To Jesus or not to…. // #Write31Days // Day 29
So a couple of days ago I wrote about how to move from praying about mission to moving on to something practical. Today I want to think about how to move from that practical thing to real discipling (this doesn’t necessarily apply if you are planting a church or similar as you are probably doing it anyway!).
This is a challenge it’s true. You’ve formed a relationship with someone, or a group of people maybe and then the question is, how, or do you, start telling them about Jesus? To Jesus or not to, now that is the question! A friend told me recently of an experience where she found herself bound by regulations and unable to speak about her faith. She told me she would never allow herself to be in that position again. And I am so with her. This is a free country, we do have the right to talk about our faith, where so many others cannot so we shouldn’t feel constrained. But that said, if you befriend people and then launch into being too full on with the gospel at the wrong time, well that’s one way to annoy people I’m sure!
Actually I think it should start well before that anyway. Be open and honest about being ‘from the church’. Talk to people about ‘prayer’ or ‘the spiritual’ right from the off. Ask God for opportunities to share those things. I’ve had conversations with people where they have been ill or had an issue going on and I’ve just said, I find praying helpful and can I pray for you? Most people are open to being prayed for, even atheists I’ve found! Then you are being far more open about who you are.
You can also make the most of opportunities like Easter and Christmas which many people will understand and want to celebrate. We did an informal carol service last year at one of our projects, followed by a free lunch which worked really well. Who doesn’t love carol singing?! (or a free lunch for that matter!). If you are doing something like that you can then lead into something else, use it as an opportunity. ‘If you’ve enjoyed this morning we will be meeting on Wednesday to talk about what Easter means for us now’ for example…
If people then start to open up and ask questions you might find a core of people who want to know more, or who are ready for something more concrete but might not be up for ‘church’. I used to host a ‘coffee and questions’ group in which people could come and just ask any question of faith. It was very informal and worked well for a while. Of course there are standard things you can do like an Alpha course too, but remember to think about what would work in your context or with the people you are reaching out to.
One thing I have mentioned previously but I think is really important is that we don’t just think that we have to feed people into a church. Our aim is not to get them to a Sunday morning service, but to get them to know Jesus! So whatever we do we need to keep that at the forefront of our minds….