During the month of March we are focusing on the SHARE aspect of our DEVOTE 3 theme for the year. We want to be inspired and equipped afresh to SHARE – a meal, our story, our faith and the love of Christ with others. The foundation for sharing with others is a genuine love for people who don't yet know Christ. As we see people as Jesus does, we will go to them like he did.Your STORY
Everyone has a story - the unfolding narrative of God at work in his or her life. A story can be even more powerful than an argument. Being a good witness for Christ does not mean we have to know all the answers to people’s questions. If this is our mentality, we easily become fearful of a question that we don't know the answer for. True, engaging with people’s real questions is important (hence, the validity of apologetics – learning to give answers for the hope that we have), but never under-estimate the power of your story. As the blind man said to his critics, “All I know is that once I was blind, now I can see (John 9:25)!” Charles Swindoll says, “The sceptic may deny your beliefs or attack your church, but they cannot honestly ignore the fact that your life has been changed.”
Not only is your story hard to argue with, you will find that your friends are interested in your story. They often can relate to it well because of similar interests to you. Don’t discount your story if it doesn’t seem sensational or dramatic. If you spent most of your life as a “good” person, maybe even going to church and being “religious”, but without knowing Christ personally, then yours is a story that many people will be able to identify with. Don’t downplay it. God can use this kind of story powerfully for the many people with similar backgrounds who need to find Christ just as you did.
In Acts 26, Luke records Paul telling his personal story to King Agrippa. Although there are a lot of important details, there are essentially three sections. First, there is BC (Before Christ), where Paul tells about his life growing up. He was a Pharisee and he was convinced that he should do everything possible to oppose the teachings of Jesus, including putting Christians in prison and even condemning them to death (vs.4-11). Second, there is Paul’s Conversion where he relates how he came to Christ. He tells how he was on his way to Damascus to persecute Christians, when Christ appeared to him and appointed him to be His spokesperson (vs.12-18). Finally, there is AD (After Christ) where Paul describes his life since coming to Christ (vs.19-23). Paul then concluded with a question of response (vs.27-28).
Take some time to reflect on your own story. Where were you spiritually before receiving Christ and how did that affect you – your feelings, attitudes, actions and relationships? What caused you to begin considering God/Christ as a solution to your needs? What realisation did you come to that finally motivated you to receive Christ? Specifically, how did you receive Christ? How did your life begin to change after you trusted Christ? What other benefits have you experienced since becoming a Christian?
If your conversion was part of a process that took place over a period of time, you may not be able to place an exact date on when you received Christ. That’s okay. Consider the content of what you realised and asked for, as you began to open your life to Christ’s forgiveness and leadership. For those who became Christians as children, the emphasis can be on the benefits Christ has made in your life compared to what you think it might have been like without knowing him. You don’t need a “bad past” to have a great testimony! Praise God for His saving grace that reached out to people like Mary (a prostitute filled with 7 demons), the Samaritan woman (divorced 4 times and living with another man), and Zaccheus (a dishonest tax collector). Praise God also for those who were given grace to live for God from youth and who were saved from the negative consequences of a sinful lifestyle. Think of Joseph (who resisted temptation to sexual sin), Daniel (who refused to compromise his personal standards even when away from his parents) and Timothy (who knew the Scriptures since childhood and put his faith in God). A testimony of being saved from the world and sin is just as powerful as a testimony of being saved out of the world and sin.Sample Discussion Questions
1. Get into pairs and have each person take 3-5 minutes to share their story of coming to faith in Christ. Discuss how this story can be shaped to connect meaningfully with other people.
2. It is very easy after being a Christian for a number of years to start to have mainly Christian friends and not as many friendships with those who don’t know Christ. How can we avoid this?
3. What are some keys to building good friendships with those who don’t yet know Christ?
4. Bill Hybels says that, “Acts of mercy and kindness open people’s hearts like nothing else can.” Share some examples of this happening from your own experience.
5. How do you start a conversation about spiritual matters in a natural way?
6. What are some of the barriers to sharing our faith and how can we overcome them?
7. What should we consider when determining a person’s level of readiness or openness to spiritual matters?
8. How would you describe the “gospel” to a person or what it means to be a “Christian”?
9. We live in an increasingly pluralistic culture with many religious beliefs. How do we reach out to those of others faiths?
10. If someone told you they wanted to become a Christian, what would you do? How do you lead someone to Christ?
11. What do we do next? How can we follow them up with support and care?
12. Who have you invited to church before? How did this experience go? What did you learn?
13. How do we continue to relate to someone who isn’t interested in Christ?
14. How do we strike an appropriate balance between thinking WE have to win everyone to Christ (lest they end up in hell) and understanding that GOD is the one who draws people to himself?
15. Talk about the importance of prayer in sharing our faith with others.
Share Impact Lists (3 people) and have some prayer for these people.
16. What are some books that can equip us in growing in confidence in sharing our faith?
Examples: Becoming a Contagious Christian and Walk Across the Room by Bill Hybels, The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel, and any books by Ravi Zacharias (apologetics).
[For some possible answers to these questions, listen to the panel conversation of SHARE - Week 2]