Friday, 19 May 2017

How do you ask questions?


Wouldn’t it be great if you knew how to ask questions in a way that was extremely effective whenever you shared the gospel? Being able to do this would mean that your conversation and communication would dramatically improve.  In fact, I am certain that questioning in the right way can really open doors for us to share the good news more successfully.
I heard it said recently that Jesus was the great questioner.  I believe that is true because you only have to look through the scriptures to see that Jesus asked people many questions as He conversed.  He knew exactly what He was doing, completely understanding how to ask questions in a way that would elicit the answer he was looking for.  He had the uncanny ability to do this to get to the truth within people’s hearts.  He is the best example for us to follow, and as I’ve said many times before, He is without a doubt the best model of an evangelist that we could wish for.
I could have used many examples of questions from the gospels.  I have chosen the direct questioning Jesus used with Nicodemus in John chapter three.  This is the well-known passage where Jesus explained about the necessity of being born again.  We know that Nicodemus struggled to understand this, which caused Jesus to ask the question, “‘You are Israel’s teacher,’ said Jesus, ‘and do you not understand these things”?  John 3: 10
I love this question because it exposed the truth. Jesus was basically saying, “If you really knew who is really standing before you talking, you would know what I am saying is the truth.
Key point: The truth of the matter is that most people who come to Christ on a one to one basis, do so through conversation and questioning.
One thing is certain, when we get down to witnessing with the aim of having meaningful conversations, we will have to ask questions.  There is simply no way to get around it. The truth of the matter is that most people who come to Christ on a one to one basis, do so through conversation and questioning.
I have taught communication-based subjects for a number of years.  Here are three examples of questioning that yield results.
Open versus closed questions: Closed questions typically invite a short answer, or very often a yes or no reply.  Whereas, open questions invite a longer response because they require more thought than a simple one-word answer.
As well as this, using this type of questioning gets the person you are in conversation with to think about their answers and consider how they will reply.  This enables us to uncover exactly what a person thinks or believes.
Closed question – “Do you believe in God”? Answer “No”.
Open-ended question – “What do you think happens to people when they die”?
This question could receive a short answer, but in most cases, in the process of a genuine conversation, you will receive a longer response which could lead to a lengthier interaction.
Probing questions: These are questions that enable you to get nearer to the truth.  They get below the surface and when used effectively they help you to understand more about your hearer’s knowledge and beliefs.  The important point to remember here is that you should not pump people for information like an interrogation, as this will put them under pressure and drive them away.  Plan to ask these types of questions carefully and strategically.
When you receive answers, make sure that you demonstrate that you are listening intently to what they’re saying.  This shows you are interested and that you value the person you are in conversation with. “We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Epictetus
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” James 1:19-20
You can even use questions that repeat the person’s previous answer. This further demonstrates that you been listening attentively, which importantly develops trust to a greater level.
Probing question examples  –“I think that it is really interesting that you say that you believe there is no heaven.  Could you tell me why you believe that”?
“Could you tell me what has happened in your life to make you believe something like that”?
Socratic questioning: This is a technique named after the Greek philosopher Socrates.  It is widely used in teaching circles to help students learn involving the use of follow-up questions (Sometimes known as three or five level questioning) to gain understanding. This again revolves around understanding a person’s beliefs and knowledge. It also works very well in one to one discussions and is great for gospel sharing.
If you are not careful here, it is very easy to get into a grilling and interrogation mode again. Avoid this by good listening as well as giving feedback before moving on to another question.
Socratic questions example  – Why are you saying that? -What do you mean by that? – Can you give me an example? – Can you rephrase that please?
When you have talked about your faith, what kind of questions have you been asking? It’s worth considering and looking back over previous conversations to ask yourself whether the outcomes were positive or negative.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

A simple request

It is very likely that at some time in the past you have been at a function or a busy meeting.  While you were in conversation with somebody you said something like, “Oh, I must introduce you to……………” or, “Come and meet……….”.
We do this because we really want the individual we are in conversation with to meet to the person that we value so much.  We have a great desire to want to connect them; we want them to get to know each other because we feel it is so very important.
Andrew brought his brother to Jesus. And when Jesus saw him, he said, “Simon son of John, you will be called Cephas.” John 1:42
Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. John 1: 45 – 46
Introducing people is a perfectly natural thing for us to do.  The fact is that we do it very often, and we do it without thinking about it.  The question that we should be asking ourselves is, “Isn’t that how we should be when it comes to letting people know about Jesus?
Witnessing I believe is quite possibly the Christian believers greatest fear.  From conversations and teaching many people on the subject of one to one evangelism, I have discovered that most of this fear is involved with a concern that people will judge us for the wrong reasons and end up possibly even avoiding us.
We have a natural tendency to want to preserve friendships and relationships and worry about damaging them.  It was once said, that we care more about friendship than we actually care about our friends.  It’s very that this is the case when it comes to witnessing to people who are close to us.
In times that we do feel fearful, we need to remember this important scripture. Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe” Proverbs 29: 25
It is a wonderful reassurance to know that when we are afraid, or are a little worried we can rest assured that when we put our trust in Jesus He will always keep us safe.  Want a promise!
I read recently that witnessing is one of the most neglected commands in all of Scripture.  We know in many cases that bible reading and prayer are also disregarded by many Christians.  Experience tells me that witnessing has to be the least practiced of all.
As a result of meeting with Jesus, Andrew, realised something that was very important.  It was the fact that he mustshare his good news with his brother, Simon. We also read that Phillip did the same with Nathaniel.
Key point: When someone has tasted and seen that the Lord is good, their most natural response is to want to share Jesus with others.
Andrew and Philip both went and found Peter and Nathaniel to tell them about what had happened.  The reality is, that when someone has tasted and seen that the Lord is good, their most natural response is to want to share Jesus with others.
Andrew and Philip were so convinced that Jesus was the one that they didn’t just tell people about it; he took them to meet Jesus in person.  This is a great example for us as we know from research that people are more likely to come to church for the first time if the person who invites them actually meets them and goes with them.
When we are offering an invitation, all we are saying to the person is “Come and see”.  It is not a complicated evangelism strategy.  Just a simple polite invitation to an event or meeting when we ask something like, “Come and see what happens, I am sure you’ll enjoy it”.  It’s not a pressure question; it’s just a friendly request. “Why not come and see”?
I think that the interesting point to note is that immediately after Andrew and Philip found Christ they quickly became concerned that others should find Him as well. When we come to know Jesus as our saviour, the immediate impulse we have is to tell someone about the one who saved us from a lost eternity.
From teaching personal evangelism, I have learned is that sometimes it can often be easier for us to speak to someone else’s brother or sister because we feel less pressure.  Family relationships can often make witnessing difficult, but we must be concerned for those who need salvation in our own families and don’t know Jesus.  We need to pray for opportunities and open doorways to let those that we love know about what Jesus can do for them.
It is often the case with new believers that their changed life speaks volumes.  The difference in the way that they live their life is immediately noticeable.  This creates spiritual curiosity and earns them the right to share the good news or even invite someone to church.
In the case of people who have been Christians for some time.  We should set an example of consistency and live an evangelistic lifestyle with the love of Jesus shineingfor people to see.  If we show love first, opportunities will come.
When Andrew and Philip basically said “Come and see” they were excited, enthusiastic and passionate.
Next time you want to invite somebody to church, why not model the same behaviour and say “Come and see”.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Huh? Contextualising and culture?

Have you noticed the cultural changes that have come about over recent years?  I am approaching my 60th year as I write this.  As I look back over my life I realise that there have been vast transformations to the way that people live today.  Added to that, the church is changing as well.  Some of it is good and some of it could be considered to be the opposite.  The Apostle Paul demonstrated that he was well aware of cultural differences when he spoke to the philosophers of his day.
As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,” he said. Acts 17: 2-3
As the way of life continues to change, we need to be mindful of the ways that we communicate the Gospel so that it is effective.  I am not saying that we alter the message so that it becomes easier to hear because it is more acceptable and palatable.  I am making the important point that we need to be more culturally relevant and contextualise what we are communicating.
A simple way of explaining culture would be to say that it is, “The way of life of a group of people”.
Key point: There are cultural differences right on our doorstep, in the towns and cities where we live
You probably have met people who go on holidays to different countries explaining that they would like to experience a different culture.  There will of course, be many differences between a western country compared to places like Africa and the Far East for example. I believe that we need to remember is the fact that there are cultural differences right on our doorstep in the towns and cities where we live.
The trend in recent years, when discussing methods of evangelism has been to consider the roles of modernity and post-modernity in society.  In other words how modern culture has changed over the years and its effect on people hearing, understanding and appropriating the Gospel message.
In my role as a teacher of adults over the years, I became aware that younger people viewed the world and tended to think quite differently from the way that I did.  Very often they would have a completely different outlook on life with more liberal views and a very different use of language.  Besides that, today people are more aware of religious differences as well as having more modern views on marriage, gender and much more.
The fact is though, that all people need Jesus. There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” Acts 4: 12
It makes good sense then to consider the way that we share the message of the Gospel so that people are more willing to listen.  We can open the door for doing that on a one to one basis, by building relationships and bridges so that we can share our faith with people who have developed trust and faith in us.
When opportunities do arise and we are able to talk about Jesus, it is worth considering contextualising the message we share so that the Gospel can do its work.
Contextualisation is a way to tailor the presentation of the Gospel message to the wider sociological context in order to achieve a greater understanding and, therefore, a greater acceptance of it.  In other words, to consider how other people live so that we can communicate in a way that is relevant and understandable.
For example, I could stand on a street corner with a microphone in an area that is culturally different from my own shouting, “Jesus can sort your life out.  He loves you and He wants to live in your hearts. He really does”!
As believers, we know that all of that is true.  Jesus can get our lives into order when we accept Him, and we understand that He definitely desires to come into our hearts.  We also know without a doubt that He loves us because He took our place on the cross when He died to make a way for us to have eternal life with Him.
Making the statement about Jesus sorting out our lives in the way I have said, would probably mean that it would go right over many people’s heads because it is quite possible that they had never heard the Gospel before, or even be aware of who Jesus is.  So it is vital that we not only think about what we say, as well as how we say it so that we can reach people who need Jesus.
Today some churches refuse to adapt music or programs to their surrounding cultures. The Gospel truth always remains, but very often it is fixed in a rigid framework that hardly allows any room to contextualise. At the other end of the scale, there can be over adaptation where the message is presented in ways that are more easily understood by the people who are listening, but the truth is sometimes compromised.  Without a doubt, the latter is dangerous.
It is evident then that we need to find a balance.  We must be able to present the message in ways that are easily understood while ensuring that the truth remains distinct from untruth. It is essential that the truth of the Gospel must always remain while aiming to share it in a culturally relevant manner, making no attempt to “sanitise or sweeten” the message of the cross in order to avoid offending people. “But we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” 1 Corinthians 1.23
Scripture shows us that Daniel and his three friends were fully immersed in the Babylonian culture.  However, they did not give in to any influences that could have drawn them away from their God. They were willing to engage, which earned them an audience with the Babylonian king. We know that their refusal to compromise truth eventually led to the king’s acknowledgement of God.
When Paul spoke to the people in Athens in Acts 17, he made use of the Athenian style of argument and speaking as well as using their own writers to make his point. In other words, Paul understood Greek culture and contextualised the Gospel in order to share it effectively.
Take a moment and consider how you share the Gospel.  Do you need to be more aware of culture and contextualising?

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Are you a space invader when you share the gospel?

How do you feel when a stranger or someone that you don’t know very well invades your personal space and stands too close to you?  Does it make you feel very uncomfortable, even to the point that makes you take a step back to maintain a comfortable distance?
“He that wins souls is wise” Proverbs 11:30
“Behave wisely in relation to the outside world, buying up your opportunities” Colossians 4: 5 Weymouth New Testament
I have seen this happen in churches many times over the years. People are so happy to see a new person arrive that they sometimes forget about normal social boundaries. They become personal space invaders without realising what they are doing.
I have even witnessed a first-time church visitor being greeted with a full-on frontal body hug accompanied by a sloppy kiss on the cheek. The person looked horrified and they never returned.
It is the Holy Spirit that convicts hearts and His word never returns to Him void. Being aware of the way you interact with a person can be the open door to build a bridge so that you can witness for Christ. It could give you the opportunity to share your faith. Sharing your testimony of salvation or the Gospel is a powerful way to be used by the Lord.
An example of space invading would be travelling on a busy train.  The carriage you are on is pretty full with a couple of empty seats left.  At the next stop, a few more travellers get on board and move towards the area where you are seated because there is a space next to you.  At this point, you deliberately fail to make eye contact with the person coming nearer to you and you may even make your body spread out and carefully place your newspaper on the empty seat while thinking, “Oh please don’t sit next to me”.  It is also very likely that you have experienced similar feelings when you have been in a busy cinema.
“Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity” Colossians 4: 5 New American Standard 1977
The truth is that most people are like this.  When strangers keep about four feet away from us, we subconsciously feel comfortable and safe.  Scientists and psychologists believe that these feelings stem from the days of evolution.  I firmly believe that these natural instincts are the design of God.
Paul was absolutely right when he wrote about behaving wisely.  We do need to be careful about the way that we act toward outsiders or unsaved.  Importantly with regards to the way that we live our lives.  For instance, do we have a good testimony that gives us credibility when we witness to those people who know us?   See my
See my blog “Are you a credible witness”? http://lifelettercafe.com/2016/02/are-you-a-credible-witness/
I believe another view of interpreting the scripture is the way that we behave in conversation with people.  Especially those that may be new to us.  In my communication classes, I often ask my students if they are aware of how their behaviour and body language effects people around them.
From experience, I have discovered that in many cases that people are completely unaware of how people read and interpret the meaning of what we say through our non-verbal communication. Added to that, people make very quick judgements about us, predominantly about our appearance and the way that we act.
If when witnessing on the streets or an outreach for example, a Christian immediately moved too close to the person they were trying to share the Gospel with. It would be made more difficult because the person goes immediately  go into a defensive mode.
You may not do this, but it is worth checking.
Some years ago I went on a door to door evangelism evening with members of my local church.  I was teamed up with a man that was quite a few years older than me.  We knocked on our first door which was answered by an elderly lady.  My colleague didn’t move away from the door at all after he had finished knocking, staying in the same place.  The lady was surprised to find my smiling friend standing so close to the door, which made her take two steps back. She held the door handle and arm’s length so that she was about 5 feet away from us.  You will not be surprised to learn that we didn’t spend very long with her.
It is really critical to understand the use of proxemics or proximity as it is known in communication psychology.  Being aware of how this can have a dramatic effect on the response or reaction of the person we are in conversation with will make us more effective.
In today’s multicultural society we need to realise that this can change with regards to differing ethnic groups. In Western society, there are four zones or distances that people use below conscious levels to determine how comfortable they feel in the presence of people.  These are as follows:
The public zone: This area starts at about 10 feet plus.  It is very often the distance that teachers and lecturers and even preachers use to get their message across.  Because people are further away, the speaker will have to exaggerate their body language movements in order to communicate more effectively.
The social or acquaintances zone: if in general terms this tends to be at around four feet.  At this distance, people will sometimes introduce themselves to strangers by shaking their hands and then immediately move back out to the zone where they feel more comfortable.  It also means that during conversation neither party needs to shout or raise their voice.
The personal zone: This starts at the area of approximately 1½ to 4 feet and is an area where you experience a degree of feeling comfortable. It is believed to be the most appropriate for when people are in conversation. In this zone, it is much easier to be able to see the other person’s eye movements and expressions, as well as their overall body language.
The friendship or intimate zone: This area, under 1 ½ feet is only for people that you close to, such as family, courting couples or close friends. Immediately entering the space of a person that you do not have a close relationship with can be extremely disturbing.
Having conversations in the personal zone, without the person moving away from you is a very good sign that they feel comfortable with you. This can lead on to them allowing you to move in closer and pray for them.
Be aware of proximity.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Does my body language matter when I share the Gospel?

The way that we communicate and interact on a one to one basis is very important. Recent discoveries in communication tell us that the words that we use are very important.  Even more than that, the tonality that we use when we speak and the way that we utilise our body language can have a dramatic effect on the people we are speaking with.

Whether we like it or not, people make assumptions about us according to the way that we behave. Our body language is simply a range of signals that we give off that relate to how we think or feel about something. It is nonverbal communication, where our thoughts, intentions, or feelings are communicated and expressed by physical behaviours such as our facial expressions, body posture, gestures, eye movement, touch and the use of space or proximity. We all give off body language signs without realising it most of the time. Very often we are also unaware that below conscious levels we are constantly reading the signals that people give while we are communicating with them.

The scripture below is a very interesting one, as well as being one of my very favourites.

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone”. Colossians 4: 5-6 NIV



Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don’t miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out. Colossians 4: 5-6 Message. 

This scripture can be interpreted in a number of ways.  I am going to look at it on the basis of witnessing for Christ.  Especially when you consider the fact that it is something that Jesus commanded each one of us to do.

Other findings from communication studies have produced facts that have become widely known.  Understanding this information will certainly improve the way that we interact with others.

The first area is that of congruence.  When someone is using communication that is congruent, it basically means that while they are talking on a face to face basis, the words they are using, their tone of voice and their body language are all in harmony or agreement.  In other words, they are all saying the same thing.

A simple example would be to ask you to imagine me not being congruent while telling my wife Desiree that I love her.  If while saying “I really love you”, I used a tone of voice that demonstrated I was unsure, I didn’t make direct eye contact and shook my head from side to side at the same time it would be obvious that my communication was certainly not congruent.

It is essential then that we do our best to ensure that when we share the gospel with an individual or a group of people, that we make sure that our communication is congruent. When we are intentional about what we say as we witness and rely on the Holy Spirit to help us it means our effectiveness is sharpened.

A good question to ask ourselves is, “When I share the Gospel, do I really sound like I believe what I am saying and does my body language also demonstrate that belief”?  This is very important when we understand how people take in and comprehend what we are saying.

When we share the gospel with somebody, especially scripture, we need to stand on the word of God that says, For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” Hebrews 4: 12

Key Point: The word of God is powerful, and we should expect something positive to happen when we share it

Experience has shown me that it will be even more powerful if we look and sound like we believe it in our interactions.

When we talk to people on a face to face basis, we know from research that people form an understanding of what we are saying in the following ways:

Words: only 7% on what we say is comprehended from the words are we use in conversation.  This may surprise you but the facts are now well known.

Tonality: this area accounts for 38% of our comprehension. The way that we sound when we speak really does make a huge difference.

Body language: is by far the largest area because 55% of our understanding is through our reading of it.  The way we stand, the way that we use our arm and hand gestures as well as the expressions on our faces when we speak can have an enormous impact when we share the gospel message.

Think about it for a moment. That means that 93% of a conversation isn’t really understood by the words we are using.  You’ve probably heard the saying, “It’s not what you say, but it’s the way that you say it”.

In my communication classes, I explain that we are all experts on the understanding of the tonality of a person’s voice, or by reading body language.  Many of us don’t realise that we are able to do this, so I will give you a few common examples.

To read a person’s tonality we don’t always need to be face to face.  I’m pretty certain that at one time you have telephoned somebody close to you, and when they answered your call, the sound of their voice made you ask the question, “Are you OK”?

If I was to come home from work to find my wife standing in our entrance hall in a particular way, I may instantly say without even thinking about it, “What’s the matter”?  Or, if a salesperson was trying to sell me a product or service without making direct eye contact with me, I would immediately detect that something was wrong and start to become suspicious.  We all do this, every one of us, every time we communicate with people.  So it would be na├»ve of us to think that people don’t read us as we speak to them.

I am only touching on this because it really is a huge subject.  I will go through different aspects of this in more detail in future blogs.

How do you think that people read you when you speak to them?  When you’re speaking, is what you’re saying congruent or are you producing a mixed message that creates confusion?

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Complicated, Complex and Convoluted

Have you ever met people who seem to explain things in a really complicated way? 
I am not only talking about the Gospel, because it can involve any subject. I have met individuals over the years who enthusiastically spoke about their subject in such a way that they used terms and phrases that often seemed to go over my head.
On occasions, people can also combine their technical knowledge with a rapid speech pattern which leaves me even more confused. They are so involved in what they have to say that they don’t realise that are losing me.
When we communicate the gospel message it is very important to consider how we may sound to our listener. Firstly, are we easy to understand? Could a child comprehend what we are saying? Do we share our message in the form of a conversation or, do we just keep on talking in the hope that the message will get through?
As well as being an evangelist, I teach communication-based subjects to adult classes. During sessions, I will often go to great lengths to explain that effective communication is a learned a skill. It is something we can all develop and improve upon. Time and effort spent in this area will ensure that we are much more effective when we share what Jesus did for us.
Key point: The gospel message is basically simple one. We need to make sure that we don’t over complicate it.
Essentially, the message of the gospel simple one. As ambassadors for Christ, we need to make every effort to ensure that we don’t make it more difficult to understand than it needs to be. We need to have a plan in mind so that we keep things simple.
“The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.” Psalm 119:130
“And when I came to you, brothers and sisters, proclaiming to you the testimony of God [concerning salvation through Christ], I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom [no lofty words of eloquence or of philosophy as a Greek orator might do]” 1 Corinthians 2:1 AMP
A while ago, I attended an evangelists networking event where I listened to a great communicator who explained the gospel in this way. He basically said, “Jesus was born and lived in sinless life. He died for our sins at Calvary. He rose again after three days. He did all of this so that we might spend eternity with him”. He finished off by saying, “That is the Gospel, don’t mess with it”. On hearing that I remember thinking to myself, “That’s good advice”.
There are many people who have had a great influence on my life. One of them is the evangelist Marilyn Harry. She has an amazing ability to be able to present the most complicated subjects in a way that a young child could easily understand. It’s no wonder that through the many years of her ministry that she has seen many people acknowledge Jesus is lord of their lives. I have known her for a long time I know and that she gives all the Glory to God.
As a young salesperson, part of my job involved explaining and selling complicated financial investment products. I was taught that during the presentations that I should occasionally ask questions like, “Does that make sense”?, or, “Do you follow me”? This simple approach always seemed to work because clients would always let me know if they didn’t understand. The important part being, my presentation was part of a conversation and not a lecture that literally went over my customers head”.
We were also taught an important concept that was, “Telling was not selling”. It was drummed into us that if your presentation was complicated or you droned on and on, you would eventually talk yourself out of the sale and effectively buy the product back from the customer.
Let me make it clear, in no way are we trying to sell the gospel. But truth is that the principle still applies. If we complicate the message, or we don’t involve the listener in the conversation it is very likely that we will lose the person we are talking to. It is really vital then, that we keep things simple and think about the way that we explain the most important truth there is there to know.
The seven C’s of communication explains that  conversation should be:
Clear: Be clear about your message. If you’re not sure, then your listener won’t be sure either.
Concise: When you are concise in your communication, you keep to the point and keep it simple.
Concrete: When your message is concrete, it will be easier for your listener to understand.
Correct: In simple terms, correct communication is good communication.
Coherent: Using coherent communication means that your listener will easily be able to understand what you’re saying.
Complete: if your message is complete, your listener will have all the information they need to understand.
Courteous: Make sure that your conversation is open, friendly and above all honest.
Be objective and ask yourself the following questions. How do I come across when I share the gospel message? Do I talk too much? Do I overwhelm my listener? Do I ask questions to get understanding? When I share the gospel am I making a conversation or am I just telling the message.
Like me, you probably had a teacher at school that used to teach only through the medium of speech. In other words, they would just go on and on and leave the class in a bored stupor. For the first two years of my senior schooling, I loved the subject of geography. However, my enjoyment of the subject dramatically declined when a new teacher who taught us just by speaking took over the class. We need to make that we are not the same.
Keep it lively, be enthusiastic and keep it simple.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Are you a credible witness?


Many people that I speak to have a great desire to reach their neighbours or co-workers with the Gospel. I find that they want to know how they can witness effectively to colleagues at work or to their neighbours During our discussions many people share how they have often struggled to get a point across when they felt an opportunity arose. While others have explained how frustrated they felt when it seemed that no one really wanted to listen.

I sometimes answer them by asking a question which is, “Do you think you have gained the credibility so that people will listen to you”? It is a question that is worth asking ourselves on occasion. It will mean asking ourselves whether we have demonstrated that we have the quality of being believable or are worthy of trust. In witnessing to someone that we know, it is absolutely critical. 

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” Collisions 4: 5-6

“Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise” Ephesians 5: 15

Building good relationships in order to witness is a type of witnessing is that is sometimes known as relational evangelism. It is the personal type of witnessing that we carry out amongst our work colleagues or close friends letting the light in our lives shine so that people who know us can see the way we live our lives on a regular basis.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:13-16

 Let me make it clear. Jesus didn’t say, “Go and build relationships, then preach the Gospel to all creation”. We must still use every other method to reach people. This longer term approach is not a modern replacement for street preaching, door knocking, using tracts amongst many others. These are all very effective if they are done in the right way.  

Using the type of approach, we must consider that very often in order for someone to listen to the Gospel, we must first earn a right to speak. It makes good sense then to remember that our neighbours and work colleagues are really watching us. If our lives consistently point towards Christ and what we believe in a good way, it will provide much-needed credibility for when the opportunity arises.

Key Point Very often in order for someone to listen to the Gospel, we must first earn a right to speak

This is the reason that we are to always be prepared, behaving wisely in our relationships enabling us to take opportunities as they arise. So that it will win us the right to share the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

For some time as an adult lecturer, I taught on communication psychology. On the courses I ran I would often explain a well-known fact which is that: People make assumptions about us according to the way we behave.

It’s absolutely true and we should be mindful of it. People judge us by our appearance, by what we say and what we do. That is why we need to work on building our relationships so that we can earn the credibility to take an opportunity arises.  Lifestyle and relational evangelism focus on doing good, setting a good example so that our lifestyle attracts curiosity. 

For example, imagine that a co-worker was a bit of a gossip and used the odd profane word in conversation. If that person was to share the Gospel with another colleague, there would be an immediate credibility problem because of the way they behaved in work didn’t match up with the way a good Christian should be acting. In other words, they wouldn’t have earned the right to speak. Let alone to get a person to seriously listen.