We have the best possible news for a world in need! Sometimes we think that the only way to promote the gospel is by saying something with words. Yet, we can find this scary and intimidating! On October 19, 2013, the Sunshine Coast Deanery Day sought to help us – through the Bible – understand that there are many other aspects to promoting the gospel. The speaker was Rev’d Dr John Dickson. You can listen to the talks here:
Small Group Output
During our Small Group time, participants had the opportunity to raise some of the common challenges that Christians face when promoting the Gospel. After this, groups honed down to the two biggest challenges and discussed some possible approaches to addressing them (John’s talks have much to say about many of these challenges). When the group had finished, participants were then invited to peruse the output of the other groups and ‘vote’ for which challenges they personally most identified with.
After looking at the responses (and grouping similar themes), here are the common challenges that arose (in order of votes).
#1 Individual Feelings of Inadequacy (122 votes). This includes feeling inadequate and relying on ourselves over God. Possible approaches included:
- It’s God’s work in God’s time.
- Foster identity in Christ.
- Work with the Holy Spirit. Listen to God. We are living sacrifices.
- Keep focused on Jesus (remembering it’s all about Jesus, not me).
- Depend on God not self.
- Reading and ‘doing/living’ the Word. Study the Bible regularly and commit it to memory.
- Confidence in Gospel.
- Attend a Small Group.
- Recalling and giving thanks for God’s goodness.
- Understanding what gifts we have to share.
- Mentoring and encouraging others.
- Prayer (for ourselves and our leaders). Asking God to show us opportunities.
#2 Opposition to the Church/Christianity (113 votes). This includes resistance to the Gospel and church, opposition to the church, and a negative perception of the church by the community (especially with regards to issues such as abuse, division, war, small mindedness, hypocrisy). Possible approaches included:
- Prayer and praise.
- More engagement in the society.
- Living the Gospel, not judging.
- Love and compassion. Practical care.
- Providing financial and material help.
- Acknowledge faults and confess.
- Promote community not buildings.
- Recognise and equip against spiritual battle.
- Speaking wisely.
- Be prepared to give an answer.
#3 Indifference/Apathy of the Church (78 votes). This includes being distracted from the big picture as well as a general disinterest in promoting the Gospel. Possible approaches included:
- Teaching and discipleship (small groups, conferences, sharing our gifts).
- Openness to one another.
- Inter-denominational cooperation.
- Sharing resources gifts and information around the deanery.
- Live a distinctive lifestyle.
- Break out of ‘institutional’ model.
- Working to create a different image of church.
- Focusing on loving and caring unconditionally.
- Get people to care by showing them passion in our walk with God and caring and loving them.
#4 Being Relevant (56 votes). Being able to show that the Gospel message is relevant for today. Possible approaches included:
- Great communication – different forms, language, multi-media, and speech.
- Avoiding jargon.
#5 Rejection of the Message/Messenger (49). This includes a fear or concern of both the message and messenger being rejected. Possible approaches included:
- Prayer (before, during, and after).
- More faith in God using us. It is God’s work.
- Having wisdom to know when to walk away and leave the opportunity for open conversation later.
- Seek to understand where the other person is coming from.
- Always be in a space of love and compassion.
- Don’t take it personally (it’s not necessarily about us).
- Sometimes need to expect rejection (remembering that Jesus was rejected too).
- Foster our identity in Christ.
- Be willing to forgive.
- Persist (strength in the Holy Spirit).