Looking for resources to empower your local church to share their faith with others?
Here are some great programmes and courses we recommend to help get you started.
Its great to have evangelism programs and tools such as Alpha and Long Story Short, to help us in our efforts to reach out and share the gospel with others. Yet often people will point to a friend or someone as being the main influence on why they came to know Christ or indeed who invited them to one of these programs. It reminds us that we all can be that friend or influence and indeed we have a responsibility to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” – 1 Peter 3:15
As Pastors and church leaders we can help equip and prepare God’s people to be ready, committed and able to articulate their faith and give an answer for the hope they have.
We are pleased to advise that we now have a special 5-week sermon series resource: CAN I GET A WITNESS? designed to do just that, developed by Pastor Clint Usher (The Well). It tracks through the early part of Acts and takes a look at evangelism through the life and words of the Apostle Peter.
This sermon series resource comes complete with a sermon outline and small group study. It will be a great resource to prepare your church for a season of outreach especially coming in to time when you are running a program such as Alpha. You can download using the link below
Please consider a time when you can schedule this sermon series in to your preaching calendar. An ideal time would be during the season of Pentecost in May.
The Power of Story Telling, as Evangelism
I had a grandfather who loved to share a good yarn. When visiting, I would watch TV with Grandpa Jack and his story telling would often be triggered by something he was viewing. They were colourful stories of his past experiences and acquaintances, mostly relating to the times he served in the Australian Navy in WW2. Clearly through them, I got to know more about Jack and his life, although I wondered if some of them got more embellished with the passing of time! Most of us love a good story! When someone shares with us a story from their life, we find it easier to connect with them, understand them and find some common ground.
This is why sharing our story(s) of life experiences, can be a powerful way of connecting with people. It tells them who and what we value and believe in. This is the case in most cultures and is no different in ours. Not surprising that God uses the power of story in the scriptures to reveal his character and redemptive purposes and that Jesus used parables to convey gospel truths! In fact, the Bible instructs us to do the same: “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story!” - Psalm 107:2
We might think we don’t have a story, one worth sharing. Yet God has been writing His story lines in our lives over years. Even the dark and challenging chapters, present an opportunity to share His rescuing power and sustaining grace. The apostle Paul identified how the Corinthian believers (who had their challenging moments!) witnessed to the story of Christ in their lives: You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. (2 Corinthians 3:3-4)
Our Christian lives can be a witness, however Isaiah 107:2 reminds us to give words to the testimony of our lives. For many of us, proclaiming the gospel is a real struggle and we’re just not sure how to go about it! That’s where sharing a story of how God has been at work in our lives, can be an empowering and relational way to share our faith. With some thought and preparedness on how we go about this, our stories of putting faith and trust in God for situations, can have a natural flow into everyday conversations. People will have the respect to listen to your story.
Our God story(s) will connect with someone. Someone who is going through similar experiences. They need to hear our story, His story! And the Spirit deliberately orchestrates these encounters with people who have been prepared ahead of time to hear God’s storylines through us. God’s prevenient grace at work! We see the Spirit doing that in the Book of Acts, for example when Philip was brought to the travelling Ethiopian Eunuch. (Acts 8:26-40)
Our God stories can broadly fall in to two areas: Our ‘Salvation story,’ which we often refer to as ‘our Testimony.’ Then what we might classify as our ‘Faith stories.’ Our Faith stories we sometimes overlook or downplay. They can be as simple as one’s story of a need and receiving a special answer to prayer. That’s a miracle moment! It could be the reassurance God gave us when doubting our performance as a parent. Or could be the strength we were given to navigate testing times, or how Jesus helped to heal a relationship or illness.
There is no limit to the storylines of faith and hope God outworks in people’s lives. Topics which can arise and be relevant to a friend in conversation at a Café, or in any other social settings. What are those God stories in your life? Ask the Spirit to remind you and for both the opportunities and words to share them. Write down your story(s) so you can always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. (1 Peter 3:15) Let’s not allow our God stories to be just kept for ourselves. “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story!” (Psalm 107:2)
For more resources on how to share your God story, or to make it a Life group study and/or sermon series click on the button below.
Alpha is a great evangelism and discipleship course for churches to offer people interested in the Christian faith and for new believers. A benefit is that Alpha has got good brand recognition in New Zealand and globally in terms of a Christian program that churches run. Globally millions have attended it. It is not uncommon for people to seek out an Alpha course in their local area because one of their family or friends have attended or know of Alpha and recommend it.
Pastor Denise Barrington came to faith and involvement in the WMCANZ because she did just this. She first enquired of one of our churches about attending an Alpha Course and hooked up with the church because they did.
Alpha is a series of interactive sessions exploring the basics of the Christian faith. There are at least a couple of options or formats Alpha provides for delivering these sessions. Primarily they start with a video presentation, then followed by discussion. One format is presented as a series of inspiring talks with Nicky Gumbel (the founder) sharing on each topic or question. Recently a format has been produced called the ‘Alpha Film series’ where ‘the episodes feature inspiring stories and interviews from all around the world, as well as visual illustrations and motion graphics.’ – There is also ‘Youth Alpha.’ The Alpha website details the different versions for different contexts.
Each session of the Alpha Course looks at a different question and is assigned to create conversation. No two Alphas look the same – they run in coffee shops, churches, bars, prisons, universities, schools and homes. There’s no pressure, no follow-up and no charge; it’s just an open, informal, and honest space to explore and discuss life’s big questions together.
Long Story Short is a video series designed to unfold the story of the Bible. It’s a NZ produced resource with a high level of production standards that takes one on a journey across the world to share and reflect on the meaning and heartbeat of the bible story.
‘The story starts at the beginning, taking us back to the moment it all began… and then follows the main storyline which eventually brings us to Jesus, explaining who he is and why he came into the world. And, during this journey, some of life’s big questions are addressed: What about the Bible? Who is God? Who am I? What’s gone wrong with the world? What about all the different religions? Who is Jesus and why is he important? What about faith?’ (Long Story Short)
It does this in seven short sessions and they can even be accessed freely and readily on the YouTube.
The course is a good stepping stone for people who are wanting to learn more about spiritual life. It deals with some of the ‘big questions’ around such things as: ‘Is there a God, a Creator.’
Reflections on Long Story Short
Omega has ‘powerful discipleship resources to equip churches and small groups provide a clear discipleship pathway designed to bring transformation and spiritual growth.’ (Omega)
‘Resources for all ages and stages - for ‘seekers’, new Christians, right through to mature Christians – with training manuals to keep you going and growing spiritually on the faith journey. For young as well as old - with training manuals to help turn ‘seekers’ into believers, believers into disciples, and disciples into disciple-makers.’
There is not always time for a seeker or new believer to wait for the next time you run and Alpha course. These are pictorial resources you can use one on one or as part of a group.
The specific studies for seekers/enquirers and new believers include:
Come To Me, My First Steps, Come Follow Me
(Mandarin Versions are available)