by Mike Tilley, LBC Senior Pastor
Recently I was talking with someone who was new to Orlando, and I invited him to Lake Baldwin Church. He appreciated the invitation, but said,
“I can’t come, I’m not a Christian.”
I quickly replied, “You can come to our church even if you are not a Christian. We always have people come to our church who are simply exploring the faith.” Since then, my new friend has been attending the church, where he can meet people and explore the gospel at his own pace.
The message of Christianity is such good news that we want to be a place where people can be welcome in our church community even if they are simply seekers or even skeptics.
In fact, we would love for the people of Lake Baldwin Church to help spiritually interested people get past religious stereotypes so that they can hear the simple, core message of the gospel. The New Testament gives some great advice for how believers can relate to people who do not yet have a personal faith:
As you can see, a little humility and respect can go a long way!
What might this look like practically? Most of us who are believes are not evangelists, but ordinary people with a faith story. Here are four things we all can do:
- Friendships: I find it fascinating that Jesus was known as a “friend of sinners.” He went to their dinner parties, he served those who felt excluded from religion, and he showed tenderness toward people with a non-religious life. We can be friends without agenda, friends who aren’t lifestyle referees, friends who simply care and enjoy common interests. Once you get to know some people, your heart will begin to care, and you’ll want to do the next thing, which is to pray for them.
- Faithful prayer: Most of us came to faith because God worked in our hearts, and not because someone pressured us. Some of our friends and family members might not feel a need for God at all, but we can simply place them in God’s hands. As you pray for people, God might work in their life and give them some spiritual interest. Once that spiritual interest bubbles up, you’ll want to be able to invite them to check out Christianity.
- Forums: Many honest people are willing to learn and check out the faith if they are invited to a forum that is non-pressure and respectful of their process. In fact, we’ve learned that our Sunday worship service is a great place for that! It’s relaxed and the message is accessible without being watered down. We have other forums too, such as Youth Alpha, Christianity Explored, Beer With Dead Guys, Financial Peace University, and other special events. Once someone gains a positive exposure to the gospel, they will need a friend to help them begin a relationship with Christ.
- Framework: By framework, we simply mean a clear outline of the gospel. I like to be able to ask people, “If you wanted to become a Christian, would you know how?” The ball is still in their court, but at least they would be informed. If someone were to ask you how to become a Christian, would you have a simple way of explaining the gospel? Over the years I’ve used a variety of outlines, but my favorite is the booklet, Would You Like to Know God Personally? It’s clear, succinct, and easy to share with someone.
Isn’t it great to know that you don’t have to be an evangelist or a salesperson to share your faith? In fact, God is often more likely to use the ordinary person who simply has a caring heart for people. And, if you experience a little fear as you take the next step, that’s okay. God has given his Spirit to be with us.