Unless you’ve been under a rock for the last month, you should be well aware that this weekend is our Engage outreach. We have been praying, planning, and preparing for this weekend since, well, since we wrapped up our last Engage weekend in April. Dozens of you have signed up and are planning to get out this weekend, rock your bright blue Engage shirt, and serve in one of our various Engage projects. If that’s you and your family, THANK YOU! Engage has had an incredible impact on the life of our church family, and I know the Lord will use our work this weekend to glorify himself and encourage us even more.
Many of you are excited (hopefully) about the opportunity to serve and connect with families and neighbors who don’t know the Lord yet. And as you are thinking about how you will serve – whether you will be singing and painting nails, reading to children, washing windshields, grilling brats, serving slushes, or washing cars – many of you also have had a question pop up in your mind the bugs you… what if I have to talk to somebody?
This is a common question, and sometimes a real fear, for many Christians as we go out to serve others. We’re comfortable using our hands. Many of you are experts at welcoming people warmly, serving enthusiastically, and working tirelessly to bless others. But when we begin to think about actually talking about Jesus with folks we don’t know well, it’s easy to get a little anxious.
If that’s you, I hope this post can help. Below are four simple conversational tools or strategies to help you navigate your Engage conversations and feel more comfortable inviting others to consider Jesus:
Tool #1 – The Simple Invitation
This is the easiest response. If you get the opportunity to explain to somebody why we do Engage, and perhaps you’re unsure about tangling your words, here is a short and sweet answer. “We are doing this to show that we are for our city and we are for your family. Our pastor is actually going to talk about all of this Sunday morning. Would you like to come with me to check out our church Sunday morning?” That’s it. If you’re feeling a little bolder, ask them if you can take them out to lunch after to church to talk about any questions they might have.
Tool #2 – Remember your FIRM Foundation
FIRM is a conversational strategy to help you direct a regular conversation to a chance to talk about your faith in Jesus. Darrel Robinson published this in the book People Sharing Jesus, and it’s become one of my favorites because it’s so easy to remember. This four-part plan gives you a road map to talk about faith with anyone. It goes like this:
- F – Family. Everyone loves to talk about themselves or their family, so this is a great icebreaker. Are you from around here? Hold old are your kids? What schools do your children go to? This is simple small talk just to get a friendly conversation going.
- I – Interest. Look for something that you might have in common. Do you all spend a lot of time swimming? We love it, too. Have you caught any Pokemon around here this week? Again, you’re building a new relationship. Even if the person you are talking to isn’t interested in your faith today, you might just meet some fascinating people and build a great friendship. All you have to do is ask. [Alternative: O – Occupation. For men, it may be more natural to simply ask, What do you do?]
- R – Religion. Here is where you start to turn the corner. Start with a generic, non-intrusive religious question. So do you have a church family here town? Did you grow up around church? How the person responds to these might give you a great clue to whether he or she is open to talking about matters of faith. If they close themselves off, just let it go. It’s ok. However, if they are open to talking about their faith or experiences, it opens the door for the last step.
- M – Message. After listening (really listening) to understand where your new friend has been and what beliefs she holds, simply ask permission to share your perspective. Would you mind if I shared with you what we believe about Jesus/God’s plan/faith/etc.? You know, my experience was kind of like yours up to a point. May I share how God changed my view on that? One question leads into an explanation of the gospel. The other leads into a chance to share your own journey toward faith in Jesus. Speaking of which…
Tool #3 – Your Story
The instructions on this one are really simple. When you get the chance, just share with someone the short(!) version of how you came to believe in Jesus. Talk about how you lived and what you believed before you were saved. Tell about what person, experience, Bible verse, or conversation helped open your eyes to the truth of the gospel. Then share how you are different since you started following Jesus. Keep the whole thing under 2-3 minutes. The beautiful part of this is that no one can argue, because it’s your own story.
Tool #4 – The Gospel in 3 Circles
As the Lord presents opportunities, we want to be sure we are prepared to speak clearly about the Gospel message. Can you explain clearly and briefly what we believe about the Bible and how God saves us? If you’d like some help, we have a tool to make things easier on you. Family Church (an SBC church) in West Palm Beach, Florida has created a great tool called 3 Circles. It is an easy-to-remember and easy-to-share method for explaining the essence of the gospel. We will have 3 Circles conversation guides available at each of our projects to help you share the gospel when you get the chance. Just ask your project leader if you need. To see an introduction and explanation of the 3 Circles, check out this helpful video from Pastor Jimmy Scroggins of Family Church.
Hopefully one or more of these tools will be a practical help to you in Engaging your neighbors this weekend and in days to come. I’m looking forward to serving alongside all of you!
Thank you for being ready to Engage.