For the next few weeks I will write about the eight practices of missional communities, what Campus Renewal Ministries calls “Spark Groups.” These eight practices are described with greater detail in CRM’s Spark Course, which trains missional community leaders.
Proclaim the Gospel
The sixth missional community practice is to proclaim the gospel with words. Missional communities don’t merely demonstrate the gospel by their actions, but they also declare the gospel with their words. Paul said, “… faith comes from hearing the message and the messages is heard from the word of Christ (Romans 10:17). “
Your friends will not put their faith in Jesus before first hearing the gospel explained. Therefore, missional communities look for opportunities and create opportunities to share the good news of the gospel with their people group.
The easiest way to share the gospel is by starting spiritual conversations. Our propensity is to keep conversations with those in our people group at a superficial level (talking about hobbies, sports, school work, weather, entertainment, movies, TV, and the like). Superficial conversations are good, but we should try to have more meaningful conversations too (spiritual background, family, struggles, current events, relationships, philosophy, religion, politics, God, and the like). The easiest way to start these conversations is by asking good questions.
We need to learn to ask simple and timely questions. When someone mentions something about their family, ask deeper questions about their family relationships. When there is a significant current event, ask their opinion about it. When someone is talking about a problem in the world, ask them why they believe the problem exists and what they believe to be the solution.
When we ask a question, it is usually reciprocated. Whatever question we ask, they will likely ask the same question back to us. Our answers, of course, will be informed by our Biblical worldview and our understanding of the gospel so the conversation can toward Jesus. So we should ask questions that would give us the opportunity to talk about Jesus if the questions were asked of us.
Share Your Story
The most important thing we can do is share the gospel through telling our personal stories. It’s important to learn to share the gospel through our personal testimonies (our salvation story and stories of how the gospel has impacted us since we put our faith in Jesus).
It’s important for missional community leaders to prepare a two-minute story (what I call an elevator story) and a twenty-minute story (what I call a coffee-house story). This way we can “always be prepared to give an answer for the hope within us (I Peter 3:15).”
Justin Christopher is the director of Campus Renewal Ministries at the University of Texas and author of Campus Renewal: A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission. He gives leadership to the Campus House of Prayer and the misssonal community movement at the University of Texas.