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Mission Proposition

by on September 24, 2012

We’ve been talking a bit about outreach here at the CCC blog lately. Here’s a proposition I’d like you to consider:

The only gospel conversations worth having are the ones initiated by the other person.

Agree or disagree? And why?

From → General

  1. Depends what you mean by gospel conversations. When I’m talking with someone who doesn’t follow Jesus, and we’re talking about something significant, I might tell a story about Jesus that relates to the point. Does that count? That’s not initiated by them, but it comes in the context of a pretty good existing relationship.

    • This is a beautiful reply, brother. You’re so natural in talking about the one you love, you don’t even have a clear category of ‘gospel conversation’. You make friends and then let them hear about how Jesus affects your life. Jesus with a normal life context! Nice going brother.

      Not sure which side of the question this puts you on. Sounds like you’re partly taking initiative, and partly responding to what has come up in your friendship. Whichever it is, keep doing it!

  2. Tom Habib permalink

    I like it because it encourages us to listen first, to not think that quickly shouting a track at someone counts as sharing the gospel – and of course – it is a lot easier if someone does ask you. However in the end I disagree.

    1. Not everyone has questions. A lot of people think they have all the answers and that they are fine. Some think it is us who are completely wrong. The gospel doesn’t just answer our questions – it questions our answers.

    2. Not everyone is bold in asking. Some people are waiting for you to bring up the topic so that they can talk about it. They expect you to do it – after all – you’re the Christian.

    3. It reflects a timidity unworthy of the gospel. We have great news – we shouldn’t have to wait for people to ask before we share it with them.

    • Thanks for your comment Tom.

      1. ‘Not everyone has questions’
      I guess different parts of the world you find different things. Around here, everyone has questions. They don’t all have questions for me, of course – most of them haven’t learnt to trust me with their real questions yet. But everyone who’s come to trust me has questions.

      But it does raise the issue of, if people aren’t interested to hear, should we be trying to make them listen? What does the Bible have to say about this?

      2. This is a good point, I believe. Some people are shy. Of course, it’s not until you know someone fairly well that you’re likely to figure out who is ‘waiting for you to bring up the topic.’

      3. ‘It reflects a timidity unworthy of the gospel.’ Are you sure that’s what it reflects, Tom? Might not this approach be coming from other motives. Always hard to assign motives. How about patience as an alternative explanation? Or how about a belief in the initiating role of the Holy Spirit? I can think of other motives too.

  3. Sophie Febery permalink

    Disagree. Basically because all the gospel conversations I have are initiated by me! People just don’t raise the issue!

    I do think that gospel conversations are much better if they start by asking lots of questions to the non-Christian. Asking what they believe and really listening. Questions can even be used to challenge their assumptions, eg “So do you think it’s possible for God to reveal himself to people?”

    A book that’s hugely changed my approach to this is “Questioning Evangelism” by Randy Newman.

    • Sophie, you get the prize for ‘most honest answer’! It’s true that our thinking is often limited by ‘what I’ve experienced’, isn’t it.

      Your questioning approach sounds interesting. Trying to listen before talking. Shows interest and respect for the person. How do you decide who and when to start asking these questions? How do you avoid making people feel threatened or given ‘the third degree’?

      • Sophie Febery permalink

        I wait until a natural opening – often it’s the fact that people turn up to church – pretty good opening! Or maybe people will ask what I’ve been doing for the past few years – telling them we studied at Bible college is a good opener for potential questions! If there is immediate shut down on their part and no desire to engage with the issue, I move onto other topics. But if they show any sort of interest, I say “So what kind of background are you from…do you have any religious persuasion at all?”. Then of course it really depends how the conversation goes! If at any point there’s a shut-down from them, I back off. I try to show them that I’m really interested and curious about what they believe.

        If it’s a conversation that I know will only be a one-off (eg on the plane, or at church with a visitor) I’ll try and get to the point where I can ask them something like “…so do you feel you have a good understanding of the basic message of the Bible or not really?” then if their response is something like “no I don’t really understand but I’m very interested in finding out” I then tell them that they could come over to my house to do some Bible studies if they want. And we go from there…

        How do I avoid making people feel threatened and given the third degree? I’m not sure! Aidan’s very perceptive about these things so he usually backs off if I’m talking to someone like this so they don’t feel surrounded. I’m actually not very good at reading people so I don’t know! I probably make people feel uncomfortable đŸ˜¦ But the thing is, it’s either I talk to them in my less-than-perfect way, or no-one talks to them – so it’s not a hard choice!

      • Such a joy to hear your stories Sophie! You’re a total champ.

        Often it’s the fact that people turn up to church – pretty good opening!

        I think that counts as them initiating!

        I’m hearing you say you try to make the space for people to express an interest in the gospel, and then if they do you go further with them. If they don’t, you leave it. You’re wanting to give the person some control and initiative in what happens. Nice one.

        Not a million miles from from the quote this all started with, seems to me:

        The only gospel conversations worth having are the ones initiated by the other person.

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