Thursday, 27 October 2011

What type of Christian witness am I?

What type of Christian witness am I?
Have you ever asked yourself “What type of Christian witness am I”? By that I mean, how exactly do you go about getting the message of the Gospel across to people? We are all different and so naturally the way we share the good news about Jesus will vary too.

Some people are very direct while others have the opposite approach. Here are some different witnessing personality types for you to consider.

Does the way in which you witness fit with any of these descriptions?

Key Point: There will be a method of witnessing that you feel most comfortable using

You may be like me and use many, or even all, of the suggestions listed below. However, there is likely to be one method which you use more than any of the others because it feels the most comfortable way to you and therefore you are more confident with it, too.

1) Confrontational:   Do you confront people's fears or objections in a very direct manner when you are witnessing? Ever been told that you are quite blunt when you share the Gospel? If so, there is a good possibility that you may be like Peter, with a very straight forward and confrontational style.

Jesus was like this at times, when He asked direct questions and expected direct responses from His listeners, such as the occasion when He asked the disciples a vitally important question: 

"But what about you?" He asked. "Who do you say I am?"  Matthew 8: 29

2) Invitational: Both the Samaritan woman and Levi are great examples of this when they invited people to meet Christ. Some Christians take this approach, inviting friends and others to church services or church events and activities, hoping that they will be able to see God in action. It is a ‘low pressure’ way of bringing someone along to a meeting. Some Christians are very successful in inviting others always managing to bring someone along with them to church for almost any event. My wife Desiree is outstanding at this method, as people respond readily to her outgoing and friendly manner when she invites them.

"Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them." Luke 5: 29

"Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" John 4: 29

3) Intellectual: Many people have an intellectual viewpoint often developed through their education or working environment. Paul the apostle favoured this approach to witnessing. In fact, he often used logic to get his message across. An excellent demonstration of this is found in the book of Acts where he gave logical reasons to believe in the "Invisible God”. 

"For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead." 
Acts 17:31

4) Testimonial: Sharing your personal testimony of salvation through Jesus Christ is extremely powerful.  Explaining the way God helped you through some tough times or how you came to realise that Jesus was a real person often gets people to listen with interest, because people love to hear stories, especially ones that are true. If you share in this way, then you are similar to the blind man in John 9 when he told the Pharisees he believed because Jesus healed him. His incredible testimony helped others see that Jesus really was the Way. 

"The man answered, "Now that is remarkable! You don't know where He comes from, yet He opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does His will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing." John 9:30-33

5) Bridge Builder: Some Christians much prefer to witness individually. Sometimes there can be a period of time before they are ready to share their faith. They like to get to know the people that they share their faith with, and they tailor their conversation to each person. Jesus often did this with small groups as well as individually. He showed this with the Canaanite woman, when initially He appeared uninterested in her request for help. Then He responded to her with these words:

"Then Jesus answered, 'Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.' And her daughter was healed from that very hour" Matthew 15:2

6) Service: Some Christians prefer to be examples of Christ through their lives, allowing the light of Jesus to shine for all to see: in other words, living out an evangelistic lifestyle. Dorcas was a very good example of this through helping the poor and leading by example. Many missionaries witness through service rather than through words alone. Witnessing in this way speaks volumes as there is a practical demonstration of the love of God behind the actions. 

"In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas), who was always doing good and helping the poor." Acts 9:36

Which style matched your personality?

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Do you possess this good Christian habit?

Years ago I worked in a dynamic direct sales business that thrived on its salespeople building a positive mental attitude. We used phrases which kept our minds from negative “Stinking thinking” as we called it. Every day we would repeat, “You can if you think you can”, “What the mind can conceive it will achieve” and other such mantras. One positive phrase that has stuck in my memory is about creating good habits. My boss always said “If you do something consecutively for sixteen days, it will become a habit”. 

Food for thought! Whether this is true or not I suppose we will never know. Recently I have been pondering about what sort of habits a Christian should have when it comes to witnessing. 

Key Point: Purpose to have an evangelistic lifestyle for sixteen consecutive days. Expect things to happen.

As believers we are representatives of Christ and as such we ought to be ready and willing to share the good news of the Gospel. Jesus has given each of us a job to do which should become our way of life. There are many scriptures that I could use to back this up. Here are just two that shed some light on the subject:

We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us.” 2 Corinthians 5:20

“I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.” Acts 26:17-18

Witnessing about Jesus should be a natural thing for a Christian. We readily tell others about how we spend our time – where we have been, who with, food we have enjoyed and films we have seen. We tell them about what we feel is important or of interest. We should all be ready and able to share the Gospel with someone just as easily!

Here are five suggestions which are helpful when it comes to effective witnessing. Using the scale below, assess your current position on each of the statements. My aim is to inspire Christians to obey the command of Jesus and “Go”. Be honest with your self when you answer.


Cold             Cool            Warm            Hot          Boiling
 0 --- 1 ---- 2 --- 3 --- 4 ---- 5 ---- 6 ---- 7 ----- 8 ---- 9 ---- 10

Lifestyle witnesses:

Are prayed up: One of my mentors in evangelism says that prayer and witnessing go hand in hand. Praying for people you know and asking God for opportunities is essential. If you ask Him sincerely, God will put people in your path who will be ready to hear the message. What score did you give yourself?

Are trained, studied and prepared: This is a vital area if you want to be effective. Studying the word and what it has to say about winning the lost; undergoing training, reading books, listening to evangelistic preaching and spending time with soul winners all help you learn how to share the Gospel.

“He that wins souls is wise." Proverbs 11:30. 
It makes sense that mixing with people who witness will help you considerably. 

“He who walks with the wise grows wise” 
Proverbs 13: 20 

Are ready to take up opportunities: Soul winners share Christ at any time and anywhere; are always open to talking about Jesus at the office (if the situation allows), in a restaurant, on a plane, over the phone - in fact at any and every opportunity! Are you like that? How did you rate yourself here?

Are never worried about the results: These people understand the fact that they cannot save anyone. They appreciate that people come to Christ only through the work of the Holy Spirit. They just share the Gospel, believe in its power and leave the Holy Spirit to do the work.

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes”  Romans 1:16 

How did you score?

They see their interactions with people as Divine appointments: They begin each day with a sense of anticipation and view themselves as instruments of God’s grace to others.
They let the light of Jesus shine through the way they live and will often seek to make the most of their encounters with people, purposely leading a conversation into spiritual areas.

Do people see Jesus in you? Do you make the most of these divine appointments? How did you score yourself on this area?

The answers you gave may reveal a need to spend more time and prayer in order to become the ready and prepared witness that Jesus wants you to be. Will praying about witnessing and studying what God has to say on the subject  for a period of time, (perhaps even 16 days) make a difference to the way you think about it? Would it even become a habit?

What do you think?

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Are you grateful for the cross?

When someone does a big favour for you, or perhaps gives you a lovely present, do you find it easy to show your gratitude? How grateful would you be if a fireman saved you from certain death in a house fire? Or perhaps a person pushed you out of the way of a bus that was going to run you over? How would you demonstrate your thanks?

You would surely agree that after this you would tell everyone about your amazing near death experience. People would listen because you would enthusiastically explain every detail of the dramatic event that took place.

Well, if you know Jesus as Lord of your life then you have been saved from a lost eternity away from God in a place of torment. If you don’t already do so, shouldn’t you tell people about it? I will quote key scriptures repeatedly as they are the truth and help us share important points effectively.

“Go and preach the Gospel to all creation” Matthew 16: 15

When Jesus gave the command in the well known scripture above, He wasn’t just talking to the disciples. No, He was talking to you and me too. The other point to remember is that He wasn’t making a suggestion. In other words “Go” is not a discussion point. Yes, He was giving us a command, but knowing because of our love for Him that we should be ready and willing to act upon His will. 

"If you love me, you will obey what I command” 
John 14: 15

This scripture leaves us with an important question that needs to be asked:

How do you demonstrate your gratitude for the cross?

The simple fact is that unless we receive Christ as Lord and Saviour by repenting of our sin, we really are destined for a miserable lost eternity in a place that was prepared for Satan and his cohorts. Jesus died a horrific death so that we might be saved and go to heaven. The question is how do we show that we are grateful for the work of the Cross and how is that outworked in our Christian walk?

Key Point: Your gratitude for the work of the cross should be outworked in your life and be there for all to see

One of my favourite scriptures is in Jeremiah 29: 11 where we read something amazing. God says through the prophet:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” Jeremiah 29: 11

I love reading that verse. I am very grateful that the Lord is saying it to me and you. No doubt you feel the same way as I do when you read about the amazing plan that God has for you. For many, a good part of a person’s gratitude is shown by communing in prayer, praising God, worshipping Him and spending time in His word.

When we consider the mighty redemptive work that Jesus did through his death for us at Calvary, shouldn’t it compel us to witness?

As I write this, the words of the old Hymn “At the cross” come to mind. The words of the verses and the chorus explain why we should be sharing the Gospel. Hymn writers wrote out of their experience of coming to faith in Jesus Christ. I love to read these because they are full of the Gospel.

Alas! and did my Saviour bleed
And did my Sov’reign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?
But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give myself away,
’Tis all that I can do.
At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!

A “Witness” is a person who testifies for a cause or has personal knowledge of a particular event that has taken place. A Christian witness must have a first-hand experience of Christ. You will know that hearsay is not acceptable if you are a witness in a court of law. You must tell the facts as they are.

As believers we need to be able to express verbally and also witness practically - through our lifestyle, our work, our relationships, our attitudes and through the problems and the many challenges in life that will inevitably come our way.

Sadly, too many believers have stopped becoming ‘fishers of men’. We must make His great commission our mission. If we really love Jesus and are thankful for what He did for us at Calvary, we will and that includes getting involved in activity to grow individually within the church as well as witnessing outside of church.

Our gratitude should be demonstrative. At the very least, we should be as keen to share the Gospel as much as we are when speak to others of how we saved money on petrol, or discovered a good restaurant.

We had a lovely meal the other day. We experienced friendly service, a nice atmosphere, excellent food and above all it was at a good price. We have told quite a number of friends about it. I am sure you have done the same when you have a good experience.

Jesus knew what He was going to have to endure to purchase our salvation, yet He still did it. As the old saying goes, “While He was on the cross, you were on His mind”.

In the light if this, the very least we can do is to tell people about Him.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Have you left your light on? What is an evangelistic lifestyle? (Part Two)

We can all get a little stressed from time to time and situations come along which test us. It is on occasions like these that others look at us and notice how we handle problems and trials.
The saying that ‘we are often the only Bible that people read’, may be a cliché to some people, but I believe that it is very true. Do people that you know see a different “You” when you are not at church? When people find out that you are a Christian, it should not be a surprise, but rather a confirmation that there is something different about you.
“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.” Matthew 5:14-15
This scripture came to mind immediately as I started to write this. Part of an evangelistic lifestyle means letting others see Jesus in our lives. Having the Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts changes us. The change should be evident in our lifestyle for everyone to notice – not just the people at church on a Sunday or at prayer meetings.
Lifestyle Evangelists let the light of Jesus in their lives shine for all to see: In a fellowship that I used to attend, part of my responsibility as a leader was to open up the building and ensure everything was ready for people when they arrived. I did this every Sunday for a number of years. This meant I needed to leave home early and my wife Desiree and the children would arrive later, nearer the start of the service. Recently we moved to a new church and so now we travel to meetings together as a family.
At church we have all seen people arriving with big smiles on their faces saying “Good Morning Pastor”, “God Bless You” looking and sounding like very godly people. It is the same for me, but I must admit that over the preceding years I forgot what it was like getting my children ready and driving to church.
On the second Sunday at our new fellowship we were running late and the children were taking ages to get ready. They had been slow to get out of bed, then they had been forgetting things, losing things and it seemed they were doing it intentionally.
Finally - as if to test me - they wanted a last minute visit to the bathroom! My stress level kept escalating and when they were all at the front door eventually ready to go, I roared “Get in the car”!!! (I am certain that the roar came from my Celtic roots). It ended up that we weren’t late for the meeting at all, and though agitated on our ten minute journey, I arrived and managed to put a big smile on my face and said “Good Morning Pastor”, “God Bless You”. All parents, I am sure, will have experienced similar events in their own families.
This is a simple example, but the point I am making is that we need to reflect the light of Jesus in our lives, in all situations. People do genuinely watch us to see how we react to such challenges. You will have heard people say, perhaps jokingly, “I thought you were supposed to be a Christian”, as if we are meant to be perfect. The truth is though, when someone says that, it means that they really are watching you!
Key Point: People are watching what you do and say especially in difficult situations and challenges
When we shine the light of Jesus in our lives it does something quite amazing: It points people towards Him.
Thankfully, people didn’t comment if they saw or heard me as I raised my voice on that Sunday morning. The way we act and handle situations really does speak volumes. I am far from perfect and have got it wrong on many occasions and I probably will again.
Lifestyle evangelism is constant: An evangelistic lifestyle reveals a great deal about the reality of our faith and includes all aspects of our lives; our ambition, approach, accountability - all with the aim to do one thing:  to point people to our  Saviour, Jesus Christ. Our lives should consistently reflect our belief and trust in God to help us, whatever our circumstances. It is not easy, but relying on God’s word to guide us and remaining faithful in prayer daily will help considerably.  
“Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
Matthew 5:16
Over the years I have been blessed to lead people to Christ through preaching, testifying and on a one to one basis sharing the Gospel. It made me pause and think, “Does my life reflect Jesus in the way it should, and does it point people to Christ?” The truthful answer is “In part” because there is much room for improvement.  
How much light does your lifestyle show?
It is a tough, but necessary question to ask ourselves. Living an evangelistic lifestyle is something that needs to be worked at, always mindful that we should ‘walk the talk’. Let’s pray that the light of Jesus in our lives will reveal the truth to others who will see, hear and believe our faith is real because of how we live. We must be a light wherever we are, whoever we are with and in whatever we say and do.
It’s a conscious decision that we must make, each day of our lives. Just like the old song goes:
“This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine!”