I was never good at talking to girls. From an early age, I saw them as a mysterious group with whom it was nearly impossible to communicate. Whenever I did attempt to communicate with them, it would always end badly. My mouth would go dry, and I would stumble over my words.
I would argue that for many of us evangelism, or simply sharing our faith, leaves us the same way. We either miss the opportunity or stumble on our words, or our mouths dry up rather than being able to speak clearly.
I recently stood with a friend who was asked by a total stranger what Christians believed. The sheer panic led him to try to cram everything he could into a sentence before the stranger zoned out. I almost had to put a hand on his shoulder and tell him to breathe.
So when it comes to sharing our faith, where do we start? Sin? Jesus? Resurrection? Do we go with something more palatable and vague? What about love? Everyone wants a bit of love, don't they?
The truth is there are some words that unlock conversation and some words that close conversation. A good example is "sin." Sin has been used for so long to bash people, the whole concept has become too familiar so people roll their eyes and shrug their shoulders and give us a "yeah yeah, tell me something I don't know."
So what do we do? Do we skip over sin? How can we? Sin is central to the gospel. Without sin we are left with a Jesus who came to do some miracles, but the cross becomes a lost symbol rather than a cataclysmic moment of salvation.
I minister in the heart of the east end of London. In fact, we planted a church here five years ago with the desire to reach a profoundly poor and lost community. As a population, we are 65 percent Muslim, so Jesus has to be front and center of all we do. But with a community that has become disillusioned with the idea of sin and a community that sees Jesus as nothing but a prophet, we have a hard job on our hands. Because of this, we have had to rethink how we tell God's story so others will connect.
Here are some things we have been learning these last few years.
Start With Them
Hearing their story gives you a route in. Whatever their story is, Jesus is always good news. That's the point; it's just working out how to connect the two.
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