This week I'll be co-teaching a workshop on refugee outreach at Crescent Project's National Conference. My colleague James will begin that workshop with a short devotional from Luke chapter 7 where Jesus is asked to heal a centurion's servant.
It's a story that has caused me a fare amount of conviction the past few weeks as I've meditated on it. I'll hope it does the same for you.
Jesus has just finished teaching the masses when a group of elders from the Jewish synagogue show up to ask him to come and heal a Roman centurion's servant who has fallen ill. Roman centurion's were the senior officers of a legion of Roman soldiers.
Roman soldiers who are occupying Israel.
Roman soldiers who have brutalized and oppressed the Jewish people.
Already this story is a bit crazy.
But when these elders get to Jesus they don't just ask, they plead with Jesus saying, "He is worthy for You to do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue."
Jesus goes with these elders and the story ends with the centurion telling Jesus he doesn't need to come, he just needs to say the word. The centurion understands authority and Jesus famously praises the man saying, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith."
This is the part that is most often the focus of the story but let's go back to the request of the Jewish elders. In every respect, the Roman occupation has been a terrible blight on the Jews in Israel. And yet here are the oppressed pleading the case of a man who is supposed to be their enemy.
Because he loves them. He has poured out his love in generosity. He has lived a life among them that has demonstrated extraordinary love.
And the question James challenges us with is this: Is your church living in such a way with the refugee and immigrant communities in your context that if the government came to shut your church down, would refugees and immigrants be the first ones to come and plead your case?
Would refugees in your community come out saying, "No, you can't shut this church down! They've loved us. They've helped us with extravagant generosity."
Do our churches have a centurion's reputation?
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In John 4, Jesus talks with a Samaritan woman at well outside of her town. During this interaction, the woman begins to suspect and even believe that Jesus might be the prophesied messiah.
Leaving her water jugs, she rushes back to her community where she proclaims, “Come see a man who told me everything I did. Could he be the messiah?”
We don’t know a lot about this woman, but the result of this simple statement is that the people of her villiage come out to see Jesus for themselves and many believed.
Jesus spends two unplanned days with the townsfolk who end by saying, “We no longer believe just because of what you [the woman] said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” [read the story here]
We have learned to use this story as a teaching tool at our E2E training events. It answers a few questions to help us share the gospel:
The woman goes back to her community; her friends and family and acquaintances. This is her relational network. And our own relation networks are who we can begin to share with and for whom we should be praying regularly [Read: Personal Prayer Strategy].
The woman shares two things. The first is a one sentence summary of her story. The second is a question pointing to the gospel. Those are two ways we see the good news shared in the New Testament: personal testimony and gospel presentation.
These are what we can share.
And when does the woman begin to share? After her seminary training? After her confirmation class or new members class? No. The woman begins sharing immediately! She has discovered good news and she will not be stopped.
With today’s article we want to look at that middle question: What do we share?
We’ve previously written about a helpful tool for sharing the gospel called The Three Circles. There are a lot of great gospel sharing tools, but this is one we train people to use at E2E events.
We also train everyone how to share their story in 15 seconds. This is just a smidge longer than the Samaritan woman’s testimony but the purpose is the same: to invite people to learn more about Jesus. This is something we’ve learned from the No Place Left coalition.
We use the diagram below as a teaching tool to help shape our 15 second testimonies. There is also a great training video that I’d encourage you to watch both to craft your own 15 second testimony but also to have as a tool to train others.
We aren't using the 15 second testimony to explain the fullness of the gospel. We use it to open up spiritual conversations that give us a chance to hear someone’s story and to invite them to come and discover Jesus for themselves.
[Read an example of how this was shared]
Crafting Your 15 Second Testimony
Watch the video below and allow Troy Cooper to train you to share your 15 Second Testimony.
It was noon and I was meeting my new friend Musa* for an hour over my lunch break. We’d decided to meet at our favorite coffee shops to connect. I’d first met Musa when he had reached out looking for someone to practice his English with. He’d had a lifetime of classroom instruction in his home of Cairo, Egypt* but had few native English speakers with whom he could practice.
The first time we met we covered the bases of getting to know one another. Where are you from? What is your family like? What do you like to do in your free time? The sounds of Arabic were all around him in the busy Cairo coffee shop where he sat.
I then asked Musa what he did for a living. He is a young guy, in his early twenties and had just gotten started working as a mobile phone app developer.
Then he returned the favor and asked me what I do. I’m in full time ministry so this is always an interesting question to answer. But I dove in.
I help people in churches in America understand and follow Jesus. That is pretty broad but it involves teaching, training, coaching, encouraging and casting vision with leaders and regular people. I'm not going to get rich, but I do find tremendous fulfillment in doing the things that I believe that God has made me to do. I bet that sounds a little crazy, but that's what I do and really it's who I am.
I could tell He didn’t completely understand what I was talking about so he asked a few more questions but then moved on, wondering if I’d been to Turkey. He’d recently visited Istanbul and loved the city. I told him of our four and a half years living there and how much we loved the people we knew there.
We meandered in and out of topics and then he asked a serious question, “I hope to hear an emotional situation you have been through?”
I thought for a few minutes and then told him about a recent struggle I’d been facing and about how our family had spent time praying for God’s wisdom and healing. It was good to be transparent with my new friend even though it felt a bit hard and I wasn’t sure he was following everything. Musa’s English is good but he hasn’t had a lot of experience talking about personal topics.
When I was finished, I said, “What about you? Have you been through any hard situations in life?”
Musa was contemplating his answer when he looked at his watch. He gave me a wry smile. “I’ll have to tell you next time. I’ve got to go now. But let’s make sure and meet again.”
As Musa left, I wondered about our conversation. Had I said too much about what I do? Should have I asked more questions about his faith and beliefs? Should I have offered to pray for him before he left? What if I had said something wrong?
I spent some time praying for our time together asking the Lord to use it for his glory and to reveal himself to Musa.
And then I removed my headphones and shut down Facebook Messenger on my laptop computer. I got up from my seat in the corner of my coffee shop in South Dakota, grabbed my mug and headed up to the counter for a refill.
Though we were half a world away, Musa and I had enjoyed a great cup of coffee and better conversation.
We continue to connect regularly, oftentimes just texting back and forth, sometimes hopping on a video chat to say a quick hello and at other times, setting aside an hour to grab a cup of coffee for an extended talk.
To my surprise, Musa had quickly moved into questions of faith. I’ve introduced him to Discovery Bible Study and we are slowly working through a creation to Christ story set. We read a passage of scripture - I paste it into Messenger and he reads the Arabic and I read the English. We then ask some simple questions to help us discover what the story says about God, about people and about how we should live our lives.
It’s been slow because Musa often brings up his own questions - questions that are stretching me and forcing me to dig into my own faith and theology. We started with his questions about the Christian idea of a triune God. We’re now pressing into the validity of the Bible. And those conversations are packed in between talk of family and culture and food and movies and dreams for life.
It’s a whole lot of fun.
I am the only true follower of Jesus that Musa knows. I’ve been able to pray for him and continue to pray for him regularly. Musa is one of many young guys that I am connecting with online all across the Muslim world and someday, I hope I will be able to meet all of them in person, if not in this life, then in the eternity of heaven. That is my prayer for each of them.
There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world today and collectively, Christians are sending one missionary into the Muslim world for every 405,000 Muslims.
This has to change.
John Stott has said, “We must be global Christians with a global vision because our God is a global God.”
Because of advances in technology and the globalization of our world, millions of people throughout the Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Animistic and un-religious worlds are working to learn English. They are going online to try and find people with whom they can practice speaking.
A new door of missionary activity has opened and it is open to everyone who is a follower of Jesus and has an Internet connection. Geography is no longer a barrier to your relationship with a Muslim like Musa.
C.T. Studd said, “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.”
Will you sacrifice an hour a week to invest in a relationship with a young man or woman in the Muslim world who is looking for friendship and someone to practice English with?
*For security, names and places have been changed.
1 - http://www.thetravelingteam.org/stats
Let Us Help You
Zume is a small group training module focused on helping small bands of Jesus followers learn how to obey the great commission and to multiply.
And in that, it is not your average small group study.
Zume is an online training that has ten lessons of roughly two hours each.
Zúme means yeast in Greek. In Matthew 13:33, Jesus is quoted as saying, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a woman who took yeast and mixed it into a large amount of flour until it was all leavened." This illustrates how ordinary people, using ordinary resources, can have an extraordinary impact for the Kingdom of God. Zúme aims to equip and empower ordinary believers to saturate the globe with multiplying disciples in our generation.
Gather a group of like minded friends and get started today!
Driving through Mcpherson, KS on my way back from an Everywhere to Everywhere training event in Wichita, I pulled into a gas station to fill up for the drive back to South Dakota. Mcpherson is a small midwestern town of around 13,000 people with a small Christian college, a strong economy and a lot of churches.
But there behind the counter was an olive skinned man whose heavy accent belied the reality that he was not born in the U.S. With curiosity and expectation I asked where he was from and he told me his homeland was India.
I inquired further, "So if you are from India, you speak both English and Hindi, but you also probably speak a third language as well, is that right?"
Surprised by my interest, he smiled and said, "Yes, I also speak Gujarati."
While he was telling me this and ringing up the sale, I pulled out my smartphone and opened the Jesus Film App. Clicking on the "map" tab, I showed him the map of the world that opened up on the screen. Zooming in on India, I tapped the little red flag that opened up a list of over 200 languages that are spoken there.
I pointed at what looked like the language he had mentioned and he said, "Yes, that is it. That’s my language."
Ten seconds later the Jesus Film began playing in his native tongue - a language spoken by nearly 57 million people. The man smiled then and nodding his head happily said, "Yes! Yes, that is my language."
The Gujarati people are an unreached people group at less than 1% evangelical Christian. And there he was right behind the counter selling me gasoline and a coke as we listened to the beginning of the Jesus film in his native language.
But then he caught me off guard as he asked me a question.
"Are you a Christian?"
"Yes," I replied, "I am a follower of Jesus." I was giddy with anticipation, thinking that this was one of those God prepared moments, that perhaps he'd had a dream of Jesus and was going to ask me to tell him how to become a Christian.
It was indeed a God prepared moment, but the the lesson was to be for me.
Reaching beneath the counter and pulling out a magazine, the man said, "Another Christian was here a few days ago and gave me this." He held out the magazine for me to see.
It was a pamphlet from the Jehovah's Witnesses.
The least reached from the world are here. They are immigrating to our cities and towns. They are coming to our universities. They are looking for friendship and hope and truth and if we don't reach them, someone else will.
If it’s not the Jehovah’s Witnesses, it’ll be the Mormons or the American dream or secular humanism or radical jihadists or atheists.
Someone at some time will reach them.
The only question is who it will be and with what message. Let us not neglect God's call to reach the nations locally, nationally and globally.
We all have a role to play in God's global purpose.
As we head out into diverse neighborhoods in our city, we often run into new Americans, people who've just recently come to North America and who have yet to master the English language. Like first generation immigrants from years past, they'll probably never master English, working rather to earn a living and give their children a chance at a better life than they had.
As someone interested in sharing the good news of Jesus with these new neighbors, this poses an interesting challenge.
Technology offers a way around this challenge. There are some amazing apps that you can use to help share the good news of Jesus with the nations among us. These can be found by searching for the apps below on either your iPhone or Android phone.
Here are seven smart phone apps for reaching the nations among us that we have found helpful. As always, if you know of others, please share them in the comments below.
[READ ALL OF THE 7 SERIES BLOG POSTS]
Bible.is has a number of features that are helpful. If there is an audio version of the particular language, you can use it to listen to the language. I know a friend who was doing a creation to Christ Bible study with a Somali family and he'd simply place his phone in a bowl on the table (for amplification) and play the chapter of the Bible they were exploring that week. The family would listen in Somali and then they'd discuss the passage.
Learn more here: http://www.bible.is/
In our last post, Introduction to Discovery Bible Study (DBS), we looked at DBS as a discipleship tool to help followers of Jesus enter into a deeper, fuller reading of God's word and move toward greater maturity using DBS. With this article, we'll look at how to use DBS with your friends who are not yet followers of Jesus.
Jesus commanded his followers to make disciples of all nations. Making disciples begins by helping people who are far from God find their way into a relationship with him. They need to hear the good news of Jesus.
They need to be evangelized.
There are a lot of images that probably come to mind when you think about evangelizing but I wonder if sitting down and reading the Bible with your Muslim friend is one of them. Richard Kronk conducted research on the conversion to Christianity of Muslims immigrants in North America and found that 82% of former Muslims in the study had found or recieved a Bible and read it.
The Bible's influence should not surprise us.
Scripture is clear that the word of God is powerful. Isaiah reminds us that:
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (55:10-11)
The writer of Hebrews tells us that "the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (4:12). And Paul in his letter to the Romans makes it abundantly clear that "faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ " (10:17).
If we believe what the Bible says about the Bible, then we should do all we can to help our Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist friends find their way into the Bible, to read it for themselves and allow the word of God and the Holy Spirit to work in their hearts and minds.
Discovery Bible Study is a simple tool that you can facilitate. It allows non-believeing friends to explore scripture in a non-threatening way and provides you a simple format to help them discover God in His word for themselves. It relies on the word of God and the Holy Spirit rather than on you.
DBS is in one sense a slow form of evangelism.
It is as well a powerful tool to begin to set the DNA of new believers and begin training them even before they commit to following Jesus. It is simple - we read a scripture together and together explore the scripture through a series of questions. Because of this simplicity anyone can facilitate a discovery Bible study; you, new believers, even those who have not yet believed.
Gordon Baines in his article, DBS in a Nutshell, cites six key reasons why he thinks DBS is such a powerful tool:
Intervarsity, in an article about DBS, shares four important principles to consider. Discovery Bible Studies should focus on:
So How Does It Work?
The first step is to simply ask your friend or a group of friends or a family if they would like to read the Bible with you. You can simply ask your friends this question: I'm looking for someone to read the Bible with me. Would you be interested?
See if you can get together with them at their home and with their family. Gather around tea or coffee and follow the format below.
Basic Format for a DBS
Below is a basic format for DBS that we teach at our Everywhere to Everywhere events. It follows a three thirds process. The first third of meeting time is dedicated to pastoral care and taking care of one another as well as accountability. The second third is dedicated to the scriptures through the discovery method. The final third is focused on application, practice and commissioning. Allow equal time for each third - 20-30 minutes at least.
Here is what your DBS time can look like:
What is one thing you are thankful for and one thing that is stressing you out?
How did you do this week with your personal application? Who did you share with? Did we meet any needs in our community?
Read the scripture passage out loud 2-3 times.
Retell the passage using your own words as if you were having a cup of coffee with a friend. (Not what you think it means but simply retell it.)
How will you practically apply what you learned in the passage to your life this week? What is one thing you will do or change because of this story?
Who can you tell about what your learned this week? When?
BLESSING THE COMMUNITY
Is there anyone we know who has a need and can we as a group do something about it? Who can we bless?
What Passages Should I Start With?
The passages that you chose to read during your discovery time will depend on the context. Around the Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist world, many are starting with a set of stories called Creation to Christ studies. These start with Genesis 1 - God's creation of the world, and then works forward to Christ. Starting with creation and our creator God allows you to begin with a story that is similar to what Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists believe. You can find a creation to Christ study at the link below.
[Creation to Christ DBS Study]
Other story sets start with Jesus. These can be good for someone who wants to learn about Jesus or for your friend who is disillusioned with church and religion. Below are a few more story sets and ideas.
[Stories of Hope DBS Study] -- [Signs of John DBS Study]
As you connect and grow to understand your friend or group, you’ll find that you will begin to put your own story sets together in response to the questions and needs of the group.
For example, if your group has particular anxiety over the power of jinn (evil spirits in Islam) in the world, you might put together four or five stories of power encounters with evil spirits from the Bible.
In the Intervarsity article cited above, the author includes story sets for topics like graduation, Easter and leadership.
[Intervarsity Story Sets]
Do you have any story sets that you use for a particular topic or issue? Share them in the comments below.
Discovery Bible Study is a tested method of reading the Bible with your not yet believing friends. It is simple. It gets them into the living and active word of God and it allows them to discover for themselves the living God of the Bible.
I would encourage you to start by doing a DBS with some believing friends or with your family. Commit to doing all of the Stories of Hope study or Signs of John study above. It will take some time to get used to DBS so stick with it.
Once you familiarize yourself with the process – this should only take a time or two – begin praying for an opportunity to invite your non-believing friend to read a story of God’s book with you. And be sure and check out the video and resources below.
Learn it - Apply it - Share it - Today.
Below is a 20 minute introduction by some African brothers and sisters that is really fantastic.
- Miraculous Movments, - What Jesus Started, - Contagous Discilple Making, - The Father Glorified
How to Reach the World with a New Style of Bible Study
Discovery Bible Study
Various DBS Topical Story Sets
City Team Videos - No Place Left Videos -
Gary Stump - James Nyman - David Watson
*books are affiliate links
When you read the gospels and the book of Acts, one thing stands out - everyone is talking about Jesus.
In fact the idea of bold proclimation of the gospel comes up in nearly every chapter of the book of Acts. Regardless of risk or response, it is what those following Jesus did.
They seemed to believe that if the sowed the gospel broadly, they would reap an abundant harvest.
They seemed to believe that when Jesus said the harvest was plentiful, he was telling the truth.
They believed and trusted in the gospel.
Sometimes when my pastor shares a story about sharing the gospel with someone he's met on a plane or at a gas station, others will say, "He's so gifted at sharing the gospel."
While my pastor is a truly gifted man in a lot of different aspects of life and ministery, I usually take a moment to disagree with that statement. You see it's not so much that he is gifted at sharing the gospel, it's that he is sharing the gospel.
He sows abundently and guess what, he reaps more abundantly than most.
It is as Jesus and the scriptures say it is.
Wayne Gretsky once quipped that he missed 100% of the shots that he never took.
And so as followers of Jesus, we need to find ways to share the gospel. We are to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8) and to be His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) and both of those require us to say something.
The outcome is in the hands of the Holy Spirit and not for us to worry about.
We just need to share.
One tool that I have been taught that I have found to be very helpful is the Three Circles tool for sharing the gospel. I like it for a number of reasons but mostly because it is simple enough for my 12 year old to be able to use.
Some might push back saying that it is too simple - fair enough. If you want to add Bible verses or other things, you can certainly do that.
But the reality of someone coming to faith is not dependant on a perfect gospel presentation - it's dependant of the Holy Spirit's work in the heart of the one who is lost.
Four Spiritual Laws, Roman's Road, The Way of the Master, the Cross Diagram - they all work. Not because they are somehow the perfect presentation of the gospel but because people of faith use them.
When we step out in faith to enter into gospel conversations, God shows up.
Below are a number of examples of the Three Circles Gospel presentation.
Jimmy Scroggins, who developed the Three Circles tool, has a great five video training series which is really helpful.
CLICK HERE TO START TRAINING NOW!
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