Lead 2-1

Naturally Communicating

"The problem is not that students don’t believe in Jesus, but that they don’t believe in anybody who believes in Jesus." Jacob Aranza

You go through the cafeteria line at school, eyeing the "gobbledygook" they have billed as meatloaf. As you walk to a table, you’re dreaming of a burger, fries, and a large Coke. When you sit down, you are jarred back into reality by the conversations. Two guys are saying, "That girl is a babe!" (and that’s putting it mildly). Another group is making plans for the "I Tappa Keg" drinking blowout the next night. Still a third group is arguing over the finer philosophical points of the latest R-rated movie. As a Christian you’re sitting there listening to all of this incredibly inane conversation by people you really care about.

How should you respond?

  • Withdraw to a table of all Christians so you don’t have to deal with this "worldly stuff."
  • Slam your tray on the table, flipping the meatloaf into the lap of the girl across from you, and say, "Gross! God sends people to hell for stuff like that."
  • With boldness, courage, and sensitivity focus on one group or even one person, enter the conversation, and turn it to talk about Jesus Christ.

When I first met Tim, his pants sagged, his hair was half-shaved, he had two earrings in both ears, and an attitude that said, "Get out of my face or I’ll break yours." I learned that Tim was good with his hands, especially remodeling other kids’ noses. Constantly fighting, he spent a good bit of his time on suspension from school.

After spending several months trying to get to know him, a wall still remained. He would not talk about any thing serious, much less about Jesus Christ. I could sense the tension when Jesus was mentioned.

You probably have some relationships like that. While working with Tim I found in the story of Jesus and the woman at the well (John 4:7-42) some very powerful communication keys that helped me to unlock the door of Tim’s life and express Christ to him.

Maybe they will help you unlock the doors of some of your friends’ lives too. God wants to use you to reach into the lives of your friends. That will happen only when you know how to open the door of their lives with courage, boldness, and sensitivity.

Locker Opener 1: Initiate Relationships

Have you ever noticed that Jesus’ life was filled with significant conversations with others? He had a way of getting people to talk about the personal issues in their lives.

Look at John 4:6-7 to discover why people opened up to Christ.  Even though He was hot and tired, Jesus took the initiative in friendship. He didn’t wait for the woman to speak to Him. He spoke to her. Without speaking the first time, He would never have been able to continue the conversation. He opened the door by being friendly Himself.

With Tim, I had to initiate the relationship. He never would have. As I spent more and more time with him, he gradually opened up. At first he wouldn’t talk much at all. But as I continued to be his friend, he gave me little glimpses into his life. Then one day through tears he shared he was thinking about killing himself.

We talked. From that day on we could talk openly about anything.
To open the door for a real relationship with another person, try these "friend builders."

1. Take time.
To be a friend you have to give time. That usually means taking time away from what you would do for yourself.

  • Block out specific times in your schedule to spend time with your friend.
  • Do something he likes to do.
  • Don’t give up if it doesn’t work out at first. Keep trying.

2. Listen.
People can tell if you are truly listening to them or not. Use these listening tips.

  • Make eye contact
  • Focus on the other person, not on whet you have to say.
  • Ask clarifying questions like "How did you feel when that happened?" or "What are you going to do now?"

3. Hang tough.
Because of the pain, students want someone who cares enough to talk about the serious issues in their lives. They need someone who is concerned enough to hang in there. That’s when they know they have a valued friend.

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!

Naturally Communicating.

Add to the following list two "pains" that your friends have experienced in the past year:

  • Parents splitting up
  • Breakup with boyfriend or girlfriend
  • Family member got sick
  • Cut from a sports team
  • Someone close dies
  • Misunderstood by a teacher

Try one or two of these personal questions to get beyond a surface conversation and into the pain in your friend’s life.

  • I heard your parents might be breaking up; how are you doing with that?
  • You’ve been absent from school lately. Are things okay?
  • You seem a little down today. Anything going on that I can help you with?
  • I know making that team meant a lot to you. If you would like to talk about it, I’m here.
  • I heard you and Sally split up. How are you doing?

When you put some of these suggestions into action to initiate friendships, then you will make a significant difference in the lives of some people at your school.

Locker Opener 2: Communicate Love and Acceptance

When a friend senses that you have more concern for getting his life right than for loving him, he will become defensive instead of hearing what you have to say.

That’s not whet Jesus communicated to the woman well. Jesus asked the Samaritan woman for a drink, disarming her, causing her to relax (John 4:7). And as the conversation proceeded, He communicated love and acceptance until she felt so comfortable that she said, "Give me I water so I won’t get thirsty" (v. 15). You can build an atmosphere of love and acceptance with your friends by using these suggestions.

1. Don’t embarrass.
To avoid embarrassing a friend, use these tips.

  • Ditch obnoxious Christian T-shirts like, " If you don’t love Jesus, you’re a dog eating vomit."
  • Give him room to disagree with you.
  • Be sensitive about what you say about his religion, even if it appears to be a cult.
  • Realize that you don’t have to win him to Christ every time you see him.
  • If someone else makes fun of him, come to his defense.

Naturally Communicating.

2. Don’t offend.
Many times it is not the gospel that offends, but our obnoxiousness. A "holier than thou" attitude turns people off quicker than having to go to summer school.

So how can you avoid being an obnoxious Christian?

  • Don’t be "The Bible Answer Man," trying to give authoritative answers and a verse for every question.
  • Don’t be defensive when you don’t know an answer.
  • Don’t argue when someone criticizes your beliefs.

Out of a heart of love for your friends, you can treat each one with dignity and respect. Realize that each one is created in the image of God. Through Christ, God wants to restore each one to His image. He will use you by inserting the key of love and acceptance to open that door.

Locker Opener 3: Relate Christ to Your Friend’s Personal Needs and Problems.

Your friends want to know that there is hope for them in their personal needs and problems.

Jesus gave that kind of hope to the woman at the well. When Jesus talked with her, He didn’t jump right in with, "Give me three good reasons why you shouldn’t go to hell."

Rather He had a concern for her needs and told her how those needs could be met. How did He do that in John 4:13-14?

One night in a discussion, Tim told the group that his father had left his family a few years ago. He said he had assumed much of the responsibility for raising his little brothers and sister. Because he didn’t have anyone to be a father to him, he was very lonely. We took that opportunity to talk with him about how God desires to be his Father, filling the "empty places" his earthly father had created.

The best way to share God’s love is to relate how His love meets needs. In Tim’s case, he needed a father.

  • Identify one need that one of your non-Christian friends has now.
  • Think of one practical way Jesus can help him or her with that need.

Everyone has personal needs and problems. They will surface soon enough. As you try to relate Jesus and His love to their needs, then God will use you to open the door of their hearts and let His love shine in.

Naturally Communicating.

Locker Opener 4: Relate Your Personal Experience

Your friends need to move from thinking about Jesus as external religion to understanding that He is internal reality. They need a picture of who God is. Jesus gives that to the woman in John 4:13-14. What does He tell her?

One of the best ways to do this is through communicating your own personal experience with Jesus.

With Tim we looked for opportunities to give him a picture of God through our lives. One day he talked about his concern for paying a speeding ticket due the next day. He was worried because he did not have the money. The Lord impressed us that we were to help pay for the ticket.

Initially Tim refused, saying, "You have bills of your own that you need to pay." This opened the door to tell him several personal experiences about how Christ had taken care of our needs.

Every Christian has a powerful personal testimony. Sometimes people feel that if they weren’t drug addicts before they accepted Christ, their testimony is not valid. NOT! Your testimony is a picture of who God is in you, no matter what your background.

To become more effective in sharing your personal experience with God, follow these helpful hints.

1. Prepare your testimony.
Answer these questions concerning your personal experience with Christ.

  • What major difficulty did you struggle with before you accepted Christ?
  • What key experience led you to Christ?
  • What specific difference has Christ made in helping you with the struggle you mentioned above?

__ Check here when you have written your testimony.

Once you have written your testimony take time to memorize it and practice sharing it.

__ Check here when you have memorized your testimony.

2. Present your testimony.
Focus on one person you have prayed for who needs to know Christ. Get with that person this week and give your testimony.

__ Check here when you have given your testimony to a friend. 

Naturally Communicating.
Locker Opener 5: Show How He Can Know God Personally

It is so simple to receive Christ but most people struggle with the simplicity. Your friend will need for you to draw him a simple picture. How did Jesus do that in John 4:25-26?

One night Tim said to us "I want to have what you have." We weren’t sure what he was talking about. I questioned him further. He replied, "Can you tell me how I can know the God I see in you?"

The door doesn’t open any wider than that. At Hardees over a Coke and some curly fries I had had the privilege of introducing Tim to my friend, Jesus Christ.

It doesn’t get any better than leading someone to Christ.

1. Turn the conversation.
Up to this point you have shared your personal experience. Now you will turn the focus of the conversation to your friend.

To make that transition ask these questions:

  • "Have you ever experienced a personal relationship with Jesus Christ like the one I’ve described?"
  • "Would you be interested in knowing how to do that?"

2. Communicate the message clearly.
You need to know what to say when the opportunity comes. Simply and clearly communicate the gospel.

You can do that by following these instructions.

  • Use a booklet that clearly explains the gospel.
  • Memorize the main points of the booklet and the verses that go with each point.
  • Read the booklet with him. Only use one booklet.
  • Leave the booklet and your phone number with him.

3. Ask discerning questions.
Because you want him to actually know Jesus, not just pray a prayer, you need to ask these questions after you read through the prayer.

Naturally Communicating.
These questions will determine your friend’s level of understanding.

  • "Do you understand what I just shared with you?"
  • "What does this mean to you?"

Listen to the response. If he says something like, "I try to be good," or "I go to church every Sunday," or seems apathetic, you can be sure he hasn’t grasped the real meaning of the gospel.
If he does understand, he will ask searching questions like:

  • "How do I believe in Jesus Christ?"
  • "How can I be sure He will come into my life?"
  • "Will Jesus forgive me my worst?"
  • "Will Jesus take away the emptiness I feel?"

4. Challenge to accept Christ.
If you sense your friend has a clear understanding of the gospel, then challenge him to receive Christ.
Read the prayer (in the booklet) aloud and then ask:

  • "Does this prayer express the desire of your heart?"

If he says "yes," then lead him in the prayer to accept Christ. Have him pray the prayer aloud.

After praying with Tim, I began to ask him if he understood all that I said. He nodded yes. Then I questioned him to make sure. He wanted Christ in his life and he wanted Him now. I led Tim in a prayer to receive Christ. After he prayed he said, "This is the first time my heart has ever felt clean."

If your friend says "no" then follow through on the next step.

5. Keep On Sharing Christ
Those who don’t accept Christ ...
We can easily abandon those who reject our message. But there is no better way to share God’s unconditional love with our friends than to remain a friend whether they respond or not.

As I shared the love of Christ with Pete, he seemed very interested. I asked him if the prayer at the end of The Facts of Life expressed his heart’s desire. He was very polite. He told me that he respected what I had to say, but in no uncertain terms he told me, "I don’t believe that God exists. And if there is no God, then there isn’t any need for me to have a relationship with God." He had a point.

Naturally Communicating.
So what do I do next? Maybe I could dust my sandals off and pray down fire on his head! Instead I developed a plan to continue to love him and share Christ with him.
Maybe some of the steps I took will help you.

  • Don’t get discouraged. Sharing Christ is a process.
  • Continue to pray for your friend daily.
  • Continue to serve him.
  • Invite him to positive Christian events.
  • Introduce him to other Christian friends.
  • Give him books or booklets that relate to his struggles.
  • Take time to answer his questions.

Those who do accept Christ ...
When a friend accepts Christ, the responsibility has just begun. He is "like a newborn baby" (1 Peter 2:2). We have the privilege of helping him grow in his new faith.

The story of Jesus and the woman at the well concludes the way you want your burden for your campus to conclude. See what happened in John 4:39-41.

Good news travels fast! The Samaritan woman couldn’t contain herself. She had to share the love of God with others and it had a multiplying effect.

Remember Tim? Since he has accepted Christ, he has talked with a number of his friends about Christ. One was Pete. Once a total agnostic, Pete now meets with Tim every week.

God is continually in the process of bringing people to Himself. He allows you to enter into this incredible adventure! As you love God and your friends, God will cause you to become boldly unashamed of the gospel. As you let the gospel be the "power of God" in your own life He will use you to influence more people than you can imagine! Possibly your entire campus!

From Victor Books and Reach Out Ministries Call 770.441.2247

This material is available on the "ALL That" CD-ROM. 1.800-729-4351
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