Evangelism

Useful links:

Local Facebook group: EDGE
Encouraging Diocese of Gloucester Evangelicals.
Table Talk and The Happiness Lab
Stimulating games and discussion frameworks for your community.
HOPEtogether.org.uk
Resources and collaboration for churches.
TalkingJesus.org
Major research project into what people in the UK know and think about Jesus.
Alpha.org
Hosting an Alpha course is a great way to get started with evangelism in your church.
Rejesus.co.uk
Rejesus offers an enormous variety of information, spirituality, interaction and entertainment to help people explore who Jesus was and is.

Christians are called to witness to Christ by their life and by their words. Some are called to be evangelists with a specific gift in proclaiming and sharing the Gospel. All have a responsibility to be ready to ‘give a reason for the hope that is in them’ and to do so with ‘gentleness and respect’.

So what makes for effective Christian witness?

Good witnesses are:

Normal – live in the real world with the same problems as their neighbours
Different – their faith makes a difference to the way they see and cope with life
Sensitive – listen to people’s needs and don’t claim to have all the answers
Bold – ready to invite others to find out more and to share faith where appropriate
Patient – it takes four years on average from the point of initial interest in the Christian faith
to the moment when it comes together as a commitment in someone’s life.

How can we share our faith?

Through prayer:
Praying for our community, friends and families is one of the main ways we hold them before God. As we do so it can be good to ask God to show us the right time to share our faith story with others.

Through our lifestyle:
Our way of life and priorities should communicate our faith. The first letter of Peter encourages us to ‘live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us’.

Through invitation:
Identify and develop invitation events in the life of the church suited to people you want to reach. Aim to create a culture of witness and invitation in your church. This could be done through a special church event or service such as Experience Easter or Back to Church Sunday, or a church visit to the theatre, or a home communion, or a ramble through the countryside, or a pub quiz, or… the possibilities are endless.

Encourage all church members to invite 1-3 people to come, providing good invitations to hand out personally. Use words like: ‘I’m going. It’s going to be good. Will you come with me?’ Such invitation helps bring local Christians out into the open – a low key way of saying ‘this is important to me, come and see’.

Behind such work stands John Finney’s insight that central to evangelism today is ‘helping people belong so that they can believe’.

Through what we say and how we listen:
We all have our own story to tell of how we became/grew as a Christian and how Christ is at work in our lives. Our story, shared appropriately, can encourage others.

Such faith sharing is about listening as well as speaking. We will communicate our faith by listening to others with respect and sensitivity and then choosing words carefully as we seek to respond.

In order to be prepared for such opportunities it can be helpful to find time to reflect on our own faith journey and how it relates to our life story. It can also be helpful to think about how your faith story reflects God’s story – keep in mind people, passages, psalms, and places where our faith resonates with the story of others and how that is expressed in Scripture. You might also want to ponder if there are particular seasons of the Christian year, symbols, music, images, or objects that could help you talk about your faith.

Two useful statements to ponder and complete in reflecting on our faith story are:
I am still a Christian because…
When holding onto faith gets tough what keeps me going is…

Remember to find ways of talking about faith without using jargon.

Through pointing people to others:
We might not feel we have the answers to the questions people may ask but we can point them to others, or to a book or something else we have found helpful. Useful examples include:

Simply Christian (Tom Wright, 2006)
Beginning Again (John Pritchard, 2000)
How to Explain Your Faith (John Pritchard, 2006)

Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit:
Leading someone to faith is primarily God’s work, not ours. We are to offer ourselves as servants to the ways in which God works in the lives of individuals. Prayer and openness to the leading of the Holy Spirit is vital in helping others grow in faith.

And finally…

Coming to faith is a process – our task will usually be to help people on the way, not be responsible for the whole process from start to finish. This may involve sowing the seeds of faith, leading someone to commitment, or encouraging someone whose faith is challenged.

Continuing to explore faith ourselves equips us to share it with others – faith sharing is a journey made together where our own faith and reliance on Jesus will often be strengthened as we seek to share Jesus with others and learn from what they have to share in return.

Resources

There are a growing range of resources and courses to help equip Christians to feel more confident in sharing their faith. Examples include:

Pictures

John Pritchard, How to Explain Your Faith (SPCK, 2006)

Alister McGrath, Explaining Your Faith (Inter-varisty Press 1995)

J.John, Breaking News – a practical course designed to help you share God’s good news today (Authentic Media, 2006)

Paul Griffths, Telling our Story (www.paulgriffithsministeries.org.uk)

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