For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
Luke 19:10

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Personal Witnessing - Getting the Ball Rolling (Part 5a)

There's no question about it this time. If ever you've had an opportunity -this is it! An opportunity to share Christ with another person and you are scared you are going to blow it. You have found the natural spring-board in your comfortable conversation to launch you into the next phase of sharing your faith. The segue. The common ground. The connector between a completely secular conversation and a potentially spiritual one. You have said something now that has the person curious, wanting to hear a little more. You have aroused some interest.

For this series on Personal Witnessing we are following Chapter 3, out of Paul Little's classic book entitled: How to Give Away Your Faith. We are quoting entire paragraphs from this chapter, mingled with other thoughts and personal reflections.

How do you get the Ball Rolling?
In John 4, Jesus did it by making a cryptic statement that precipitated a question from the Samaritan woman. His statement related to her primary needs and at the same time suggested His ability and willingness to meet those needs.
Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water." The woman said to him, "Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock."
(John 4:10-12)
We can begin witnessing by either making a statement or by asking a leading question. Jesus started by mentioning 'the gift of God.' He also anticipated the woman's reactions. Her questions did not catch Him off guard even once.To take full advantage of each opportunity, we also need to consider beforehand the likely responses. As we think about possible situations, let's think through how to get the ball rolling and how to handle these responses.
Be personally burdened each day about 'finding' opportunities to witness. If you have that mindset and burden you will be looking for doors that are opened - even a crack. 

Example 1
A comment is made about something in the news connected to religion. Your opportunity: "By the way, do you think about religion from time to time? Are you interested in spiritual things?" The person may say 'No, not really. What about you.?" 

You can swing into hi-gear and give them the full-meal-deal (which is not recommended) or you can take it in measured steps: "I guess I'd have to say that I am quite interested in things of a spiritual nature. I have been for the last six years." The person might say: "That's interesting. Why just the past six years?" You can take it from there.

Example 2
The person says: "I am so sickened by all the stuff that's in the news lately about sexual abuse and the church's cover-up and all the other scams and scandals done under the name of religion on television and everywhere else. I'm so turned off."

You could say: "It is extremely bad and disillusioning. Even though I am not a skeptic I can see how these awful things are turning people off. What helps me is to understand that all this wickedness comes from inside the human heart. I remember the first time I read the words of Jesus in the Bible. I don't know what you think of Him, but He described it all so accurately in Mark 7:21-23."

Example 3
If the person is skeptical and denouncing Christianity, religion and all that's spiritual, you could ask: "I hear what you are saying and I understand where you're coming from. But let's suppose, for a minute, there was such a thing as a genuine, authentic Christian, what would you expect to see in them that you haven't seen up until now? What, from your perspective, would make a real Christian?"

Sharing Spiritual Experiences
Another means of getting the ball rolling is to be alert for opportunities to share about our spiritual experiences. As we get close to people as friends, they will begin to confide in us about their burdens, longings, aspirations, frustrations and emptiness. As they tell us these things, we can say quietly (if our experience is similar), "You know, I used to fell like that until I had an experience that completely changed my outlook on life. Would you like me to tell you about it?"

By making a cryptic statement and offering rather than forcing our experience on them, we prevent others from feeling that we're just unloading unsolicited goods at their doorstep. If they ask to hear about our experience, we should be ready to speak briefly, emphasizing the reality of Christ to us today and eliminating boring and probably irrelevant details. We should simply say what Christ means to us now.

More the next time.

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