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EVANGELISM: Conversations about the Gospel Print E-mail
Sharing the Gospel

I.  Introduction:

 We have conversations with people every day.  Some of them are with those who live in our own house.  We talk about schedules, family issues, struggles, etc.  Some of them are with those we work with.  They might include topics like the job, our family life, sports, entertainment, etc.  We might have a few conversations each week with our neighbors.  We talk about our yards, gardens, kids, etc.  We also might have conversations with old friends or new acquaintances or just somebody we meet in line at Wal-Mart.  It is pretty safe to assume that many of these conversations involve us talking to people who may not know the Lord.  The question that I want us to ponder tonight is how can we turn these every-day, normal conversations into opportunities to share the gospel?  How can we take advantage of these occasions to speak the good news to those who may need to hear?

  I recommended the book Questioning Evangelism by Randy Newman to you last week and want to use some of his ideas as we talk tonight.  On this issue of gospel conversations, Newman notes that we are often frustrated with ourselves because “we just don’t have as many evangelistic conversations as we know we should have.  The message that has gripped our hearts and forms the centerpiece of our lives remains unspoken, unshared, and unproclaimed…We wonder why the topic that is so often on our mind is so seldom on our lips.” 1  In order to address this frustration, he encourages us to take the approach of asking more questions and even answering questions with more questions (which he calls “rabbinic evangelism”).  I want to talk some about this approach tonight, but before we get there.  I want to begin with some important preliminary considerations.

II.  Preliminary Considerations:

 A conversation normally involves two parties: you and the other person.  There are things to consider about both of these parties even before the conversation begins.

 A.  You: 
  1.  What do you believe about the gospel?
   a.  What is the Gospel? The simplest way I know to faithfully answer this question is to break it into four areas: God and Creation, Man and the Fall, Christ and Redemption, and our Response (repentance and faith).  By simply explaining each of these areas a person can speak the gospel.  You need to spend time thinking through how you would use this outline to share the gospel with others.
   b.  What is your role?  We have to remind ourselves that we are not trying to save people or ‘close the deal’ or get them to pray a prayer.  No, we are there to share the gospel, the good news that we outlined above.  Only God can save people.  Sure, we can manipulate them to do all kinds of things, but none of that will save them.  Our charge is to speak the gospel, pleading with them to repent and trust in Christ, believing that God can and does save through the spoken word.  We share and He saves.

  2.  What is your motive?  Why do you want to share the gospel with this particular person?  Unfortunately, sometimes we only show interest in sharing because we feel guilty.  Granted, we should feel guilty for not sharing the gospel, but guilt should not be the reason we share.  Rather, we should share because we love God (and His glory) and love people (and want their good).  One of the reasons we do not share as much as we should is because we do not love God or people enough.  I know that is a hard statement, but I fear that it is too often true.  What else explains why we don’t share?  Some would answer that they don’t share because of fear.  But fear is just another form of self-love.  We are afraid that something unfavorable might happen to us (question we can’t answer, awkward relationship, persecution).  Our ‘fear’ excuse is really just a subtle form of pride and self-love.  Rather, we need to love God and love people more.  Pray that the Lord will increase your love for Him and your love for others so much so that you cannot help but look for opportunities to share.
 
 B. Other person:
  You may want to consider what you know about the other person.  At times you  might not know very much (name, place of work, etc.).  At other times you may know a  great deal.  Either way, you do want to consider what you do know and how that might  impact whether or not they are willing to talk with you about the gospel.  Of course,  honestly trying to learn more about a person is a great way to begin a conversation about  the gospel.  In our area, many people profess to be Christians.  Thus, that can be a place  to start.  Never assume that a person really is a follower of Christ just because they claim  to be.  And even if they are, they will not mind talking with you about it.  Hopefully the  conversation can be encouraging to you both.  We do need to exercise some wisdom  when talking to those who are outspokenly hostile to the gospel. 2

III.  Getting Started:

 Of course all of this hinges upon us looking for opportunities to turn a conversation toward the gospel and taking them.  There are unlimited ways to do this.  Newman suggests starting with questions (as the title states).  We can ask genuine questions that tell us more about the person and lead to opportunities to speak about Christ.  For example, you could ask them (especially people in our area) if they go to Church.  You could follow that up with ‘why or why not’?  If they are people who like to talk about family or job (things important to them), then you could ask them what is most important to them and why it is so important.  What are some other common subjects for conversations?  How could we ask questions about these topics that could lead to opportunities to share the gospel?

IV.  Getting to the gospel:

 Once you have asked them certain questions and listened to their responses you may have opportunity to share some of your thoughts on those same questions.  They may not be interested at that time and you can look for further opportunities.  Yet, at some point, you want to get to the gospel.  We must use wisdom in knowing when and how to get there, but we need to get there.  Of course we do not want to be forceful or unnecessarily offensive, but we do need to take opportunities to share.  If we have had several conversations with this person and been genuinely interested in what they had to say, then there is good chance they will be willing to listen to us.  Likewise if our lives have put the gospel on display, then they will be more likely to listen as well.  I often think that the ‘transition’ is the hardest part.  Yet, if we are normally having conversations with others about the gospel and gospel truths, then their will be no real need to ‘transition.’  Rather, talking about Christ will be second nature to us.

V.  Getting done:

 Do not feel the pressure of trying to get someone to ‘make a decision for Christ.’  I encourage you to avoid ‘praying a prayer’ with someone.  Yes, we want people to follow after Christ and be saved, but we know that conversion involves more making a decision or praying a prayer.  Rather, we need to keep the appropriate response to the gospel before people, namely repentance and faith.  We can pray for people and pray that God will grant them faith and repentance and let them pray if they would like.  But we do not need to try and ‘close the deal.’  Only the Lord can do that.  We simply need to make the gospel and the appropriate response to the gospel clear.  If they do profess a desire to follow Christ, then we need to encourage them to get baptized and to get involved in a local Church that teaches the Bible.  We can encourage them to pray and read their Bible (start with the Gospels).  If not, we want to leave the door open for further conversations about the gospel.  We do not have to talk about it in every conversation, but we do want to speak it regularly.

VI.  Conclusion:

 At the end of the day, we must remember that people are desperate for the good news of Christ.  We, as believers, are called to proclaim that news.  Look at 2 Corinthians 5:16-21.  The Lord has entrusted to us the ministry of reconciliation.  We are ambassadors of Christ.  One way that we can fulfill this calling is by speaking the gospel in our every-day, normal conversations.  May we be faithful to do just that for the glory of God and the good of others.  Amen.

1 Randy Newman, Questioning Evangelism (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2004), p. 24.
2 Newman has some thoughts on this, see p. 43ff.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Saturday, 08 April 2017 )

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