Check Your Context

August 10, 2023

Recently, one of my daughters moved to a new apartment. Her new place is a very simple yet clean studio apartment. The complex isn't new, and it is far from fancy like other apartment complexes in the area. So I was pleasantly surprised when I learned the management provides a couple of simple amenities to residents like free membership at a local gym and basic private internet for each apartment.

But imagine, for a moment, that because the management provided internet & gym membership that my daughter somehow thought this also meant they provided furniture. She would have been incredibly disappointed to sell off her bed & other stuff only to show up to an empty, unfurnished apartment on move-in day.

Evangelism to the Unfurnished Heart

Too often, well-intended Christians try to share their faith about the life-changing news of Jesus with someone with an "unfurnished" heart. They speak as though the listener is "furnished" with a basic understanding of the Bible, morality, sin, and even the existence of a God. Yet, if the evangelist would have simply asked some questions, taking a tour of the "apartment" of their listener's heart, they would have learned some important details that would shape how they might share the awesome news about Jesus' life, death, and resurrection.

Last week, we kicked off a new series on evangelism called Before You Share Your Faith (inspired by Matt Smethurst's book by the same title.) Last week, we saw that before a Jesus-follower can truly share about their faith in Jesus, they need to have a basic understanding of the gospel. But while it is important to know the gospel, it is also important to know the person to whom you are sharing the life-changing gospel.

Check Your Context • Riverwood Church

This is why I often tell Christians that sharing Jesus often means using your ears more than your words. Too often, people eager to share their faith focus so much on what they need to say. But I think the more important thing is to shift from talking to listening.

Some people might call this "reading the room." Smethurst calls it "checking your context." What is the context into which you are wanting to share the gospel?

  • Are you speaking with someone with a certain type of religious or church background?
  • Or perhaps they have very little to no spiritual background?
  • Is your friend carrying certain spiritual or emotional wounds that might affect how they hear about God's love?
  • Or is there so much going on currently in their life that they wouldn't be able to truly focus on what you want to share?

This means you need to become a great question-asker. When you look at Jesus in the four gospels, you see how many times He asked questions - even in response to questions! So feel free to emulate Him. If someone asks you something about your faith, rather than launch into something like the four spiritual laws, consider asking the other person a question, even if it is just "I'd be happy to answer that, but I'm curious - why do you ask?" Spend more time learning about them and their life than about getting across your point.

Now, there is a very key critical ingredient that will make you a great question-asker. And that's what we are going to talk about next week. 😉

Erin Bird Lead Pastor - Riverwood Church

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Riverwood Church, Waverly Iowa

We are on a mission to help people love like Jesus loved and live like Jesus lived.

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