In this episode, Nik Ripken explores four guiding questions that witnesses can use when sharing the gospel with those we encounter. By answering these four questions, we can better understand how to share the gospel and offer salvation through Christ to the people we meet.
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Four Guiding Questions for Sharing the Gospel
Previously, Nik Ripken presented two important questions to consider when sharing the gospel. This week, Nik reviews two more – for a total of four guiding questions that can help witnesses bring the gospel into conversations:
- What do I say?
- Who do I say it to?
- Who will hold me accountable for sharing my faith?
- What do we do when they say yes?
He speaks from his own experience in ministry and offers advice on how to be an effective witness for Christ.
How to be an Effective Witness for Christ
What do I say?
It is important that we understand what we are sharing: the good news of salvation through Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. Still, Nik suggests we tell the other stories too:
When we follow [the lineage] from Jesus back to Isaac and back to Abraham, the genesis of [the conflict between Christianity and Islam] is in the story. […] Yet, when you find out in the story that the promise was given to Abraham but only through one woman… through Sarah or through nobody… that sets their worldview upside-down.
Sharing the gospel is most effective when our own faith journey is firmly rooted, built on a solid understanding of Christ’s teachings and a history of leading our lives accordingly.
Who do I say it to?
Once we feel confident in our knowledge, we can identify people in our communities to share this message with. In the previous episode, Nik emphasized the need for missionary teams to match the demographics of the people they are trying to reach:
The [main] way that Muslims come to Christ is by sharing meals with believers like us. As our kids grew, we would bring single women and men with us, and young families with us. People must see themselves in… who is saying it.
When someone expresses interest in learning more about Christianity, Nik recommends that we invite them into our homes for a meal. This provides an environment for more intimate conversations about faith in a relaxed setting while giving new believers an opportunity to see how followers of Christ lead their lives.
Who will hold me accountable for sharing my faith?
It can be helpful to have someone else hold us accountable for sharing our faith. Nik recommends that we find accountability partners who will remind and encourage us to share our beliefs about Christ:
We used to have to turn in monthly [reports] to my supervisor, and I had five teams that had to report to us. Each month, a major part of that report was… how many times have you gotten to the resurrection? How many times have you shared meals in your house with those who are not in the Kingdom of God?
Staying connected with other Christians in a Bible study group helps us grow in our faith. It also provides us with accountability partners as we strive towards spreading God’s message of love and redemption.
What do we do when they say yes?
Once someone has accepted Christ, it’s important to follow up and equip him or her with the right resources. Having a supportive community is essential for new Christians because it provides encouragement, guidance, and accountability:
With Muslims, we need to preload everything they need to know about the Kingdom of God. By the time a Muslim takes [a] believer’s baptism, you have an adult believer that can go and do anything that you can do. But Hindus come to Christ in such a way that if you leave them at baptism after their profession of faith, you’ve left a brand new baby on the street.
Nik recommends that we equip new believers with knowledge by taking them through Biblical truths, offering insight into how living according to scripture should look like, and encouraging them throughout their spiritual growth. Mentoring is key in helping newly converted believers get grounded in the foundations of Christianity so that they can share God’s Word with others.
Sharing the Gospel in the Xhosa Language
When Nik first embarked on his missionary journey in South Africa, he had to communicate with locals in the Xhosa language. He was nervous because he had only spent one year learning Xhosa. Nik’s mentor dropped him off at a South African woman’s doorstep, where Nik found himself alone without a translator:
He leaves me there on the porch with that woman by myself. I just know very basic words of sharing my faith, and he’s gone – run off with some of his buddies – and I’m standing there with that woman by myself. I shouldn’t be in that situation. So I said, in the Xhosa language, “I’ve come to tell you about Jesus.”
And she said, “Ndixelele” [Tell me].
Nik mustered up the courage and spoke with her in Xhosa. She happily accepted the message of faith Nik shared with her. However, Nik was so nervous about his ability to share the gospel in the Xhosa language that he rejected her initial acceptance of Christ. He laboriously retold the gospels to her several times in the South African heat:
I said, “No! It’s not possible that you could understand me. My language is not that good! You can’t understand, so I’m going to tell you everything again… louder and slower.” […] And I finished a second time… and I said, “No! My language is terrible, and I don’t want you believing anything less than the truth.”
So I started a third time…
When Nik’s guide came back, he asked the South African woman (in Xhosa), “How’s this white boy doing?”
And that young Xhosa lady looked at [him], with all the frustration she could muster, and she said, “This white man won’t let me come to Jesus!”
Sharing the gospel can be a daunting task. It’s natural to fear how people may respond, which can keep us from having those important conversations. Answering these four questions will help keep us on track to becoming an effective witness.