I recently led a series of talks and discussions at our church’s weekend conference. I’ve put the whole conference together here into one package for others to use (it would work with a small group or a larger church group).
To kick off, I started with the question, “Are all Christians commanded to evangelise?” But I quickly decided that it was the wrong question to ask. There are far more important and productive questions we should be asking ourselves. Questions like: “What is the gospel?” “What does the gospel have to do with human speech?” and “How can I speak the gospel, given my own life situation and gifts?” These were the questions I sought to address in the conference.
This is not a series of steps, or a bunch of sure-fire tips or recipes for evangelism. Rather, the aim of the package is:
- To provide a biblical and theological grounding in the concept of human speech and its relationship to God’s salvation.
- To learn from one another about different ways to speak the gospel, taking into account our different experiences, gifts and backgrounds.
The package is organised around a series of objections to the proposition: “God wants you to speak the gospel of Jesus Christ to other people.” I deal with each objection in turn, showing that the gospel itself renders the objection invalid. Here are the objections:
- “I’m not good enough to speak to other people about the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
- “I’m not gifted enough to speak to other people about the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
- “I’m not really a ‘speaking’ kind of Christian.”
- “I can promote the gospel better by my good works.”
- “I can’t do it! I’ve seen people who speak the gospel, and I just can’t do what they’re doing.”
- “My gifts are different; I can fulfil my role in the church in a different way.”
- “I’m more comfortable speaking the gospel to insiders rather than outsiders.”
The booklet includes both talk outlines and discussion questions (the talks and discussion questions are designed to go together as a single package):
Talks and discussion groups – outline of program
The following program assumes a weekend conference, but of course it can be adapted to other situations:
- Prelude (Friday evening): Getting the Question Right.
- Download the talk as an MP3 (23 minutes, including Bible reading)
- Session 1 (Saturday morning): Saved by the mouth
- Download the talk as an MP3 (66 minutes, including Bible reading). For an outline, see the booklet (above).
- Session 2 (Saturday morning): Speech, not works
- Download the talk as an MP3 (35 minutes, including Bible reading). For an outline, see the booklet (above).
- The talk should be followed by a 20-minute discussion (see the booklet for questions)
- Session 3 (Saturday afternoon): Learning how to talk
- Download the brief introductory talk as an MP3 (6 minutes). For an outline, see the booklet.
- This session consists mainly of group discussion (see the booklet for questions)
- Session 4 (Sunday morning): Gospel speech, insiders and outsiders.
- Download the talk as an MP3 (approx. 35 minutes, including Bible reading). For an outline, see the booklet.
- The talk should be followed by a 30-minute discussion (see the booklet for questions)
The conference was based on a series of articles I wrote for the Briefing:
- Are all Christians commanded to evangelise?
- Shut your mouth
- God puts the words right in your mouth
- Saved by the mouth
- Do you feel the need for speech?
- Speech is in your DNA
- Insiders and outsiders
- Learning how to talk
- Appendix: a role for pastors?