Morning. David Sorn. Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Finishing our series: “Evangelism is not a Swear Word”
Evangelism, if you’re not familiar, is just simply talking to other people about God
In our 1st week of the series, we really talked about the importance of evangelism in general and also how at least the main focus of evangelism needs to switch from talking to strangers to talking to people God has already placed around you
Last week: How we are ambassadors for Christ and how ultimately it is our actions that pave the way for any conversation to actually happen.
And Today, we are finally getting to what many of you were hoping I would talk about on week 1, and that is: “What do we say when we actually do get to the point of having a conversation???” OR How do we even have a conversation in the first place???
Because we do eventually have to have a conversation, right?
I mean, even though our actions/lifestyle is a huge part of it, we eventually have to say something
Although, as obvious as that might seem, many of us actually mystify the situation.
We feel we don’t have to be that intentional in this part of the evangelism process because conversation should “just organically happen somehow.”
Let me read you one of my favorite quotes:
If you know me, you’ve probably heard me read this before:
From Bill Hybels (pastor of Willow Creek Church in Chicago)
“So can we just come out and say it? Far too many Christians wrongly think that if they simply live out their faith in an open and consistent fashion, the people around them will see it, want it, and somehow figure out how to get it for themselves. Or they reason that maybe these people will come and ask them what makes their life so special and, when they do, they’ll seize the opportunity and explain it to them. But let’s be honest: That almost never happens.” -- Bill Hybels.
INTRO PROCESS & METHODS
At some point, we have to have a conversation about JC w/ our friends and family that don’t know him
And I think most of us feel more than a little intimated when it comes to one day having a conversation about God
And I like I said earlier…part of that is because we don’t know how to start the conversation…and part of it is because we wouldn’t know what to say even if we got the conversation started.
I think we also put too much pressure on ourselves for results have to come too quickly
We forget that it’s a long process (like we talked about last week)
We have one conversation with someone and they don’t turn their life around immediately, so we go into a fit of depression.
It’s a process. You’re probably going to have more than one conversation
It took 18 years of people having conversations with me before I finally got it.
It’s a process.
But there are diff. ways to go about process
Because each one of us is diff. part of body of Christ, thus we’re gifted differently, and thus the process ought to look different
Christian teachers have often broken it down to 6 diff. methods of “starting ppl. on a process of getting to know Jesus Christ.”
So I wanted to go over these this morning with you because I think this will at least help you start to answer that first question of how do I get conversations started in the first place? “What’s the best way for me to do it?”
This will also help you not be confined to just one process.
First 3 methods tend to be a little bit more verbal and upfront
The first method is the “CONFRONTATIONAL METHOD”
Now, that may not sound like a much of method to you, and perhaps it’s misnamed, but there are people who can literally do this well.
I just saw one of them on Friday
I was in the post office, and a woman told me I could go in front of her (tell story….tattooed man, sober for 3 yrs, whole post office listening, talked to another person)
You might think this was an awkward situation, but it wasn’t.
There are people that are gifted to do this…they could literally go up to a person on the street and start talking about Jesus
It’s one true method of evangelism
And for some of you that might be your method.
The only problem is, as we’ve been saying for three weeks, for the last 50 years, the church has too often expected it’s everyone’s method
And if I could just make a statistic up right now, I’m going to guess that it’s the desired and best method for about 2% of the Christian population.
But for 2% of you, this is your sweet spot, and that’s totally ok.
You’re going to reach people the rest of us won’t because we don’t have the guts or the gifts to do it.
So if this is who you are…embrace it. Use it.
The second method is the INTELLECTUAL METHOD.
This is often the best and preferred method for those of you that love philosophy, apologetics (defending the faith), and you just love a good debate.
It took me 6 or 7 years of being a Christian to find out that this was my sweet spot as an evangelist over the other 5 methods.
I saw God use me the most when I would get together with some of my student’s intellectual friends who just had tons of questions about God.
It’s not to say I can’t use the other methods, but this is where I’ve really learned to focus my interaction with non-believers.
And if you have a passion for this area, it’s one that can really be used by God.
Many people don’t believe Christianity is true. They don’t believe God is real. And they need/ and often want answers.
Apostle Paul often used this method
In Acts 17 he debates philosophy and theology with the men of Athens to help lead them to Jesus.
There are a lot of people out there who just need a question answered, and then they are ready.
If this is your sweet spot in evangelism, find ways you can get around unbelievers and have conversations.
Maybe it’s by joining a book club somewhere or some discussion group, or just taking some of your friends who like to talk about philosophy and such out to eat and start engaging in good conversation.
And if this is your method, read up. Embrace it. Learn it.
(1 Peter 3:15) – NIV
15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
Read books like:
Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
Case for Faith by Lee Strobel
Letters from a Skeptic by Greg Boyd
More than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell
The third method is the TESTIMONIAL METHOD
This is still verbal and upfront, but it’s not quite as confrontational.
We see this method in the Bible as well. One example is right after Jesus heals a blind man.
(John 9:8-15) – NIV
8His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, "Isn't this the same man who used to sit and beg?" 9Some claimed that he was.
Others said, "No, he only looks like him."
But he himself insisted, "I am the man."
10"How then were your eyes opened?" they demanded.
11He replied, "The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see."
12"Where is this man?" they asked him.
"I don't know," he said.
13They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man's eyes was a Sabbath. 15Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. "He put mud on my eyes," the man replied, "and I washed, and now I see."
He goes on to continue telling his story
Now notice he could have argued back with philosophy or theology or anything else, but he just keeps telling his story.
Why? Because people can’t argue with your story.
IF God worked in your life, changed your life, it happened. It’s not up for debate.
That that’s what so powerful about telling your story.
IF this is method is your sweet spot, if you’ve got a story about God working in your life that you love telling it. Use it! Memorize it even.
People love story. Use what God’s done in your life to affect the story of another person’s life!
The next three methods are not as upfront, but are just as powerful.
The fourth method is the INTERPERSONAL METHOD.
Perhaps your personality IS your gift. People like you. They just want to be around you.
And if people like you, you have credibility
We get this in the work place.
Some of the most effective managers are not even the ones who understand business the best, it’s often the people who have the best people skills.
Their people skills allow them to successfully influence others.
If you know this is you, and you know that people follow you, let me encourage you to take more risks with your conversations.
Time is short, take the risk.
Chances are, if this is you, you’ve already built credibility anyway.
If people follow you in other things, they will follow you in this too.
The fifth method is the INVITATIONAL METHOD
I think this is perhaps the most underrated method of them and all, and YET, the one that often has the greatest impact.
Many of You great at inviting friends to stuff.
You invite them to go out to the latest restaurant because it’s so amazing, invite them over to watch football in your “mancave,” you invite them to go see the Twin’s new stadium: Target Field
Instead of just inviting them to a new stadium or a new restaurant, how about a new church?
It’s easier than a lot of us think.
“There’s this brand new church that I’m a part of, and the pastor (well he’s weird) but the rest of the church is great….
The invitational method is SO important because, as we’ve been saying in this series, evangelism is a process!
In John chapter 4, Jesus is talking with a woman, and He reveals to her that he is indeed the messiah.
After their conversation, this happens:
(John 4:28-30) – NIV
28Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29"Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" 30They came out of the town and made their way toward him.
She didn’t run into town and start confronting people about sin, she didn’t start debating about the existence of a messiah with people, she just said, “Come check this out! You gotta see this!”
And this method ought to be much more appreciated than it has over the last 50 years.
Because coming to Jesus is a process.
And one of the best ways you can help people in that process is by simply inviting them to church. Allowing them to be exposed to the love of God.
It’s a much easier road to start on because people can come and have “passive engagement with God.”
As a new visitor to a church all you have to do is listen and think.
And thus it’s easier for a lot of us to invite someone to church than it is to say, “Why you die, do you know if you’re going to heaven or hell?”
And what happens is as people engage more and more in church, and start to let their guard down, conversations can start to happen.
But they would have never happened otherwise.
We want to give you some opportunities to do this even this week!
IN a little bit, you are going to get an invitation card for Renovation Church.
Just one card. And it’s one card for a reason. I want each person in this room to honestly pray this week that God would show them one person they could invite to church next Sunday.
We are starting a new series called “Stretch” on Sunday, and it’s a great time to invite friends.
Even if you think, “I couldn’t think of anyone to hand it to.” Pray about it. Don’t limit God. Ask Him to show you someone you could give it to.
We are also going to create an event invitation on Facebook for coming to Renovation Church next Sunday.
As silly as that may sound, we literally have a number of people in this church who now attend and found us from a facebook invitation when we launched 11 months ago.
So this is just another way, you could throw out an invitation to someone. So start praying about who you could invite that way as well.
The sixth method is the SERVICE METHOD
Many of U have huge hearts for helping ppl.
helping w/ yardwork, projects around the house, helping watch their kids, helping them with homework, you name it.
This, much like the interpersonal method is often one of the best ways to break down barriers and opposition to hearing about God.
Some of the people who are farthest from God are often reached this way.
They first need to see that you love them and care for them before they would ever consider hearing anything else or even being invited to church.
SOME OF IT IS HARD NEWS
And my prayer is that through one of those 6 methods, God will eventually lead you to have a conversation with your friend, your family member, your neighbor / co-worker
And when you get to that conversation, whether it comes up out of the blue, or you decide that you’re finally just ready to talk about it…when you get there, be ready to share the good news of Christ.
And my challenge to you this morning would be to be bold enough to trust in God that it’s worth it to tell his whole story.
Because this fear of the whole story is often what holds us back because while it is good news, there is some bad news to share first.
Because Christianity is bad news backed up by incredible news.
The message of Jesus is: we are all sinners who if we try and live our lives by rejecting God and making it our own, we will spend eternity apart from God (that’s not Good news…who WANTS to share that?)
BUT..BUT…BUT… despite the fact that we’ve sinned against Him, He wants to forgive us and declare us not guilty and spend eternity in paradise with us!
And what makes it awesome is the WHOLE story.
You know what makes some of the best storylines in a book?
When a story looks so bleak like there is no hope, and then all of a sudden, something so good that you can barely even believe it comes a long!
“Good often only becomes Great when it arises out of the seemingly hopeless”
And THAT, that whole part of the story, is what makes the news about Jesus SOOO GREAT!
But I can’t JUST share the positive news. “Jesus came to earth.” He talked about love. Cute.
That’s decent news. It’s not GREAT news. And quite honestly, it’s not news that really inspires a lot of people.
A whopping 92% of Americans believe in God. And almost all of those people, if you asked them, would say that, sure, God loves them, he doesn’t hate them.
But 90% of Americans aren’t incredibly passionate about their faith.
There’s obviously a disconnect. And the disconnect is this:
You can tell people God loves them, and YOU should, but it’s only half the story, and half the story doesn’t always change hearts.
It’s like watching half of a movie.
You can watch only half of a movie and get the total wrong impression of what it’s about.
Or even just the previews, where you only get a glimpse.
I can think of a few movies Lindsey and I have gone to because the previews looked amazing, and you finish the movie and think, “Huh, well that was worth the $75 movie ticket or whatever they charge nowadays.”
Because half the story, doesn’t tell the story.
And besides true love, real love for our friends and family, IS telling the whole story…
I rented a movie the other week that was supposed to be about a man and his son bonding together after a tragic event.
Half way into the movie it pretty much turned into a horror movie.
I don’t know about you, but I hate horror movies.
And I was thinking…I didn’t sign up for this. This is not what it said on the box or on the web.
And yet, I fear we oddly enough do the same thing to the people around us.
God’s good. God is love. God is great. Look at me, I’m a Christian and I smile a lot!! Don’t you want to smile a lot?!?!?
But it’s like I said a couple months ago, if I’m driving towards a cliff that I don’t know is approaching, and all the passengers in my car know it is, it’s by no means loving for them not to tell me about it because they don’t want to offend me.
So when we share, it eventually has to be the whole story.
Doesn’t mean you lead with that.
Hey, I’m David, let me tell you about hell and heaven.
They might say, “Let me introduce my fist to your face.”
But people won’t care that you found the cure for cancer unless they know that cancer is real in the first place
At some point in the relationship, probably later on, we have to share the weight of eternity with people.
Otherwise Jesus’ incredible sacrifice for you and me is not really a sacrifice at all.
His sacrifice is made beautiful by us, only when we share what he truly saved us from in the first place.
SHARE THE GOSPEL!
And when you have the conversation, don’t get overly distracted by trying to say everything just right.
Just share from your heart & trust God
There are some helpful steps to share though.
For years in Christianity, the most common way to share your faith was what was called “The 4 spiritual laws.”
And I think it’s still a really helpful guide if you’re not sure on what to say.
You don’t have to know the method 100%, but if you know the things in it, you’ll be fine
God Loves You (John 3:16)
Humanity is sinful and separated from God (Romans 3:23 & 6:23)
Jesus Christ is God’s only answer for man’s sin. Through Him we can experience God’s love. (Romans 5:8 & John 14:6)
4. We must receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (John 1:12 & Romans 10:9)
Sometimes people also use the ABC method
A = Admit you’ve sinned
B = Believe that Jesus died for you
C = Confess that Jesus is Lord of your life
Here’s my suggestion: if you don’t feel comfortable with explaining this to someone yet, memorize these. Know the summary.
And if you can know summary, you’ll be fine.
Too many people ruin conversations by talking to someone and saying, “STEP ONE: God loves you.”
Just know the basic idea.
And, honestly, if you are a Christian, you know what it means to be a Christian. Tell your story. Use your own words.
When I would train people to do evangelism as a youth pastor, we would teach the four spiritual laws at the beginning, but almost all our focus was on just telling it from our perspective.
You know it, if you’re a follower of Jesus, it’s more that we just have to get used to talking about it.
And trust that God will give you the words.
Because if He was ever interested in giving you the words to a conversation in your life, this is it!
My hope is that God is working on your heart and revealing to you ways that He can use you through this.
He wants to use you. He can use you.
Will you trust Him to?
If you’re not already, make a habit every day of praying for the non-believers he has put in your life.
And make steps towards bringing them closer to Jesus…in whatever method that God has gifted you.
And let’s start praying that would God would use messed up people like us to change the lives of people around us.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.