Preaching the Gospel
By Cameron Silsbee
Begin with prayer
Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting. Take a moment to sit in silence in the presence of Jesus and each other, and then have somebody pray to ask the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.
Spend a few minutes talking about how your reading in the Gospels has been going and if you’ve been able to practice hospitality with someone far from God.
Read this overview
Preaching the gospel can be a confounding experience. What to say, when to say it, and how to say it can trap a person in their mind as they have a conversation with someone far from God. Mixed in with that is the potential of ideals like boldness, smart answers to questions, and a moment with a decisive decision can make the Practice of preaching the gospel all the more challenging. Uncertainty, self-doubt, and anxiety around saying the wrong thing can have a paralyzing effect.
Like every other spiritual discipline, preaching the gospel takes practice. Some (probably the minority) will find this a “downstream” discipline – something that their particular wiring and giftings combine to make them more naturally adept at it. Others (probably the majority) will find this an “upstream” discipline – something that requires a considerable amount of intentionality, effort, and patience.
But with all other spiritual disciplines, a person can grow in their proficiency of a discipline. With practice, preaching the gospel can be a discipline shaped by who you are, your story, and your season of life. And that can help make this discipline feel more natural and effortless. It can end up looking radically different for people, from bold conversations with strangers to a simple phone conversation with a long-time friend, to reading a Bible story with a child before bed. Preaching the gospel can look and sound very different, yet it is still the practice of using our words to share why Jesus is good news.
Talk through the following discussion questions:
- Do you find that preaching the gospel is an “upstream” or a “downstream” discipline?
- What’s one of your biggest challenges or struggles when it comes to preaching the gospel (e.g., don’t know what to say, anxiety, fear of rejection, etc.)?
Do this Practice right now:
It’s easy to overlook where preaching the gospel is already happening in our lives. Take a couple of minutes to think about the last week or two. Bring to mind any instances where you’ve had a conversation with someone about Jesus, whether they already follow Jesus or not. Don’t overlook times such as:
- Conversations with a spouse
- Talking to your child, niece, or nephew about Jesus
- Encouraging a friend
- Your Van City Community
- The Gathering/Van City Kids
- Times you remind yourself of the gospel
After a couple of minutes, make a rough estimate of how many conversations about Jesus you’ve had in the last week or two. Then talk through the following questions:
- What was your rough estimate of the number of conversations you’ve had about Jesus? Was the number higher or lower than you expected?
- If your number was higher than expected, do you think it’s helpful to realize/remember that you’ve already been practicing the discipline of preaching the gospel?
- If your number was lower than expected, does this help give you any ideas about more times, places, and people where you could practice the discipline of preaching the gospel?
Talk about this week’s Practice as a Community:
This week’s Practice will involve two exercises.
Exercise 1: Read and Pray
Set aside time this week to read Matthew 9v35-37. Jesus proclaimed the good news all over the place. But before he sent out the disciples to do likewise, he instructed them to pray.
When you’ve finished reading Matthew 9v35-37, take a good amount of time to pray for those in your life who are “lost.” For some, it can be a bit confusing to know exactly what to pray for when it comes to those far from God. If you’d like, you can use the following paradigm:
- Share with God in your own words what you’d like to see for the particular person or people who are lost (e.g., find healing, redemption, to know God’s love, etc.).
- Express a willingness to participate with God in the work he’s doing in the person/people’s lives. You can keep it general or name specific ways you’d like to partner with God.
- Entrust the person/people to God’s care, concern, and love. Acknowledge to God that he desires reconciliation with the person/people to a much greater degree than you do on your best day.
Exercise 2: Preach the Gospel
Opportunities to practice the discipline of preaching the gospel aren’t entirely up to us – an appropriate moment in a conversation to share that Jesus really is good news can’t typically be scheduled in a calendar.
With this in mind, we want to grow in a posture of openness and intentionality to the discipline of preaching the gospel without anxiously forcing the discipline into situations and conversations that aren’t appropriate. Aim to take small steps of growth in this discipline rather than trying to be a master at it right off the bat. A great way to do this is simply to create (via hospitality) and take advantage of already existing opportunities to preach the gospel.
- Look for natural rhythms and relationships in your life where you might have the opportunity to preach the gospel. You can start with the paradigm of share and invite (share what God is doing or has done in your life and invite them to join in with God’s story).
- Continue practicing the discipline of preaching the gospels in the spaces of life where it’s already happening.
- Set up another time to practice hospitality for someone far from God.