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discussionWinter will soon be over and that means increased opportunities to speak with people in our neighborhoods, local stores, community events, parks, etc.  Are you willing to use these opportunities to lead others to Christ?

Pastor McShaffrey offered this class on how to share our faith with others through casual conversation during the winter months of 2013:

 

Cultivating the Desire

The desire to share our faith should flow naturally from a heart filled with love for:

1. God – Having experienced his grace, how can we not speak of all his wondrous works (Psalm 26:6-8, Mark 5:18-19)?

2. Neighbor – Considering that they might be damned, how can we not warn them (Matt. 13:41-42; Luke 16:27-28)?

3. Self – Being a member of God’s representative people, how can we not joyfully fulfill our responsibility (1 Peter 2:9-10)?

Discussion: In which of these areas has our love grown cold and why? What can we do to rekindle our love in these areas?

 

Equipping Ourselves

God equips his witnesses in this world (Acts 1:8) by establishing offices and distributing gifts (Eph. 4:7-16):

1. Apostles and Prophets were called to lay the church’s doctrinal foundation (Eph. 2:20, 4:11a, 1 Tim. 3:15).

2. Pastor-teachers are called to equip the saints by explaining and defending this doctrine (Eph. 4:11b-13, 2 Tim. 4:1-5).

3. Saints are called to become “settled” in this doctrine so they will be effective witnesses (Eph. 4:14-16, 1 Peter 3:15).

Discussion:  What are the dangers of unsettled/unequipped witnesses?  How practically can we better equip ourselves?

 

Dealing with Excuses

There are many different excuses people offer for not sharing their faith, but scripture invalidates them all. Examples:

1. Ignorance – To those who say, “But I don’t know what to say…” the Bible says: Exodus 4:10-12, 1 Cor. 15:3-4

2. Embarrassment –  To those who say, “But I’m just too shy…” the Bible says: Mark 8:38, Matt. 10:32-33

3. Fear – To those who say, “But what if the person reacts negatively…” the Bible says: Prov. 29:25, Luke 10:16

Discussion: What are some of the other excuses we offer? Can we make a commitment tonight to drop all our excuses?

 

Turning Conversations

In John 4:7-26, Jesus masterfully demonstrates how to turn a conversation from things trivial to things eternal:

1. Initiation – Watch for a common experience or interest and begin a conversation (i.e., not a confrontation).

2. Abstraction – Turn the conversation from the actual to the abstract. Leading questions help: “Why do you suppose…?”

3. Application – Introduce biblical truth and apply it directly to the person’s heart. “Here is what God says…”

Discussion: Practice these steps in your study group through role-play simulation based on everyday experiences.

 

Disregarding Diversions

In John 4:7-26, Jesus masterfully demonstrates how to disregard proposed diversions while sharing the gospel:

1. Societal – Jewish rabbis simply did not speak with Samaritan adulteresses (vv. 9 and 27). Jesus disregarded it.

2. Spiritual – This woman had her own religious heritage and opinions on worship (vv. 12, 20). Jesus disregarded it.

3. Sin – This woman would not admit her sin and wanted to defer the discussion (vs. 17, 25). Jesus disregarded it.

Discussion: What other diversions do people propose to avoid the gospel and how can we tactfully disregard them?

 

Trusting Scripture

Sharing scripture with people is the most important and powerful aspect of witnessing (Hebrews 4:12).

1. We should unlearn our slogans (e.g., invite Jesus into your heart, accept him as your personal Lord and Saviour, etc.).

2. We should memorize some scripture (e.g., Romans 3:10, 3:23, 5:8, 6:23, 10:9-11, 10:13, 12:1-2).

3. We should then quote scripture and trust God (Isaiah 55:10-11, Mark 4:11-12).

Discussion: Why do we replace God’s living word with slogans and how can we trust God’s appointed means better?

 

Distributing Tracts

Since the Middle Ages (and especially after Gutenberg’s Press), tracts have proved very useful in the work of evangelism.

1. Tracts acknowledge the distribution of spiritual gifts in the church (Exodus 4:10-17, Ephesians 4:11-12).

2. Tracts allow us to send sinners on their way to ponder their spiritual needs privately (Mark 10:17-22).

3. Tracts should always be distributed legally and with respect for people and their property (1 Peter 2:13-17).

Discussion: Why is it that only some Christian traditions continue to use tracts? What keeps us from using them and why?

 

Discipling Converts

When a convert confesses faith publicly and is added to the church (Acts 2:41-47), the work of discipleship begins:

1. Personal – Mature saints should teach the younger by word and example (1 Tim. 1:2, 2 Tim. 1:5, Titus 2:1-8).

2. Pastoral – Elders are called to shepherd through oversight and instruction (Hebrews 13:17, 2 Tim. 4:2).

3. Peer – Regular participation in church meetings is most necessary for mutual discipleship (Hebrews 10:24-25).

What happens when new converts are not discipled? How can we improve our discipleship of young Christians?

 

Quotes

“I care not where I go, or how I live, or what I endure so that I may save souls. When I sleep I dream of them; when I awake they are first in my thoughts – no amount of scholastic attainment, of able and profound exposition, of brilliant and stirring eloquence can atone for the absence of a deep impassioned sympathetic love for human souls.” [David Brained, 1718-1747]
“If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.” [Charles Spurgeon, 1834-1892]
“A foolish physician he is, and a most unfaithful friend, that will let a sick man die for fear of troubling him; and cruel wretches are we to our friends, that will rather suffer them to go quietly to hell, then we will anger them, or hazard our reputation with them.” [Richard Baxter, 1615-1691]