Evangelism Emphasis Month – Day 28, 2018

September 28
Steve Nichols
ARP Foundation

Matthew 1:23 & Isaiah 7:14

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel
(which means, God with us)

Immanuel Strategies

How do you communicate the Gospel to a person who doesn’t openly oppose Christ,
who thinks they are a Christian, or is disillusioned by their religious experience? Or
more subtly, to someone who is quietly indifferent to Christianity – just running their life
the way they want?

To really get personal, what would I do to reach a guy like me with the Gospel? That’s a
tough question to answer for a person who had a good home life with parents who
wanted to provide a good Christian upbringing. I regularly attended Sunday school in a
caring, Bible teaching church, sang in the choir, and was involved enough to lead the
youth group. I even recall telling my grandmother when I was about eight years old that
I wanted to be a missionary (probably to Africa). Even as I transitioned into college and
graduate school, I never hesitated to identify myself as a Christian, but at a practical
level, I had gradually concluded that Christianity was not relevant – at least for me – in
relationships, career choices, or whatever I judged was of real importance.

I thought I was a Christian (not a Buddhist or Jewish), but could not answer with
certainty when challenged with the question “Are you sure if you died tonight, you’d
spend eternity with Christ?” The context that even made asking me that question
possible was my relationships the leaders of a Christian organization on my campus
who worked intentionally on ways to connect with me – on my terms. They all belonged
to local churches, but knew me well enough to know I wasn’t interested in being
involved in church at that point in my life, particularly if it was going to conflict with my
lifestyle.

I gave them every reason to write me off as a lost cause – I had an endless list of
challenges to what they believed coupled with my lifestyle in obvious contrast to their
own. For months they engaged me; over coffee breaks to patiently hash-through my
menu of apologetic questions; to go rock climbing with the guys, but always mixing-in
talk about spiritual issues; or join their snow skiing parties with evening Bible studies;
football games; camping and trout fishing with a few of the guys who loved it as much
as I. Over time, I became more and more convinced being a Christian was indeed
relevant because I could see these people not only claimed to be Christians, but were
actually living out their faith in their relationships— love in action! In my heart I felt
compelled to ask Christ to become Lord of my life and to give me the power I saw at
work in them to seek me out.

Forty-six years later, I find my strategy and opportunity to share the Gospel similar to
my campus experience. Those young Christian leaders met me where I was; the
strategy God used to relate to us by becoming a man; living with and meeting us where
we are, authentically living-out what He taught, and challenging us to connect
personally with the Word.

Being proactive to engage people around me through ordinary activities is easy to do –
grabbing a cup of coffee, entertain them in our home, buy tickets to sports and theatre
outings… simple things I can intentionally do to build the relational context to share the
Gospel in the practical ways the Gospel became authentic to a me through other
people.