Tuesday, June 26, 2012

How to Share Your Faith When You Can't Hit a Share Button

How do you share your faith?  I wish it was as easy as clicking a button.  But as followers of Jesus, that's just part of who we are, right?  We share our faith.  No, I'm not trying to make you feel guilty.  Chances are, I am in the boat with you and others who would be embarrassed by how little we share our faith.  So since we are in the same boat, let's ask, "How did we get here?"  

The primary way is that we probably think of people who share their faith as either odd, socially awkward people who have difficulty with normal conversation and relate to their internal thoughts much better than they do to real people and the world around them, or as super Christians with massive amounts of biblical and theological knowledge and training who always know just the right thing to say at just the right time.

But that is not who Jesus trusts with the message of the Good News of the Kingdom of God.  He trusts ordinary people like you and me.  If Jesus believes in us, then there must be a way to do it without being weird or needing to earn a PhD. 

So how do you - how do we share our faith?  The best way is to do it intentionally, but not as a separate activity from our normal daily routine.  Here are some practical ideas:
  • If a friend shares a struggle with you, say something like, "Would you mind if I pray for you about that?"  If they look horrified, say, "Oh, not right here and now.  I spend some time each day praying at home, and I thought I could pray about (the person's concern) when I do."  Usually the look of horror will not come and people will thank you.  This also lets them know that there is some spiritual content to your life and may set the stage for future conversations.
  • Add people to your life that are going to be a part of it anyway - a neighbor, co-worker, regular social or community contact.If you are going out to lunch, invite the person to go with you.If you are going to play golf, to a movie, bowling, a museum, shopping, cow-tipping, or whatever it is you might do, invite someone to go with you and connect your life to theirs. You are much more likely to have an impact on a friend than a stranger or casual acquaintance. One huge caveat here, even if they never respond to your invitation to consider faith in Christ, remain their friend and make sure they know that there are no strings attached.
  • At some point, when the friendship has been established, look for ways to enter in to a spiritual conversation.  You may be talking about an athlete who is a Christian and make a comment about how you admire his/her faith, using that as a segue into asking your friend if they ever think much about faith or God.  Or you may be talking about an upcoming religious holiday and ask how much importance your friend's family placed on faith or church when growing up, and then how they feel about it today.  Or, if you have prayed for someone and they know it, follow up and ask them how things are.  Then transition into asking if they ever pray or talk to God, and then let the conversations progress from there.
  • These are just a few ideas, but here is one final caution.  If the person becomes uncomfortable and it is clear that this is a conversation they are not into, back off and move on to something else.  Your friend is more important than a forced conversation.  Take a step back, evaluate what might have triggered their reaction, pray and trust the Holy Spirit to prompt you when the time is right to try again. 

So how do we share your faith?  Primarily we do it through normal relationships.  Faith should not be something we talk about apart from normal life.  It does not need to be reserved for some specially reserved holy setting.  Everywhere God is, is a holy setting.  And since God's most repeated promise in the Bible is, "I am with you," then anywhere you are is a holy setting.  So there is no reason to see a conversation in which you share your faith as more abnormal or inappropriate than a conversation about a good movie or restaurant or your kid's baseball team or where you are going on vacation. 

One final encouragement.  The people you might hesitate to share with are people God loves and cares about deeply.  God wants to offer them life and salvation and transformation in Jesus Christ.  And because God cares, he wants you to care also.  So what are you doing to share the faith that you have found - the life that you have found with those who matter so much to God? 

May you and I look for opportunities to share our faith.  May we see people as God sees them and feel a sense of urgency in showing them grace and love.  May we open our mouths so they might understand and have the opportunity to ask questions and enter into conversations that are life changing and eternity altering.  May you and I love the world and people that God loves enough to share our faith in Christ at every opportunity.

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