Sharing Your Story…

1077691_68991810I believe that as Christians we want to be able to share Jesus with other people. This is natural and a good thing. Whenever anything good happens in our lives we want to share it with those that we care for. The trouble is that when it comes to sharing Jesus with others many of us have no idea how to do it in ways that don’t seem forced, aggressive, or insensitive. We want to share the grace of Jesus, with the same posture and spirit as Jesus – but in general I don’t think we know how.

When we think of sharing Jesus we think of going up to people cold, of artificially steering conversations towards him, or of handing out tracts or something. So since we don’t know what to do, we don’t end up doing much of anything.

And so many of us have a desire to share what Jesus has done in our lives, but no idea how to do that with our lives. In fact, because I think so many have shared about Jesus poorly, many of us are fearful of saying anything about Jesus at all. But if Jesus has honestly transformed our lives ~ freed us from greed, apathy, anger, and given us hope, life, and love ~ we should be able to share that with our friends, family, and neighbors.

The question is how?

That’s precisely the question I want to examine on Sunday. How do we share Jesus, not in an arrogant, or insensitive way but a natural and even beautiful way?

Well on Sunday we are going to look at one story that can really demonstrate to us how we can share the life and love of Jesus without repelling people from Jesus. How we can invite people to experience and understand the beauty of who Jesus is without some of the baggage often associated with ‘evangelism’.

But before we get there let me ask you a question. How did you come to know and believe in Jesus Christ? What was it that impacted you into considering a relationship with Jesus?

I’ll make a bet – it had something to do with someone sharing their story.

And as we’ll find out on Sunday, sometimes that’s all you have to do.

Pocket Jesus

Untitled-1For a long time people thought of “evangelism” as bringing Jesus with them to people who needed Jesus. It was almost as if we have Jesus in our back pocket and our goal was to bring him out in conversation with people. The goal was to bring Jesus into conversations, relationships, or places where he currently wasn’t. We were “storming the gates the hell”, “bringing salvation to the heathens”, or “taking the world for Jesus”. Perhaps you’ve heard or even used a phrase like that.

If you notice something though, the focus of every one of those statements is on our activity and not Jesus’. We bring Jesus, we make converts, and we storm the gates of hell all in the name of “evangelism”. I call this type of evangelism “pocket Jesus evangelism”  because it’s based on us carrying Jesus with us and sharing him however and wherever we can.

And while the idea of sharing Jesus with others is beautiful and absolutely necessary, the idea that we bring Jesus to places he isn’t leads to ugly evangelism. Perhaps you have seen or even experienced this yourself where well-meaning people seem more intent on forcing Jesus than sharing Jesus. Where conversations seem forced, unnatural, aggressive, and somehow off repel people from Jesus rather than draw them in. The reason this type of evangelism can so easily become ugly is because it’s built on a shaky foundation and faulty theology.

The faulty bit of theology is pretty clear when you think about it: you don’t bring Jesus anywhere, because he’s already everywhere.

Here is the point, as Christians Jesus absolutely does reside within us, but Jesus is not limited to us. To limit the world changing, life transforming, and Kingdom expanding work of the Father, Son, and Spirit to the work of Christians and the church is not only bad theology but just plain wrong. God is the primary actor in changing the world, we simply get to partner with him in what he is already doing. The world is being changed by the Father’s initiative, the Son’s sacrifice, and the power of the Spirit and we get to join in what God is doing.

The point is this, we, as Christians, do not take Jesus to a God-absent world. God is already active in the world and we get to join him in what he is doing. The very first act of Jesus Christ was to move into the neighborhood, and he’s been doing it ever since (John 1). If Jesus moved into an obscure, poverty riddled, Jewish family in the first century I’m pretty sure he’s already active on your street.

So then does evangelism still matter? Absolutely! The only difference is the focus shifts. Rather than forcing Jesus into conversations I watch for how he is active in conversations and follow his lead. Rather than trying to push Jesus into a relationship I see how he is guiding that relationship and listen to his direction.

The point is that no longer am I trying to “convert” anyone. What I am doing is joining in the work of Jesus who is already active in seeking and saving the whole world. I’m trusting that the Father, Son, and Spirit are the ones who save and “convert” people, I just want to do my part.

So my question is where do you see Jesus active in your friendships? Is someone open to forgiveness more than usual? Is Jesus directing you to spend more time with someone who seems to be growing? Who can you show love to, that is receptive or needing of grace?

The point is simple: I’m no longer taking Jesus with me asking him to join me in what I’m doing; I’m looking for what he is already doing and seeking to partner with him there.

Special Speaker on Sunday for Mother’s Day…My Mom

408018_10200936532202423_1368427763_nSunday is a special Sunday, it’s Mother’s Day. It’s a day to celebrate all the moms in our lives.

Since I’m not a mom, last year I had my wonderful wife share. It was her first time ever speaking a message at a church, and she did a terrific job. But I also know it stressed her out, and she said once was enough. In fact, she said she had new respect for what I do each week after having to do it for one week!

So I was praying and wondering if I should share, or have someone else share when all of a sudden I had a brilliant idea. Who better to share on Mother’s day…than my mom. So that’s right, my mom, Marion Mills will be sharing on Sunday.

I’m so excited for her to share. Many of you might not know this but my mom is extremely accomplished and a great speaker. She’s spoken at countless retreats, and conferences. She is amazingly talented in her work with mental health, and also in her work with changing global poverty and disability. She is the international chair of cbm, an amazing organization committed to changing lives all over the world. She has been an executive at World Vision, done tremendous ministry locally and globally, and raised three fantastic boys (if I do say so myself!).

So on Sunday we are going to be opening it up for my mom to share. And so if you can join us please do because trust me it will be worth it.

P.S. Also don’t forget to give your mom a gift this Sunday, that means me especially as she is speaking for me!

Sharing Your Story like a Shepherd

On Sunday we explored a story with surprise, beauty, and challenge. We explored a story of shepherds.

We read in Luke 2 of how God announced to the shepherds, through his angels, about Jesus. And about how these unqualified, unsure, and untrained outcasts shared Jesus. You see the thing about shepherds in this context is that they weren’t very respected. In fact, later on people would place shepherds in the same class as thieves and robbers. And in a court of law shepherds’ testimony didn’t count.

Yet God here chooses these people who aren’t respected, often distrusted, and of not great repute to share his story. The shepherds in Luke 2 “tell everyone” in the town about Jesus (Luke 2:17). They don’t focus on the angels, they focus on Jesus and share him with anyone who would listen. The Bible says because of their witness, testimony, their personal story that people were astonished. That people pondered who Jesus was. People started to focus on Jesus because some regular people shared their personal stories of interaction with Jesus.

So what does this mean for us? It’s simple: go and share your story too.

You don’t need to be trained, you don’t need another Bible study on evangelism, you don’t need a specific “gifting” – to share your story about Jesus in your life. This passage in Luke shows us that what matters isn’t training (the shepherds had none), reputation (shepherds didn’t have that either), or even ability (I doubt they were very eloquent). What matters is a  willingness to share your personal story of encounter with Jesus. And because they were willing they caused people’s focus to turn to Jesus. And isn’t this what we want in this season? Don’t we want people to be looking for Jesus? If we do, it starts with us. It starts with us being willing to share our stories.

So my challenge is this: share your personal story about Jesus with someone this week. It doesn’t have to be deep, fantastical, intellectual, qualified, or eloquent. It needs to be personal, honest, and true. That’s what the shepherds do and God uses it to draw people to him. And I think this Christmas…he wants to use you…

Sermon Notes

Big Idea: Jesus wants to use you to share his story with family, friends, and neighbors

Take Aways…

  • Great motives lead to meaning in gift giving and living
  • Jesus chooses the unqualified, and unimportant to share his story and his arrival. He also chooses us.
  • Sharing out personal experiences with Jesus cause people to ponder and consider him
  • If shepherds can share about Jesus, we can share about Jesus
  • To have a story to share is simple…run to Jesus

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What surprised you in the sermon? What was new? What was different? Do you feel qualified to share your story? Does being qualified matter to God? What has God done in your life that you can share? How have you found Jesus in your life? What has he changed? Who can you share that change with?

Discussion Questions for Young Families: Spend time with your family and share with them your story of how you found Jesus and what change he has made in your life.

Challenge for this Week:

Share your story with a friend…

The Problem with “Evangelism”

I want to share with you the problem of “evangelism”. The problem with it – is the word itself. The word gives off this idea of qualification, professionalism, and deep training that is needed to become an “evangelist”. When I think of an “evangelist” I think of people so confident that they have no problem sharing Jesus with random strangers on the street. That these are the people that lead their grocery store clerk to Jesus, when I can barely hold an awkward 55 second conversation. In essence, when I hear the world “evangelism” or “evangelist” I think of something I’m not good at and won’t be good at. In essence, it reminds me of my failed attempts to communicate the beauty of Jesus to other people.

But this is the problem with the word because it gives us an impression of something that isn’t even biblical. Biblically should we be sharing our faith with others? Yes absolutely!! But do we need to be professionals at it? Do we need to attend training seminars about sharing the “4 Spiritual Laws”? Do we need to have a specific gifting that a spiritual gifts test reveals?…The answer is unequivocally no.

The Biblical answer as we’ll find out on Sunday is that everyone is called to be an “evangelist” right here and right now. Meaning that each and every Christian is called to share Jesus with others. And on Sunday we’ll see how God uses untrained, unqualified, and unsure people to change others. And as we’ll see, if he can use them, he can use us. Because here is the beautiful thing, that God wants to use you to shape your friends, family, and neighbors. And the beautiful thing is you don’t need more training, qualifications, or even ability…you just need a story to share.