Sep 14, 2012
neil

How to keep sharing your faith with family

10 ways to keep talking

What makes witnessing to non-Christian family so difficult? For some of us it’s awkward family dynamics (maybe you live in a home where you just ‘don’t do God’ in conversation) for others it’s that we’ve talked a fair bit but that was in the past, in the early days and now you’ve reached some kind of stalemate.

How do you keep going in witnessing to family?

1. Getting serious?

For some of us we need a two-stage approach to get conversations onto God. The first battle may be to move any conversations from trivial to ‘serious’ ie. a conversation in which ideas, values, are discussed and world-views open up. It is a whole lot more natural to move on to issues of faith and spirituality, even Christ, once a conversation gets more serious.

2. Listening well

If we are to ever gain a hearing for the gospel then we can do no better than demonstrating a genuine interest in the lives of family members. So make sure you listen well. Learn to be interested in them. That might even mean taking an interest in something you have no interest in to build common ground and strengthen a relationship. From a growing trust may well come more opportunity.

3. Asking genuine and open questions

People find it easier to open up about themselves and their own thoughts. As you ask questions you gain new insights and build trust and understanding in a relationship.

4. Easy does it

The wisdom we need in long-term relationships is to know when to speak and when to be silent. Knowing ourselves will help us to think are we being too quick, too direct, too aggressive, too confrontational in our attempts to talk of Jesus. Talk it through and pray it in with other Christians to gain a better perspective on how you’re doing.

5. Working the angles.

The more you’ve talked with family about Jesus, religion, the Bible, etc., the harder it seems to re-visit conversation directly on those issues. When you’ve been a Christian for some time it might be that a new, less direct approach will get you further. So how can we open up spiritual conversations using a less familiar path?

6. Speak personally of God’s grace in your life

Not every time or you’ll soon never be asked but why not try when asked ‘how are you?’ or ‘did you have a good summer’ including God in some way in the conversation.  Eg. ‘It’s been a tough year this year. I don’t know how I would have coped without my faith’ or ‘I’m really grateful to God for a great bunch of work colleagues who make life a whole lot easier.’

7. Speak of common grace

Common grace is God’s goodness to all humanity as seen in creation (c.f. Matt. 5:45) e.g. good health, natural gifts or talents, the world God has made, etc. We can talk of our thankfulness to God in so many ways as well as in our witness to Christ’s death on our behalf.

8. Share in struggles

CS Lewis said – The Christian has a great advantage over other men, not by being less fallen than they nor less doomed to live in a fallen world, but by knowing he is a fallen man in a fallen world.

Often the very best thing we can do is acknowledge our weaknesses, inadequacies, fears and anxieties so that our non-Christian family see that we are in so many ways just like them but then talk about how the gospel and our relationship with Christ aids us in our struggles with falleness and brokenness.

9. Understate things.

One author suggests ‘try some shorter, incomplete, statements that point your family toward the gospel.’ Provoke discussion, raise questions, don’t give the ‘full’ answer, learn the art of being ‘interesting’ in comments you make.

10. Connect with gospel truth in our culture e.g. Hillsborough

Over the last couple of days the revelation that police-officers colluded to cover-up failings in the policing at the Hillsborough tragedy have led to repeated claims in our press and tv media for justice to be done. Such a story allows us to (with due sensitivity) raise questions about justice in a god-less world or an expression of confidence on our part that God will one day ‘right every wrong’.

As we look for common ground and shared values we can show that the God of the Bible stands behind such ideas.

Conclusion

Don’t give up on your family. Continue to pray, after all if God brought you to life in Christ why not them! Remain focused and faithful.

For more ideas and a helpful overview of the issues can I suggest Bringing the gospel home by Randy Newman.

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