A friend of mine recently relayed this story  to me:

A lunch hour prayer

Two people, in their mid-twenties, whom I had  never seen before asked, “Hello there, do you  have anything that you want us to pray about  for you?” I was approached while sitting in a  park, minding my own business, during a short  relaxing lunch break in what was otherwise a  very busy and stressful day.

I looked up to see Mark and Julie, well  dressed and pleasant, an innocent look in  both their eyes. “Any family, work, social,  environment, world issues that you have that  could do with God’s help?” I was dumbfounded.  No one these days says “g’day” when they walk  past you, or acknowledges your presence when  passing you in a hallway, yet here were two  people seeking some input for a social prayer  for just the three of us. What could I request?  What had I prayed about that morning? That  lunch time? Were there any issues that I was  really concerned about?

“I believe in the Bible and I try to do what  God wants me to,” I started. “I would love to  pray together about a few issues such as the  local and international political leaders, the  environmental crisis of global warming, oil  spills, earthquakes, poverty, sickness…” I  could see the young man concentrating on the  list I was rattling off, and I was becoming more  and more confident with each phrase. “Most  of all could you ask for God to send His Son,  Jesus, back to the earth, to set up the Kingdom  of God here?” I felt great, I was preaching!

The young man took the young woman’s  right hand in his left and offered me his right  hand, motioning for me to close the circle by  holding the young woman’s other hand. They  both bowed their heads and he prayed for a  number of things that I had listed, as well as a  few other things obviously important to them.  Upon the group offering a hearty “Amen!”, we  discussed the topics as prayed for, and then they  were on their way. I went back to my work for  that afternoon and I felt on top of the world!

Here is a preaching technique that I had never  heard of before. This was obviously not the first  time that these young people had approached a total  stranger, and it very likely wouldn’t be the last.  They genuinely believed in what they talked about,  and my friend was refreshed to have them interrupt  the lunch break. I am not sure that I could do this!

We have been gifted with the Truth and we are  privileged to understand the purpose of God through  His Word. We have received an amazing treasure and  we need to be out sharing it with more people. This  story reveals one way that we could do this. The rest  of this article will highlight a few other ways. Some  of these ways are ‘tried and true’, others maybe, have  not been as popular amongst us.

Taking personal responsibility

When we think about preaching today, sometimes  we can think that it is all about overseas mission  work, or the formal, combined efforts that we have  once a year at the Sydney Town Hall or the Adelaide  University. A lot of the time we leave it up to the  gospel committee in our ecclesia, with an excuse for  our non-preaching efforts that we are “too busy in  other ecclesial activities to be preaching”. We leave  it up to others to do the preaching work. I want to  challenge this belief during this short article, as I  believe we are all responsible for preaching the  Word in season and out of season, that is, whether  convenient for us or not (2 Tim 4:2).

In addi t ion to our Sunday morning  self‑examination, we need to have a fresh look at  our lives and take stock of who or what or where  we are, reflecting on our response to God and  the wonderful grace and mercy He has provided  us with. We have heard about the good news  concerning God’s Kingdom and the saving purpose  of His son, Jesus Christ. This gospel made us fully  aware of the need to ‘do something about our lives’  and so we keenly got baptized, rising from the  baptismal waters to walk in newness of life. This act  in itself probably spurred us early on to tell a few  non-believers how we had changed our life and the  reasons for this life-changing experience.

Now, months or years down the track, the power  of the gospel may have waxed and waned to be just  a theoretical doctrine in our life, lacking the earlier  power or zeal. We need to regenerate this keenness,  share our hope with others, and preach to others  who have no hope.

One way is to look for ‘an apostle Paul’,  someone that seems to create opportunities to  preach the Word, and try to learn some of their  preaching techniques, so you can use them in your  daily life. This way, should you feel scared, or  inadequate, or both, the time you spend with this  ‘known preacher’ will encourage and help you.

The witness of consistent Godly habits

When we talk about preaching the Word and  spreading the Gospel, it’s amazing the different  ways that believers do this, sometimes without  even saying a word! A number of older brethren  and sisters are great examples of this, sharing the  gospel message and their hope of a future age to  come, by regularly attending every meeting. Not  only are the young people encouraged within the  meeting, neighbours are often aware of our regular,  consistent attendance ‘at church’. This can be a great  introduction to conversations about our beliefs and  a springboard to inviting them along to a preaching  activity. I know of a few examples of people coming  to the Truth because of the consistent, faithful way  of life of a believer. God has used the life of one  of His dedicated and faithful children to confirm to  non-believers that there is more to this life.

There are some specific characteristics that will  make a preacher stand out as being different at  university or within the workplace. These include  not getting involved in office politics, being helpful  to everybody, having a cheerful disposition, a ‘can  do’ attitude and being a hard, honest worker. You  can be a silent witness for Christ too, by walking  away when a crude joke is told. You don’t always  have to condemn them out loud; they will get the  message by your non-involvement. Not only will  people notice that we are different, but when we  later preach to our colleagues, our words will hold  weight because they know that we practise what  we preach.

Opportunities in the domestic sphere

For those not in the work force, there are so many  ways you can preach the gospel. For example, you  have a captive audience for 20 minutes every time  you get a hair cut. Also, a number of opportunities  present themselves at the shops around Christmas  and Easter times as every checkout operator will  enquire if you have done your Christmas shopping or if you are going away for Easter. Both of these  questions are an excellent way to share the hope that  you have in Christ and the Kingdom to come.

For mothers of young children who attend  kindy, you can strike up a conversation with the  teacher or other mothers when dropping off or  picking up your child. Comments along the lines of  instilling Godly values, said in a genuine way, may  provide an opportunity for the listener to seek more  information about the Godly life you lead.

Preparing answers

One ‘classic’ way of getting into a preaching way  of life is to prepare. Organise a standard response  or answer to some of the more regular topics of  conversation at work, at the shops, the library,  wherever you spend time. What do you say when  someone says, “What a sad world we live in?” Do  you have to think about it for a while, or have you  got something that you can immediately respond  with, to turn the conversation around to God? “I  know”, you confidently answer, “but when I read  the Bible, I read that Jesus Christ is going to return  to earth to fix up all the world’s issues and I can’t  wait.” You can be God’s witness whenever and  wherever. People will be more inclined to turn to  God with this bright and positive answer, rather than  an answer like “yeah, I know, aren’t all politicians  a bunch of liars and greedy so and so’s – they do  nothing to help us at all.”

What do you say if these questions come up in  conversation?

  1. Why are there so many wars these days?
  2. If there was really a God, why would He allow innocent people to suffer, like in that earthquake/tsunami …?
  3. What is this world coming to?
  4. The so-called religious churches are the cause of most of the problems around the world these days, aren’t they?
  5. Why don’t Israel and the Palestinians just get over it?
  6. It doesn’t matter what you believe, God loves everyone just the same, don’t you think?
  7. You’re religious aren’t you; is that why you don’t vote?

One really good way to be ready for these sorts  of questions is to write down the questions that you  think you could struggle with and do some role  plays with a good friend or family member. This  way, when the time comes, you will be ready for  any Mark 16 experience!

Personal contact is best

When you look back through the history of the  Truth the majority of people have come to the  Truth through the personal contact of someone  already in the Truth (leaving aside baptisms of a  long term Sunday school scholar with family in the  Truth). Personal preaching is the least costly from  a monetary point of view (no leaflets to print, no  halls to hire, no adverts to prepare and place with  newspapers, etc). Not only does it cost less, the  personal preacher often has more ‘success’ as they  build up rapport and can deal with specific issues  and queries that come up.

In my own preaching efforts with our ecclesia,  both formal and informal, there are times where  the ever increasing time, money and resources  put towards a special lecture on a topic of social  interest has ‘no result’. “What a waste of time!”  we conclude at our post-lecture analysis gospel  meeting. “We could have done…”, “should have  done…”, “next time we will do…” etc. That is a  crazy way of looking at it! Just because there are no  interested friends sitting in the chairs in the Scout  Hall that you hired, it’s not a failure. God works in  very wonderful ways, and surely He will be pleased  that there are now 1 000, 5 000 or 10,000 homes  that have a topical leaflet in their letter box; also,  another ten or twenty times that number have seen  an ad, driven past the Hall and seen the signs out  the front or heard about the lecture through personal  contact. Our efforts, we need to remember, allow  God to bring the increase (1 Cor 3:6,7). We plant  and water, and then need to be patient.

Be doing!

The ideas we have raised in the previous paragraphs  will mirror many believers’ experiences, and  hopefully will give us a fresh look at preaching  today. However, don’t think some theory in a  Lampstand article will be OK….

“Go into all the world and preach the Gospel!”