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Unit 6



Sharing My Faith

We hope you've grown by going through this study.  This is where we come full circle.  

We started with the gospel as our foundation in Unit 1, now how can we share the good news with others?

Paul described the gospel this way,

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes... (Romans 1:16)

Nothing else can do this!

But let’s be honest.  It can be intimidating to share your faith with others.  

  • What if they don’t want to hear?  
  • What if I say the wrong thing? 
  • What if I get all tongue tied, dry mouthed, sweaty palmed, BO, etc.?

Relax!  Perhaps that’s why Jesus started by telling His disciples,

“Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)

  • What preparation goes into fishing?

  • If you fish, did someone teach you?  Was there a learning curve?

  • Do you always catch fish?  Why not?  What do you do if the net (or hook) comes up empty?

  • Look at Matthew 4:19 closely.  Do you see a cause and effect relationship? Why is this crucial?

Of course, people aren’t fish, but they have more in common than you might think. 

You see, the pond is drying up so to speak.  Everything your neighbor or coworker “swims” in to make a happy life, to feel secure, will one day evaporate. 

Knowing this, out of love for them and for God who wants to spend eternity with them, we have really good news!  Paul said, “the love of Christ compels us” in our sharing the good news (2 Corinthians 5:14).  And that is our motive.

Teaching / Study

Making Disciples

In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus’ time with his disciples was coming to an end. 

He had already died for the sins of the world, risen again the third day, overcoming sin and death, and appeared to his disciples for many days after that. 

Now, after a final few moments with His disciples, He would ascend back to heaven. Given the shortness of time remaining with these men His words here are very intentional and important. 

If you were one of the disciples present, you better believe you would be leaning in closely to hear what the marching orders from Jesus were going to be.

With that in mind, let’s pause to sit in on that conversation:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.  (Matthew 28:18-20)

  • As disciples we are called to "make disciples."  What all does Jesus ask them to do as part of that process? (vs. 19)

  • The word authority also means power.  As we share our faith, why is it important to know Jesus has been given "all authority?" 

For now we are going to focus on the first part of what Jesus said to do, “Go into the world and make disciples.”

This is no simple task, but we can grow in our understanding of how to do it the longer we follow Him. While you may not know fully what it means to make disciples, it is important you realize the minute you decided to follow Jesus, you became a part of His mission to reach the rest of the world.  We too became fishers of men!

  • What has been your experience sharing your faith with others?  What would it take for you to feel more comfortable sharing the gospel?

In order to know where to start in our call to make disciples, let’s take a look at how Paul did it in towns where he was the first to bring the gospel:

After preaching the Good News in Derbe and making many disciples, Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia, where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.  (Acts 14:21-22 NLT)

  • When Paul came to a new town, such as Derbe, what did he do?

  • But, what else does it say Paul does in each town he returned to?   Why is this important?

Discipleship begins with people hearing the gospel then making the decision to believe and receive Christ as their Savior.  

But it doesn’t stop there.  As we saw in Unit 5, new believers need to be built up, encouraged, loved, and welcomed into the church as brothers and sisters.

HOW DO WE SHARE OUR FAITH?

1. Love People Where They Are.  

Have you heard this famous quote? “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  It is famous for a reason.  Too often we think we need to arm ourselves with pages of facts before we share the gospel with anyone. 

The truth is, most people won’t be interested in hearing from you until you have shown them you authentically care about them first.

This is unpacked in a book called, “The Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your Door.”  If you are looking for tips on how to connect in an genuine way with the people you rub shoulders with every day, this is a great place to start.

When you think of “evangelism,” what comes to mind?  Knocking on doors?  Handing out leaflets?  Awkward conversations where you have sweaty hands?  Hard questions you can’t answer?  Remeber....

Evangelism is simply sharing the gospel with others and  trusting God with the outcome

We can do that in a way that is natural, relational, appropriate and more importantly, effective.  It starts with caring for the other person as a person, not a project.  Show them you care. If you don’t genuinely wish well for the other person, start by praying for them until you do!

Don’t worry about preparing a sermon. Just spend time with them.  Show them you love them.  As you spend time with them, let them see how you rely on God. 

If you do this consistently enough and long enough, they will begin to see something different in you and may ask questions such as:

  • What you just went through was tough but you didn’t flip out.  Why?

  • Are you really forgiving ____________ after what he did to you?  Why would you do that?

You need to live life with them closely enough for them to see that the gospel really is making those kinds of differences in your life.  Putting a fish on your car isn’t enough.  Keeping a Bible on the coffee table isn’t enough.  Can they see evidence of the gospel in your life?

  • When did you first see the gospel at work in someone’s life? How did it impact you?

We saw in Unit 5 that “Individually and collectively our responsibility is to give repeated opportunities to those around us to see, hear, and respond to the gospel.”  As ambassadors for Christ, every interaction you have every day where you live, learn work and play is an opportunity to share the good news of Christ. 

How do you do it?  Here’s what you need to know:

Know that God is already at work. 

God’s Spirit is constantly working on the hearts of people around us (John 16:7-11). 

Think about your own life.  Most of us could probably look back and see how God used circumstances, people, and bits and pieces of the truth to bring us to the place where we realized our need for Christ as our Savior.  In some cases this took years. 

God is doing the same with those around you who don’t yet know Christ.  You have the privilege to be part of that process. 

Some people’s hearts may be like red apples, ripe and ready to respond.  But others may be more like unripe green apples and a long way from believing, or even wanting to talk about anything spiritual. 

Love them where they are!  Remember, you are a witness to what you have seen, but the Holy Spirit is the one who convicts the heart. 

It is the Spirit who empowers us to be effective witnesses.  Jesus said,

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.  (Acts 1:8)

God will give you the ability as you make yourself available.  Trust Him to work through you!

2. Share Your Story:

People can deny the gospel, but they cannot deny the power of a changed life. 

When the Pharisees questioned the blind man whom Jesus had healed, and pressured him to disown Jesus as a sinner, he finally replied by using his own story of how Jesus changed him,

He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”  (John 9:25)

He couldn’t counter every argument, so he set their argument aside and literally gave his eyewitness (no pun intended) account.  When they heard his story, they could not refute it.

  • Describe a time when you heard someone share their experience and it changed your perspective.

We have the tendency to make sharing the gospel more complicated than it needs to be.  Sharing your faith requires two things:

  • Love people well, authentically, just as they are.
  • Share with them what Jesus has done in your life.

People who are uninterested in hearing the gospel now may eventually become open when you share the story of what Jesus has done for you.  God may use your story, even if it’s years later.

In either case, we should be prepared.  Read 1 Peter 3:15:

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...

  • How are we supposed to share our story?  With_____________ and _______________
  • Has there ever been a time you knew the person talking to you wasn’t authentic in their care for you.  How did this affect how you heard them?
  • Who in your life would you like to be able to share the gospel with?  How are you investing in that relationship?

Sharing your story doesn’t mean sharing your whole life story. 

We should be able to quickly and clearly identify how our life has been impacted by Christ.  In fact, it’s great to have the three minute version of what life was like before, then how you came to know Christ, and now the change it has made. 

At the end of this unit, we have put some prompts and guidelines in place to help you to write out your story so you can share it with others.  Don’t skip this part!  Your story is your eyewitness testimony that the good news about Christ is true.

Remember, this is good news!  

Imagine you received a terminal cancer diagnosis and had six months to live.  But one day a friend shares the name of a doctor who has a new treatment.  You call the doctor and get treated.  Within a month you are cured, cancer free!  Now you meet someone with the same diagnosis.  Would you share your story with them?  Absolutely!

People post online unapologetically about diets, fitness, or skincare regimens that “changed their life.”  But no matter how dramatic the results are, they are fleeting and temporary at best in comparison to eternity. 

Take a moment and think how much greater our message is.  It will change their life and their eternity!

Until we face the fact that unless we share the gospel with them, every person you meet has a terminal diagnosis, we will never have an urgency to share the gospel. The people you know and love are lost apart from trusting Christ as Savior.  God has placed you in their lives for a reason - to share the good news!  Start by learning how to share your own story.

Prepare Your Story

As you get started, remember these tips...

First, Keep it Simple and Focused on Jesus

As we share our faith, it is important to stick to the basic facts of the gospel message.  Don’t get sidetracked in issues of politics, church or other matters or trying to win an argument.  Focus on Jesus. 

Notice what Paul told the Corinthians about his first coming to them,

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.  For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified  (1 Corinthians 2:1-2)

The Greeks loved to debate about all sorts of subjects.  They valued intellectual wisdom, but Paul knew they needed something greater.

  • What did Paul say he “determined” to do?
  • Why do you think Paul chose this method over complex theological arguments? 

That’s not to say we wouldn’t try to find answers for honest questions.  In fact, in the Resources section below there are several great books or tools you could give a friend who was skeptical.

But it is important to realize that often people have never actually heard the simple gospel.  They may be rejecting a wrong understanding of the claims of Christ, or a bad experience in a church growing up.

Second, Keep it Brief and Make Christ the Hero

This is a case where less truly is more!

If you can tell your story in three minutes or less, that means you could share it just about anywhere.  Your main point is to share, “the reason for the hope that you have.”   Here is a suggested starting outline:

a.  Before faith in Christ, what struggle did you face? (1 minute)

b.  How you came to know Christ as your Savior (what led you to that point)

c.  Now, what does you new life look like?  How are you growing?

Finally, Keep Loving Them Where They Are

What if they are not open, or have questions and reservations? 

That’s why it’s important to keep in mind you are an ambassador for Christ.  Think of how patient an ambassador has to be, even though they carry an important message!  Don’t get frustrated or argue. Remember that God is the one who opens eyes and hearts.  Always try to keep the door open and lead with love.  Keep praying for them and loving them where they are!

Key Truth 

God commissions us all as believers to “go make disciples” by sharing individually and collectively giving those around us, where we live, work and play, multiple opportunities to respond to the gospel.  A key part of that is being prepared to tell our own faith story.

  • Matthew 4:19

  • 1 Peter 3:15

  • Matthew 28:18-20

  • 1 Corinthians 2:1-2

  • Acts 1:8

The Discipleship Pathway - Taking a Next Step!

We grow by taking a next step.  Choose either the  “walk,” “jog,” or “run” step in sharing your story.  For this unit, all the actions steps relate to writing and/or sharing your own faith story.

Nothing is more powerful than being able to share your story quickly and clearly as you have conversations with others where you live, learn work or play.  It can also serve as a great way for you to reflect and praise God for the work He has done in your life!

Note:  if you are still working on “walk,” “jog,” or “run” steps from previous units, don’t feel pressured to do any of these yet!  You can mark either the crawl, walk of run step below for future action.

Sharing Your Faith Story with Others….

WALK

 Write out your story (see below for the basic instructions).

JOG

 Write out your story (use the instructions below), then share it and get feedback from a friend on your story.  Refine it.

RUN

Make a list of those whom you believe God has placed in your life to share the gospel with ‘as you are going (Friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, etc.), pray and share your faith story and the gospel with one person in the next 30 days.

NEXT STEP:  Writing Out Your Story

In the Before section, tell a part or summary of your story. For example:  “I grew up going to church but didn’t pay much attention and quit when I left the house.  Out of college, my goal was to just be successful and have fun.  But after a while I knew something was missing.  I thought about checking out a church but never did.”   (That’s actually about 20 seconds.)

  • What do you notice about this example?  What details are left out?  Why could that be an advantage?

  • Take time now to write out a short summary or bullet point before part of your own story.  It might be quite different.  That’s OK.  It is your story and God will use it!  If you came to Christ very early in life that is also a great story. Paul’s conversion was very dramatic.  Timothy grew up in a Christian home.  God used both!

In the How you came to Christ section, transition quickly what led you to trust Christ as your Savior.   Be conversational.  Leave pauses after key points, get their response.  If they are ready to hear, continue.  If not, don’t press.  The main idea is that they know Christ made the difference. 

Here is an example of what the story side of the conversation might look:

“Then a friend invited me to a basketball league at his church.  They were just normal guys, but I could see that they had a deep contentment inside I knew I was missing.  Eventually I asked them about it….

They explained  that God loves us. That was good news because honestly, I figured He was pretty upset with me….

I found out that even though we’ve all sinned (and sin separates us from God)  because God loves us He sent his Son, Jesus, to die on the Cross to pay for our sins.  He took the punishment we deserved.  Then He rose again from the dead proving that He was the Son of God...

They explained that He offers us forgiveness and eternal life as a gift, if we choose to believe and receive that gift.  I did.  And it has made a huge difference in my life.”

Notice the five parts in bold.  If you can memorize those five key ideas, you have the basic outline of the gospel memorized!  

But what if you are feeling  “memory challenged?” 

In the above example, he could have just said, “I asked them about it, and they told me to trust Christ as my Savior.  And  I did!  Let me tell you the difference it has made….”  Then afterward, if his friend were interested, he could use a tool like the GO5PEL card or other resource to share the details of the gospel.

  • Take time now to write our your own personal how you came to Christ.  It will probably be very different from our example.  Again, it is your unique story and Christ is the hero.

In the Now portion you can briefly describe one or two ways Christ has made a difference in your life.

  • Maybe start with, “Let me tell you the difference it has made….”
  • Paul shares how he did this in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.

 

Parent Next Steps

Choose one or more of  the Action Steps below based on the ages of your children.

Sharing Your Faith

PRESCHOOL

Is there a parent who also has a preschooler, whom you believe God has placed in your life to share the gospel with as you are going?

Some ideas:

·      Plan a play date with them

·      Invite their family to try KidCity and Hope

·      Invite them to Mom’s Coffee Break

http://gethope.net/momscoffeebreak/

ELEMENTARY

Is there a parent in a similar stage of life whom you believe God has placed in your life to share the gospel with as you are going?

Some ideas:

·      Plan times to get your kids together

·      Invite their family to try KidCity and Hope

·      Invite them to Mom’s Coffee Break

http://gethope.net/momscoffeebreak/

STUDENTS

Is there a parent in a similar stage of life whom you believe God has placed in your life to share the gospel with as you are going?

Some ideas:

·      Invite them to lunch or coffee

·      Invite their family to try Student Ministries and Hope

·      Invite them to Mom’s Coffee Break

http://gethope.net/momscoffeebreak/

Snapshot Summary

  • Jesus said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19). We must own the lostness of those around us who don’t know Christ.

  • We share our faith by loving people where they are and sharing our own story (John 9:25; 1 Pet. 3:15)

  • We are called to be witnesses of what Christ has done, but the Holy Spirit is the one who convicts and convinces people’s hearts and minds.

  • Our responsibility as the church: to give repeated opportunities to every man, woman and child to see, hear and respond to gospel of Jesus Christ where they live, learn, work and play.

Resources to Equip You

Resources you can give someone

FAQ’s and "Hard Questions"

What if I can’t memorize the gospel?

What if my friend has questions I can’t answer?

What if I’m very nervous about sharing my faith?

Won’t it be awkward suddenly starting a relationship with my neighbors?

I’m so far from perfect, how can I tell others about Christ?

What if my  family are from a very different religious background?


6 - Unit 6 - Sharing Your Faith-PRINT Ver.pdf 6 - Unit 6 - Sharing Your Faith-PRINT Ver