Ken Hemphill: LEADING OUR FRIENDS TO CHRIST
I know that the title of this chapter may be intimidating to some readers. You are thinking about the E word—“evangelism” —and just thinking about it is causing your palms to sweat. Take a deep breath and relax. I promise this will not be another guilt-laden message designed to make you feel bad for not doing more to lead friends to Christ. What we are going to discuss is something you can do and that you will enjoy doing.
The E word may conjure up all sorts of images that are unpleasant and threatening. We may think of someone “button-holing” a stranger with the assertion that they must “turn or burn,” “get right or get left.” We may think that evangelism is too confrontational for our temperament. We may think that to be effective in leading a friend to Christ we have to go through a long process of memorization. The presentation is then the recitation of a string of scriptures followed by a few transition phrases that we recite as quickly as possible so we won’t forget the next point in the outline.
Please understand that I have no desire or intention of making fun of anyone’s approach to sharing their faith with a friend. I admire anyone who cares enough to make any effort to tell someone about Christ. Further, I know from experience that God can use what we consider to be “feeble attempts” to bring someone to faith in His Son. I simply want to dispel the notion that there is only one way to effectively share one’s faith and thus participate in the wonderful privilege of leading a friend to Christ.
Our goal in this chapter is to engage in a Bible study that will help us understand how believers work together to bring friends to Christ. I hope you noticed two things about the title to this chapter. First the pronoun “our” is plural. Most effective evangelistic efforts involve teamwork. Working as a team provides encouragement and partnership that makes evangelism a pleasure and privilege rather than a burden to be borne and a task to be accomplished. Think of evangelism as the privilege of telling someone about your best friend and your greatest discovery. Our part is to share our story of how Christ has changed our lives and then leave the results with God. Remember the truth of 1 Corinthians 3:6-7, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (NIV).
The second point of interest in the title is the word “friend.” In the first chapter we spoke of people you encounter, in the second chapter we spoke of guests who come to your small group or church for a visit. Now we are talking about sharing good news with a friend. Our goal is to move people step by step to a personal relationship with Christ.
What could be more natural than sharing good news with a friend? Just think about it. You discover a new restaurant that is really good. What is your first reaction? You call a friend because you want them to join in your good fortune.
Those who measure such things tell us that less than 10% of persons who have a personal relationship with Christ have ever told anyone about that relationship. Why do you think that is the case? I don’t think any true believer wants their friend, relative, neighbor, or (even) enemy to spend eternity in hell. The problem is that we have created an approach that seems for many to be somewhat artificial, forced, and intrusive. We have made it a program of the church which makes it the “specialty” of a few well-trained, hearty souls. The green beret of the Christian community!
Ken Hemphill is the author of several books related to Sunday School. He will be speaking at several of our All Star Sunday School Training events. We have several dates we are looking for dates in the Fall. See http://allstarsundayschool.com/