Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Keys to Unlocking The Cage of Fear and Hesitation.

When I go to the mall to do evangelism by myself it can be a very intimidating experience! There are thoughts that run through my head such as, "This person on the bench is going to think it's strange if I approach them", "They aren't going to want to talk about religion", or "They'll be frightened off if I approach them with my question about eternity!" Many times these types of thoughts prevent me from approaching anyone at all about the gospel, and I end up walking around in circles (Silly, I know!) battling fear, intimidation, and hesitation. Perhaps these fears could actually happen, and indeed I have seen responses from some people that were perfectly in line with these fears. However,these are not the typical responses that I get when I approach a random stranger to talk about eternity. More than half of the people I approach are intrigued and want to speak further on the matter, or they are appreciative that someone showed an interest in their spiritual state. Even still, these types of thoughts almost run constantly through my head when I make a deliberate attempt to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others. There are some keys that I've found that help me to get over these fears almost instantly, and I would like to share those keys.

Key # 1 : Initiate Immediately.

As soon as you have it in your mind to speak with someone about the gospel of Jesus Christ, do it and don't hesitate! The longer you hesitate and stall on trying to decide who you approach, the more opportunity your fears, intimidation, and hesitation have to hold you back. Don't let them. Proverbs tells us that the fear of man is a snare. As soon as you make that first approach it will kill or alleviate your fears, and help you to become bolder.

Key # 2 : Initiate Indiscriminately.

Don't judge a person's receptiveness to the gospel based on their age, sex, skin color, clothing or body art. It is easy for me to think that older men who are in their 40's or 50's will not be receptive to the gospel at all, but it turns out that I have had some of my best conversations with older men. In the parable about the farmer Jesus failed to tell us that the farmer inspected all of the soil before scattering the seed!! Just go for it! The gospel message is for everyone. Let God work on the growth and receptiveness!

Key # 3 : Trust The Message's Impact.

The gospel is not a message that needs to be made palatable, acceptable or believable before anyone will embrace it folks! It's also not our responsibility to make someone accept and believe its claims (I know that's a temptation in our context). That is God's Job! It is written somewhere that "to those who are called..... it [the gospel] is the power of God and the wisdom of God". The message is powerful in of itself, and all we have to do is communicate it clearly, deliberately, and with conviction. God will do the rest!

Key # 4 : Rejoice In Rejection.

Lets face it. Rejection will come when we attempt to share the gospel with strangers, and even family and friends for that matter. Remember that rejection can encourage us to persevere in spreading the message and challenges us to trust God more in our efforts. Not to mention, that Jesus also tells us that we are rewarded in heaven when we are rejected for his name. This should give us plenty of reason to be happy when we experience rejection. It comes with the territory of those who follow Jesus. You also will find that rejection oftentimes doesn't hurt as bad as you think it will. Be happy when rejected and keep going!

We of course cannot forget prayer which is one of greatest keys in breaking through our fears, but I thought it was best to emphasize some of the other practical things we can do get past our fears.

Until Next Time!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Scripted or Unscripted? Yes!

How do we communicate the gospel clearly and effectively? How do we communicate it in such a way as to reach the person whom we are speaking with? Afterall, no two people who are alike, right? There are all sorts of people with different mindsets, worldviews, beliefs, objections, convictions, and education levels, so how can we speak the gospel of Jesus Christ so as to reach people from many different backgrounds? I recently listened to a series of messages on evangelism from a Pastor in the U.K. who said that we shouldn't use a set method of evangelism or a "one size fits all" approach to evangelism because the people with whom we speak are all different. We must be pliable and ask a series of questions in order to make a clear diagnosis on the person we are speaking with. Only then can we address the individual where they are at and meet their current need. This makes sense. I'm not going to talk to an atheist like I would talk to someone who is eager to know how to have eternal life am I? I wouldn't address a Hindu in the same way I would address a Muslim right? No, I dont think so. Does this mean that we can't run every single person with whom we speak through the same memorized script of the gospel? It would seem so, BUT in my experience I've found that it is helpful to be scripted and unscripted in my verbal presentation of the gospel. You might ask, "what do you mean by that?" Allow me to explain.

If you don't at least have some type of memorized script or outline you can run the risk of getting lost in a conversation, forgetting your point, getting caught in an argument, or not making something clear as you present the gospel to someone. If you have a script then you will know where to begin, where to go, and where to get back to if your conversation gets off track. Plus, it gives you a logical flow and consistency so that the listener can better understand the gospel message. For example, one of my favorite evangelism scripts is from a ministry called "The Way Of The Master" in which the acronym W.D.J.D. is used when speaking with every person you're seeking to share the gospel with. "W" stands for "Would you consider yourself to be a good person?", "D" stands for "Do you think you've kept the Ten Commandments?", "J (Judgment)" is "If God judges you by that standard would you be innocent or guilty?", and finally "D (Destination)" stands for "Would you go to heaven or hell?". Through a series of questions the person is lead to admit that he or she has sinned against God and is headed for hell if they are not a Christian. Once the person admits this, then it is your que to share the goods news that Jesus has died on the cross for our sins and was raised from the dead. You always ask those questions, it keeps you on track, and it provides a logical consistency to the presentation. The presenter feels equipped and always know where to go in the conversation.

With that being said, it is also helpful and necessary from experience to be unscripted and pliable as well in our conversations because individuals have different difficulties and objections that keep them from believing the gospel. For example, when talking to a Muslim I'm going to emphasize different facts than I would with an Atheist. With a Muslim I would emphasize the fact that the prophets of the bible which they claim to believe in spoke about Jesus in the Old Testament and told us that he would suffer for our sins and rise from the dead. I would use the same script as above, but I would mention that God revealed the Ten Commandments to the prophet Moses, and then ask them if they've kept the Ten Commandments because Muslims believe that Moses was indeed a prophet of God. I take my script and make it pliable and maybe even use terminology that is familiar to them if I can. I would talk indepth about the justice of God against sin because ultimately in Muslim thinking one is forgiven based on God's choice and one's good works. Sin can be completely ignored by God. However, with an Atheist right off the bat I would ask how the individual knows that God doesn't exist, and I would show them the evidence that the bible provides for the existence of God (creation, conscience, prophecy, changed lives, etc.). I would also take them through the Ten Commandments but also refer to it as "God's standard of right and wrong", and emphasize that God has also revealed Himself in the person of Jesus Christ.

Basically, I challenge and provided answers for the objections that come up with the person I speak with. This is the UNSCRIPTED part of the conversation. When I swing to the acronym W.D.J.D. mentioned above, THAT is the SCRIPTED part of the conversation. I will also try to use terminology that will connect with the hearer if I can and I will emphasize areas of the gospel that speak to what the other person's worldview lacks. I take the SCRIPT and MAKE IT PLIABLE! If you are new to sharing the gospel don't worry because this will come with practice. As you encounter many different ideas and kinds of people your knowledge will deepen and so will your PLIABLITY! So, as of now I have concluded that it is helpful to be both SCRIPTED and UNSCRIPTED in your message!

Until Next Time!