a conversation about sharing faith in public

“As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Peter and John, Acts 4:20

This morning I’d like to share a few thoughts around a conversation we started yesterday in my Wednesday evening men’s group. The subject is “sharing our faith.”

There is a lot to talk about here, and this week was only the beginning of what may well prove to be a study spanning several weeks.

I don’t have any ready-made conclusions other than a general sense that if I believe that “Jesus is God’s invitation” then it is an invitation people probably need to hear.

But there is a big difference between coercing people to accept a religion and – on the other hand – inviting people to share in something beautiful.

Inviting people into what?

So at this point we are asking ourselves good questions rather than dishing out pre-packaged answers. And if we land on the “invitation” end of the process, then we have to be clear as to what it is we are inviting people into.

This conversation, then, necessarily begins with us.

For today’s post I will share my outline for Wednesday’s discussion. Then I will comment just a little on where the discussion led us.

  1. Opening prayer
  2. Check-in question: “Where have you seen God this week?”
  3. “How do you respond when you hear the word, ‘witnessing’?”
  4. “If your life were a story, what kind of story would it be?”
  5. “Do you think some people might benefit from living in a different/better story?”
  6. Scripture readings: My two favorite “faith sharing” scriptures and my reason for selecting them (Acts 4:20, Romans 8:38-39).
  7. Challenge question: “Do you think maybe it would be easier to invite someone to talk about Jesus if you felt closer to Jesus yourself?”
  8. Homework assignment: A) Select two Bible passages you find helpful or challenging when it comes to sharing faith. B) Come up with the names of two men (one in the church, and one who doesn’t go to church) you think may be interested in exploring a deeper faith. We will talk more about this next week.
  9. Prayer concerns and closing prayer.

We talked a lot about the fact that nobody wants to “violate anyone’s privacy”, or be guilty of “workplace proselytizing”, or lean on someone when they have “no interest in religion”, or “come off like a fanatic.”

This remains a huge area of concern, especially in light of the fact that our society has grown weary of “obnoxious” witnessing and fundamentalism to the extent that it is very difficult anymore to have even a reasonable conversation about God.

Of course people reject “that”

So people who do not know God understandably reject the concept of Christianity that has been presented. But the problem – and I pointed this out to the guys – is that if we exit the arena of public conversation, then the only place these folk are going to hear about God is from the very slanted/inaccurate/damaging sources we don’t accept as consistent with God’s winsome invitation.

If we stop talking about the beauty of community, and the light, love, grace, mercy, and justice that comes with following Jesus, then are we not abandoning the very people who need to become saturated in God’s love to misinformation, and to deception, and to those who – in the words of Jesus – “tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them…” and “shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces” (Matthew 23:4,13)…?

– author Derek Maul

Okay, I’m in danger of writing a book-length post here, this is enough for today. Stay tuned for more as our conversation continues.

In love, and because love is the heart of God’s message – DEREK

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