Some time ago a young lady, Ella, who had been attending our local church was referred to me by the Coordinator of our Children’s Ministry. She was very interested in the internship program the church was introducing the following year. I was the project coordinator.
We agreed on a time to discuss her interest. Ella told me her story and expressed her interest in the children’s ministry. I explained how we envisaged the internship program operating and the requirements of the candidates. During the conversation, while Ella proved herself to be a very good candidate, I had this sense of uncertainty in regard to her personal relationship with God.
So before we finished I asked, “Ella, can I run something by you?” After a short pause I then went on to ask, “Ella, let me ask, has anyone ever sat down with you and explained from the Bible how you can know God personally and be sure of your relationship with him?”
From time to time at church I sense the need to move a conversation to matters of eternal importance. It isn’t always easy to bridge the gap. However, I have learned to respond and not quench the Spirit.
I have found appropriate questions, asked respectfully, are helpful in bridging the gap. The questions need to respect the person, encourage conversation around spiritual matters and yet leave room for either party to pull back if appropriate.
I recall being introduced to David by a mutual friend, Harry, inside the entrance to the auditorium a few minutes before the start of the morning service. Harry had just finished introducing me when another mutual friend, Andrew, arrived. On being introduced Andrew immediately asked David, “Are you a Christian?”
I spoke to Andrew later suggesting his question was rather direct. I might have even suggested blunt, to which he replied, “Where else but in church?” He was right! Where else but church.
My first question to Ella, “Can I run something by you?” seeks permission from the other party, and suggests that I want to build a more meaningful relationship, and it opens the way for the follow up question that will cast light on what I am sensing.
In response to the follow up question Ella replied, “No.” Her reply wasn’t unexpected. We arranged another time where Ella confirmed her relationship with Jesus and received him as her Saviour and Lord. After studying the Seven Commands of Jesus with her mentor, Ella was baptised, and went on to successfully complete her internship.
David? Well after the morning service I followed up the earlier conversation and asked David similar questions to those I had used with Ella. By the end of the week, accompanied by his friend, Harry, David too had confirmed his relationship with Jesus receiving him as his Saviour and Lord.
It isn’t by accident that people start attending church! Generally God is at work drawing them to himself. We have a duty to respond. Dare to cross the bridge and address the God-given opportunity regarding someone’s eternity.
2 Peter 3:9 NIV
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”