Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Beginning An Evangelistic Conversation

For most Christians seeking to speak to others concerning the good news of who Jesus is and what He has done on behalf of sinners, the most difficult part of the conversation is the beginning; if you have a healthy relationship with the Lord, if you are seeking to grow in faithfulness to Him daily, and if you are regularly thinking about the gospel, then once you actually begin speaking to others about Jesus, the conversation is not too difficult. The difficulty lies in how to begin such a conversation.

In beginning evangelistic conversations, I've found the "FIRE" model from the Continuing Witness Training (CWT) program that was used by the North American Mission Board (NAMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) to be helpful.

"FIRE" stands for:

Family
Interests
Religious background
Exploratory questions

Suggested conversation questions/conversation starters for each of the above are as follows:

Family:
  • Are you originally from here?
  • How long have you lived here?
  • Tell me about your family.
  • [Or ask about children, if you know the person has children, as most people love to talk about their "kids."]

Interests:
  • What special hobbies do you have?
  • [If the person with whom you're speaking is wearing a shirt for a sports team, etc., you can certainly ask about sports.]

Religious background:
  • When you attend church, where do you usually attend?
  • [This program was developed in the Deep South where most people have some church background, probably attend church at least on Easter or at Christmastime, and where asking whether a person goes to church might be considered offensive; if you are in more unchurched area, then you may simply ask, "Where do you go to church?" "Do you go to church?" or "What is your religious background?"]

Exploratory questions:
  • Have you come to a point in your life that you know for certain that you have eternal life and that you will go to heaven when you die?
  • Suppose you were standing before God right now and He asked you, "Why should I let you into my heaven?" What do you think you would say?
  • [I hope to mention some other possible "exploratory questions" for evangelism in upcoming posts.]
Basically, most of us (I certainly include myself here) need help in moving beyond trivial chit-chat about the weather, entertainment or whatever situation that's immediately in front of us, so that we can have meaningful conversations. Developing the art of meaningful conversation is what the questions/suggestions under "FIR" above are meant to accomplish. If we cannot engage in meaningful conversation, it is difficult to have a conversation about that most meaningful of topics: the gospel of Jesus Christ. As we engage in meaningful conversation at the beginning of a "witnessing" encounter, paying attention to what the other person has to say, our gospel witness becomes more than just a "project;" we begin to care even more deeply about the other person as an individual and to want that person to have the hope that comes only through knowing Christ.


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