Daily readings at home this month have included the early chapters of Matthew and majestic mountaintop experience of Jesus’ sermon in 5-7. Here, Jesus challenges his would-be disciples to be “salt and light”, and the sermon given at our church last week reminded me of this, with the invitation of Paul in Colossians 4:6 to “let your conversation be seasoned with salt”.
As commentators 1 note, the “salty” conversation image was common in the ancient world, and reminds us that our witness to Christ is not to be dull or predictable but alert and provocative.
So how do we cultivate a life in which we commend Jesus “in word and deed” (to use good Anglican terminology)?
Last Sunday’s preacher pointed us to the wisdom of “ten tips for evangelism” delivered by Tim Keller and recorded, best we can find, not in print but on Martin Salter’s blog. With the kind permission of that writer to repeat them, here they are:
- Let people around you know you are a Christian (in a natural, unforced way)
- Ask friends about their faith – and just listen!
- Listen to your friend’s problems – maybe offer to pray for them
- Share your problems with others – testify to how your faith helps you
- Give them a book to read
- Share your story
- Answer objections and questions
- Invite them to a church event
- Offer to read the Bible with them
- Take them to a discover/explore course
Why not save these tips somewhere useful for you as you pray for those you meet in daily life?
There are two useful additional notes about how to use this list so that God can use us to “pray, walk and speak” in sharing Christ’s message.
Firstly, the points become generally more challenging to us as we work down them. Some of us cannot imagine trying to answer objections to faith, or inviting someone to church, but for most of us making sure everyone we come into contact with in daily life knows we are a Christian is much easier. Try telling them how interesting your church service was, next time they ask how the weekend went – no more than that needs to be said!
Secondly, as we pray for our family, friends and daily contacts, we will find it may take some time to progress further down the points – we may need to repeat points 1-4 (the easier ones) several times before we find ourselves lending them a Christian book, or discussing why we think Jesus is the answer to our deepest needs. It’s about being patient with God’s timing, and recognising that although most non-churchgoers have no objection to faith, they need a long time to start thinking it important for them.
1 See CFD Moule, “The Epistles to the Colossians and Philemon” (Cambridge, 1991) and NT Wright, “Colossians and Philemon” (IVP, 1986), comments on this verse