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?

Dating a non-Christian – Is it a good idea?

Single people from all walks of life often wonder if dating a non-Christian is a good idea. Oftentimes that question arises when the person already has a non-Christian they like in their life and are unsure of whether or not to go ahead and enter a significant relationship. The Bible doesn’t give us a list of 15 rules we must follow when we start dating, but it gives us a clear picture of what it means to be in the world and not of the world as a Christian.

 

And that is the lens from which we will look at this topic today:

 

What does it mean to be a Christian?

If you are a believer and profess to have a relationship with Jesus Christ, there is no getting around the fact that this is by far the most influential relationship you will ever have.

It’s a relationship that will shape your identity, form your beliefs, influence your choices and guide the entire purpose of your life. It’s a relationship that will not just change you, it will re-create you. You are made absolutely new. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Being a Christian is about so much more than just being a moral person. Being a believer means that your relationship with God has absolutely, entirely and clearly changed your life.

I realise this blog post is about dating, not about marriage, but I’m going to jump ahead to marriage because even if you’re not sure that is where the relationship will end up, that possibility should be a consideration when you’re deciding who to date.

 

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What is marriage?

God designed marriage. That means that he knows best how it should operate. His word gives us the principles we need for satisfying marriages. It takes three to make a good marriage: God, the man, and the woman. For a Christian to marry an unbeliever is to enter marriage lacking something essential. Marriage has been described as a triangle with God at the top: the closer each partner moves to God, the closer they move toward each other. The further each moves from God, the further they move from each other. As soon as Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they experienced alienation from each other and Adam began blaming Eve for his problems.

Broken marriages always involve at least one partner moving away from God.

 

Building a life on two different foundations.

As a Christian, your life is built on a desire to trust and follow Jesus to the ends of the earth. For the other person who is not a Christian, it is very likely that they have built their life on a desire for success, money, health etc. Things that are good, but not necessarily heavenly. Somewhere, at some point, you will realise that you are building a life as a couple on two different foundations.

And if dating turns into marriage, this will cause a lot of disagreements around finance management, your children’s education, and religious beliefs.

 

Last thoughts

It is not my job as a person sitting behind a laptop typing out a blog post to tell you who you should or shouldn’t date. That is your responsibility. Make sure you talk about it with your family, friends and people who are responsible for your spiritual growth (your pastor, youth leader etc).

However, one thing I want you to take away from this article is this: How do you imagine your life? Do you imagine yourself serving the Lord wholeheartedly? Do you imagine being involved in ministry? Do you imagine attending church with your husband/wife? Do you imagine your children growing up to love Jesus?

Because if you imagine yourself living a devoted life for Jesus, dating a non-Christian might get in the way of that life. Do you want to pay that price?

How do I get out of my Christian bubble ?

A few years ago God convicted me that I was not living as a witness in my daily life. I was not trying to help people find Jesus as part of my everyday encounters with them.

As I thought about starting to live as a witness for Jesus I realised I had a big problem. I worked for a Christian organisation, my family were all believers in Jesus, my friends all knew the Lord, my ministry was to church leaders, and all my activities were organised around church or these Christian relationships. Was I supposed to give up my Christian activities? Who would I be a witness to?

Does that sound familiar to you? Maybe you work in a secular environment, but you don’t feel it’s appropriate to talk to people about God there. And all that you do outside of work is among Christians. You love your time with the Christians around you, but you wonder if it is even possible for you to be a witness the way your life is organised.

Probably the answer is no—it’s not possible. Your life will have to change if you are going to get out of the Christian Bubble and start having gospel conversations with people who are totally secular and out of reach of the organised church. You really can’t bring personal evangelism into the Christian Bubble.

 

Here’s what needs to happen:

 

  • You will have to make the conscious choice to step out of the bubble.

 

Here’s the truth—nobody drifts towards evangelism. The Bubble is what’s comfortable; it’s what you are used to; it is the known. We fear the unknown and avoid it by nature. That means that stepping outside of the Christian Bubble is stepping outside of your comfort zone. It won’t happen just because you know it should, or just because you want it to.

 

You have to decide, “This is God’s purpose for me on earth. The Great Commission isn’t just for missionaries—it’s for every Christian and that means me. Jesus modelled getting out of the bubble even when the religious people thought he should only be spending time with them. He said, ‘It is not the well who need a doctor, but the sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.’ I’m going to start building relationships with people who need God.”

 

That decision is the start of the journey.
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  • You will need to think of secular environments that are relational and put yourself regularly into at least one of them.

Don’t choose something you won’t enjoy—choose something that interests you! A sports team, a hobby group, a four wheel drive club, a charity, a book club, or simply relationships with neighbours. Maybe something you have always wanted to do but never got around to. Just make sure it has lots of people involved who need to encounter Jesus Christ.

 

How can you fit it in? Not willing to give up any of your existing relationships with Christians to make time for it? Why not invite one of them to join the group with you? Go together with the purpose of building redemptive relationships. Pray together for the people you get to know.

 

 

  • Have fun with secular people (without compromising) and also go past the surface with them.

 

Build real relationships. Don’t just spend time with people to preach to them. Enjoy your time together. At the same time, ask questions that go past the surface so that you really get to know them. This is when you will see their brokenness and can talk openly about aspects of the Christian life that bind up the wounds of that brokenness. You can start talking about Jesus.

 

 

  • Enjoy life outside the Bubble and invite more and more Christians to come outside with you!

 

The more you spend time outside the Bubble, the more you will see Jesus empowering your Christlike lifestyle with those outside. You will sense his pleasure and know that this is his purpose for you. He is sending you outside the Bubble, just as his Father sent him!

 

Last thoughts

You miss the best part of the Christian life when you live in the Christian Bubble. Jesus lived outside the Bubble and he wants to keep doing that…through you!

My mates go for a drink after work, what does this mean for me?

Heading down to the local pub for a few drinks after work is very much a part of Aussie culture. Being invited by work colleagues may excite some but for others the thought of being in a worldly environment proves a challenge to their way of thinking. What does it mean for me when my mates go for a drink after work?   

I have come to realise that when I am invited for drinks a significant step has taken place in my relationship with that person. In effect that person is saying “I value spending time with you and I enjoy your company.” This invitation also reveals to me something significant about that person. This is an environment where they feel relaxed and comfortable to spend time together.

 

Let me ask you this

Isn’t this the place we want to be in our relationship with the people in our lives, where they feel comfortable to initiate spending time together? Don’t we want people to feel relaxed and to trust us enough to be who they are around us?

Accepting an invitation like this can send a powerful message to your mates. It can show them that you also value your relationship with them and feel comfortable to be yourself in “their world”. Accepting an invitation breaks the myths that Christians are out of touch with this world, that they are judgemental and in their own “bubble”.

 

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Most practically though, this may be the perfect opportunity for you to get to know them better and develop a true redemptive relationship with some colleagues. Could this be an opportunity to have conversations that go beneath the surface?

It would be crazy for me to suggest everyone should always accept this invitation. For some, being in an environment like this would present too great a temptation. For others, entering a situation like this may cause a stumbling block to others. So “take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak” 1 Corinthians 8:9

But for many, we must remember our focus is not where we are but our focus is to be why we are there. Jesus has sent us into the world, just as he was sent into the world by his Father in heaven (John 17:18). Like Jesus we are sent into the the world, but as his disciples we are to live a life committed to purity and keep ourselves “unstained from the world” James 1:27

 

Last thoughts

For the Christian, the invitation for drinks after work by mates isn’t an invitation to get drunk. Neither is it an invitation to just go along with the world. It can be, however, an invitation by God into that person’s life, an opportunity to bring Life (Christ) into that relationship.  

 

How can I love them when I don’t agree with their actions?

I’ve been wrestling lately thinking about the people in my life who I would love to develop a deeper relationship with but feel restrained because I can’t go along with their way of life. I know Jesus calls me to love this person but I find myself asking, “How can I love this person when I don’t agree with what they are doing?”.

 

I am not the only one

 

As I listen to those around me speak about their relationships with others and observe what is happening between various people groups in our community, I discover I’m not the only one wrestling with this question. How do we love the drunkard who mistreats his wife? How do we love the activists who believe abortion is a valid option? How do we love those whose desire is to redefine marriage to accommodate a sinful lifestyle? How do I love those who by their actions mistreat others or mistreat me?

 

Jesus – a friend of sinners

When Jesus lived here on earth he never compromised his message. He stood for truth and righteousness and yet the “sinners” loved to come near and listen to him. What was it about Jesus that was so attractive to these people? How did Jesus love people in his time even though he didn’t agree with them and what they were doing?

When we read through the gospels we see Jesus spending considerable time with secular, non-believing people. In fact, Jesus had a reputation for hanging out with secular people. In Luke 15:2 “the Pharisees and scribes grumbled, saying, ‘this man receives sinners and eats with them.’” Jesus was known as a “friend of sinners” Matthew 11:19. But Jesus’ aim wasn’t just to become great mates with the world and accept their sinful practices.

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People in need of a physician

 

No, he came to call people to a new way of life. In Luke 5:30  “The Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?’ And Jesus answered them, ‘those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have come not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.’”  

Jesus was able to love people in his time even though he didn’t agree with them and what they were doing because He didn’t just see sinful practice, He saw sick people. Sick people in need of a physician—someone who could make them well, heal their hurts and most importantly, restore them in their relationship with God.

 

Last thoughts

How do you view the secular people in your life? Do you see a sick person in need of a physician or are you like the Pharisees that only see sinful practice? It’s only when we spend time loving people that we discover how unwell they are without Jesus in their lives. When we spend time loving people, then they discover their need for Him.

 

Don’t be like the Pharisees. Choose today to see people like Jesus saw them and feel free to love them as he did.