If you call yourself a Christian, then you have been given a command by Jesus to “Go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19). This is what Jesus Himself told His eleven disciples before He ascended to heaven.
He also explained what it meant for a disciple to be made: they have to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and they had to have been taught to observe all that Jesus commanded. I don’t know about you, but for someone to be baptized and taught about Jesus, communication is absolutely necessary.
But let’s pull back here. Many of us aren’t at a place where we have three or four neighbours who are aching to be disciples, waiting for you to tell them what to do next. Sure, maybe you’ve shared what God has done in your life or you’ve invited them to church a few times, but there doesn’t seem to be a desire there yet.
Other conversations need to take place first.
I have a friend who works at Apologetics Canada. His name is Steve Kim. Steve has been on indoubt a few times to talk about different aspects of apologetics (the defence of the Christian faith). It was in one of our conversations that he suggested 4 ways to engage those with different worldviews. I found them helpful, so here they are:
1) Become friends with your neighbours.
Steve said that “people don’t care how much you know, unless they know how much you care about them.” If people don’t see a genuine interest that you have for them, they most likely won’t be interested with what you’re saying. There is a real aspect of “love” that needs to play a part. It’s okay to desire them to become Christians, but make sure that’s partnered with a genuine desire to just be their friend.
2) Listen to your neighbours.
How many of you have made a friend without listening to them? Probably none. We, as Christians, can be good at sharing the gospel and what it’s done in our lives, and then not really caring about what our non-Christian friends are going through. We just need to listen. And sometimes it’s not appropriate to come back at their every point with a “Christianise” statement. Again, just listen.
3) Ask your neighbours good questions.
After becoming friends with them and listening to them (because you’re friends with them), ask questions that will get their minds thinking and their hearts feeling. Too many people have friends that always ask the same questions. Be the friend that changes that. Steve suggested a great question to ask: what do you think happens when we die? Again, just listen.
4) Pray for your neighbours.
As Steve personally confessed (and as myself and many others would confess also), this can be a hard one to remember. We get so fixated on all the steps and systems that we forget the one thing that really matters – prayer. We are not the ones saving anyone, it’s the Holy Spirit who is awakening the hearts of our neighbours to see and surrender to their Lord Jesus who then becomes their righteousness so that they can be face-to-face with the Father. That’s the only way someone is saved. So, since that’s the only way, we should be constantly praying to God through Jesus for our neighbours, asking that the Holy Spirit would awaken their hearts.
So, consider those unbelieving neighbours around you – perhaps your family, friends, coworkers, or even your literal neighbours – and try to apply these 4 steps of engagement.
*I want to thank Steve Kim for his wisdom and his time to chat with me on indoubt.