On Wednesday I celebrated my 26th born again day – the day I became a Christian.

I was invited to youth by a friend in class who had never talked to me about God or youth group or anything before, she just turned to me and said do you wanna come to youth group.   I said yes.  Because God had been at work in my life way before then to draw me to him.

But sometimes we forget this.  We forget the power of invitation.  We forget about how God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.  We forget that God uses us to share the gospel and to invite people to church.

We get busy with life and family and work and doing, and we forget that Jesus Himself said that He came to seek and save the lost.  His priority mission was one of rescue.

I want to take Evangelism out of the too hard basket and help us see that this is something we can do in our everyday real lives, with everyday real people, being our everyday real selves.

It is not something for just special super spiritual people. It is not just something for pastors.  It is not even something just for extroverts.

It is the on earth mission that Jesus has given every single one of us if we are Christians.


The good news for us as Christians is : 1 Corinthians 1:27 But God chose the foolish things of this world to put the wise to shame. He chose the weak things of this world to put the powerful to shame.

God chose little people, weak people, people with inferiority complexes to do great things.  He uses ordinary people to extraordinary things for His glory.

He chose:

A 17 year old boy, Joseph, to save his family, Israel
A Jewish maiden, Esther, to deliver her whole country
A hillbilly shepherd boy, David, to become Israel’s greatest king
An ignorant fisherman, Peter, to become the first pastor and chief apostle
A little boy with a sack lunch, a man with a rod, a widow with two mites
YOU!!!

But you say, “I feel so weak, so unworthy…” good.  That’s okay. remember – God has chosen the weak things. Paul went with tears, with fear and trembling, and he commanded us to work out our salvation (what we’re saved to do, that is, bear fruit–win souls) with fear and trembling. So, if you are scared, feel weak, feel foolish or self-conscious, you probably have all the qualifications to become a great soul-winner. (1 Corinthians 2:1-3; Acts 20:31; Philippians 2:12)

 

What is impossible with people is possible with God. We just have to believe that God has called us to go into the world in His name, and not listen to the crippling or even paralyzing labels and limitations imposed by others. We cannot allow them to daunt us. – Christine Caine

 

 

In Luke 8 Jesus tells a parable about a farmer who goes out to sow his seed – some falls on the hard ground, some falls on the wayside, some falls on the shallow soil and some falls on the good soil.   If you’ve been a Christian for a while you’ll probably be familiar with the story.   But I love how you can read a passage even hundreds of times and then see something brand new.

It’s because God’s word isn’t just a book, it isn’t just a collection of wise ways to live, or a history of God’s actions on behalf of people, it is an alive supernatural revelation of who God is and as it speaks to us and transforms us and realigns us with who God is creating us to be.  It takes us from ordinary living to extraordinary adventures as we say YES to Him.

Up to now I’ve always read the passage and about how different people are at different places in their receptivity to God.  Some people are closed off and reject the good news right away, others maybe are interested but it doesn’t take, others say yes but then when the going gets hard they give up and others are good soil, they say yes to God and you see an evident tangible change as they become Christians and as they grow.

What struck me as I read it the other day was the very first phrase.  You see I’ve mostly read it in a version that says “A farmer went out to sow his seed”… but on this day I read “A sower went out to sow his seed.”   For me this was a aha moment.  The sowers purpose is to sow seed.  It’s in his name.  It’s in his identity.  It’s in his calling.  It is who he is.  A sower sows seed.  A sower doesn’t write novels, or bake cakes, or build bridges.  He sows seed.  It’s who he is.  A sower sows.

You and I are sowers.  We are called to sow seeds.

Note also this.  The sower isn’t the grower.  The sowers full responsibility and job description is to sow seed.  And as the passage says, to sow it wherever.  The wayside.  The hard ground.  The shallow ground.  The good soil.   As you go, sow.  Sow the seed.

It is God who makes the seed grow as 1 Corinthians 3:7 says.

So sower, what does sowing seed look like?

Sowing seed is done in our everyday real lives, with everyday real people, being our everyday real self.  It is ordinary conversations that then become God conversations, sharing about how God is real in our lives.

Often we can think of an evangelistic opportunity or conversation as having a discussion about the 4 spiritual laws or 10 commandments or walking a person through a tract – which may be what it looks like.  But often they start out very normal and then someone brings up something that we can use as springboard to talk about God and how He helps us.

I remember having a coffee with the mum of one of my sons friends from primary school.  Im not even sure how we got onto the topic but I think it was over books or movies that we liked and it might of being about the da vinci code movie or something but we found ourselves talking about how Jesus didn’t die but he moved to spain and started a family with Mary Magdalene.  For some of you you might be thinking abort abort get me out of here but honestly I was like THIS IS AWESOME!  Best conversation springboard ever!   We ended up having an amazing conversation about how yes mary loved him, maybe that way at first but maybe not but anyway she was the first to see him after the resurrection and because a disciple and why Jesus died wham bam thank you mam gospel.

A few years ago my daughter performed in Kids For Kids choir concert, with about a hundred kids from local Auckland schools.  I went with a friend, ready to have a night together ooohing and ahhhing and our adorable kids up on stage.  However God had a different plan and had me sit beside a guy with the best Scottish accent and we ended up chatting about how come he’s living in New Zealand, which kid on the stage is his and about work.

Here are 6 ways to begin and have a conversation with a someone that can turn into sowing seed.

  1. Ask questions. Even simple questions like “how was your week?”” If it’s someone you’re meeting for the first time, or someone you’re getting to know beyond hi how are you, “did you grow up around here”” can begin conversations and meaningful connection. Did you grow up round here was a great question for my scottish friend.  “you’ve got a great accent, where are you from?  have you lived in New Zealand long?  how are you settling in?”
  2. Find common ground. Use those simple questions we just talked about to dig a bit deeper and find the commonalities between you. Those things you have in common create a sense of “me too”, you’re like me, we could be friends.  It creates that sense of connection and normality.

I know this might be simple stuff, but we’re demystifying evangelism and making it something we can do in our everyday real lives, with everyday real people, being our everyday real selves.

  1. Celebrate the differences. Of course there are people we meet that are wonderfully different that we are. You might be into downtown abby, but the person you’re talking with might be a die hard Die Hard fan.  That’s okay.  Celebrate the differences.  Use it again to ask more questions and peel back the layers.  “how did you get into that?”
  2. Take it to the next level with these 5 magical words. “That’s interesting, tell me more.” This question is my golden ticket to friendship land.

Did you know that despite being the most connected generation – because of social media – we are the most disconnected generation.  People are longing for real connection.  Did you know research into the factors that contribute to a person living a long life that the top two are… not what you would think, eat well, clean air and exercise etc, but 1. having meaningful social integration, which means you care about the real people in your life.  You know your neighbours.  You know your checkout chicks name.  And the 2nd thing is close relationships.    Connection.  In a generation so connected with texts and social media people feel lonely for face to face real connection.  Because that is how God made them. He made them for relationship with Him and He made relationships with people as the conduit for connecting people to Him.  Most people will read you before they read the bible.  Most people with have a conversation with a person before they reach up and have a conversation with God.   I’ve said it before, but if I was God I would delegate spreading the most awesome message of the greatest news in the whole world, to angels.  Who would appear and say God loves you, give your life to Him, wow.  Or that they would sign write it in the sky.  I love you.  Or that He would take over your tv, you’re watching whatever sitcom or drama or reality show and then its “we interrupt this broadcast to bring you the good news”… But He didn’t choose to go that way.  God chose to use you and me, saved people, people who have experienced for real His amazing love and grace and forgiveness, rescued people, to rescue people.

  1. Follow up – if your neighbour / co-worker / checkout chick tells you something, follow up on it. The other day I had a great chat with my checkout chick who just went on a trip back home to india. She told me about it about 2 months ago and I remembered so when I saw her again this week I asked.  Mini converseations with regular people build a connection.  I encourage you to have a local.  A local café.  A local supermarket.  And to make the most of the face to face interaction you have with those people.  I confess, part of me was delighted when the self serve check outs came into our stores… yay, its so fast, I wont be judged for how much chocolate I buy or the random crazy ingredients for an HKC ice cream party… but part of me was conflicted… do I choose the ease of self serve, or do I choose the real person and the opportunity to create a connection and have a conversation?

 

  1. Tell your story. You have a story and a journey and wisdom and greatness.  Share it.  Be it.

As I pause to connect with others, I am reminded that, just like Jesus, we are called to notice the people around us and to bring a touch of hope into their lives.  A person pursuing obedience is able to pause and touch those that He says need our time, in spite of busy schedules.  // Lysa Terkeurst

Don’t dismiss the power of creating connection and having normal conversations that build genuine relationships, people are people, not projects.  We might be praying for someone and intentionally reaching out to them but we’re also called to love them for them.  In a world starving for meaningful connection genuine interest and care speaks volumes.

 

However God doesn’t just call us to evangelise to strangers.  Its not a one time conversation a spray and walk away moment…  God has intentionally positioned you in your world, with your family, with your circle of friends, with your class, with your workmates, with your whatever because He has called YOU to be the sower in their world.

It used to always amaze me the conversations I would have with parents during my daughters ballet class.   Again I would have that tension of I just want to go and watch my daughter dance, enjoy the music and the creative atmosphere, read a book, whatever but I would more than often find myself in a deep and meaningful conversation with a parent or caregiver down the back.  I realized that God had positioned me in their world for a reason – I might be the only Christian they know.  I might be the only person praying for them.  I might be the only one that is going to encourage them and speak hope and life into the situation.  I even had a grandmother ask someone to move so she could sit beside me and talk to me about her son who was dying!   It wasn’t because there was something special about me but because there is something special about God in me.

 

As Christians we have the Holy Spirit in us, God in us.

 

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human mind has conceived” the things God has prepared for those who love him—

BUT God has revealed to us these things by his Spirit.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.  1 Cor 2:9-12 NIV

But God now unveils these profound realities to us by the Spirit.[p] Yes, he has revealed to us his inmost heart and deepest mysteries through the Holy Spirit, who constantly explores all things. 11 After all, who can really see into a person’s heart and know his hidden impulses except for that person’s spirit? So it is with God. His thoughts and secrets are only fully understood by his Spirit, the Spirit of God. 1 Cor 1:10-12 TPT

 

How amazing is that.  The Holy Spirit in us.  To reveal the things of God to us.  To show us the heart of God.  To give us wisdom and understanding.  To give us love.  To make us like Him.

Acts 1:8 says But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The Holy Spirit isn’t in us for a bless me club.  It’s not just for me.  It’s not just revelation for me.  It’s not just the heart of God for me.  It’s not all about me.

It’s about the people in our world.  It’s about the people God has intentionally positioned us to do life with.    The Holy Spirit is within us to do amazing things through us to reach the lost.    God wants to speak to you about your neighbour, about your teacher, about your classmate, about your boss, about your uber driver, about your barista.  He has insight and revelation from His heart through you to the people in your world.   Those ballet class conversations were opportunities for God to share His heart to people He loved, with me in the middle, saying yes God use me.

God in you is wonderful.  People can feel Him.  They’re drawn to you because of Him through you.

 

In Acts 8:26-40 we can read about an amazing conversation Philip had that should encourage us

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian[a] eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”

30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.

31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

32 This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading:

“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,  and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.  Who can speak of his descendants?  For his life was taken from the earth.”[b]

34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” [37] [c] 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.

 

So I don’t know if you all think like me, but I often wonder what is going on between the lines in the bible.  What did the person feel or think?

Philip was leading a revival in the city of Samaria.  Great crowds came to hear him speak and witness the miracles that were happening.  God was moving.

And the angel of the Lord says go to the desert road.  That’s all.  No further instruction.   I did a bit of digging and this desert road was a busy road, but its still a road.  In the desert.  Its not a bustling city like samaria.  It’s a highway.  But I love Philips response.  He just goes there.  He obeys.  God will position you where He wants to and He does it on purpose.  When I got a job in the customer service team for firth concrete industries part of me was sigh… concrete.  I am not passionate about concrete.  But then as I got to know the girls in my team I realised that God was passionate about these women and that was my purpose for being there.

So Philip is wandering along the desert road and he comes across by chance it seems a rich eithiopian man who is reading the bible.  God had set this meeting up.  The eithiopian was there and Philip was there because God had a divine appointment and a God encounter set up.   The girl I sat with in my classics class was a divine appointment – I chose the desk by chance and she sat beside me by chance but God set me up.   You are in your class on purpose.  You are in your work on purpose.  You are in your sports team, knitting club, whatever on purpose.  Because God has sent you, just as He sent Philip there to share the good news.

 

Evangelism is a bit like being a “travel guide” and we can look at the “definition of evangelism as conversations with people on a spiritual journey”.

We need to think about evangelism as :


Friendship versus Agenda

The old model of evangelism has an agenda, which is about downloading content and closing the deal. The reimagined model has a friendship.

Story versus Rules
Not merely rules and beliefs, but storytelling about God’s reality in our life.

Good News About God’s Kingdom versus Good News About the Afterlife
This involves not merely talking about being forgiven and a one-way ticket to heaven, but God’s rule and reality in this life.

Journey versus Event
It’s not so much about who made a one-time decision; not so much about who’s in and who’s out. Instead it’s about who is journeying toward being a wholehearted follower of Jesus

 

Now I think it’s our dream evangelism scenario to come across someone reading the bible, that would be a huge clue that someone was interested in spiritual things!   But there might be other clues in the people’s lives we’re interacting with that they are interested in God or the supernatural.  What tv shows do they watch?  What books do they read?  Do they check their horoscopes in the newspaper everyday?  What’s on their facebook feed?   A few years ago I did a life coaching course on the North Shore.  One morning tea break one of the other course participants pulled out a deck of tarot cards.  Part of me was like eeeek because I do believe there is real power, not good power, in such things, but part of me was like YAY, they’re into spiritual things and this is an open invitation for me to talk about God.  So they did their readings and I prayed and rebuked and was like oh my word all the way through and then turned the conversation round to God and ended up having the best conversation about Jesus and supernatural power and after the day got to pray and prophecy with one of the other women.

 

Did you know that 7 out of 10 people say they would come to church if they were invited?

The only problem is, we rarely ask the question.

We might have someone who could be totally up for it right in front of us, sitting next to us in class or at work, and we hesitate because of our own fears and insecurities.

I was perusing youtube the other day and came across a video of penn, from penn and teller magic duo, talking about how a man waited for him after a show, not for an autograph or a selfie, but to give him a gift.  A bible.   For those who don’t know, Penn is a very vocal atheist.  He has publically declared his viewpoint.    Which makes his youtube video about the gift of a bible even more intriguing.

The man complimented Penn on the show, then said, “I brought this for you.” The man held up a small book. It was a New Testament with the Psalms, something that could fit in a person’s pocket.

“I wrote in the front of it,” the man said, “and I wanted you to have this.” The man explained he was a businessman and not crazy.

Penn, moved by the man’s gesture, recalled: “He was kind, and nice, and sane, and looked me in the eyes, and talked to me, and then gave me this Bible.”

“I’ve always said,” Penn explained, “I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe there is a heaven and hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward.

“How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate someone to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”

Penn then offered this example to illustrate his point: “If I believed, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe it, that that truck was bearing down on you, there’s a certain point that I tackle you, and this is more important than that.”

“This guy was a really good guy. He was polite, honest, and sane, and he cared enough about me to proselytize and give me a Bible.”

 

Lost people matter to God so they should matter to us.

Sowers sow the seed.  Rescued people rescue people.

We have the incredible blessing of knowing that God is real, that He loves us, that He forgives us and that Jesus died on the cross to make a way for us to come close to God.  We experience his love and His grace and the wonder it is that the God who created the universe, who breathed out the stars, who has all power and glory, who is the God that heals and does amazing things, we are His friends.

God calls us, as His friends who experience all the goodness of God, to tell other people of that goodness, of that hope, of that salvation.

We are the sowers.  We are the messengers of good news.  We are the ones handing out the invitation to the greatest party of the universe.  We have a heavenly responsibility. “Lost people matter to God, and so they must matter to us.”

Will you today take up the challenge of Philip to be led by the Spirit into conversations with the people God has put on your path?