Greetings, fellow disciples of Jesus,
In my last east email I invited you to create a FRANC list—a list of names of people you know (friends, relatives, acquaintances, neighbors, co-workers) who don’t believe in Jesus as Son of God and Savior. This is a list you can keep with your Bible as a prompt to prayer.
Reaching out to your friends and neighbors with the gospel begins with prayer, is sustained by prayer, and seen through to fruition in prayer. Specifically, be praying about where your relative or co-worker is in his or her journey from unbelief to trust in Jesus. Not everyone is at the point where they are ready to hear a full presentation of the gospel message.
In their book, “I Once Was Lost” (InterVarsity Press, 2008), Don Everts and Doug Schaupp identify five “thresholds” of coming to faith in Jesus:
1) Trusting a Christian
2) Becoming Curious
3) Opening up to Change
4) Seeking after God
5) Entering the Kingdom
That first stage is so foundational. Before meaningful conversations can take place, where people are open to change, they must trust you. You can see, then, that evangelism is not transactional, but relational. If we’re going to have any hope of reaching our unbelieving neighbors with the gospel we need to invest in these relationships—even (especially) when those we are trying to reach are unreceptive or hostile to the Church and Christians. It requires opening our lives to them; spending time with them, giving of ourselves for them. Evangelism begins with kindness, patience, self control…in short, it begins with loving our neighbors. Now you can see why prayer is so integral to outreach!
Praying for you, in the name of Jesus,