A Plan to Share Jesus. Step One: Start with the Gospel and You

Here’s the first of five steps to develop a plan to share Jesus regularly from Chapter 8 of my Sharing Jesus book. I don’t call these THE steps, or THE plan; I’m not selling the latest diet or fitness deal on the internet here, not do I think my advice is better than everyone else’s.  But here are some steps that, over time, can help you grow in sharing Jesus.

First, focus your life on the gospel of Jesus Christ. Before sharing Jesus with others, check your own heart — is your affection for Jesus and his Kingdom properly focused? Do you love anything more than him, and do you want anything more than to bring him glory?

All of life flows out of our relationship with Christ, not just our eternal life.  Spiritually, physically, emotionally, relationally, financially, and vocationally, all these and more reflect his story. Your life and mine are telling a story. When our life reflects his story above our own, it translates into a Christ-centered life. That means we can’t have a politics-centered, or social media-centered, or consumer-centered, or status seeking-centered, or anything else centered life.

This is the why that undergirds all our lives. A daily, devotional, and practical focus on what Christ has done for you and desires to do for others keeps us focused. Sharing Jesus with others regularly starts with preaching the gospel to yourself daily.

I do this regularly a couple of ways. First, I like to rehearse in my mind the great big Story of the gospel. I reflect on the amazing, beautiful world God created, and how he made people in his image to know and worship him. I ponder anew how the God who made the world is interested in me, my worship, my devotion to him. I then reflect on my sinfulness, and the evil throughout the world because of sin. This helps me think well about the truly amazing grace shown through Christ’s work on the cross, and I rejoice in the truth of the resurrection!  Then, I remind myself God is restoring all things to himself, that I’m only an alien passing through this life, and God will make all things new, it gives me joy and makes me excited to talk to others about this story!

Another thing I do at times is rehearse the four big things about God I learned from Chester and Timmis:

  1. God is great, so we don’t have to be in control. We are all control freaks, so admit it. God is sovereign. He has the power to save.
  2. God is glorious, so we don’t have to fear others. We are also at some level all people pleasers and struggle with the fear of man. Learning to please God alone is crucial to our spiritual growth. He is glorious. Fear him, not man.
  3. God is good, so we don’t have to look elsewhere. Temptation can be powerful, but when we sin we are saying in that moment we don’t believe God is good enough.
  4. God is gracious, so we don’t have to prove ourselves. We have been forgiven completely by the one we have offended immensely. Enjoy the grace of God lavished on us through Christ.

This helps me avoid comparison with others, focusing on failures (my fatal flaw), or other gospel-less thoughts. The more we reflect on who God is and what he has done, the more we will find it easier to talk of him and live for him.

Developing a Personal Plan for Sharing Jesus

In my book Sharing Jesus (Without Freaking Out) I have an eight-week-journey to helping you grow as a follower of Jesus in your personal witness. My students have been going through that this fall. I conclude the book with five simple ideas for developing a plan to share Christ regularly.

Witnessing means more than the passing on of information; it’s helping people see the very meaning and essence of life and reality. This way we don’t see people as projects we want to convert, but as God’s image bearers who desperately need to be made right with him, and that conversion is for God’s glory and for their good. We don’t see people as a project to conquer. Our desire to share Jesus with people is not because we want to convert them, but because we are converted!

To change physically, we need a plan. The same is true spiritually. As a culture the dietary trajectory is not a good one, given the rise of processed foods and a parallel rise of issues such as diabetes and obesity. “We are literally killing ourselves,” John Ratey says concerning physical health in his book Spark, adding, “What’s even more disturbing, and virtually no one recognizes, is that [physical] inactivity is killing our brains too—physically shriveling them.”[1]

Ratey offers the Naperville School District near Chicago as an example of a different approach. In this district, of the 19,000 sophomores, only 3 percent were overweight (compared to 30 percent nationally). But the students in this district are not only more fit. At a time when students in several Asian countries rank ahead of American students, the Naperville eighth graders ranked sixth in math and first in science in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study test, an international standards test taken by 230,000 students globally.

Why did this school district rank so well? Ratey observes one issue that stood out. What happened in Naperville didn’t begin with a brilliant educator with a Mensa-level IQ. It started with a physical education teacher who read about the growing unhealthiness of American students. Naperville students shifted to begin their day with Zero Hour, a first period that included heart rate monitors with students running a mile. What they discovered: Learning is significantly enhanced when preceded by exercise.

These high school students were taught fitness principles and exercised their bodies before engaging their minds. In addition, each high school student developed his or her own personal plan for a life of wellness.

Here’s my question for you: If a student at a public high school can develop a vision and plan for life-long physical wellness, shouldn’t you be able to develop a vision and plan for life-long witness?

Here’s the final of 8 principles from the book. Principle 8: Developing a lifestyle of sharing Jesus consistently flows out of a plan to share Jesus regularly.

Do you have a plan? In the next few posts I will unpack the plan I offer in the book. But it starts with the conviction that a plan matters.

[1] John Ratey, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain (New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 2008), 4. See also Reid, As You Go, 198–199.

A Shortcut to Teaching the Sharing Jesus Book

I’ve been pretty overwhelmed at the response to the Sharing Jesus WIthout Freaking Out book from pastors, college and student leaders, and believers. I’ve received testimonies of people winning others to Christ for the first time and introverts gaining confidence to share Jesus.

This week I’m in Eugene, Oregon, with the Northwest Baptist Convention. This afternoon I’m teaching two breakouts on my book. The good folks here asked me to create a one page short-list for teaching the book. B & H Academic provided fantastic tools to do this with the eight-week journey in the back of the book and the landing page.

Here is the sheet I produced for them. Perhaps it will help others.

Teaching the Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out Book

Pastors and leaders: here’s a quick overview of how to teach this book and to encourage your flock in sharing Jesus. The response to this book has been amazing, with scores of testimonies (including many introverts!) of believers becoming more confident in their witness. I pray you will find this a blessing to your ministry.

First, go to www.sharingJesusbook.com and become familiar with the site. There are free resources including 8 training videos (1 per week), a promo video, & role-playing.

 

A quick overview: the book is divided into 8 short chapters with 8 principles. The focus is encouraging in tone, showing the reader how to share Christ in everyday conversations. “Evangelism the way you were born to do it,” as the subtitle says.

At the end is an 8-week journey. Most teach it as follows:

  1. Set up an 8-week teaching schedule at the best time for your people.
  2. Show the Promo Video prior to beginning the study.
  3. Get a copy of the book for every person. NOTE: If you order the book from Lifeway, any order of 20 or more drops the price at checkout to $5.00 each! Encourage each person to read the chapter for that week and to come ready to learn.
  4. Show the video from the website (with Doc Reid teaching to a live audience, each about 20-25 minutes).
  5. Facilitate discussion based on the chapter and reading (questions in the back can help). Encourage participants to commit to the 8-Week Challenge.
  6. Encourage testimonies weekly of participants who speak to others about Jesus.
  7. The last week has specific helps for developing a lifestyle of living out the gospel. Encourage participants to see the training as the starting of a lifestyle not as a box to check.

Participants can also go to www.alvinreid.com or Doc Alvin Reid’s youtube channel for more helpful information.