“How to Win Friends and Influence People” - For Jesus!

A Program for Personal Evangelism
based on the Faith-Sharing Concept

 

Part Four of Six:

"Getting On the Same Frequency"
with Secular People
[1]

 

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Faith-sharing Evangelism Library

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Faith-Sharing:
How to Win Friends and Influence People for Jesus
: Six Messages teach others how to witness. Based on Faith-sharing, by Eddie Fox and George Morris

Messages in this series:
1: The Incredible Seeking God
2: Gambler for Love
3: Share; Do; Name!
4: Getting on the Same Frequency
5: Up On the Handlebar!
6: $50K in 90 Days or Less!

Beyond Faith-sharing:
Digests of lectures and texts that demonstrate
quick ways to improve and increase your ministry's outreach.

Lessons in this Series:
1:   The Outward-focused Church
2:   Discerning the Needs of People
3:   The Incarnational Ministry
4:   Engaging Secular People
5:   Living Debt-free Biblically
6:   Youth Ministry Leadership
7:   Growing a New Church 1:
      The Price Tag, the Target
8:   Growing a New Church 2:
      The Pastor, People, Program
9:   Spiritual and Motivational Gifts
10: Envisioning, Friendliness and Authority
11: Making the Case
12: How Do We Get Them to Come?

 

KEY WORDS:

Win souls soles soul-winning, how to get saved, born again anew from above salvation,

How to evangelism, evangelization, evangelisation evangelize program,

Do one-on-one ministry, personal witness witnessing witnesses,

How to make making winning win disciples souls, soul-winning, be a soul-winner, sole-winner,

How to get people saved, born again justified justification sanctified sanctification.

 

 

 

 

Our failure to share our faith is occasionally not only our failure to understand the nature of God and the nature of the Christian faith, but a failure to communicate with others.[2]

   It should be obvious to all of us that the vast majority of people have neither accepted nor rejected Jesus’ offer of sanctity and eternal life.  Following Jesus is simply not a viable option in their lives.  Why?  Because the majority has never had the Jesus-life presented in genuine and useful ways.  So what’s helpful in sharing our faith is first discovering points of contact between the good news and the needs of its hearers.  I’ll explain what I mean by that in a minute.

   Successful communication can only take place if the message of Jesus' agape (love) is shared in the context of the receiver's experience and language.  When we fail to communicate, the problem is often that we are not on the same frequency as those with whom we share.

    Once upon a time there was a stuffy old church.  The Board thought their preacher was good, so they bought radio time and broadcast his Sunday sermons live.  One teenager's mother always forced him to go to church.  One Sunday, the teen came in wearing a walkman with the headphones on.  This ticked the preacher.  He thought the kid was listening to the radio while he was preaching.  After the service, that red-faced preacher asked the boy about the walkman.  The boy hastily replied, "Sir, the service is on the radio now.  Your preaching sounds so much clearer through the headphones -- no echo or coughing or anything -- now I can catch every word."

   This explanation gratified the red-faced preacher.  The boy was so interested in his sermons that he wanted to hear every word, even if it meant wearing headphones in church!

   The next Sunday the kid was sitting in the third row with his headphones on and the preacher was happy to see him.  All of a sudden, in the middle of the sermon, the boy began to twitch some, his head began bob up and down some, and his lips began to quiver.  The preacher decided either the boy was having a fit -or- that the boy just wasn’t on the same frequency!

 Unless we get on somebody's frequency, we will not be effective in sharing anything with others.

Mark 4:3-8 Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: 4. And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. 5. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: 6. But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.  7. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. 8. And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.

    Notice that the emphasis of the parable isn’t the sower but on the preparation or fertilization of the soil, which impacts germination, growth, and fruit.  Three weeks ago I planted four Moringa trees from seed.  I planted one in the ground, one in year-old old potting soil and two in fresh, sterile potting soil.  Two of the trees germinated within a couple days.  Which two seeds germinated?  Of course, the one that had been planted in ground and the other in the old soil.  The two planted in the sterile new potting soil haven’t popped up yet.  I didn’t prepare the new potting soil; I simply poured it into the pot.

   Jesus also planted seeds.  He spilt spelt!  (Do you know spelt?  It’s a low quality form of wheat sown in Bible days.  But we pay a great price for it in today's health food markets!)   Jesus planted, and his planting method was very unusual:

Mark 4:26-29 He also said, "The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27. and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come."

 The emphasis here is not on methods of sewing (scattering), but now on the discernment of the sower.

 

Keys to Getting on the Same Frequency

    These parables begin to teach us that successful seed sowers (in terms of faith-sharing) need to have one thing and do another:

            1) they need to have sensitivity (discernment) and  

            2) they need to prepare the listener for sowing.

 Having sensitivity to the needs of the hearer, then preparing the hearer based on his/her needs (rather than our needs) are keys to successful evangelical horticulture.

   The parable also teaches us that

we must know more about those whom we seek to reach; 

we must help them identify their own "deep needs" - needs that require more than a clinical explanation;

then we must sow the appropriate gospel seeds into their needs, recognizing that Yahweh's grace works to "prepare the soil." 

Seeds to Needs - this is a very rich concept!

    People often don’t express their need directly in words like “I need God” or “I need church” or “I need advice.”  But needs are very often expressed more indirectly in phrases such as, 

“Is this all there is to life?” or

“Why is this always happening to me?” or

“I want my life to count for something!” or

“What will happen when I die?” or

“Why does he / she act like that?”
 

I’m sure you can think of a hundred other such sayings that expose deep-seated needs.  Yet for the time being, just think of one or two right now.


Beginning Where People Are

    So, in first discerning needs, our concern is not where we are in our faith-walk, but where the other person is.  There is a time to listen and discern; later there is a time to talk.  We must understand that, unlike just a generation ago, we are no longer living in a Christian society, but a secular one.  “Secular” means “worldly.”  People today have a blinding ignorance of what Christianity is and what Christians stand for.

   An old friend from high school wrote me an email once.  This person hadn’t heard of me for many years but he said he knew I was a minister and criticized me for “how you live your life.”  I replied, asking what he meant by that.  He had no idea how I lived my life, but I’m sure he assumed that I was some kind of Jerry Falwell, bashing people, condemning people, preaching right-wing politics, marching in radical-right rallies.  But, really, that’s the perception of secular people regarding the identity of Christians – that they are mean spirited and totally closed-minded.  The fact is, unfortunately, many are.

   In the local paper, a well-known minister wrote an article titled, “Jews worship a god who is no god at all.”  The article promoted intolerance, bigotry and racism.  Consider the impact of such an article on a secular person in our community – it shows all Christians in the light of anti-Semitism and disrespect.  And what does it say to Jewish people whom we are trying to reach?  It only promotes hostility, hurt and anger.  But this is a perfect example of why secular people see evangelical Christians in a bad light.

   Did you know that less than 50% of Americans can name the four gospels.  Can you?  If Americans, who have everything, are that poor off in vital knowledge, then we may assume that at least half of the people in our society contain vast, dark spiritual voids.  If the right spirit isn’t in there, some wrong spirit is.   But they need instead to be filled with what is supposed to be there by grace, not with what just happens to sneak in.  Jesus’ light, love and converting power can expel every intruder so that he might set up his holy throne, even from the hardest of hearts.

   Father Yahweh has already started to prepare the spiritually barren soil by fertilizing it with his prevenient grace.  Prevenient means that Yahweh’s grace is already there even long before we are.  Grace is a powerful force!  As sowers of seed, we use our discernment to determine which seed to sow into the person's need.  The seed consists of our own stories infused by the name of Jesus; for only in working together are we able to sufficiently fulfill the mission of faith sharing and perhaps usher in conversion.

   In the middle of writing this message, I got up and went to check on those Moringa trees and, would you believe, in the last hour one of those little trees popped up out of the sterile potting soil?  You just never know when a seed planted is going to germinate.  But Father knows, and we have hope.

 

Seeds to Needs

   Here are a few needs that we’ll encounter as we open our minds to sowing seeds to needs.

   1) The need for company -- people these days feel lonely and rejected no matter how many others are around.  Theologian Paul Tillich addresses the need for company in these words:

Today, more intensely than in preceding periods, man is so lonely he cannot bear solitude. And he tries desperately to become part of the crowd.  Everything in the world supports him.  It is a symptom of our disease....

Modern society and culture offer only a false front of belonging -- a delusion of fitting in.  As a result, people are becoming more alienated from nature, alienated from power, alienated from neighbors.  We encounter this need almost daily and we often feel alienated ourselves, like Moses, “a stranger in a strange land.”  To the alienated, we can seed the need by providing company.  And because of who we are, when we are present, Jesus is present also.

   2) The need for Truth -- Secular people are spiritually dead, yet many seek spiritual significance.  They have a strong curiosity about religion, evidenced in the popularity of television programs and movies about supernatural situations.  The attitude of many is, “The world offers everything I need, including psychic experiences.  So what more can Jesus offer?”  The world is promoting this message very successfully.  But the truth is that only our Savior can properly fill the spiritual void, for he is the doorway to the truth, and he is the truth.  Once you recount your stories, offer them Jesus, for he is the door.

    3) The need for Morality -- Secular people recognize the immorality of our society and are seeking an moral standard to live by whether they want to admit it or not.  It's only natural to seek boundaries.  The moral relativism that our society is now teaching is the unnatural way; but people will never feel comfortable as libertarians.  They need direction: a gauge to assess their lives by.  You can give them a measuring stick.

   The Roman Empire finally fell because of the depravity of its leaders.  There were strict laws for common folks, but for those in power, there was NO law whatsoever.  The moral beneficiaries of the Roman Empire are primarily the peoples of western Europe, who are the most secular, immoral and hopeless in the world today.  We hope and pray our country will never fall into such moral decay.  Only our Savior and his servants offer a code of conduct not based on man-made rules, but on repentance and equitable, just commandments that have already well proven themselves.  You can model right living for those in need.

   4) The need for a personal god among all the gods. People in this country believe in some god (92%+) yet most doubt that god either knows about them or cares for them.  We offer them Yahweh, the Father who stays close to the hearts of those who come to know him.  Of all the religions in the world, only Jesus offers all people a loving and caring Father.  For other religions (such as Islam), the notion that god loves and bore a son to save us is inconceivable. It is blasphemy!

But we know it is the truth.  You can introduce the blessed Son of Yahweh in your own stories.

    5) The need for Immortality. 

Ted Williams, the greatest baseball hitter in history, died on the morning of 5 July (2002). That night his body was taken from Hooper's Funeral Home in Inverness, Florida, to the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, Arizona, where it was coated in a glycerin-based solution, cooled under dry ice, gradually lowered into a pool of liquid nitrogen until it reached a temperature of minus 206.5C and then stored upside-down in a silver tube.  And if John Henry Williams, the deceased's 33-year-old son, has his way, Ted Williams will be defrosted sometime in the future and brought back to life. To do what, no one is quite sure: play baseball again for the 2075 Boston Red Sox?  (Guardian Newspapers, 2003)

Immortality today is expressed in crazy schemes and ridiculous occult philosophies.  Peoples’ ideas about the “the life beyond” come primarily from either secular hype or superstitious religion.  These are not good enough for me!  Only Father Yahweh can offer immortality: he has the only eternal life available in the cosmos.  Paul Tillich again:

That we were known from eternity and will be remembered in eternity is the only certainty that can save us from the horror of being forgotten forever.[3]   

People have a deep need to live in happiness, in abundance and in perpetuity.  You can teach them about the only place where such life may be found.

   6) Other deep-felt needs include inner emptiness, purposelessness, the fear of death, the desire for inner peace, the lack of self-control, liberty, personal identity, serenity, security, decision-making ability, and love and acceptance.  You can sow seeds to all these needs.  But be cautious!  Many folks know exactly what they want but seldom know what they need.  So, we must be able to look beyond wants to discover needs.  For wants, when fulfilled before needs, often cause a hasty spiritual degradation.  Only faith in Jesus can instill the solid hope that all needs may eventually be fulfilled.

 

Contact!

   When we discern needs, we can then identify points of contact in which the Gospel might be applied in fulfilling them.  Tell how Yahweh fulfilled that need in your own life through Jesus’ effort.  Issue an invitation.  Healing of the need will begin immediately through the power of Yahweh’s grace.  There are four key principles in establishing these points of contact for sowing seeds to needs:

    1)  We must enter into the other person’s world and share their burden, no matter how we feel about it.  Yes, we must feel for them.  We develop a spiritual gift called empathy, which is the ability to feel the world from someone else’s perspective.  Some people are naturally empathic, with gifts of discernment, prophecy or service.  But if you're like me, I'm often so caught up in my own needs that it's hard to see through to the other.  That’s why the soil takes intentional cultivation.  We make an effort to be empathic.  We make an effort to relate.

   Bible scholar Barclay reminds us that

Right relationships are the soil in which the reward of righteousness can grow.  And the only people who can sow these seeds, and who will reap the reward, are those whose life’s work it has been to produce right relationships.

Right relationships can only be built if each of us is willing to “walk a mile” in someone else’s shoes.  Relationships grow when we are permitted to walk the second mile

   2) We must get involved with people in order to share Jesus and fill their need.  This is called incarnational ministry -- we become Jesus in the flesh to others. 

   You see, Jesus met people at their point of need.  To one who was thirsty, he offered living water.  To one racked by guilt, forgiveness.  To one alienated from home and business, he visited and brought salvation to the whole house.  To one who was bleeding, he offered wholeness through faith.  To the religious, he offered the new birth.  And to the hypocrite, he offered judgment.  Judgment is a very good thing if it's righteous and equitable.  In order to offer anyone anything, Jesus had to be involved in what people were doing.  And he is involved today.  The question becomes, “If Jesus is involved in people's lives for Yahweh's sake, are we involved for Jesus' sake?"

    3) We must speak the other's language.  The great miracle at Pentecost was that all heard the Gospel in their native tongues.  This is especially difficult for an educated Yankee minister preaching in the Deep South.  After a service at a church in rural Georgia, a dear lady shook my hand and offered a compliment: “That was a fine sermon, preacher.  We don't know what you're talking about, but we sure love to hear you talk.”  We must talk the talk as well as walk the walk if people are to understand.  Don’t expect people to come to your level.  Either you go down a peg or step up a peg whichever is appropriate.  You can step up, you know.

   4) We must be sensitive to the passages in peoples’ lives.  People are receptive when they are "going through something," like death of a spouse, marital separation, jail term, problems at work, pregnancy, an outstanding achievement, change in residence, being in debt, family troubles, and on and on.  One of the great opportunities for faith sharing for me is in preaching a memorial service.  There is a captive audience and every member is hurting.  This is not the time to beat up on folks.  Only the ignorant, insensitive or unprepared minister will do that, and we’ve seen it done in many funerals.  Sensitive people in times of trouble need to hear that Jesus has sent a special comforter.  With prayer, your comforting stories about how Jesus helped you will get through far better than ranting about how people ought to clean up or else.  Only Jesus can clean them up!  We meet hurting people every day; “one eye is laughing, one eye is crying” (Robert Thrip).  Let us be sensitive to this and helpful.

 

Summing Up with a Farming Tale

   I’ll end up where I started, with seed sowing.  Here’s an old German fable from up north:

   Farmer Müller was dying.  He called for his two sons and gasped, “Boys, the farm is yours in equal shares.  Your inheritance is hidden somewhere out in the field eighteen inches down, I forgot where."  Then he died. 

   Even before the funeral, the sons set to digging up every inch of the field for their inheritance.  Find it they did not.  But since they’d gone to all that trouble of preparing the ground, they decided they might as well plant.  In the fall, they reaped a tiny harvest.  Through the winter, they dug for their inheritance again, but find it they did not.  They decided to fertilize this time before planting -- at least their crop would be better.  And since their fields were turned over better than the others up in Müllersburg from their digging, they got the highest yield in the township. 

   Year after year they dug.  Only after they had grown much older and wiser did they finally discern what their father had meant.  The treasure was there all right – it was the harvest.  And had they not spent all those winters building a relationship with the soil, finding their inheritance they would not.

You too are the heir to a fortune, but it’s buried in the lives of the people around you.  You have to dig for it.  The soil of the human heart has already been readied by the grace of Yahweh, but you still have to work it if you are to gain.  You apply empathy:  you discern the need then sow your own stories about how Jesus planted you.  Be persistent in your work and prayerful in your waiting as the crop grows in grace until you reap your inheritance.  Amein.

 

[1] Adapted from Faith-sharing by George Morris / Eddie Fox, composed August 19, 1994, updated November 17, 1997 and August 21, 2007.

[2] Faith-sharing, chapter 4.

[3] Tillich, The Eternal Now, p. 34.

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