Sunday 26 Jan – Good news conversations

Today we were privileged to have Paul Weston speaking to us, co-author of the book “The Word’s Out“. His topic was evangelism, but not as we might have experienced it or been taught about it in the past. Sadly we failed to capture our normal sound recording, but a recording was made on a mobile phone. Its quality is not as good as usual, but do download or listen to it here. Alternatively, the following notes provide an outline of his talk. He took as his text Colossians 4:2-6.
This starts “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful (or alert) …”. One of the points to remember is that sharing the good news is not an activity that we initiate or do on our own. Neither is it speaking to people on topics in which they have no interest, or in terms that are alien to them. While most people would describe themselves as “not religious”, the vast majority are aware of or at least acknowledge some kind of spiritual reality, or some source of meaning beyond the simple material world. There is therefore fertile ground for asking questions about how they think or feel about spiritual things. The business of making His kingdom known is also firstly the work of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and if we are praying for those around us and keeping our eyes open, we will find signs of this work in things they say or questions they ask. So the initiative in this is never ours – it is more a case of entering the slip-stream of God’s activity and finding ourselves drawn along by its current.
Part of our prayer should also be that we are able to speak about our life in Jesus with clarity and without Christian jargon. The apostle Paul asks the church to pray that he “may proclaim the mystery of Christ clearly” and we too need to join in that prayer for ourselves.
“Be wise in the way you act … make the most of every opportunity” – our behaviour as faithful disciples of Christ should, at least among those who are close to us, make it clear that we are different from those without the hope of Christ. This may invite questions, but in any case, it is never our responsibility to engineer openings to speak about Jesus. Again, God is at work ahead of us, so we may expect to find opportunities for speaking with those in whom God is already at work. However, it is our responsibility to take these opportunities and allow them to become conversations that contain something of the gospel – however that should be appropriate to the context.
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone”. This is a challenge to us all, but it is often the topics that we talk about or the way in which we do so that invites comment or question. We have no set of points that we must force into every encounter, but everything should start by listening to the other person, and responding to what we hear. If we are genuine and whole-hearted disciples of Christ, then simply doing this should point our hearers towards God.

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