Written by Assistant Pastor Jon Herring
I love Jesus! I think the gospel is the best news ever! But I struggle to tell people about him and what he has done.
Why?! Because I am human.
We know as Christians that we are commissioned to take the good news out to the world but we are overwhelmed by the daunting nature of that task!
Sometimes we might feel that we have done really well, we manage to move conversations on to Jesus on a regular basis and we maybe even find opportunities to share the gospel, while for others of us it fills us with fear just thinking about it. But the fact is we all struggle to talk about our faith as much as we’d like to and with the boldness we’d like to, every single one of us!
Whether it is because we have a fear that we won’t be able to answer their questions and arguments, whether its because we feel culturally awkward to engage in conversations for fear of offending or being condemned for our views, whether its because we have failed in the past, or we don’t think we would be a good representative of the faith, or we are too shy or we just can’t articulate it perfectly! We all find it difficult.
So we need encouragement!
This Sunday we are going to be starting up our Go FoUrth series. This will be every fourth Sunday of the month and the idea is that it will be a time to encourage and equip each other to use the unique gifts God has given us as well as learning some new tactics and ways to share our faith.
- It will be an opportunity to pray specifically for friends and family we would love to see come to know and love the Lord.
- It will be an opportunity to share things we have been encouraged by and ways that we have seen people respond to the ways we have tried to share our faith (I think they call this ‘sharing good practice’ in the business world).
- It will be an opportunity to explore our own evangelistic style, as we see that we are all uniquely gifted with different skills and personalities and passions. And that is good because it means we are uniquely equipped to relate to different people and to serve God in different ways and in different places.
We will also be looking at some different ‘tactics’ that we can all use that will support and help us in overcoming our fear or difficulties in engaging people in conversation and speaking of Jesus.
As a little teaser/spoiler these will include:
- ‘A Better Story’
- ‘The Columbo Technique’
- Gospel presentations
- ‘Gardening and harvesting’
But fundamentally we are going to look at God’s word to inspire us and train us to speak of Jesus. To do this, we are going to look at John’s gospel.
John is very clear about his purpose for writing his gospel (John 20:31).
‘These are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name’.
John’s gospel appears to be written with a distinctively evangelistic focus in many ways and Don Carson suggests that ‘the Gospel of John was not written to believers about mission but to outsiders to perform mission’. In other words, as people read his gospel and meet Jesus in it for the first time- John’s intention is that they would be convinced that he is indeed the Messiah, the Son of God and be drawn to him. Some have also suggested that the 4th gospel is actually written as a resource for evangelism. Though this might not have been John’s primary aim, I feel there is certainly scope for using it as such, as we find such a clear and compelling case for Christ within it.
For this reason every Go FoUrth service we are going to look at a section of John to encourage and edify us with the gospel, whilst also using it to train us for sharing our faith. My prayer is that as we read it again, we will ourselves be bowled over by the gospel once again and love the gospel more and more, that we would be built up in faith and will therefore also be more passionate to share it.
Carson suggests that John’s ‘style’ was ‘to some degree influenced by Jesus himself’. As a direct witness of Jesus’ earthly ministry, he gives us a unique view of the model of Jesus’ ministry. We see how Jesus engaged with and treated people, how he revealed who he was and what he had come to do. In so doing we see that Jesus ministered to many different people and in many different ways (what you might call contextualising). Yet he still proclaimed the same gospel message. With this in mind, John’s gospel is uniquely placed to provide a framework for real life evangelism, i.e. sharing, presenting and communicating the gospel in different situations to a variety of people in a variety of contexts. It challenges us to remember and proclaim the implications of a right and wrong response to Jesus.We will therefore look at passages where people encounter Jesus, so we can observe and learn from them in evangelism.
The idea also is that as we are encouraged and equipped for evangelism through looking at John’s gospel, the result might be that we become so familiar with it and be so inspired by it that we might want to open it with friends and show them Jesus through it.
It is my prayer that if you come along you will go away encouraged and better equipped to share your faith, not because of any cleverly constructed course, but because when God’s people come together with a passion to make Jesus known, listen to his word, and call to him in prayer, he can do amazing things through and in us!
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