You see, I’m not really much of an evangelist but I am convinced that Jesus wants us to share His truth with those who don’t know Him. Of course we believe that deep down everyone has a deep hunger for God, and the spiritual, and sometimes we see this expressed in a multitude of ways. The problem is that if I walked up to my work colleague or neighbour and asked if I could share the message of Jesus with them, I’m afraid the door would slam shut so quickly that I’d have to jump out of the way and just be left with a bruised ego. There goes that relationship now that the cat’s out of the bag as we will now live in a state of perpetual awkward hello's and quiet gossip to others to watch out for the Christian weirdo. We’re a nation of battlers but seriously I sometimes feel like quitting.
I look at the church around me and see a lot of folks that have given up on reaching out to their friends and neighbours dotted by the super evangelists who it seems are somehow seeing all of these people starting to follow God. That’s just not my experience though. I’ve memorised I Peter 3:15 which tells me to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have but to do this with gentleness and respect.” I’ve got my answer ready but no one ever asks. Am I the only frustrated Christian when it comes to reaching out to our unchurched friends? Surely there must be a better way!
I got so frustrated, so desperate and so convicted with this issue that my wife and I decided to find one of those super evangelists and figure out how we can learn to take a step forward. One of the pieces of advice was to get some unchurched friends and neighbours together to ask questions and listen to learn what they think and believe. As we asked questions and listened to the answers, an amazing thing started to happen – these friends started to ask us what we thought. It wasn’t what we had planned but it led us to start asking more questions. We even decided to create a group to see what would happen.
As we created a level playing field for our discussions, we started to have some deep spiritual discussions. We were amazed when even our very non-Christian friends started correcting each other and leading each other to a more accurate picture of God and the gospel. For the group time, we simply asked questions and didn’t share any of our beliefs at all. After a few sessions where we talked about the “what” in life, the “who” in life and the “why” in life, we brought our time to an end. Those involved were disappointed and asked if we could keep going and discussing some of these deeper issues of life. Being a people pleaser at heart, my wife and I happily agreed and asked what we should continue chatting about. The unanimous answer was the spiritual side of life. The group insisted on just one change – that my wife and I also start sharing our beliefs in the process.
That’s how God provided us with our first unchurched Bible Study.
Since that time, we’ve repeated and refined the process and we’ve even created a short downloadable book that we’ve found to help walk you through the details! You can get the Focus Group book at the Power to Change store (http://store.powertochange.org.au/focus-groups) – it has everything you need to know – scripts to invite people, questions you can ask, and some ideas that we found helpful. You can also click over to the webinar on focus groups (https://hereslife.com/focus-group) if you’d like more details.