The Church I lead has plateaued. It is pretty common with church plants. They grow rapidly at the start, because they are so hungry for growth they are the most welcoming and friendly church in the area. For eighteen months or so the growth is rapid and consists of those who are new to the area, those who had given up on church and are willing to have another crack at it and one or two who have left other churches. And during those eighteen months you feel like that speed of growth will continue, but it doesn’t and you need to grow through people becoming Christians.
We have been stuck around the mid 50s for a while and one of our guys, a Spirit filled, fiery retired Methodist minister challenged us to pray for one convert each this year. I’m taking it seriously! So, being the avid book reading type that I am, I grabbed a book of the shelf, one that I had read before, but knew was worth another look…
It’s “Just Walk Across the Room” by Bill Hybels. I was hooked quickly – see I’m tired of evangelistic fads – Evangelism Explosion, Contagious Christian, strategic level spiritual warfare, personal tracts and treasure hunting. Hybels is too – in the first few chapters he relates some of the fads and then tells us “Staying attuned to and cooperating with the Spirit” is the highest value for personal evangelism. I was hooked!
Keeping that central thrust in mind, Hybels exhorts us to live in 3D
1)Develop friendships – I have found that harder and slower in King’s Lynn than anywhere else, but we are getting there
2) Discover Stories – especially looking for commonalities, being sensitive and always asking good questions
3) Discern next steps – try to catch the often unintentional, but crystal clear, signals people send. Thus aim to be a resource provider for next steps towards Christ.
When we stay tuned into the Spirit and ask him for opportunities – we get promptings to “Just walk across the room” and put living in 3D into practice. Bill is such a visionary and he has a way with words and stories to get you to want to get up and out there doing it!
In later chapters he talks of the power of the story – coming up with a 100 word before and after of coming to faith by focusing on before and after key phrases that sum up your life. He then gives simple models for when you actually get to share the Gospel and exhorts us to pray for open doors.
In one chapter he reminds us about the “Matthew Parties” principle of having fun socials where you mix old-life and new-life friends together and trust God to do something mystical and miraculous as they mix together. We’ve always loved doing that and I’m filled with fresh faith for them, especially as we get to try out our new outdoor pizza oven!
“Just Walk Across the Room” is a fantastic book – quite the best on personal evangelism I have ever read. I’m looking forward to putting it into practice afresh over the coming decades!
– Buy “Just Walk Across The Room” from Amazon, if you don’t already have it!