The First Move (Sharing Your Faith)

(Sermon by Milton Bost)

One evening, back around 1971, I got up the courage to call a girl named Carla that I was attracted to.  Back then the phone was in our living room and my Dad was sitting in his chair reading.  On the second ring the girl picked up the phone and said, “Hello, this is Carla.”  I stuttered a bit and said, “Uh, hey, yeah, this is Milton, Milton Bost.  You wouldn’t want to go out with me, would ya?”.  She laughed and said, “Milton, you’re so funny. “  Then she hung up.  My Dad looked at me in a stunned fashion and said, “That’s not the way to ask a girl out.  You just told her she didn’t want to go out with you.  Let her make the choice.  Your first move needs to be positive.” 

The first move sets the tone for the reciprocal move.  Here are some equally poor first lines.

If we were to go out for dinner, where would we go?

What’s a smart, attractive guy like me doing without your number?

I’m new in town.  Can you show me the way to your heart?

My friends would be jealous if you went out with me.

Hey. So when our friends ask us how we met, what are we going to tell them?

Do you have an ugly boyfriend? No? Want one?

Are you a 0% APR loan? Because I’m having trouble understanding your terms and you aren’t showing any interest.

Are you my appendix? Because I don’t know anything about you but this feeling in my gut is telling me that I should take you out.

For some reason, the first move is also the most challenging thing about sharing our faith.  What is the best opening line?  Can’t I just wait until they ask me first?  What if I embarrass them or make them mad?

I have some very sobering statistics to share with you about the people around us in relation to the Christian faith.  These statistics are pulled out of the air or through shoddy research.  These are (Revival Outside The Walls) ROTW Certified Statistics, which represent the evidence-based consensus of three or more respected research studies, compiled over five years and thousands of hours of research on all church related studies, by Dr. Doug Petersen, Oxford Center for Mission Studies.

Only 8% of regular church attenders believe that sharing their faith is “very important.”

69% of churchgoers believe that everyone will go to Heaven.

Almost 50% of Christians think that most non-Christians have no interest in hearing about Jesus.

78% of the unchurched would listen to someone who shared what they believed about Christianity.

56% of all Americans believe the Holy Spirit is a force but not a person.   

3 out of 4 Christians (74%) seldom have a “spiritual conversation” with anyone.    

52% of all “Christians” believe that non-Christian faiths can lead to eternal life.   

2 out of 3 Christians (65%) say it is better to share your faith by the way you live, rather than to speak about it.   

While 1 in 4 Americans are done with church, half of all Americans (48%) are done with God. Known as post-Christian, they say that God plays no role whatsoever in their life. 

93% of practicing Christians aren’t comfortable to have a conversation about the Lord with their own grandchildren.

Two-thirds of all American churches are experiencing (1) no growth and (2) a decline in numbers.

24 of 25 Millennials don’t have a Biblical worldview.   

The need for sharing our faith is desperately evident.  The Biblical call to be faithful in sharing our faith is substantial.

Mark 16:15-16 (NKJV)

15 And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.

16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

1 Peter 3:15-16 (NKJV)

15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;

16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.

Matthew 9:37-38 (NKJV)

37 Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.

38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."

Acts 1:8 (NKJV)

8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

However, to be effective in sharing the gospel, your FIRST MOVE can make all the difference.  Share Jesus Without Fear, by William Fay, is an excellent resource for being trained to share the gospel.  However, it is one of many evangelism training resources.  All of them have general similarities.

The concepts that Fay presents are universal concepts to accomplish a simple task that seems so difficult to Christ’s followers.  We have no fear expressing our political views to others.  We have no fear expressing our sports team loyalties to others.  We have no fear expressing our love for family members to others.  But for some reason, we hesitate, we pull back, we stumble, we procrastinate, we tremble at sharing the gospel with someone.  We can say that this is due to the discussion of religion being so controversial, or personal, or volatile.  I would ask you, “How many times in your sharing your faith has someone reacted negatively to you?  How many times have they told you to shut up?  How many times have they quit speaking to you because your bringing up the subject offended them?”  Most of you would have to say “Never.”  But probably most of you would also have to be honest with yourself and say, “Then again, I haven’t shared

my faith many times, if at all.”   

Just to give you some comfort here…sharing your faith, sharing the gospel, is something that our enemy, Satan, seeks to silence, to confuse, to negate.  We are ambassadors in enemy territory.  He does not want believers to share the gospel with non-believers.  I could list for you so many interferences and interruptions that he has thrown into my path.  However, his biggest success comes from within me and within us.  The biggest challenge is making the first move.

On the other hand, people are not our enemy.  In fact, they are the fields white unto harvest.  They are hungering and thirsting after righteousness and don’t even know it.

Every day they pass me by.

I can see it in their eyes.

Empty people filled with care

Headed who knows where.

On they go through private pain,

Living fear to fear.

Laughter hides their silent cries,

Only Jesus hears.

People need the Lord, people need the Lord

At the end of broken dreams, He's the open door.

People need the Lord, people need the Lord

When will we realize people need the Lord?

We must make the first move.  How do we do that?

The First Move Must Be By God's Guidance.

Does the thought of sharing your faith in Jesus Christ with others cause you feelings of fear and inadequacy?  That is understandable, but it is not excusable.  However, the guidance of God has provided for this spiritual task.  God does not intend for His command to give you feelings of fear and inadequacy. Instead, His command expresses God's intent to include us in His wonderful plan to redeem humanity.

Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV)

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

The first move on your part is to be in right relationship with God yourself.  That doesn’t mean you have to be a theological scholar.  It doesn’t mean you have to have massive amounts of Scripture memorized.  It doesn’t mean you have to have years of experience as a Christian.  Really there is no special trick to it.  You must have a relationship with Jesus Christ and you must put your trust in Him.   If that describes you, then he “is with you always.”  God will lead you and God will go before you.  You need to ask the Lord for His guidance as to with whom to share your faith, when to share your faith and how to share your faith…but it is not all that complicated.  God hears your prayers and is faithful to grant you anything according to His will. Since God Himself desires to see everyone come to the knowledge of the truth (2 Peter 3:9), then you should confidently ask Him to provide opportunities to share your faith. Praying for God to guide your Christian witnessing encounters allows you to rely on His supernatural power rather than your own ability. He will remove your fear and feelings of inadequacy.

Furthermore, trust Him rather than your feelings.  He will change your feelings as you are obedient.  Once you have had the experience of being a part of someone coming to Christ, the feelings of fear and inadequacy are overcome by joy and praise.

Now, there are some things of which we need to be aware as we make the first move.

The First Move Must Ask The Right Questions.

Starting a discussion about spirituality is often the biggest barrier to our sharing our faith with others. I must admit, it is not the most common subject for beginning a conversation nor is it the most common subject of most discussions. However, it is the most important subject of humanity.

We encounter people every day.  The people with whom we talk the most are people with whom we have developed some type of relationship.  These people really are the easiest to bridge a conversation toward spiritual matters.  On the other hand, being an engaging person with new acquaintances can just as easily provide the same bridge. 

The question you’re probably asking is, “How do I approach this subject in the midst of everyday conversation? “

Here are some first move lines I don’t recommend:

I notice that you drink, smoke and cuss.  Did you know that you’re headed for hell?

You’ve probably noticed that I live a really righteous life.  Would you like to know how to be like me?

Hey, listen, I don’t have a lot of time to chat, but let me get to my point.  If you were to die right now and stand before God and He asked you why He should let you into His heaven, what would you say?

To be perfectly honest, everything you just talked about is worthless compared to what I have to tell you, so listen up.

You can make this a much easier task by using the simple technique of asking questions about what the other person believes.. This usually offers two benefits. First, the other person may be more obliged to listen to your beliefs once you have listened to theirs. Second, and more importantly, this technique allows you to know what is going on in the other person’s life so that you can better minister to them.  As you engage the person in conversation, there are numerous doors that conveniently seque into non-invasive spiritual conversation

Here are a few questions that can move the conversation from a secular topic to a spiritual topic. The questions act as a funnel to introduce the Gospel.

Spirituality seems to be rather broad topic. Do you hold any kind of spiritual beliefs?

There are a lot of religious figures equated with spiritual subjects.  Jesus and His teachings really attract me.   What do you think about Jesus?

What is most spiritually important to me is the eternal.  Have you ever contemplated what there is beyond this life? Do you think there is a heaven or a hell?

I have peace about my eternal destiny because of Jesus’ teachings.

I really don’t have a fear about dying because I know there is so much awaiting me in heaven.  Do you have that peace?  If you were to suddenly die tonight, where do you expect you will go?

Years ago someone told me about Jesus’ provision for eternal life with Him in Heaven.  I am so thankful for that.  It changed my whole life.  I had some very confused ideas back then.  If what you were believing was not true, would you want to know what was truth?

These five questions, asked in the order listed above, are engaging and positive.  They can move a conversation from the secular to the spiritual. And if the other person’s answer to the fifth questions is "yes", you will have the privilege of sharing your faith with them.

Your testimony is a powerful and valid part of sharing your faith with someone.  However, the Word of God is a powerful two-edged sword that speaks to the depth of a person’s soul.

The First Move Must Let God's Word Speak.

To share the gospel you don’t have to recite an elaborate presentation. Simply open your Bible and let God's Word speak for itself or use a tract with Scripture printed in it. It’s always best to use your Bible.  However, a small one is preferable because small Bibles (New Testaments)  tend to be less intimidating to non-Christians.  Carrying a large Bible into the encounter is rather conspicuous.  In that small Bible list in the front cover several salvation passages you can share, then mark or underline them in your Bible.

Some of the passages that serve this purpose are:

Romans 6:23 (NKJV)  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

John 3:3 (NKJV)  Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

John 14:6 (NKJV)  Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Romans 10:9-11 (NKJV)

9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  

10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

11 For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame."

2 Corinthians 5:15 (NKJV) He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

Revelation 3:20 (NKJV)  Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

Using either your Bible or a gospel sharing tract, invite the other person to read a verse aloud and then have them explain the verse to you.  Take them through all the verses. If the person interprets a passage incorrectly, don't argue or offer your interpretation, but politely ask them to read it again, and then explain it yourself the second time. . Encourage them by affirming a correct understanding.

If the person mentions that they don't believe in or agree with the Bible, don’t argue with them. You can state that you simply want them to understand what the Bible says about eternity. It is not our responsibility to convict. Conviction is God's job.  All we can do is share the gospel. Once we have shared it, we have done God's will. Leave the results and the credit up to God.

Depending upon the relationship you have with the person, don’t allow a rejection of the gospel to be a rejection of your friendship.  God does things in His time and in His way.  That person is important to the Lord and should remain important to you.  Pray that the Holy Spirit will change their mind at some point. 

What you will find as you trust the Lord in obedience to share your faith is that most people will listen to you.  Perhaps there may be a person or two who will rudely reject your presenting the gospel, but more often than not that will happen early in the conversation.  The biggest obstacle you will have to overcome is your own fear to make the first move.

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