Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sunday night small group - testimony, week 1

Sunday night's small group focused on "Testimony: Telling the Story with our Life".  It was the first in this month's 4-week study and week #1 is always the "What?" and "Why?" - exploring the definition and importance.  I sometimes feel nervous about talking to other people when it comes to God, specifically when you have a purpose in mind.  Not if it's another believer, but when speaking with an unbeliever or someone in question, it's difficult to anticipate how the conversation will go.  Will they be hostile and debate what you're saying, be curious or completely open?  So, I found this to be an interesting topic. 

We read through 1 Peter 1, broke everything down by verse and this is part of the discussion that followed...

"What word comes to mind when you hear the word Evangelism?"  Fear, Mormons & Jehovah's witness, tracts and knocking on doors, anxiety, pressure

"What if evangelism was less about defending a doctrine than delighting in a person?  What if our effectiveness in sharing the gospel was less about a polished technique than a vibrant love relationship with Jesus?  What if our witness is more about who we are than what we can do?

The truth is we are constantly evangelizing.  The way we live our lives is constantly telling people how we define 'good news'.  Our lives, attitudes, actions, reactions and words tell a story of where we have placed our hope."

"Do you think our culture uses the label 'born-again' to identify a subset of people within a larger group of 'Christians'?  Why?"  Just over seventy percent of people today call themselves Christians.  Those who are "born-again" make up only a small percentage of that and are labeled weird, conservative and fanatical but, Peter was saying this of all true followers of Christ [that they should be "born-again"].

"Evangelism is not about winning people to a religion.  We are not seeking converts.  If we were trying to do these things, our approach would be entirely different.  How so?"  It would be more of a "marketed approach", thinking that what comes out of our mouths is going to "save" someone.  More about having a systematic list of verses we use when we witness. 

I have to know and understand that "new birth" is a supernatural event...something I can't accomplish.  I'm not able to "save" anyone, that's in God's hands.  I can share my testimony through the way I live my life and through speech but, the fact that I can't save someone, this is good, because it takes the pressure off of me, the weight off of my back.  I can witness to someone all I want but, God is the one in control.

There are opportunities daily to live and speak about where we've placed our hope and the excitement we have in that hope.  Therefore, evangelism is a call to holy living.  Peter writes in v.13-16...
  • prepare your minds for service
  • have self-control
  • put all your hope in the gift of grace
  • be obedient
  • do not live as you did in the past
  • be holy in all you do
"Now that you have made yourselves pure by obeying the truth, you can have true love for your Christian brothers and sisters.  So love each other deeply with all your heart." 1 Peter 1:22  Therefore, we can live out our testimony and we can speak it in love to others.

That's just the tip of the iceberg and definitely a great study!  I'm excited for next week when we talk about the "Who?" - Be Who You Are (Evangelism must always flow from identity!)