Missional Focus Week – Day 5

The following is adapted from Tim Keller, Center Church, 286-89.

Reaching out to a friend can be natural and organic. It just takes some honesty and courage. Here are some ways to do this, listed in order of intensity:

1. One-on-one – informal

· Let others know of your Christian faith by simply mentioning church attendance or Christian beliefs in casual conversation. This can be a fruitful first step that can open doors for further conversation.

· Ask questions about other people’s beliefs and experiences with faith and church and simply listen appreciatively and sympathetically.

· Listen sympathetically to someone’s challenges and mention that you will pray regularly for them.

· Share a difficult personal issue that you have and be sure to mention that your faith helps you by giving you strength and granting you forgiveness, etc.

· Share your spiritual narrative – a brief testimony of your Christian experience.

2. One-on-one – planned/intentional

· Offer someone a book or audio recording about Christian issues and invite them to discuss their reactions.

· Initiate a discussion about a friend’s biggest problems with or objections to Christianity. Listen respectfully and give them some things to read and discuss.

· Regularly read a part of the Bible together – preferably one of the Gospels – to discuss the character of Jesus.

3. Provide an experience of Christian community

· Invite friends to situations or activities where they meet believers but where there is no direct Christian event or communication.

· Invite friends to venues where they hear the gospel communicated and discussed – one-time event, such as an open forum; fellowship group; worship service; group meeting for inquirers, such as book club, seeker group, etc.

4. Share your faith

· Share the basics of the Christian faith with your friend, laying out how to become a Christian and inviting them to make a commitment.

It is certainly possible to have an evangelistic dynamic built strictly on relational, informal outreach by laypeople. Nevertheless, laypeople are often encouraged and instructed in their ministry if the church provides a varied set of events, gatherings, and meetings in which nonbelievers are exposed more directly to both Christians and to the gospel. Use your ingenuity to imagine a variety of meetings and places where people without faith can, through a winsome approach, be stimulated to consider the claims of the Christian gospel. Here are some examples:

· A one-off event, such as an open forum. At Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC, these have typically been artistic forums (such as “Exerpts from Porgy and Bess,” “Coltrane Night,” or a Bach Wedding Cantata), followed by a lecture that offers a Christian perspective on the art, with a time for questions and answers.

· A gathering in a small public venue with a brief talk and Q&A on a single topic that addresses problems people have with Christian faith. At Redeemer, they call these “Christianity Un-corked” events.

· A group of Christians that meets for four weeks; each week, each member asks one non-Christian friend a question about their religious beliefs for the purpose of listening to (not debating) other religious beliefs and objections to Christianity.

· A group mainly for non-Christians that meets regularly. Less intense: a book club focused on reading fiction books by C.S. Lewis, Flannery O’Connor, J.R.R. Tolkien, G.K. Chesterton, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, etc., that get at Christian themes, or even reading books by non-Christians and talking about the faith perspectives and worldviews they represent. More intense: Eight-week “seeker groups” that meet to study a book. Some people may respond well to frank discussions about common “defeaters” of Christianity, while others may prefer to explore the life of Jesus through reading one of the Gospels or using a book such as Jesus the King.

· Onetime “salons” in which Christians bring non-Christian friends to hear an informal presentation by a Christian speaker on a topic, followed by a discussion.

· Worship “after meetings.” Examples include a Q&A session after the church service with the preacher of the day, where any questions are allowed, though usually the topic of the message is covered; an apologetics class (five to seven weeks) that makes a case for the truth of Christianity; or a seven-week class covering basic Christian beliefs and Christian living, oriented to new believers but open to attendance by seekers.

· Affinity-based outreach. Campus ministries, vocational (industry-based) ministries, and men’s or women’s gatherings can have an evangelistic/apologetics aspect in their regular meetings and may hold outreach events at neutral venues, similar to the ones described above.