Q&A: Living To Be A Blessing

From time to time Sally Golding has opportunity to talk to unchurched people about Jesus & the gospel and whenever I hear her stories I always find it very encouraging and faith stirring. Below Sally shares some of the ways that she’s trying to live as a missionary in Seaford. I found it a very encouraging read, I hope you do too:

From Sally…

Sally & Colin Golding

Sally and her husband Colin are part of Kings Church Seaford

Firstly, I wouldn’t consider myself as a gifted evangelist, but I do believe that the King lives in me therefore there is a divine opportunity for anyone who comes in contact with me. This is true for anyone who is a Christian. Where the King is there is the kingdom of God which is righteousness, peace and joy (Romans14:17); I aim to demonstrate these as I live my life.

I consider the fact that Jesus looked on people and had compassion for them and loved them. I do not believe that I can ‘cold-bloodedly’ evangelise and win people into God’s kingdom without first loving them (1Corinthians13:1).

How do you know when to share the gospel with people?

Sometimes I am actively praying and am therefore expectant to share, but at other times I am presented with an opportunity which I choose (or not!) to take. There have definitely been times when I have had an opportunity to share when I really didn’t feel like it because I was tired or feeling weak, but decide to say something relying on God’s strength and have had some great conversations as well as being refreshed myself (Proverbs11:25).

How do you work out ‘how’ to share with people?

I seek to use my strengths. I know that I have the gift of encouragement, but that can mean just smiling or saying hello to someone (being noticeably different in this negative world) or engaging in a short conversation with someone who is lonely. Colin pointed out to me years ago, that I was particularly good at opening people up and drawing them out. With this in mind, I have combined forces with a friend who is gifted at gathering people together but not so strong at the talking.

I try to just be myself, people see through unreality and would dismiss what I have to say if they thought I was a fake. I use what I have in my hand as it were, like Moses using his staff, and David using his sling and stones rather than Saul’s armour. One of the tools I use is offering to pray for the sick. I say something like ‘I’m a Christian and believe God heals today, would you like me to pray for you.’ People are often pleased that I have offered and even if they’ve refused the offer they are appreciative that I have shown concern for them. I have had many positive responses to the offer as well – but be warned, praying with non-believers I tend to get stared at, so I keep my eyes open as I pray! My prayer would go something like ‘Lord thank you for….I know that you love them. Please come and touch their body. I speak to…(the area of infirmity) and command it to be well in Jesus’ name.’ I generally feel comfortable with that approach but realise that could be extremely daunting to others.

I have used different tools such as helping people e.g. with trolleys at the supermarket, etc. I try to notice ways to touch people’s lives positively and ask the Lord for His creative ideas. I believe our actions speak louder than words and our words must match our actions. (I’m not keen on having a fish on my car because I know I make mistakes and know there are enough people around who are quick to pick up on me, a Christian, and judge – I was one of them!)

I seek to never do something that could disrepute the Lord. However, as I am still a work in progress, I have been rude and disrespectful at times or just said something in an abrupt or inappropriate manner and have found that acknowledging my failure and apologising has opened up opportunities to share. Being humble definitely can be used to soften hearts.

How do you cope with the disappointments of not seeing the sort of ‘fruit’ you’d like to with gospel-sharing?

I believe that God wants all men to come to the knowledge of the truth (1Timothy2:4), therefore my responsibility is to share the truth through words and/or actions (the Great Commission) and then let Him do the rest – very releasing! I don’t generally worry about what I would say in a situation because I believe that the Holy Spirit will give me the words to say and even use my faltering words. I do dream big though, imagining myself speaking in a much bigger situation than I’m actually capable of, that stirs my faith and pushes me to step outside my comfort zone. I share testimony because no one can take that away from me since it really happened. The response is often ‘Really?’ for which I reply ‘Yes, really!’

Years ago I was frustrated that in spite of sharing on several occasions, I had not led anyone to the Lord, but I had a revelation that I was a sower and so that is what I do, ‘sow seed’ in any little way I can. Somebody else may be a reaper (although I’m open to that also!). This was very releasing and so I just give away my little oil and trust that the Lord will do something with it! He’s on my side. After all, He doesn’t want anyone to perish, but wants everyone to come to repentance (2Peter3:9).

For more encouragement on, and help with, sharing your faith with others listen to some of the ‘Missionary Jesus’ messages from Spring 2013 http//www.kingschurch.eu/media

10 Ways to live as a missionary

A couple of years ago, Andrew Wilson posted a very helpful and immensely practical blog in which he listed 10 ways that we can all of us live a little bit more engaged as missionary Christians. Today’s post comes from that blog:

I take it as read that there is a strong link between the evangelistic level of a church, and the evangelistic level of its leaders. There are all sorts of churches where the leaders talk an awful lot about mission, but because mission – by which, in this context, I mean evangelism – is not embodied in the everyday lives of the leaders, the culture of the church doesn’t change much. The fish stinks from the head down, says the Greek proverb, and so it seems. Evangelistic churches, almost without exception, are led by leaders (or teams of leaders) that are evangelistic themselves.

That, for many of us, is a huge challenge. It certainly is for me. I’m a full time church leader, writer and travelling teacher, which means I work with Christians, spend most of my weekends with Christians, have Christians round to my house in the evenings, and am away a lot teaching, you’ve guessed it, Christians. So if I’m not careful – and this has happened to me regularly – I can look at my life and realise that (outside of church meetings) I haven’t had a non-trivial conversation with someone who doesn’t follow Jesus for a month, let alone talked about the gospel with them. The temptation to rationalise this, particularly when your public ministry involves preaching the gospel frequently to lots of people, is acute. But the Holy Spirit continually pokes me on it, through a combination of fellow leaders, encouraging examples, challenging resources and confrontational friends.

The most recent was Tim Chester’s very simple list of six things to make life more missional. Here they are, followed by a few of my own:

1. Eat with other people. We all eat three meals a day. That’s 21 opportunities for church and mission each week without adding anything new to your schedule. And meals are a powerful expression of welcome and community.

2. Work in public places. Hold meetings, prepare talks, and read in public spaces like cafés, pubs, and parks. It will naturally help you engage with the culture. For example, whose questions do you want to address in your Bible studies, those of professional exegetes or those of the culture?

3. Be a regular. Adopt a local café, pub, park, and shop so you regularly visit and become known as a local. Imagine if everyone in your gospel community did this!

4. Leave the house in the evenings. It’s so easy after a long day on a dark evening to slump in front of the television or surf the Internet. Get out! Visit a friend. Take a cake to a neighbour. Attend a local group. Go to the cinema. Hang out in a café. Go for a walk with a friend. It doesn’t matter where as long as you go with gospel intentionality.

5. Serve your neighbours. Weed a neighbour’s garden. Help someone move. Put up a shelf. Volunteer with a local group. It could be one evening a week or one day a month. Try to do it with other members of your gospel community so it becomes a common project. Then people will see your love for one another and it will be easier to talk about Jesus.

6. Share your passion. What do you enjoy? Find a local group that shares your passion. Be missional and have fun at the same time!

This last one is frequently talked about when leaders get together, and has often made me feel a bit awkward, because I’ve never been a go to the gym sort of person. I love playing football, and I do every week, but in six years of doing that with the same people, I have never had a deep conversation with anyone; running hard after a ball doesn’t lend itself to that, in my experience. I enjoy playing golf, which is more conducive to talking, but I have young children so I only play a couple of times a year. I like time with my wife, but not so much if there are other people there. I enjoy reading theology, but almost all the people who also do are already Christians. So the “be missional and have fun” thing, as much as I know it works well if you’re into book groups or playing squash or cookery, doesn’t really work for me. Still, five out of six ain’t bad.

A few other suggestions, from other leaders I know. (The fact that these all come from church leaders, by the way, merely indicates that we generally find the everyday interaction side of things the hardest, as a result of the way we spend our 9-5s and our evenings). #7, from Phil Moore: asking questions about what people in your community believe, whether in the form of a questionnaire, a quick survey, a poll on your next preaching series or a brief conversation, can open all sorts of doors, as well as informing you what sort of beliefs you ought to be engaging with. #8, from Steve Tibbert: even if you can’t do “friendship evangelism”, you can do “friendly evangelism”, which is basically being nice to people in ordinary contexts – shops, streets, commercial interactions, and so on – and seeing where it goes. #9, from a whole bunch of leaders: go and talk to people in your welcome area/visitor cafe on a Sunday morning, and ask them how they found things. And #10, from me: if you use social media, use it deliberately (or, as Tim Chester would put it, “with gospel intentionality”) – use your tweets, Facebook friendships, status updates and links to things wisely, humorously and thoughtfully. AsColossians 4:5-6 puts it in the ISV, “Use the internet with wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your tweets and updates always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”

That’s an even ten. If those of us who are in church leadership were to live consistently like this, we’d probably end up with churches that did, too. And that would be a good thing.

Grace & the Man-Seeking God

‘Religion is man searching for God, Christianity is God seeking man.’ – Martyn Lloyd Jones

There is a famous anecdote that has been told in numerous books about C.S. Lewis entering into a debate of faculty members at Cambridge University where he used to teach. They were discussing with much difference of opinion the aspects of Christianity that made it unique from all the other world faiths. “That’s easy,” said Lewis, “Grace.”

Grace is a small word and a much misunderstood word, but a word with big meaning. What he meant by grace wasn’t a girls name, or the prayer of gratitude we say around meal times. Grace is the message of the Bible, it’s the idea that God, a good, holy, sovereign and perfect God chooses to not only forgive but to be kind to people who are rebellious, hard-hearted and anti-God in the way they live their lives.

The things is, our best efforts of God-seeking fall far short of his glory. In the same way that a toddler’s attempt to paint an impressive vista fails to come any where close to an accurate likeness of the view.

Some people try really hard to keep rules, adhere to traditions and make all kinds of new year’s resolutions. Those people need to hear the truth behind the opening quote. In Christianity we see God seeking us out, drawing near to us just as we are with all of our shortcomings.

Other people think that they are so far beyond the pale, their lives so screwed up, their heads so messed up that God would want nothing to do with them, the church is no place for them to be found. They need to get to grips with grace. Grace is getting what we don’t deserve. Grace is unreasonable and grace goes against every human instinct to want to earn our way into happiness our favour. Grace is God saying through the sacrificial death of his son – I love you, I choose you, I like you. Grace is God saying ‘you are welcome to come near.’

People need to hear this. Religion doesn’t work, grace does. Religion can’t help you, Jesus can. Living to impress God and working hard to be loved by him, misses the point.

God is seeking you out because he loves you and wants relationship with you period.