Book Review:Eats with Sinners

I’ve been in the Church for so long that deep friendships with people apart from Christ have been neglected.

I’ve filled my day with work, managing the lives of my children, administrative and planning for the local church, and running an international ministry.

Recently, I’ve been having a season of reading and re-reading a bunch of books relating to personal evangelism in a more relational style.

My recent evangelism books reading list

I’m particularly looking at intentional ways of building relationships of with people who are apart from Christ.

A recent contribution to Building Relationships

One recent good book in this area is Eats with Sinners: Reaching Hungry People Like Jesus Did by Arron Chambers.

This pastor from Colorado shares lots of his experiences in developing relationships with people who don’t know Christ.

Arron suggests that we set up regular times to meet with people who don’t know Christ, and to share a meal with them.

They are framed in the context of characteristics that Jesus used in His recipe to reach lost people. The list is

  • My review on Aaron Chambers Eats with Sinnersintegrity
  • accessibility
  • grace
  • faith
  • intimacy
  • tolerance
  • resolve
  • urgency
  • mercy
  • humility
  • investment
  •  joy
  • vision.

Meal times allow for that context for authentic relationships to happen.

Over those meal times, we develop a genuine relationship, and eventually get to the place share sharing needs and concerns between us.

We’ve moved from weather, to family, to deep personal concerns.

There, we find opportunities to share our stories of what Christ has done for us, and how our lives have been changed because of this.

Where Eats with Sinners will inspire challenge or push

As you read Eats with Sinners: Reaching Hungry People Like Jesus Did, I believe you will be challenged by the intentionally that we must have to spend quality time with people who don’t yet know Christ.

In my coaching ministry, I see churches that want instant results – like baptisms within a week of a huge weekend outreach.

In a conversation with my own pastor recently, I looked at my own life and this week and realize that I’ve not made enough space to be with people outside the church.

One church I coached last year got intentional.  In 6 months, 6 new people belonged to the Lord and 3 had already taken baptism.  It was the fruit of being intentionally present with people.

Taking the time to develop true relationships will lead to stronger disciplemaking and deeper faith committments in a local church.  It increases the “stickyness factor” and relational strength to the local church.

Chambers gives different creative ways of bringing Christ into your conversations and your daily life and using it to share the Word.

Get out there and enjoy some food

Since sharing meals is the theme of Eats with Sinners: Reaching Hungry People Like Jesus Did, recipes are peppered in sidebars and call out pages.  Some of them look really good.

At the end of each chapter are questions for digging deeper. Also, there are practical suggestions throughout the book for how we can put into practice — some practical ways that we can do more to reach the lost.

You could use Eats with Sinners: Reaching Hungry People Like Jesus Did as a personal devotional book, or use it in your small group that is focused on holding one another accountable to being with people.

Note:  The publisher provided me a review copy, with perfect liberty to say what I really think.  If you buy this book from Amazon through any of the links, Amazon will send me a thank you gift.

Sharing your faith with no results

Why do some people express great interest in the gospel of Jesus Christ, yet they never cross the line of faith and discipleship?

Perhaps you’ve spent time sharing your faith (maybe a few years) by

  • Developing authentic relationships with non-believers
  • Faith sharing conversations over dinner
  • Answering difficult questions

Yet, they never seem to get the faith you share with them.

Years of faith sharing with little results

Some of you probably have encountered this.

I know I have.

There are people in my life that no matter how much I share my faith, they remain apart from Christ.

As an evangelist, that’s hard.

I remember one person with whom I shared my faith with for four years.  Nothing.

Apostle Paul shared his faith with the same person for two years!

At the end of Acts 23, the apostle Paul was sent to Felix, the governor. Felix had Paul guarded in Herod’s palace (Acts 23: 35) until he had the chance to hear Paul himself (Acts 24).

After the hearing, Felix gave Paul some “freedom and permit his friends to take care of his needs” (24:23)

Felix had some level of spiritual curiosity, and some working knowledge about the followers of Jesus (Acts 24:22), even if it was only on a political level as the movement of Christianity spread.

Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. (v24)

Paul and Felix discussed Jesus and what it means to follow Jesus.

 25 As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.”

I can imagine that Felix even experienced the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in some of those conversations.  Even if there were some hidden motives for hearing Paul (like bribery – v. 26), Felix still got to hear of Jesus and the implications of being a disciple of Christ.

These faith sharing conversations went on for the next two years (v.27).

Even though Paul was a prisoner, it’s hard not to imagine that a friendship developed, or at least a level of mutual respect between these two men as Paul shared his faith.

We can speculate some of the relationship dynamics that changed over the course of the next two years.

Two years of faith sharing, no immediate fruit

I can imagine (and this is santicified imagination) Paul doing the following

  • Praying for Felix on a regular basis.
  • Asking God for how to talk with Felix.
  • Waiting for God to open the heart of Felix to respond.
  • Frustration when Felix cuts the conversation short when it gets personal.
  • Rejoicing when questions were answered to the satisfaction of Felix
  • Celebrating the apparent progress Felix was making on the journey to faith.

Yet Felix was appointed somewhere else and was no longer in Paul’s life.  The end of the road together had come.

Two years, Felix and Paul talked about Christianity, salvation, following Jesus, etc, yet Felix still walked away without having surrendered his life to Christ.  I would imagine author Luke would have reported on Felix’s conversion if it had happened.

Sharing faith without results?

Perhaps you are in a similar situation of sharing your faith with someone who seems to have spiritual curiosity, but just won’t surrender.

Like Felix, they keep cutting the faith conversation short when it gets personal.

They simply avoid the hard questions of surrender.

What can we do?

1.  Don’t give up.

Keep praying for your friend.

Keep spending time with them.

Enjoy life together.

Keep sharing your faith and answering their questions.  They are on a spiritual journey

They are your friend, not your evangelistic project, so keep the relationship authentic.

2.  Trust God’s sovereignty.

I’ve heard testimony from people who have come to faith 15 years after I shared with them.

Remember the friend I shared my faith with for nearly 4 years without success?

Fifteen years later, she tells me she became a Christian.  Those seeds I planted produced a harvest.

God can keep the story going, even if you are no longer in the picture.

 

Sharing Faith With Your Friends

“How do you find forgiveness?”

This was a question my neighbor asks while we visit at the poolside on a spring day.

While our kids are splashing, shouting, screaming, laughing and diving into the water, my friend talks with me about deep issues of the heart.

How did we get to this point?

1.  He is my friend.

We laugh and talk about life over a cup of coffee.  Our kids play together.

We also have a history of sharing concerns and preoccupations.

In other words, we are friends.

We are friends who share life together.  He is not my evangelistic project.

I know that sharing faith in the context of genuine friendships has the deepest impact in making life change.

2.  We pray for them.

As a habit, we have regularly prayed for them as well as all of our neighbors.

We pray specifically that they would experience spiritual thirst and that God would give us the eyes to see those conversational opportunities.

I was sensitive and alert to the moment when his thirst was expressed in the form of his question.

I know that sharing faith will not happen unless we have prepared the way in prayer.

3.  Our faith is visible

Our faith is visible without being obnoxious.

For example, we celebrate birthdays and anniversaries together.  They’ve given us permission to publically pray with them at such events.

We invite them to church on a regular basis, as well as to other church gatherings like picnics and community service opportunities.

We share how we do family devotions as parents, talk about the Bible with our kids, and testimonies to how God answers our prayers.  Our faith is not hidden as private matter behind close doors.  It’s part of who we are.

Our faith is visible and open for examination.  Sharing faith is not revealing a secret about who we really are.

Sharing Faith is easy in the security of relationship

It was easy to share my faith that day at the pool side.

In the security of a authentic friendship, he felt comfortable asking me a deeply spiritual question.

Because we had been walking together in life for several months, I had earned the credibility to potentially speak into his life.

This day at the poolside, he gave me permission to share my faith, particularly about his question on forgiveness.

I shared my faith in Jesus, how I encountered forgiveness in Jesus, and how I knew that I had been reconciled to God.

It wasn’t a scripted monologue, but a two way conversation between friends about my faith and his search for forgiveness.

At the end, his last question was

“How can I have this like you have it?”

That day, after hearing the good news, he asked God to forgive him.

Podcast: Developing a Sowing Mentality – Gary Rohrmayer

Has your church plateaued in it’s evangelistic effectiveness?

Perhaps, your church has stalled out in its evangelistic passion.  People are not coming to faith and your members are not really engaging people into finding faith in Christ.    The life-saving station has become the club of comfort.

Yet, other churches continue to grow year after year.

How do they maintain their evangelistic passion and zeal to reach their community and be a transformative agent for the kingdom of God?

Their leaders have developed a sowing mentality.

They have learned to apply the law of sowing and reaping in their evangelistic efforts.

How do you develop a sowing mentality?

Webinar Video

Podcast:

 

Podcast: Equipping People to Reach their Sphere of Influence

I’ve coached enough pastors and done enough evangelism training seminars to know that one challenge that many of you face is equipping your people for evangelism.

  • How do you lead your congregation in effective evangelism?
  • How do you equip your members to be more confident in sharing their faith?
  • How do you do evangelism training?
  • How can we stimulate members to get excited about the GREAT COMMISSION?
  • How can I create a culture of evangelism and equip my church members for it?
  • How do you get others excited about the opportunity?

In this 60 minute EvangelismCoach.org webinar,Gary Rohrmayer will join Chris Walker of EvangelismCoach.org to talk about various different evangelism strategies.

Pastors will lean new ways of equipping your people to reach their friends.

  • How to ignite outreach passion in your church
  • How to identify places on the evangelistic journey
  • How to incorporate evangelistic training throughout the life of the church

Books Mentioned:

Videos Replay via Vimeo

Podcast