Thursday, August 13, 2015

What's The Story?

Have you been scared off evangelism?  Had some bad experiences?

At East Taieri Church we have drawn together a number of resources that help us relax and naturally share the good news about Jesus and the kingdom of God.  We call the framework "What's the Story?"  It considers three stories:

  1. Their Story: Listening to the other person's story
  2. Our Story: Telling your own story of coming into a relationship with Jesus.
  3. The Story: Telling of God's work in Christ.

These stories don't have to all happen in the same conversation, or in this order, but this is a helpful framework to keep in mind.

1) Their Story:

The idea here is for us to think about who we are in contact with and how we can better listen to their story, noticing and listening to what is going on in their lives and looking for where God is already at work.

Ask for God's help to stop thinking about yourself and what you are going to say, and to have Jesus' eyes and ears to notice what is going on and to listen.  Some fun video clips that can help with this are "Test Your Awareness" and "Test Your Awareness: Whodunnit?"
A more Jesus focused video challenges us to think about what people are going through and to have compassion.  "Seeing with Jesus Glasses"

It can also be helpful to ask some "wondering" questions that invite the person you are talking with to tell you more.  The best questions arise naturally as you allow the Holy Spirit to prompt your interest in the person, but to give you some ideas you can check out these suggestions from Doug Pollock who I think coined the term "wondering questions".

2) Our Story: 
We communicate our story through our lifestyle; through loving actions; and through words.  I remember one university student telling me that another student in her hostel guessed she was a Christian because her boyfriend didn't sleep over in her room.  Often, if we have listened well to their story, people will ask us about our story.  That is a God given moment when you can tell them a simple, short, non-weird "testimony" (story) of what God has done in your life.

My top tips for telling others about what Jesus has done are:

·         Short – 100 words or less
·         Clear – avoid fuzzy generalisations.  One clear plot line.  Don’t have too many characters!
·         Avoid (or explain) Christian Jargon – “salvation”, “born again”, “convicted of sin”...
·         Don’t sound superior or pious (“holier than thou”)

3) The Story:
This is the hardest place to avoid jargon because we want to communicate the big story (metanarrative) of God's redeeming work in Christ on the cross and the here but not yet arrival of the Kingdom of God in the ministry of Jesus.  Most of the time we won't give a pre-packaged presentation of the gospel, but we do need to be able to tell people about Jesus.

Thankfully we have wonderful resources available today at East Taieri Church and on the internet.

This is where it is helpful to have had some training such as XEE, to give you some good illustrations and a framework for sharing the gospel.
This is where all kinds of resources such as books and DVDs can be helpful for people.
This is where programmes like Journeys (a DVD based course from Rob Harley) and the Alpha Course can help.

It can be very helpful to remember the holistic gospel which is so much more than a ticket to heaven when we die.  The good news includes: forgiveness for sins, a life that is being transformed day by day, deliverance from evil, a new heart for others including the poor and disadvantaged, caring for God's good creation, restored relationships, racial reconcilation and justice and peace...   This video clip about the Kingdom of God helps us remember the centrality of the message of the kingdom in the preaching of Jesus.

Finally, the key is building relationships and praying for opportunities.