Engaging the World
Do you live in a 'Christian bubble', spending most of your time with only Christians? Here are four helpful suggestions from Pastor Eugene on how to better engage with non-Christians and win them for Christ.
I must confess that I live in a pretty comfortable bubble. All of my colleagues are Christians, and I spend most of my time with family and friends who love Jesus. Don’t get me wrong; it is a blessing to be able to spend so much time with fellow believers. But I am challenged by Jesus’ prayer for his followers in John 17: “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world" (vv 15-18).
It is striking that Jesus does not ask for His disciples to be taken out of the world. After all, isn’t the world a dangerous place for Christians? Jesus Himself says immediately before these verses that the world will hate His followers. So if Jesus has our best interests at heart, then why doesn’t He ask for us to be removed from the world? At the very least, Jesus should have asked for Christians to be cloistered away somewhere, untouched by the world.
Instead, Jesus sends us into the world. We are not to become like the world but we are to be engaged with the world, in order to be faithful to Christ’s commission to make disciples of the nations. So, the question for me is: How do I leave my little bubble? Or, to put it another way: How can we better engage with non-Christians around us, so that we hold forth the word of life and winsomely point them to the only Saviour?
Here are some suggestions to help us get started:
1. Make the effort to listen. It seems obvious to say this, but it bears repeating: non-Christians around us are not evangelistic 'projects'. They have real lives with real struggles. Yes, we must tell them that Jesus saves. But we can strengthen our witness by showing them how Jesus speaks into their lives now and gives them true hope in the midst of their struggles. To do this well, we must be prepared to listen and bring the love of Christ into their lives. Ask questions, such as: How are you really doing? How can I pray for you? How can I help? How can I encourage you? The more we understand their worries, anxieties, fears and doubts, the better able we will be to speak the gospel directly and specifically to them.
2. Faithfully be the church, and invite unbelievers to come and see. People are struggling with disconnectedness, isolation and loneliness in society. There is a deep desire among many for community. The church should be a compelling community that adorns the gospel and makes it attractive to outsiders. Our relationships with one another should give off the aroma of Christ. The love of Christ will also compel us to notice and speak with visitors, whenever we gather for corporate worship on Sunday. Let’s ensure that our care groups are open to newcomers. Our CGs can be a powerful platform for proclaiming the love of Christ in word and deed (John 13:35).
3. Remember that evangelism is best done together. A reason why God has united us as a church is because we are meant to use our gifts together for the common good, including evangelism. Some of us are particularly fruitful in connecting with non-Christians. Others are gifted in hospitality, and some others have the ability to clearly answer questions about the faith. We can be more effective when we work together to advance the gospel. Here is an example of what cooperation could look like: one of my friends has the gift of teaching the gospel. Together with another Christian, he organised an evangelistic Bible study at home. This other believer committed to hosting and cooking meals for the guests, so that my friend could invite non-Christians to dinner and still focus on making the gospel clear.
Let’s introduce our non-Christian family and friends to one another. Let’s also support the church’s outreach initiatives, such as the evangelistic groups that meet on Tuesdays and Sundays, as well as the reading club and tuition ministry. There are many ways we can work together: for example, by inviting non-Christians, by building relationships with the attendees, or by helping to teach the gospel.
4. Volunteer in the local community. We don’t necessarily have to start a church ministry in order to evangelise the local community. There are many social needs in MacPherson, many of which are being met through a number of volunteer initiatives and organisations. Some GBC members serve as volunteers and have managed to build relationships with residents in the MacPherson community. Why not do likewise to get to know more of our neighbours?
Jesus has sent us into the world to “proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet 2:9). May God help us to engage the world together through words and lives that commend the gospel of His Son!