By Tim Norman
As a leader it is easy to give attention to many things, but not to the few right sort of things. Often the loudest voices get our attention first. Because of our need right now as spiritual leaders, to not only remember why we do things, but to remember and emphasize a few types of things, I asked Tim Norman to share some thoughts he has discussed in other places. He specifically speaks to developing leaders and disciples.
We want people to experience the joy and freedom of knowing God through his gracious provision for us. So, what are the kinds of things we would want people to know and experience if we had to pick 5 essential things?
1) Share the gospel with the person using the Knowing God Personally.
Again, we want people to experience the joy and freedom of knowing God through his gracious provision for us. Some students come to our movements as believers in Christ. Some are non-believers. Some are make-believers. I found that I didn’t want to assume that just because someone had come to a Christian event that they were a believer.
Last year, I talked to a freshman defensive lineman who came out to the first few FCA meetings of the year. When I asked if Anthony would like to get together to talk about how to grow in a relationship with God, he eagerly said yes. When I sat down with him, I started walking through the Knowing God Personally booklet assuming that he already believed it. Why else would a NCAA Division I athlete show up to a Christian meeting the first few weeks of the school year? To my surprise, Anthony said, “I’ve never heard this. I just thought that I should give this religion stuff a look.” A few weeks later, Anthony trusted Christ. Don’t assume that because people come to a Christian meeting they know what it means to have a relationship with God. They may be just like Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) and be seeking to see Jesus.
Also, I want people to know that what we are excited about as a movement is Jesus and what he does in our lives through the gospel. Too easily we can preach the gospel of Cru or the gospel of our church and not the gospel of Jesus. What I mean is that we meet a student and we tell them how great Cru is, how great the worship is at our church, how great our small groups are, etc. But, I want people to know, we’re pretty excited about Jesus; he’s a big deal to us. Such a big deal that we talk to others about him.
But, what about someone that you are confident is already a believer? I still say share the gospel with them. I grew up in a church that fervently talked about the importance of sharing the gospel with others. They exhorted me to share Christ with someone every week or 60 times in 60 days. I always signed the dotted line saying that I would do it. But, I never saw anyone else do it. To someone whom you know to already be a believer, say “I know you may already know this, but I’d love to share it with you with the goal that God would use you to influence others.” Also, it helps clarify what we are about to others.
2) Share with the person about the role of the Holy Spirit in their life.
I’ve done this a number of ways, including the Satisfied? booklet, a couple of basic Bible studies that are part of the Life Concept Series, or just walking through passages like Galatians 5 or 1 Corinthians 2. Ultimately, I want people to grasp that the truth expressed in the following statement from the Satisfied? booklet:
“The essence of the Christian life is what God does in and through us, not what we do for God. Christ’s life is reproduced in the believer by the power of the Holy Spirit. To be filled with the Spirit is to be directed and empowered by Him.”
3) Talk with them about having a personal time reading God’s Word.
I’ve written about this on my blog, The Exchange.
4) Talk with them about sexual purity and God’s desire for them.
I will write more about how I go about this in a future post. The issue of sexual purity is as pressing today as it was in the first-century Greco-Roman world in which the epistles in the New Testament were written.
Many people have never heard what God desires for them in the area of purity or their understanding of how to go about it is littered with misconceptions. I came to a place where I assumed that the people I knew were struggling with this area of life until I knew otherwise.
5) Give them an opportunity to see the gospel shared with another person.
I want people to experience the joy of being used by God in his plan of bringing the world to himself. I want to help people get over the misconceptions and fears they have of sharing their faith with others.
Several years ago, I was meeting with a freshman named Jared. After we had sat down a handful of times, we began talking about God’s desire to use Jared to reach others with the gospel. I could see that Jared wanted to share his faith. One afternoon Jared and I shot some pool in his lobby and walked up to his room. When we got up to his room, his roommate was unpacking his bag from the day. I knew from Jared that his roommate most likely wasn’t yet a believer. I took the opportunity to ask his roommate a few questions and share the gospel with him. Jared jumped in the conversation a few times. That may have been the first time he was able to share his faith, but it wasn’t the last.
I would have given anything as a high school student or a young college student for someone to model for me what it looked like to share the gospel. I wanted others to know Christ, and I had a desire to be used by God. But I wasn’t certain what to do in a conversation. My conversations ranged from heated arguments to monotonous soliloquies.