Monday, 20 September 2010

Developing an evangelistic lifestyle

Session 2
Diagnostic tool 1 – Circles of contact. Fill in the below
What is the diagnosis? What does it tell you about who you spend your time with and whether you are like Jesus or the Pharisee?

The problem is the longer we go on as Christians the fewer non-church friends we have. There are a number of reasons for the decline in contact with non-believers. For some it’s seeing friends come to faith, for most it is that they become too involved in church things and therefore have no time for those outside the church. For some it’s simply a lack of effort, they are neither serving in the church nor involved in the world. (Kind of makes you wonder how effective the church would be if TV had never been invented!!!) For others this decline is a result of poor teaching or understanding of the Bible which leads them to separate themselves and isolate themselves from the unbelieving world.

So what should life look like?
As we grow in maturity and understanding of grace we should grow in love for people, both in and outside the church. This should arrest the decline in our contact with non-believers, in fact it compels us to seek the lost, just as Christ did. As you read the gospels, especially Luke you cannot but be struck by the way Jesus goes out of his way to engage with people and build friendships. And they aren’t evangelistic projects but people he loves.

The diagram recognises that there will be fluctuations in the number of friends we have (remember the definition of a friend above) due to seasons within our life. When you have young children mums in particularly have a great opportunity to build friendships and spend time with other young mums. It’s one reason why I'd encourage believing mums to think carefully about going back to work full time - you will never have the opportunity such 'play dates' brings again. When you move to a new area you need to start again building friendships, there will be times when friends move away –a couple of years ago we saw two families we were really good friends with emigrate. The challenge is to start building new friendships.
These problems are exacerbated for Christian workers:
Diagnostic tool 2 – just look at your diary for last week. What does it reveal?

The temptation is to look at that and conclude I am too busy. We settle for being a frog rather than a lizard. You see a frog sits very still and waits for the fly to come to him and then he eats, a lizard by contrast is mobile, a lizard goes out looking for his food. As a Christian worker it is easy to be a frog, sitting on your pad waiting for the fly to come to you, waiting for mission week when you will get to interact with lots of seeking students, or for the student to ask you to meet their interested friend.

It’s great to be able to provide that support and be engaged in that ministry, but that’s just being a frog when what we actually need to be is a lizard. We need to be authentically living out our developing, maturing discipleship in the context of, connected with, and engaged in the world around us.
We need to plan to spend time with non-believers.
• Pray as Paul does for opportunities
• Refresh your understanding of grace – missional living flows from grace not legalism or guilt

• 50:50 meals
• Be in the community you are in (you may need to be instrumental in forming a community, neighbours)
• Identify community key gateways (gym, school, pub, etc...)
• Develop community habits (use local shop, join local gym)
• Serve your community (how can your church/home group serve in the area)
• Serve individuals (stop to help people, be generous with your money)
• Change your diary (avoid Christian rabbit warren) be deliberate
• Join a club where people will be
• If you are new to a city get other Christians to introduce you to their friends
• Walk rather than drive if you can – and be ready to say hi and smile to people
• Make use of meal times – people talk over food!!!
• Don’t take an iPod or listen to music on public transport
• Chat to the check out person in ASDA then look for the same one again.
• Live out your faith openly, don’t keep it private!
• Make the most of every opportunity (e.g. Noah’s homework, questions for a talk...)
• Understand people’s problems with church and faith and be ready to discuss them (hypocrisy, bad experience, reliability of the bible)
• Be culturally aware, interrogate culture:
What do people spend their time/money on?
What is free time spent on?
What do they fear/dream about?
What do they care passionately about?
Where do they shop?
What music/films/DVD’s/books are they into?
What do they find funny?
How do they think of themselves(Christian, atheist, agnostic, spiritual, etc...)?
How does this affect my diary? (In no way do I have this sorted but here’s my thoughts in practice)
1. Time – always try to plan in more time than I need to be with people. (e.g. assembly)
2. Changes my working hours (will be in office before 8, then take 35 mins to walk boys to school and call in at the local newspaper shop on the way home, then work until pick up time, break to collect boys and chat, then back to office – school gate is key to community)
3. Show God’s love for people – governor of local school, also involvement at family centre
4. Sport – play football twice a week, and on a Monday go to pub with guys
5. Prioritise people – wedding this afternoon, 18th Dec,
6. Commitment – keep following up with people... (e.g. David)
7. Introduce my friends to my believing friends
8. Offer to pray for people (why are we so shy about this?!)
9. Invite friends to church
A challenge to blokes:
3% of the time if a child comes to Christ the family follow,
17% of the time if a wife comes to Christ the family follow,
93% of the time if the husband comes to Christ the family follow.
• So as men we must engage in evangelism
• We need to develop relationships that will grow into discipleship
• to remind ourselves we are saved by grace, called to a kingdom and given a mission
• Men need other men
• Men need challenge
• Men need investing in
• Men are different from women (do things together don’t sit and have coffee!!!!)
• Men need courageous leaders
• Men need calling to kingdom greatness

Missional living is the Biblical norm incarnate in Christ and lived out by his disciples flowing out of their growing understanding and appreciation of grace and into redeemed relationships.

Books to read to follow up:
The Radical Reformission, Mark Driscoll
Just Walk Across the Room, Bill Hybels
The Gospel and Personal Evangelism, Mark Dever
Extreme Righteousness, Tom Hovestol
Why Men Hate Going to Church, David Murrow

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