Thursday, 24 October 2013

Prepared or unprepared?

I have been doing some evangelism training in the last couple of weeks with a great group of people from my local church. We have had a fantastic time together and some very interesting discussions on the subject of witnessing. How confident are you about sharing your testimony or the Gospel with someone who does not know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour?

“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” Romans 10: 14-15

The responsibility is ours. We cannot rely on other people to do the work. We have been given a job to do that is vitally important and as Christians who love Jesus we are to obey His commands, one of which is to tell people about Him!

Key Point: Remember spending time learning and practising makes a difference.

With that in mind let’s consider once again a question I asked in an earlier blog: does being trained to witness and evangelise make a difference? In sales training I was taught this mantra Prior Preparation and Planning Prevents a Poor Performance. That statement proved to be so true! In my classes I often recount the story of the headmaster’s speech on my first day at secondary school. He gave his regular welcome and then, taking a large pitcher he poured water into an empty glass and explained to the eleven year olds in front of him that ‘you will only get out what you put in’.

The same applies to witnessing. What would happen if you studied and practiced sharing the Gospel or your testimony? Would you have more confidence to share your faith? Experience shows that it certainly does!

Being fully equipped means that a person is thoroughly prepared to do a task effectively. In preaching classes as a young Christian I was given instructions to spend twelve hours to prepare a thirty minute message. This involved time in prayer to seek God for a message, reading and understanding passages of scripture and researching what others have said from books such as commentaries. Finally by preparing the message, privately preaching to oneself followed by yet more prayer.

I have learned that twelve hours of preparation is better than one hour, three hours or even six hours. It definitely makes a difference. I have been in churches where someone has got up to preach and they have explained that God gave them the message the night before. Sometimes God has really given the speaker something from His heart and it is evident to all who listen. On the other hand, I have also heard preachers who have said the same and I have noticed their notes are scribbled on the back of an envelope. Very often the message has been one that is hard to listen to.

The memorable illustration of the pitcher and glass made a lasting impression because of its simple truth -  you only get out of something what you put in. Here are three key points that can be applied to witnessing:

Confidence: The Investment of time in study, practise and evangelism training will increase confidence in your ability to witness effectively. That time spent learning could mean you leading someone to faith. What a privilege!

Your Testimony: The story of your own salvation is a very powerful tool when you witness for Christ, because it is true and it happened to you. People love true stories. Explaining your own story with passion, excitement and conviction opens the hearts of the hearers to the Gospel. God has given each one of us a testimony to share. We must use it! Jesus made a wonderful promise to us:

“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.” Matthew10:32

I encourage students to divide their testimony into five simple and parts:

·        Have a good title for your testimony - it creates interest for the listener.
·        What happened before you came to Christ
·        How you found and accepted Christ
·        What has happened since that time
·        What scriptures sum up your testimony

Use simple bullet points to give a balanced account to share with others, which can be adapted in length depending on the situation. Plus it keeps you focussed and on what you are saying.

Sharing The Gospel: Knowing how to explain the Gospel in a simple and relevant way will dramatically increase your confidence levels. There are many simple methods you can use that are designed to keep you on track, explaining the important facts effectively.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3: 15

If you look through my previous blogs you will find two examples that cover this. They are called:

·        Leading someone to Christ through F.A.I.T.H
·        Help....I want to explain the Gospel

Time spent developing evangelism skills is very worthwhile  and sharing what Jesus has done in YOUR life becomes an exciting and rewarding experience!