What’s Your Story? Four Questions To Help You Bring People To Jesus

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Sunday was quite an interesting day at Fellowship Church On Airline.  Over our four plus years of gathering, we have learned a lot about how to be adaptable, and this week we got another lesson in our ongoing “master class” of ministry flexibility.

The latest lesson?  What to do when you arrive on a ninety degree Sunday to find that your entire children’s building has no air conditioning!  We pulled our kids into our Worship Gatherings with us and a great- albeit different- day together in worship.  As a pastor, that meant making some last minute adjustments to the message to make it as broadly accessible and understandable as possible.  I think we did that effectively, but that left me with some helpful content that I wasn’t able to share in the moment.

Enter today’s blog.  As we wrap up our Be A Bringer series this week, I want to provide you with another tool to help become the “bringer” that God has called each of us to be.  Remember that bringing people to Jesus is all about applying the unchanging story of God to the unique stories of people.  It requires a willingness to humbly, patiently, and genuinely listen to and learn about others, in an effort to most sensitively and appropriately apply the Gospel to their life.

What follows are four simple questions to help you better discern someone’s story- the framework through which they see themselves and their life in this world, and specifically how God fits into that story (if He does at all).  Let this be a useful tool to you this week and beyond as you seek to be found faithful to God’s Great Commission…

1- What is your greatest need?
What is the greatest problem you face in your life?  Beyond the “crises of the moment” that arise in different forms and fashions, what is the fundamental obstacle that stands between you and the life that you desire?

2- What is your greatest hope?
What are you living for?  In the face of the very real problems that exist in this world, and in each of our lives, what motivates you to keep on keeping on?  What do you think would make you happy, satisfied, and fulfilled for good?

3- Who or what is able to help you?
What can help you move away from your needs and problems and move toward your hopes and dreams?  Can you do it yourself, in your own strength and by your own effort, or is it going to require the assistance of someone or something else?

4- What do you have to do to get that help?
What is it going to cost you to make that move from your needs and problems toward your hopes and dreams?  Do you have what it takes to make that move?

Now let’s take a look at the contrast between someone representing what we might call the “spirit of our age” (i.e. some have called it secular humanism) and someone living with a biblical, Christ centered worldview…

Greatest Need- Change of circumstances VS change of heart
Those holding to a secular worldview commonly see their greatest problems as existing outside of them, in the form of another person or group of people, an unjust system set against them, or simply an unpleasant circumstance robbing them of the ability to be happy.

Those holding to a biblical worldview rightly understand while legitimate problems do exist outside of them,
all of those challenges are symptomatic of the root issue of sin, which has wrecked God’s good world, and most significantly separated them from a right relationship with their Creator God.

Greatest Hope- Temporary happiness VS eternal life
Those holding to a secular worldview commonly see their greatest hope as external circumstances which bring about temporary happiness, e.g. more money and possessions, improved relationships, a more fulfilling career.

Those holding to a biblical worldview understand that temporary circumstances are just that- temporary.  The only thing that can truly satisfy is something that can never be taken away- a right and restored relationship with God, both in their life in this world and in the life to come in heaven.

Greatest Help- Self VS God
Those holding to a secular worldview often believe that if their life is going to take a turn in the right direction, it’s going to be on them to make it happen.  They need to ‘believe in themselves’ and ‘be true to themselves’ if they are going to shake their restlessness and truly be happy.

Those holding to a biblical worldview, while not denying the reality of personal responsibility, recognize that the fundamental problem of sin against God is beyond our ability to change by our own strength, wisdom, or effort.  Instead of looking in for help, they look up to God, and specifically to the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Greatest Cost- Striving VS Surrender
Those holding to a secular worldview fundamentally set their hope in themselves.  Many will spend their lives “selling their souls” to would-be “savior’ after would-be “savior” (e.g. money, relationships, careers, pleasure, etc), only to find that all of those things are necessarily limited in their ability to bring about lasting hope.  It is important to note that there is a viciously deceptive religious version of this too- “If I try really hard to be a good person, then I will be accepted by God.”  This is the same old “self-salvation” project wrapped up in religious clothes- and it is just as empty and futile.

Those holding to a biblical worldview are appropriately pessimistic about their own abilities, but at the same time supremely confident in the promises of God found in the Bible.  Rather than striving, they recognize that the key to hope is trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ, and total surrender to Him as Lord of their lives.  It is this “upside down” way of seeing the world that ultimately brings about the hope that can face down any challenge or obstacle in this world.

Here’s what I believe- God’s story, which we call the Gospel, is the only story that makes sense of how we all experience the world on a day in, day out basis.  It defines the problem; it identifies the hope; it offers the help; and it makes provision for the cost.  No other competing story in this world can do that!  This is why it is, fundamentally, “Good News” for each of us!  And while that “news” never changes, the way in which it intersects with others’ stories and invades their hearts is quite unique.

Are you willing to humble yourself to listen and learn this week so that you might most effectively bring people to Jesus?  That’s the prayer, the hope, and the challenge.  I’m praying for you- and for myself too- as we seek to meet it in God’s grace and strength!

The Encouragement Challenge

Discouragement happens.  It comes into all of our lives.  Discouragement steals our joy.  It robs us of peace.  Discouragement is not always defeat; but the fear of it.  The sense that things not only are not going well, but will not go well.

Discouragement is the loss or lack of confidence.  It is the losing of courage.  When confidence and courage are lost they can be very difficult to find.  For the Christ-follower, the idea of courage is closely related to that of faith.  Faith is something that leads us to do the extraordinary – like move mountains or walk on water or see people healed.  Faith is the courage to believe God – not in word but in deed.

Encouragement, unfortunately, does not happen often enough.  Did you know, follower of Jesus, that you are commanded to encourage?  “encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.  (Hebrews 3:13)

Yet, encouragement is something I believe is lacking too often from and in the life of the believer.  I wonder what would your church would look like a year from now if everyone in your church took seriously the command to encourage one another?  What would your marriage look like if you and your spouse became each other’s greatest encouragers?  How differently would your children live out their faith if you became their greatest encourager?

Encouragement, Biblically, is much more than a pat on the back and an “atta boy.”  Encouragement means to exhort – to give instructive encouragement.  We are called to speak the “truth in love” to one another to build one another up toward maturity in Christ.

What would happen if the believers around you began to speak courage into your life about doing anything and everything God gifted you and commanded you to do?  What would happen if you did this for others?

6 Tips for becoming an encourager:
1.  Say what you need to say.
When you feel lead to share something with someone, speak up.
2.  Say things with a right spirit.
Sarcasm has become an unfortunate enemy of encouragement.  Use it sparingly and wisely.
3.  Say things that are true.
You will never encourage faithfulness from a place of faithlessness.
4.  Encourage with what you encourage to.
Truth encourages truth.  Hope encourages hope.  Joy encourages joy.  You get the picture.
5.  Put your trust in God that is working in people, not just in the people.
Considering one another God’s workmanship helps us not give up on His work.
6.  Encouragement is best face to face.

Who needs you to encourage them today? Who do you need to speak some truth in love to today? Who needs you to show up in person today?

THE ENCOURAGEMENT CHALLENGE –
Will you commit to a week of encouragement?  A month?  A year?
Here is the challenge – choose one person you will encourage this week.
If they need to be brought back to truth bring truth in love to them.
If they need faithfulness appreciated, appreciate them.
Be personal…Be specific…Be encouraging.
If you do it for one week, why not try a month?
If for a month, why not a year?
If a year, why not for life?