This week we had the opportunity to hear from Chris Hodges, pastor of Church of the Highlands, one of the largest and fastest-growing churches in the country and a church that has been influential in Eastside’s own ministry in recent years.

In his message, Pastor Chris shared about the importance of introducing people to Jesus, and he laid out a simple plan for how to do that.

  • Tell us the story about how Jesus became real to you.

    •  For some of you this will be the time when you decided to put your faith in Jesus.

    • For others who are, perhaps, unsure of what they think about Jesus, share where you are in your spiritual journey, and what has brought you to this point.

    • For still others, especially those who grew up in church, this may be a time when your faith went from being your parents’ faith to your own faith, or when God revealed himself to you in a way that changed who you understand Him to be.


Understanding

Have volunteers read John 4.

So here’s the scenario.  Jesus strikes up a conversation with someone who—according to society’s standards—he has no business talking to. In the time and place that Jesus lived, men were viewed as superior to women, and Jews and Samaritans hated each other.

Then he has a frank conversation about the problems she is facing, which causes her to go get a bunch of people from her town and bring them back to Jesus.

Jesus stops and takes the time to engage with someone who by all rights he shouldn’t care about, and as a result, a whole bunch of people hear about the good news that Jesus came to reconcile us to God, to heal our brokenness and restore us.

In the midst of this, the disciples show up and are seemingly oblivious to the importance of what’s happening.  They don’t ask Jesus about what’s going on, and they seem more interested in lunch.

Jesus tells them to “Open your eyes.”

If Jesus was talking to His church today, he’d say, “Open your eyes.  I wish you could see your coworkers, your neighbors, your city, your town, the way I do.  You cannot love what you cannot see.”

  • What would the impact be if all of us at Eastside truly “opened our eyes?”

  • How can you open your eyes to the physical and spiritual needs around you?

Have a volunteer read 2 Peter 1:3-11

God has given us two things: His power and His promises, and God expects us to grow as a result of them.  And if we grow, we will be effective and productive in the work He has called us to. But if we lack these qualities, then we are near-sighted and blind.  In other words, we can’t see beyond ourselves and our personal concerns.

You can tell if you’re spiritually near-sighted by what you pray for. If you’re always praying for yourself and your own needs, then you’re spiritually near-sighted.  You don’t notice the needs beyond yourself.

  • What is the primary focus of your prayers, and are the things you’re praying for the things that are the closest to God’s heart?  In other words, do your prayers and priorities reflect God’s priorities?

Here are four things that you can do to be an effective, productive, outward looking Christian.

1. Accept the personal responsibility.

Don’t put it on your church or on other people.  You are God’s plan.

Have volunteers read Luke 19:10, Matthew 5:14-16, Mark 16:15, Luke 14:23, Acts 1:8, Romans 10:13-14, 1 Corinthians 9:22, 2 Corinthians 5:17-20, Jude 1:23, and Ezekiel 33:6.  (If you do not have time or do not want to read all of these, you can simply read Matthew 5:14-16 and 2 Corinthians 5:17-20.)

Jesus’ mission was to seek and save the lost.  He calls us to that same mission. He gives us the power to do it through His Holy Spirit, and He holds us accountable for doing so.

2. Develop a personal relationship.

People don’t really care what you know.  They don’t want to get in a theological debate.  They just want to know that you care.  Sharing your faith with people you care about and who care about you is far more effective—and less weird—than preaching on a street corner with a megaphone.

3. Share your personal story.

Once you love someone as a friend, tell them your story.  God doesn’t call us to tell the world what is wrong with them.  He calls us to tell our story about our relationship with Jesus, about the difference God has made in our lives.

4. Give a personal invitation.

Look for an opportunity to give a personal invitation.  Invite someone into a relationship with Jesus.  And if you don’t know how to do that, invite them to church.

  • Which of the four steps is the biggest challenge for you?  Is it that you’re just not convinced you need to share your faith?  Do you lack relationships with those outside of the church?  Is it difficult for you to share your faith story?  Or do you struggle to actually invite others else to begin their own faith journeys?

In his sermon Chris told a story about a time when he got on a plane hoping to take a nap, but instead was interrupted by a man next to him who had just lost his best friend.  With some frustration that his nap was being interrupted, Chris engaged the man in conversation and ended up introducing him to Jesus.

He told this story to illustrate the fact that sometimes we need to be inconvenienced for the sake of others, because there are countless people who are one conversation away from a relationship with Jesus.

  • What would it take for us to adjust our priorities to become more concerned about the true needs of others and less concerned about our petty wants?


Application

If we will ask God for opportunities to share Jesus with others, He will open doors.

Who is one person you know and interact with regularly who does not know Jesus?

Commit to praying every day for the opportunity to share your personal faith story with that person.  When can you do this?  First thing in the morning?  At lunch?  During your commute?