians 1:4

Have you been trying to hide from God and from the people in your life? Is it time to open up and ask God and key people in your life to help you?