In short, I will preach it [the Word], teach it, write it, but I will constrain no man by force, for faith must come freely without compulsion.
- Martin Luther
Sharing Our Faith and Inviting Our Neighbors
Friends bring friends to Jesus. Martin Luther once said that "Faith is a living, daring confidence in God's grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times."
When we experience the grace of God through Jesus Christ, we are given the amazing gift of faith. It is only natural that we would want to share with other people the nature of our life-giving relationship with Christ. Sharing the faith always happens in relationship. Friends share the good news with friends. Friends bring friends to Jesus.
Technically, the Holy Spirit brings people to faith in Jesus, but this process happens through our loving relationships with one another.
The biblical model for evangelism is relational: friends bring friends to Jesus. "Come and see" are the operative words and find frequent expression in the Gospels, the story of the early church, and in the tradition of the church over the centuries. The disciples plant seeds and invites; the Holy Spirit works the miracle of faith and conversion. Part of a disciple's job description is to invite others often.
- ELCA Call to Dischipleship
Tell the Story
“Is evangelism relegated only to those few people who have the knack for striking up spiritual conversations with complete strangers and convincing the stranger to give God a try? Of course it is not.
Evangelism is much more than convincing total strangers to come to church with us. Evangelism is literally about sharing the good news.
However, the good news is much more than saying, “God loves you.” If saying such a thing out of the blue seems surface and uncomfortable, it is because it is surface and uncomfortable.
The good news of Christ strikes right at the very heart of life. It deeply penetrates the soul and moves us in dramatic ways. It says remarkable things such as:
“’The kingdom of heaven has come near!’ And in this kingdom, no one goes hungry, because people share what they have been given.
- Luke 9:10-17
In fact, the hungriest – and all those who would be left off most guest lists – have the best seats at the table.
- Mark 2:15-17
Prisoners are set free.
- Luke 4:18
Miracles happen as a result of the smallest acts.
- Matt. 13:31-32
The most unlikely people are instruments of kindness, love, and transformation.
- Luke 10:30-37
God’s love knows no limits and recognizes no boundaries.
- Luke 2:32
There are no outcasts.
- Luke 15”
The above quote from Reclaiming the “E” Word by Kelly Fryer frees us to think about what God has done for us in the fullness of all that means.
How has God made sure that your needs are provided? What in life has bound you and held you down, and what did God do to free you? How has God used an unlikely person like you for great things? How has an unlikely person such as yourself been made welcome in the church?
Make a difference in someone’s life by getting to know them, getting to know their struggles, and sharing your story of good news and freedom in Christ. Choose one child with whom you will do this, choose one adult with whom you will do this, and share the good news. This is something all of us can do.
How Do We Share the Gospel?
Reaching people with the gospel of Jesus Christ has never been easy. In every age, the Christian church has faced challenges spreading the good news in our communities. Not the least of our difficulties has been the means through which the message of Christ has been shared.
What is the most effective way to introduce Christ and His congregational ministries to those nearby? How do we best tell people about who we are, what we believe, and the way that they may participate with us in God's ministry in the world?
Experts tell us that the best means of spreading the Word to our communities is through hospitality, friends inviting friends into discussion and fellowship. "Go forth into all the world!" the gospel encourages us. But how? How do we become Lutherans who invite, people of the Word who reach out and bring in those who are missing the good news of Jesus Christ?
In short, the answer is: Hospitality. It is the neighborly sense of celebrating, inviting, welcoming and serving others, complete with all the smiles and heartfelt greetings we can muster.
The writer of Hebrews put it well when writing:
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
Hospitality is not a difficult thing and is the very cornerstone of human community. Every time we gather for a cookout, dinner at a friend's house, or simply hang out with someone we enjoy, we are expressing hospitality.
As disciples of Christ, we are encouraged to put the other person first, to discover their hopes and needs, to serve, and to offer hospitality. Hospitality is the centerpiece of inviting. In this way, we will make disciples one person at a time.
Sharing Our Faith With Others By Use of Our Loving Actions
There are a few notable exceptions, but for the most part most Christians are doers; especially Lutherans. Lutherans have the largest social ministry network in the nation. Children, the homeless, the mentally ill, and the sick have been healed by the “doing” ministries of our national church and our local congregations. We are great “doers” of the good news of Jesus Christ.
Perhaps, it is because we only know how to talk with our hands that when asked to say why we have faith in Christ our mouths just hang open and our eyes provide a dumbfounded stare. Many of us are doers. How then are “doers” supposed to learn how to speak the very convictions that lead them to “do” love? We need to think backwards.
If “doers” want to know what good news we have share, then we have to think backwards. We must start by looking at our actions. What are we “doing” that Christ is obviously using to “show” his unconditional love? If we can pinpoint what we are doing, then we will know what “good news” we are passionate about.
Let us take the example of my grandmother, Helen. She made sure to bring food over to anyone who was in grief. If someone died, she was there with a week’s worth of casseroles. Though she probably did not realize it, my grandmother was passionate about Christ’s promise; “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (NRSV, Matt. 5:4). Had she realized what Christ was up to through her actions, she would have had words to share. She could have easily talked about what she was passionate about. She could have invited others to join in her passion.
What do you “do?” What words of scripture inspire you to “do?” Share that passion. Invite other to “do” this work of love along with you. That is how “doers” share.
In addition, the Holy Spirit is out there, moving in the world and in people who do not even realize it. As doers, we are free to go out to our neighbors, see what loving things God is doing in their lives, join them in their ministries of “doing,” and then, through that relationship, share where we see them fitting into Jesus’ kingdom of love and service.