Tina Osterhouse: 4 Ways to Share God’s Love in Summertime

According to a recent Barna report, American Christians are less likely to share their faith with others than they were 25 years ago. In 1993, 9 out of 10 Christians agreed with the statement, “Every Christian has a responsibility to share their faith.” Today, only two-thirds agree—a 25-point drop. Conversely, 3 in 10 Christians say “evangelism is the local church’s responsibility” rather than an individual one, a nearly threefold increase from the early ’90s. Overall, believers today are less prone to share the gospel or talk about their faith.

Christianity from its inception has centered itself on sharing the Good News, but apparently, we’re not as comfortable as we once were with that commission, perhaps for understandable reasons. The American church is experiencing serious pain right now: Congregations across the country are shutting their doors due to low attendance. The political environment has us in knots. And the #ChurchToo movement is exposing injustice and sexism against women. While the church contends with these battles, what good news do we have to share?

We still have great news, in fact. Despite our current circumstances, at the center of our faith is still the person of Jesus Christ, the One who holds all things together.

In the Book of Acts, we read the account of how a fledgling faith rises up, and despite great hardship, direct ploys to silence the disciples, and tremendous persecution, the new believers would not be quiet. Today, 2000 years later, the Great Commission has not changed. Then, as now, Jesus commissions us to go and tell others about God’s great love. The apostle Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians that “we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Cor. 4:7).

What does that look like for us, exactly?

In the church calendar, we recently crossed over into the season of Ordinary Time, which is ushered in by Pentecost. Just as tongues of fire descended on the disciples in the Upper Room, still now the Holy Spirit sets us on fire in the context of our mundane lives—right in the middle of our laundry and dishes, our laborious work days, our weekend afternoons in the garden, our evening dinners with friends. As Christians, we believe that our good God is able to sift through the dark side of the institutional church and still woo people into relationship with his Son, and this season of Ordinary Time invites us to settle into ordinary ways to tell people about the extraordinary news of Jesus.

As we usher in the summer months, here are four ways you might consider sharing your faith:

Invite spiritual conversations.

The story of Zacchaeus, found in Luke’s gospel, gives us a picture of how Jesus conversed with other people. We know from what Luke documents that Zacchaeus was a short man who cheated on taxes and robbed from the poor, but we also know that he was curious about Jesus. Although to outsiders he looked unlike a Christ follower—the last person who’d want to talk to God—in fact, when given the chance, he opened his heart and offered to “give half of [his] possessions to the poor” (Luke 19:8).

I, too, have had some of the most interesting conversations about faith with some of the unlikeliest of people. Even though they didn’t fit the profile of someone interested in faith, nonetheless they were eager to talk about their spiritual lives—their thoughts, their dreams, their deepest longings.

As you navigate conversations with neighbors and new friends this summer, ask thoughtful, spiritually-minded questions. Listen attentively. And as you talk, pray for them, too, that God would reveal himself in time, and that they would begin to see traces of his goodness and presence in their lives.

Extend hospitality.

Scripture portrays God as a host who invites us to a banqueting table. In the gospels, too, we read about Jesus going to people’s homes and eating with them. In fact, the word table is found in almost every chapter of Luke. Kristin Schell’s Turquoise Table movement—which encourages people to set up a hosting space in the front yard—is a great example of how to welcome others in a Christian spirit.

Cultivating hospitality is about building community: When we eat together, we talk together. In other words, hospitality opens up space for conversations about faith. However, hospitality isn’t only about extending invitations; it’s also about receiving them, too. Our neighbors intuit when they’re being treated like projects and not as people. For hospitality to be whole, we have to both give the welcome and also receive that same welcome into others’ homes, yards, and lives. As Christine Pohl says in Living into Community, “In hospitality, we respond to the welcome that God has offered and replicate that welcome in the world.”

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Source: Christianity Today