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.

Big News in the Life of the Reid’s (Hint: It Involves a Farm)

I have some big news to share with you about things happening with the Reid’s! Three years ago Michelle and I bought a 12.5 acre farm an hour north near Kerr Lake and Virginia. We’ve so enjoyed going there. We built a barn, a one room off grid cabin, and have had such joy there. We see bald eagles, deer, foxes, turkeys, and much more, and had a bear on our trail camera once.

Well (drum roll): we are moving there. We’ve always dreamed of living on a larger piece of land and enjoying it together. I envisioned a quiet place to do a lot of writing. We are selling our house in Wake Forest, and will move there early 2018.

Nothing will change with my role at the seminary except I am sure I will be a better writer and thinker. My time with students won’t change, and move love for teaching is as great as ever. I will just drive down to work instead of driving up to the farm. What will change is I won’t be as distracted (which comes easily to me). More importantly, I will have time to spend with my Lord and my wife in the beauty of his creation. My role at Richland Creek Community Church won’t change either. But what will change is I will have more time to be still, to think, and to write.

I think we live our lives in thirds. The first third of life, up to around age 30, we are figuring out stuff. We are maturing, becoming adults, many of us get married and start a family, and getting our formal education and real, full time jobs. At this time we say yes to as many opportunities as possible, as we are learning who we are and how to serve. The next thirty, from roughly age 30 to 60, we are doing what God made us to do, living out our calling, raising kids, making an impact in advancing the gospel.  Here we are more focused on our calling and the things God has put before us. The last thirty (or however long the Lord gives us), we say no to far more things as we give great focus to the few things that most bring glory to God and serve his church.

I’m 58, and I’ve always been in a hurry, so i feel I’m entering that third realm. I’m far less interested in how many people I interact with personally and far more interested in investing well in those God puts right in front of me. I’m not more busy than I’ve ever been, but I am less available as a) I don’t have the energy at 58 I had at 28, and b) I’m very focused on teaching, writing, and equipping well.

I also just love being there with Michelle, which is the best part of it all.

 

Life is funny. As a young boy growing up in Alabama I wanted to be known for anything but a redneck. Now, I have a tractor and a bush hog, a pecan orchard started, and am trying to become a redneck. God is good in all of this.

Jeremiah Lanphier and the Power of Prayer

Life in the Big Apple was just as busy In 1857 as it is today. The economy was prospering and the “good life” was on the horizon, but the threat of civil war loomed. A gentleman named Jeremiah C. Lanphier saw the city from a different perspective. Lanphier saw a deep spiritual need amid the hustle and bustle, the laughter and the parties. Lanphier felt that God would have him be an instrument of change in this metropolitan city. New York City was in dire need of spiritual life.

The old downtown North Dutch Reformed Church employed Jeremiah Lanphier in hopes that he would influence their area for the gospel. Lanphier began his assignment on July 1, 1857. He put together a folder announcing the church and the new ministry. He distributed this folder along with Bibles and tracts. While he found some success, he was overwhelmed at the enormity of the task. His prayer, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” led him to a novel approach.

Lanphier had found prayer to be a great source of comfort. He had noticed how the businessmen were “hurrying along their way, often with care worn faces, and anxious, restless gaze.” Lanphier presented the idea of a prayer meeting for businessmen to the church board. Their response was less than enthusiastic, but they agreed to allow Lanphier to proceed. Determining that the noon hour was the most feasible time for a prayer meeting, he printed and distributed a handbill publicizing the meeting, and he promoted the meeting with great zeal.

Lanphier’s handbill to promote the prayer meeting said: “A day-prayer meeting is held every Wednesday from 12 to 1 o’clock in the Consistory building in the rear of the North Dutch Church, corner of Fulton and Williams streets. This meeting is intended to give merchants, mechanics, clerks, strangers, and businessmen generally an opportunity to stop and call on God amid the perplexities incident to their respective vocations. It will continue for one hour; but it is also designed for those who find it inconvenient to remain more than 5 or 10 minutes, as well as for those who can spare a whole hour. Necessary interruption will be slight, because anticipated. Those in haste often expedite their business engagements by halting to lift their voices to the throne of grace in humble, grateful prayer.”

Lanphier also took out a full-page ad in the paper advertising the weekly prayer meeting and inviting all who could to come. The first prayer meeting was held on September 23. For the first thirty minutes, Lanphier prayed alone. Then he heard some footsteps, and for the closing moments of this historic prayer meeting, six men knelt to pray for New York. On the next Wednesday, they met again as planned, and the number grew to twenty. When they met during the first week of October, the men felt they should begin to meet daily for prayer; and so they did.

On October 14 more than one hundred people came. By the end of the second month, three large rooms were filled. The Fulton Street prayer meetings were under way. Lanphier had discovered a hunger to meet with God in the city. Other prayer meetings began almost simultaneously across the city. Many churches sponsored such meetings without knowledge of other activities similar to their own. Morning prayer meetings ings were also begun in churches in New York and Brooklyn. Within six months, fifty thousand were meeting daily in New York, while thousands more prayed in other cities. This was the beginning of what is called the Laymen’s Prayer Revival of 1857-58.

Too often we isolate ourselves in prayer, focusing on individual prayer. What if we met with others to pray in community for our communities, our cities, and our nations? What might God do?