Through several different series, Forward in Christ authors have been providing tips and encouragement from their own personal experiences about how to share God’s Word with people who desperately need to hear about God’s grace.
We asked for your feedback, and several of you have shared your own tips, encouragements, and outreach stories. Take a look:
A waiting room opportunity
Betty Pfeiffer, a member at Heritage, Gilbert, Arizona, shares her story of praying dangerously for the opportunity to tell someone about God’s love [“Praying dangerously,” Feb.].
My husband needed an eye exam, and it was going to require dilation of his pupils. I went along to drive him home. I was in a hurry and walked out without a book to read. None of the magazines in the waiting area held any interest for me, so I sat there figuratively twiddling my thumbs.
Until an older man sat next to me and started a conversation. He asked me if I believed that the world is billions of years old.
I replied with a smile, “No. I’m a Christian.”
“Well,” he responded, “do you believe in spirits that live in heaven and come down to earth to inhabit earthly bodies?”
“No. I don’t believe it that either.” His premise was becoming clear to me. He was a Mormon. So I asked, “Are you a Mormon?”
“Yes, and we believe . . .” He started to tell me about the necessity of good works to get into heaven.
When he paused, I (more or less) responded, “I know that’s what you believe, but you see, I can’t find any scriptural foundation for that. Remember Christ said on the cross that it is finished. That is, he completed all that was necessary for the forgiveness of our sins.” I went on to quote the book of James that says faith without works is dead, but that means only that if we don’t love one another enough to help them in ways we can, we don’t love Jesus enough to follow his commandments. Our works come from our faith, through our love. They won’t earn us anything more. Christ has done it all. To think we can add something more or better to our salvation than when he said “It is finished” is arrogant.
I quoted a couple more passages as the gentleman sat there quietly blinking. Then he was called in for his eye exam.
I have prayed that God would give me opportunities to share his good news, but I never really expected an encounter like this. Did I say anything that would change his beliefs? Only the Holy Spirit knows. But I am glad that I forgot my book.
Scott Albrecht talks about a unique evangelism program at Beautiful Savior, Grove City, Ohio. He writes:
Coffee Evangelism is a weekly meeting of evangelists at our local diner where we fellowship over coffee briefly but then get it in to-go mugs as our meeting is half fellowship/half evangelism (half and half—I honestly didn’t see that joke coming).
One of our members maps out a neighborhood near the diner. After our coffee, we hand out coffee sleeves to those who answer the door and leave them for those who don’t. The sleeves have information about our church on one side and an invite on the other side to join us at the diner next week to learn more about our church—coffee is on us!
After a year we have visited over 1,600 households. Many friendships have been made, and visitors at our church are on the rise.
The level of skill or education to go door to door is not daunting. The presentation is easy: The ask is to have a cup of coffee for free with church members or attend a service if they do not have a church home.
I pray this idea may inspire others to come up with creative new ways to share God’s message
A meaningful day
A story from Thomas Gumm, a retired pastor, shows that you will never know when God will give you an opportunity to proclaim his name. You just need to be ready.
Yesterday I had a young man come in to get info on a storage unit. After talking with him, he told me he was a pastor’s kid but was the black sheep. We talked for an hour. He was guilt-ridden and unable to forgive himself. This was causing great problems in his marriage. I took him for a walk to the cross. I explained God’s forgiveness. I also explained that God loved him because God wanted to love him. Tears flowed a number of times. It was a very meaningful day.
Taking time to reflect
In his article “KISS them” [March], Ken Brokmeier recommended that after an evangelism opportunity, we should take time to evaluate and reflect on the encounter.
Ann Behrs, a member at Christ Alone, Mequon, Wisconsin, shares that she writes down a synopsis of each encounter she has. As part of her summary, she asks and answers some simple questions—questions ranging from What can I do to start a conversation? to How did the conversation transition to something spiritual? to How can I get to know this person better? She says, “It’s a great way to try to understand if it was effective, what worked, and what didn’t.”
Lessons from the county jail
Dan Krueger, a member at Mt. Zion, Kenosha, Wisconsin, leads a Bible study in a county jail. He shares the following things he learned from his experiences:
- The men at the weekly meeting have different experiences than me, and not just because they spend their days and nights in a cavernous room of 70 bunk beds, a few tables,and a TV, with others who are accused of breaking the law. They ask my opinion about personal situations that are new to me. When you talk to other people, they may bring up something in their past that surprises or even shocks you. But it’s an opportunity to point out the biblical principles that address the situation. You can plainly state you don’t have a simple answer but offer to help them look at what God says.
- The people you meet may not know their Bibles well. If you are talking to others about Jesus, look for opportunities to assist them in opening a Bible so they can read it for themselves.
- In the county approved sessions, we have a strict warning to avoid doctrinal differences. Your unchurched friends may ask about something unique to their church background,but it’s likely they are just trying to put things into perspective. You can stick to the basics of sin, grace, and peace in Jesus.
- The faces at the prison Bible study can change from week to week. It can be daunting knowing that you may only get one meaningful conversation, one opportunity to tell them what Jesus has done for you and what Jesus can do for them. It’s a good reminder that our task is to get involved and then let the Holy Spirit continue the work.
- Feeding yourself at Bible study, especially at church, is huge. The pastoral insight on the context of passages and how they relate to our modern culture gives you confidence, credibility, and flexibility when witnessing. The other benefit is listening to the questions and answers of other members. Just like the unchurched people we want to reach, other members may view the question from a slightly different perspective or background than your own.
Author: Various Submissions
Volume 106, Number 5
Issue: May 2019