You might think we're called to just talk to the lost. No, the Great Commission says "make disciples," "baptize," and "teach them to obey." Jesus wants people who follow Him. We must help the church grow vertically toward God in more worship. From there, Jesus wants disciples who make disciples. We must help the church grow horizontally in evangelism. We can't do it all ourselves. So, we must teach others so the church and its worship will multiply.
Let's say you're talking to people in your network. One tells you they believe in Jesus. You're not finished. That conversation just began. We need to be sure they believe in and follow Jesus. From there, we'll equip them to be more effective.
What we say depends on how much time we have and how patient they seem. Pray for them before the conversation. Speak gently in love. Then, assess their spiritual health with the questions below. I've included example wordings I've learned don't aggravate people as much.
I've used most of this with total strangers in Walmart, convenience stores, etc. If the Spirit is helping, they'll listen long enough for you to give them something. Also, always end with prayer for whatever they need. Include a reminder of what Christ did for us already in the prayer.
Do you believe in the Gospel? (Mention specifics.) Do you have a private time for prayer and reading the Word? If yes, where are you at in the Word? How did it speak to you? (Catch liars.) Are you plugged into a church with Biblical teaching and groups of people that grow together? (If that's going well...) Are you sharing the Gospel with people you know and see? Can I get your number so we can get together some time to chat, read the Word together, etc?
1. Gospel. "Good to hear you believe in Jesus. Now, there's a lot of crazy stuff out there that has his name on it. Especially on TV and Youtube. (They nod usually.) Just want to make sure we're talking about the same thing. You believe you're a sinner who can't do anything to get to heaven, that Jesus Christ died for your sins, rose again, you repent, and put your faith totally in Him and what He did on the cross?" If not, share Gospel.
2. Baptized. If they say yes, "...and you were baptized as a symbol of what He's done for you." If yes to both, speak some praise about how glad you are that Jesus saved them and they're in our family. We are encouraging people. If they say no to baptism, remind them that God requires and blesses obedience. Cite the verses commanding baptism. Tell them disobedience might hold them back from being closer to Him and how He will use them as instruments of His will. If they're waiting for just the right time, remind them this isn't a wedding: people in the Bible were immediately baptized wherever water is nearby.
3. Time with God and His Word. "It's good you have a relationship with Him. Like can keep us busy, too. Are you able to spend time with Him? A daily, quiet time with the Lord in prayer and reading His Word? We need that so He imparts His peace into us and shapes us into who He wants us to be." If not, just further encourage them.
3-2. Optionally assess if they believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. That we obey the whole thing. I'll be experimenting with how to change this script for that. If you mention time and the Word, God might use that for this.
4. Church. "Are you plugged into a church family right now? One with solid, Biblical teaching? And accountability groups where you can be close to people, talk about your struggles, pray together, and so on?" If no, give them some options. Tell them about healthy churches and accountability groups. Or give them the links.
4-2. Bad churches. Some protest churches. Cite verses commanding us to gather. "In Acts 2, before the Spirit came down and people saw God move, what did they do? 120 gathered together." "Also, most of the NT was written to churches, not individuals. You'd have missed most of the Bible if not in church." On sin in churches, warn them that they "will always have problems. They're full of sinners like you and me." Cite Bible examples like Corinth full of sin. Tell them to look for those with solid teaching, at least some walking closely with God, and pay attention to that teaching walking with those people. Then, pray for the others. God will use that.
5. Sharing. Ask if they're sharing the Gospel with people. The basics are short enough to teach them on the spot. Ask if they want to get in the game with you. At some point, tell them that God made each of us different, each can reach people others can't, "those people in your area of influence are your mission," and to talk to all of them at least once. Give them the openers. Tell them we're commanded to share at any cost but it's not on us if they reject it. We just move on.
6. Service. Both Jesus and Paul repeat sharing your faith and showing love for others, esp the helpless. Examples: Matt. 25:31-46; James 1:27. Are they serving Christ and others in some way in or outside their church? If any of those, emphasize being involved face-to-face to listen, love, share the Gospel, and exhort from the Word. Better to be sharing the Gospel or offering prayers while giving people a box of food instead of just clicking "donate" on something.
(Note on sharing and service: Remind them it's by such obedience, esp humble service, that Christ teaches us to be more like Him. Every interaction with people is a learning experience. Even the prayerful moments before and after those interactions. God uses everything.)
7. Missions and ministries. If very committed, ask them if they have any interest in missions or ministries. If missions, bring up the unreached. Also, mention we can pick houses, colleges, and vacation spots in areas with many unreached people. Then, just share while we're there. If group ministries, emphasize teaching, counseling, and support.
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