Many people “follow” others on Facebook, but statistics indicate many people are not “following” the church. According to an article in Church Leaders, an online publication, less than 20 percent of Americans regularly attend church.
If people are not coming to church to hear pastors and teachers, we must teach people about Jesus outside church doors, through everyday relationships. Here’s how:
God’s Word to Us
Biographers teach us about people from prior generations by writing their stories. Those inspired by God down through the ages wrote about Jesus; their writings form the Bible. Offer to partner with someone to study God’s Word. The gospel of John presents Jesus as God’s Son and tells about the miraculous signs he performed while on earth. Read and discuss a chapter a week with someone who wants to grow as a Christian and be discipled.
Form a small group Bible study with friends or colleagues. Work through scripture, such as the gospel of John, chapter-by-chapter or follow a study guide that focuses on Jesus’ teaching, such as the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5.
Partner with someone to hold each other accountable to read through the Bible in a year. Do a Google search for a daily reading plan and call or meet weekly to discuss passages covered. Less mature Christians will be fascinated to learn how Old Testament prophets spoke about Jesus as the coming Savior.
God’s Spirit in Us
As the saying goes: More is caught than taught. As we allow God’s Spirit to control our lives, we will respond to life situations as Jesus would. We demonstrate patience. We respond with kindness. We show compassion to those in need. And as others observe us, they learn how to follow Jesus.
Jesus modeled a life of prayer, so we will spend daily time in prayer . . . and let others know we’re praying for them. Even better, pray with others as they express needs and face life’s challenges. Even unbelievers appreciate prayers for their needs.
God gives each Christian spiritual gifts to use to build up other Christians. Exercise your gifts in a loving way and help others to discover their gifts. If they relate well to children, suggest they teach Sunday school or Junior Church. If they gravitate to teens, they might become youth leaders. Those with leadership abilities might serve on church boards or lead committees. In any of these roles they will be stretched and challenged to grow in their faith.
Mentoring and discipleship relationships offer a great venue to teach others about Jesus. If you’re married, you and your husband might take a newlywed couple under your wing. Mature Christians might mentor new or younger Christians. Just decide how often you want to meet and what you want to focus on.
You might pursue a shared interest, such as antiquing, read and discuss Christian books chapter-by-chapter or even serve together by visiting shut-ins or by helping at a local mission. As we get to know people and share how God has worked good out of bad situations in our lives, we prepare them for life’s journey. That’s mentoring and discipleship.
God’s Opportunities around Us
Religious holidays offer tailor-made opportunities to teach others about following Jesus. Let your Christmas cards celebrate the true meaning of Christmas by featuring manger scenes or other religious symbols. Invite others to join you in celebrating the resurrection of Jesus at Easter. Introduce them to God’s people, and let them observe the corporate joy of worship. After all, Jesus’ first miracle of turning water into wine happened at a wedding celebration.
Give gifts that express your faith. Subscribe to devotional magazines for family members and friends. Buy books for others that deal with challenges they face.
Suggest websites and blogs that others may follow to draw daily inspiration. Send cards when people fall ill and encouraging notes when they face struggles. Call, text, email. Keep in touch regularly so that as opportunities to speak of Christ arise, you have built a relationship and can easily converse.
Take someone to a Christian conference or invite them to a simulcast at your church. Hearing inspirational stories of courage and survival reinforces what we hear in our own circles.
We rub shoulders daily with people who need to know Jesus or need to be taught what it means to follow Him and grow as Christians. Some people have a knack for bringing God into conversations. Some of us have to work harder at it. But God needs all of us to represent him. He has no hands and feet here on earth except ours.
By faithfully living according to God’s Word, we model what it means to follow Jesus. And by keeping our eyes and ears open, we find daily opportunities to teach others of Jesus through our words and actions.
Shirley Brosius is a former director of Christian education who enjoys writing devotionals and newspaper articles. She also speaks as a member of Friends of the Heart, three women who share God’s love through messages and skits at women’s retreats and events. Shirley coordinates the women’s ministry and the nurture committee at First United Methodist Church in Millersburg, Pennsylvania. She can also be found online at www.shirleybrosius.com.
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