Let’s first go back to the issue of belief and motivation. Do you really believe that Christ is the only way of salvation? Are you then more motivated to share the gospel than anything else?
Look at two men who were indeed highly motivated. About 2,000 years ago, Peter and John were in prison. Their crime? They had been telling people about Jesus.
These two rabble-rousers appeared next before Jewish leadership to present their case. After hearing them, the leaders made a decision. They would let Peter and John go free if they would just keep their mouths shut about Jesus.
So what was their response? Here are their words directly from Acts 4:19–20: “Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide, for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
Did you get that? They were unable to stop speaking about Jesus. They couldn’t stop speaking then, but many Christians today won’t start speaking.
So let’s go from theory to action. What are you to do? Specifically in the context of your church trying to reach your community, how do you get serious about reaching Jerusalem? Let me offer some concrete action steps.
Pray for opportunities. It’s so simple, but it is rarely a step taken by church members. Before you go to bed tonight, pray that God will give you opportunities to share the love of Christ in word or deed. It is absolutely amazing how God responds.
I have many stories, but one of my favorites was after I prayed the simple prayer that morning for God to give me opportunities to share my faith. Before the afternoon was over, I got a call from a former boss (I was a banker before I became a vocational minister). He wanted to get together with me. I would soon find out that he sought me out because he had questions about Jesus.
And here’s another amazing part of the story. I had not heard from him for twenty-seven years! But the day I prayed for an opportunity, the call came.
Pray for opportunities.
Invite people to church. Again, this concept is so incredibly simple. When you invite someone to church, you are bringing him or her into fellowship with Christians. When you invite someone to church, he or she may have the opportunity to hear the gospel. I have seen the simple act of inviting have profound and eternal impact on entire families.
So, will people really come to church if we invite them? My research team and I did such a study several years ago. The results surprised all of us on the team. Eight out of ten people who do not attend church will come to church if someone invites them. That one statistic may be one of the most amazing we have uncovered in my twenty-five years of research.
If you invite them, they will come.
Intentionally look for opportunities. You are shopping for a car. The old faithful you have driven for fifteen years is no longer faithful. The repairs are more costly than the value of the car. You decide what your next car will be. Have you noticed what happens next? You begin to see that same model all over the place. You had not noticed it until now. Your framework had changed.
The same framework should take place with us spiritually. We should be viewing people and opportunities through the lens of evangelism. Because we are spiritually alert to such opportunities, we will see them more frequently.
Be prepared to speak when the opportunity to arises. You need to know what to say at that divine appointment. I have participated in many evangelism training programs, and they have all helped me to share my faith more cogently and consistently. One of my favorites today is “Three Circles.” You can download the free app, “Life Conversation Guide.” It is very simple and very helpful.
Thom S. Rainer, I Will: Nine Traits of the Outwardly Focused Christian (Nashville: B&H, 2015).
I have just completed a series of lessons based on Thom Rainer’s book, I Will. They are available as part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription service. For a medium-sized church, lesson subscriptions are only $10 per teacher per year. Lessons correspond with three of Lifeway’s outlines as well as the International Standard Series.