Story Number 3: The Gospel Story

My hope is in the Lord Who gave Himself for me,
And paid the price of all my sin at Calvary.
For me He died, For me He lives,

And everlasting life and light He freely gives

— Hymn, For me he died, for me he lives

God’s love has worked in your life

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us
Source: YouVersion

Jesus died for you.

His death paid the price for the forgiveness of your sins.

His death and resurrection paved the way for you to enjoy fellowship with God forever.

You have been reconciled to the Father and you can now discover the outrageous  love of the Father for you.

It’s the greatest story every told.

But we fail to tell the story

We think we know the gospel story.

But when we are put on the spot, in some random moment in a spiritual conversation, we grasp at fog.

We stumble for words.

We are not sure where to start.

We start off in one direction, and then change direction in the middle of a thought.

Most of us have fallen short in mastering being able to tell the greatest story ever told.

We might be good at telling stories

But telling people the actual gospel leaves us speechless or disorganized.

Tell the gospel story well in real life

I once challenged a teen in my youth group to tell the gospel story to a friend.

She was nervous about it, but she knew the major movements of the gospel story.

  • God loves us, but sin separates us from God
  • God’s love didn’t leave us without a solution.
  • God demonstrated his love in Christ’s death and resurrection.
  • That if we believe and confess, receive him, we become a follower of Christ.

As her gospel sharing conversation proceeded, even with conversational detours, she confidently moved through them.

At the end, her friend simply said:

No one has ever shared it so clearly before.  Now I know what it means when they say “Christ died for me.”

How could this teen tell the story so well?

Even when there were conversational detours?

It is because she had memorized a gospel story and mastered the outline.

We reviewed one quarterly in our youth group.

I made everyone practice it on a regular basis.

Because she knew the outline, she could calmly and clearly communicate.

Lesson learned the hard way

A self declared non-Christian friend asked me one time:

“Chris, what is the Gospel?”

I had the perfect opportunity to explain the gospel simply and clearly.

Instead, my explanation was a clear as the muddy Mississippi River during a flood.

After that moment, I decided that I needed to learn a script so that I’d not be caught unprepared again.  In God’s sovereignty, my friend eventually came to faith, but certainly not because of my eloquently clear presentation.

Action Steps

To master this conversational story, find one of the gospel scripts and master it.

Here are a handful of gospel scripts.

I personally have chosen the bridge illustration

The Key to Using a Gospel Story

The key to using gospel scripts is to know ONE “inside out”so that your explanation is crystal clear, but doesn’t seem scripted.

Meaning that you can use it

  • at any given moment,
  • can “do it in your sleep”
  • without having to think too hard.
  • without hyperventilating
  • without forgetting where you are out.
  • without a fear of lack of words or not knowing what to say.

Once you are deeply familiar with one, then add another one to your skill set.

The Problems with memorized gospel stories

1.  Theological debates

Some will find fault with the theology of certain gospel presentations.

No script is able to capture the full richness of the gospel in 3 or 4 propositional points.

While I think all of us would agree on the main points, some of the theological nuances will be points of difference.

For example, I know people who think the Four Spiritual Laws is wrong because it starts in the wrong spot.

Others believe the gospel is all about law and sin, and so the starting point must be the 10 commandments.

Each of these scripts deal with the problem of sin, but how they discuss sin is often related to some theological presuppositions.

For example, read are you a Genesis 3 Christian?  Would sin have been the best starting point for her?

Or for a different point, where would you start the gospel with a member of an indigenous tribe who doesn’t have a Western worldview, but worships an alligator?

The solution is to find a gospel version that fits your theological stream that you can be comfortable with.

2.  Using scripts by rote memory.

Following a script as exactly as possible can be as impersonal as calling a 1-800 number for customer service.

The customer service person in the remote call center has a script to follow, who doesn’t cares what you really need or are really asking.

For the user who is following the script as strictly as possible, the give and take of the conversation messes it up.

This leads to interior anxiety and frustration because it’s out of line.

I’ve talked with some who think a presentation doesn’t work (as if the gospel presentation is a magic formula) unless it’s followed exactly, which means there can be no give and take of a discussion.

I’ve encountered others who place so much emphasis on the right presentation, that their “conversations” are actually monologues led by their own rhetorical questions.

When we follow a script, we have to listen to the “customer” (don’t get carried away with my analogy) and respond appropriately with love. Conversational evangelism is sharing the good news of the gospel, not a canned product placement pitch.

Let me ask you this

Which script of those listed above do you know inside and out?

If you don’t know one, commit this week to learn one.

Want to watch more of my teaching on Spiritual Conversations?

This teaching set (download or DVD) can help you have more effective conversations with people when you discern where they are in their spiritual journey.  Knowing where they are can help relieve the pressure of any conversation about Christ.  Click the banner to read more.

Effective Conversations: Clues to Better Personal Evangelism DVD

5 Possible Desired Outcomes of Door to Door Visitation

Perhaps your church is thinking about a door to door evangelism outreach.

Some churches excel at it.  Other churches want to get better, and still others want to avoid any kind of door to door visitation.

If you are considering a door to door evangelism campaign, the premier question I would ask you is

What is your desired outcome?

Townhouse.  Source: Self

1.  Prayerwalk the community.

You might structure your door to door campaign as an ongoing prayer effort in your community.  You can do this form of prayer ministry without even touching a door.

I have a pastor friend who spent his lunch hour, 5 days a week, walking the streets of his community.

He would simply

  • Pray for the community.
  • Pray for the small businesses.
  • Pray for the government workers.
  • Pray for the people who walk the street for their errands, lifestyle, or other purpose.

Sometimes he would stop in front of house or office and pray a short prayer, or other times, he would keep walking while praying.

This form of door to door outreach isn’t really knocking on doors, but is intentionally walking every street of an area that you have defined and praying for every house, every business, and every person that you see as you walk.

Often, this pastor felt a leading to engage particular people in conversation, invite them to a church event, or even offer to pray for a particular need.

Be sensitive to moments of generosity, moments of grace, and moments when the Holy Spirit might lead you to engage a person in conversation.

2.  Community Exegesis

Another technique of a door to door visitation is to learn about the needs of the community.  Some churches will visit every house and business in a defined area and seek to gather information about the community.

These visits usually take the form of some kind of survey that is not evangelistic in nature, but aimed at gathering a reasonable sample of community data.

However, you might encounter some geniune spiritual thirst while talking with people.

Consider if the Holy Spirit is prompting you to take the conversation further.

3.  Gospel Presentations

Some churches will choose to carry a particular gospel conversation house to house.

That might be:

  • The Four Spiritual Laws
  • The Romans Road
  • Evangelism Explosion
  • Evangecube
  • The Bridge
  • Steps to Peace with God
  • Do versus Done.
  • Or some other gospel presentation that’s been reduced to several points.

This was a common practice in many church growth programs decades ago and may still be appropriate in some places.  I am often asked to teach door to door evangelism with this model, but I do a different take on it, since I don’t think everyone is ready to hear the gospel on my time schedule.

Rather than assume that a person wants to hear the gospel, I look for signs of spiritual interest.  If there are none, I offer to pray for any need they may have and then move on.  This leads me to the next one.

4.  Spiritual Thirst

I believe that noticing spiritual thirst will open good conversational doors.

While there are many gospel presentations (I call them gospel scripts) that one could memorize for door to door evangelism campaigns, I teach an evangelism method can help you at each door you visit during your evangelism campaign.

  • Watch for the working of the Holy Spirit
  • Listen for spiritual thirst
  • Discern your place in their journey
  • Suggest possible next steps towards Jesus.

If part of your purpose is evangelism, consider using the Effective Conversations DVD for door to door training.

5.  Start New Seeker oriented groups

Using a good tool, like The Your Journey Guide (by Gary Rhormayer),  you’ll be able to determine some community needs, plus see who is currently thinking about improving their spiritual life.

I’ve started using this tool myself to determine who has a genuine interest in learning more about God.

Then, with a group of people, we can start a small group time together among neighbors and talk more about who Jesus is and so on.

This is my biggest joy – gathering spiritually open people who want to grow and have expressed a desire to learn more about Jesus.

What is your desired outcome of door to door visitation?

If you were to consider the various outcomes, what might yours be?

That outcome will determine what kind of training you will want to provide, plus suggest the tools you will need.

If part of your purpose is evangelism, consider using the Effective Conversations DVD for door to door training.  It can help you with more effective conversations that presenting a simple script.

Image Credit: Self

Bill Hybels on Do vs Done and Three R Script

This entry is part 8 of 9 in the series Gospel Scripts

Bill-HybelsA friend of mine sent this to me:

  • Do vs. Done
  • Three Rs  (Not about ritual, rules, religion)

This is a quick snippet from

Book Review: Done – What most religions don’t tell you about the Bible

Cary Schmidt has written a useful introduction to the gospel:

Done.: What most religions don’t tell you about the Bible.

Its chapters cover the basic gospel script of Do Vs. Done as the framework for a simple explanation of the gospel that allows someone who is considering Christianity to examine the biblical evidence and reasoning of a placing faith in Christ.

The basic outline of the Do Vs Done Script is

Religion is spelled D-O, and is all about trying to DO enough to please God.

The trouble is we don’t know if we ever do enough, and the Bible tells us we never can do enough (Romans 3.23).

But Christianity is spelled D-O-N-E.

Jesus has done what we could never do. He lived the perfect life and died on the cross to pay for all the wrong stuff we have done.

But it’s not enough just to know this; we have to receive what he has done; we have to ask Jesus to forgive us and to be the leader of our lives.

Then you could ask them what they think, whether they understand the difference, and if they see the need for Jesus.

I appreciated how short this Done.: What most religions don’t tell you about the Bible, particularly the logic of the presentation.

It is written with a seeker in mind, rather than an advanced student of theology or a theologically astute Christian who has been walking with the Lord for a long time.

I would feel comfortable giving this book to my friends who are not yet followers of Christ but are seriously seeking or investigating.

What it is:

  • A point by point development of the do vs. done outline of a gospel explanation and some of the assumptions behind it.
  • Written for people who might be exploring Christianity.
  • A refresher for those who want to understand or better present this particular gospel outline.
  • A simple presentation of the evangelistic message of Christ.

What it is not:

  • A full theology of all the dynamics of salvation.
  • A full discipleship manual of what happens after a believer comes to know Christ.
  • An apologetics manual defining doctrines or biblical issues outside of the salvation message.

How to use Done.: What most religions don’t tell you about the Bible

I could see this book being used as a gift for church visitors.  Order Done.: What most religions don’t tell you about the Bible by the case load and use it as a gift in your church visitor gift bag.

This book could be a great tool in an investigative Bible study with people who are at this point in their journey to faith where they seek a clear gospel explanation.

This book could also be used in an evangelism study group that is wanting to learn a particular gospel presentation.  Of course, you want to encourage your group to actually be in relationship with people to have the opportunity to explain the gospel script.

My Critique of Done.: What most religions don’t tell you about the Bible

My only criticism of Done.: What most religions don’t tell you about the Bible is that the subtitle is not quite on the point of Do vs. Done.

The subtitle talks about “what most religions don’t tell you about the Bible.”

When I bought the book, I expected Done.: What most religions don’t tell you about the Bible to be

  • a defense of biblical apologetics, or
  • evidence for the Bible’s credibility, or
  • how the bible compares to other religious books.

This was not a key point of the book.

Rather, the writer assumes the credibility of the Bible and builds his presentation on the assumption that it is credible.

There are several places where he doesn’t assume the reader will hold that same assumption, but phrases like “If you believe the Bible. . . . .”

In the big scheme of my review, this is a trivial critique.

10 Practical Evangelism Tips for Pastors

I get to talk alot with pastors at conferences I give or attend, and often on the telephone as well about some of their challenges with personal evangelism.

As mentioned in the last post, this is what I hear from pastors about their personal evangelism

  • “I don’t have time for personal evangelism.”
  • “I’m not good at doing this evangelism thing.”
  • “I wish I could get out of the office and actually talk with people.”
  • “I wish I had learned this in seminary.”
  • “I have no experience in personal evangelism, so how am I supposed to lead it in my church”

There can be a variety of reasons why pastors have a hard time with evangelism.  I want to give pastors 10 practical tips on personal evangelism.

Prayer Preparation

prayer_hands_folded1. Seek the Father’s Heart — (see Getting Emotionally Worked Up)

2. Offer yourself for God’s use in sharing your faith.

3. Regularly Pray for those who don’t know Christ.

See Also:

Position Yourself

4. Look for the person of peace.

5. Get out of the office and make connections in the neighborhood.

6. Build genuine relationships for spiritual influence.

See:

Proclamation:

ConversationBetweenFriends7. Choose a gospel script.

8. Practice the gospel script until you are comfortable with it.

9. Discover your story

10. Learn how to use questions in a conversation

See also:

Free Free Personal Evangelism Training Course