Sounds of Silence
In a lot of way the church is not silent. The sounds of music echo through the halls and impassioned sermons fill the sanctuary of the church. You will hear laughter and conversation flowing from the parking lot after church but, in the middle of all these sounds, there is also a very disturbing silence. Some call it “our guilty silence.” Too often, those of us who have so much to say to one another have little to say to those who desperately need what we have. We seem to expect them to come to us, when we should be going to them.
Too many of our churches end up being isolated pockets of Christianity filled with Christians who don’t even try to relate to those who are unchurched. Leaders and lay people alike are way to busy to spend time trying to reach the unsaved.
The sad truth of the matter is that all too often we are not carrying on the pattern of the apostles of reaching out to the downtrodden with the good news of Christ. In fact, we too often fail to reach either the rich or the poor, the educated or the uneducated. While we may enjoy one another, we are not reaching those who still are as we once were, without Christ. This is why some call this “our guilty silence”.
So, why do we find it hard to break the silence about the best news and most important Person the world has ever known? We sure aren’t that way about other things in our lives. If we were to discover a cure for arthritis or something else we would happily pass along the news to everyone. But it seems admittedly when trying to talk to someone about Christ it seems more difficult than telling them about a good restaurant. Often this is caused from sound barriers:
1.) The Nature of Unbelief – A lot of people aren’t only unaware of their need of Christ but they also assume they’re doing just fine without Him, but they are also predisposed against Him. Talking to them about the Lord is like trying to sell them an expensive medicine that the AMA has branded as dangerous and fraudulent. They’ve heard rumors and they think they don’t need it. So when it comes to Christ they don’t want to open themselves up to a discussion or an argument that they feel might result in their being pressured into making a decision they don’t want to make.
2.) The Christian Strategy – Another sound barrier is actually found in the Christian strategy itself. According to the New Testament there are times when we are better off not talking. Wisdom shows that there are times when we should let our actions break the ice and make a sense of interest. We are told that we should let our Christian behavior do the talking for us in the presence of unbelievers.
3.) A Lack of Relationships – Often we don’t know what to say to non-Christians because we don’t spend enough of the right kind of time with them. We are often at a loss for words because we have limited ourselves to talking lovingly and meaningfully only to other Christians. But Jesus shows us a different way by leaving His home and all the comforts it offered to go out and rescue those in need. He went so deep into enemy territory that he was greatly criticized by some of the most religious people of His time.
4.) A Sense of Inadequacy – Another reason for our silence could be our fear of failure. We are afraid that we will encounter questions that we won’t be able to answer and objections we won’t be able to handle. This is understandable. There are very few Christians who are so well versed in the Bible, history or science that they can effectively answer all the questions or objections they may run into. However, that shouldn’t stop us. God hasn’t asked us to tell people what we don’t know, He has asked us to be witnesses to what we DO know.
Genuine Christian Fellowship
For unbelievers to believe Christians of all social status must outwardly show genuine Christian fellowship. The unsaved would be impressed if they saw true “New Testament” fellowship among Christians. For example if wealthy believers in the suburbs who pour great amounts of money into lavishly furnished building would just show an interest in small, struggling works in the ghetto, the non-Christians would be much more inclined to believe the gospel.
One of the key factors that caused the first century church to grow so quickly is that non-believers saw the oneness of the apostles and all their followers. The slave and his master worshiped in the same building is just an example. Every shared what they had with one another and they made sure that no one went without. Sure there were issues among them, but they took time to work out the problems together and because of this the young church grew by leaps and bounds.
History has shown over and over again that large groups of people come to Christ whenever affluent believers have taken a keen interest in their poorer brothers and sisters in the Lord. Every Christian denomination needs an infusion of hundreds of new members from among the poor, men and women saved right out of the crisis of their poverty. This would keep us shook up and spiritually alive. It would keep our churches from being captured by any one class or political philosophy, and keep them from being compromised.
Proclaim the Message of Christ
The first followers of Christ spread the good news by verbal communication, powerful sermons, serious discussion with non-Christians or simply by telling their story wherever they went. In one way or another, they got the good news out. They had far fewer tools that we do today and they were able to get Christianity to spread over vast areas.
Public meetings were a huge thing back in the time of the early Christians because they often had no buildings to hold their meetings and so they would preach out in the open. Today, however, public meetings most often will only draw other Christians in and not the non-believers. Very few will draw near, so what we need to do is to pray for them as well as invite them in, let them know they are welcome and that they are not outsiders looking in.
Just like the early Christians, we too can invite non-believers into our homes. Remember the early Christians didn’t have churches or buildings to preach in so very often they would invite people into their homes or homes of friends and then they would tell their stories about their faith in Jesus. This is something that can be done in our homes as well. This gives Christians a wonderful opportunity to proclaim the wonders of Christ without standing behind a pulpit.
One to one evangelism is another great way to get the message of the gospel to an individual. This is talked about often in the New Testament. Jesus would often spend time with just one single person. We can do the exact same thing.
Friendship evangelism is nothing new, it’s been around since the 50’s and can still be very effective. Becoming friends with someone who doesn’t believe is a great way in which they can learn about Christ through your friendship. This way you can reach people who would normally refuse to accept an invitation to get to know Christ. It can reach people who would be offended by a more direct personal evangelism approach. The best thing about this kind of evangelism is that every single Christian can get involved in it.
There is no doubt and make no mistake about it, if we have true faith, then it should show. When we really place our trust in Christ, we become temples of the Holy Spirit and that gives us the power to be equipped to make visible to our friends and acquaintances the invisible Savior lives within us. Those who have true faith will shine with the love of Christ and people will find that you are someone they truly feel they can trust because they can see in you the fruit of the Spirit, the joy, peace, love, kindness, faithfulness, even long suffering as well as gentleness and self-control. They simply will respect you.
We also need to exhibit kind actions towards others through our faith, because kind actions will open doors to new friendships and maintain the ones we’ve already started. Sowing good deeds will be a harvest of those who are affected by the kind deeds you have shown.
We should never sound preachy when we are trying to spread the good news. This is the quickest way to get non-believers to keep on walking down the road. It is important that we produce statements that are value statements, statements that let others know what we truly value in life. The non-believer will soon pick up some important points that we don’t measure success by wealth, that we are more concerned about being honest than rich, that we are more pleased with our children’s good character than their grades, etc. and most importantly that we place more value and emphasis on the eternal plan than the temporal.
Need to Know the Basics
To lead others to Christ we first need to know the basics. These are basic truths that we need to know and know well. These truths can be stated in different ways but when it comes down to it, these are the four basic points:
- Every person is by nature a sinner who stands guilty and condemned before God.
- Every person is helpless to save himself by his own effort.
- In love, God provided salvation for sinners through Jesus Christ, who became a member of the human family, lived sinlessly, and then died on the cross to pay for our sins.
- Salvation is an individual matter and requires a personal response on the part of anyone who wants to be saved. Because God accepted Jesus’ sacrifice by raising Him from death, all who acknowledge their sin and place their trust in Christ are adopted as God’s children.
Just remember that sometimes, no matter what you do or say, you need to be prepared for the fact that there are just some people who won’t believe in Jesus Christ, no matter what you say. Felix, Drusilla, Agrippa, and Festus all heard Paul passionately present the truth, but all of them refused to believe in Jesus. When this happens to you, don’t be needlessly offensive. Instead be courteous and pray that God will continue to work in their hearts.