By Erin Bird
I am typing this from the Exponential Conference in Florida where our associate pastor Jeff and our wives are taking in great teaching from this huge conference focused on the topic of church planting.
On my flight down here to Orlando, I sat in the middle seat next to a guy on the aisle. I knew if I didn’t introduce myself right away, we probably wouldn’t talk the entire 3-hour flight. I had work to do, but with my own sermon from Sunday still rattling in my head about “speaking the gospel,” I knew I should create an opportunity to practice what I had preached. So I extended my hand and said, “My name’s Erin.”
And that handshake turned into a three-hour conversation.
Ryan became a follower of Jesus just 18-months ago, so he was THRILLED to learn I was a pastor at a church plant in Iowa. He is a part of a Converge church in the Twin Cities (Converge is the conference Riverwood is part of), so he peppered me with questions about church, small groups, volunteering, how to become a pastor, baptism, how to share his faith, and much more. For the entire flight, I was able to “speak the gospel” to Ryan, helping him see how the gospel answered a lot of his questions and could help him take the next steps in his faith.
What I Learned
My interaction with Ryan got me thinking:
- Had I not introduced myself within the first 30 seconds of sitting down next to him, I probably would have never had the opportunity to disciple him for those three hours.
- Also, I didn’t launch into a gospel presentation with Ryan telling him of his need for Jesus. Rather, I began with questions to get to know him. I learned he is divorced, and his divorce is what led him to look for a church. By God’s grace, he ended up at a church that clearly explained the gospel, and that gospel has completely changed Ryan’s life, to the point he is beginning to think and live the gospel.
You never know what God will do when you take a risk to introduce yourself to a stranger and then ask questions to get to know them. You might find yourself encouraging a fellow brother or sister in the faith like I did. Or you might ended up sharing the gospel with someone who is ready to hear it. You might end up making a new friend. Or you might see nothing happen. But if you don’t take the risk and introduce yourself, then you DEFINITELY won’t see anything happen!
So let me encourage to take a risk and reach out to someone. It doesn’t have to be a complete stranger, but your selflessness of getting to know another person just might be exactly what they need.