Sharing the Gospel with Men
Motivating Men: As a natural part of developing our understanding of God’s word and our obedience to it, we will want to equip ourselves to share the gospel with others.
It should be natural, because as we learn more about the gospel that has saved us, we will want to share it with others for the reasons that I have outlined in the article in section two.
Many of us are reticent about sharing the gospel—and it may be that we are not sufficiently convinced of its importance. Our attempts at evangelism will always be mechanical or half-hearted if we only believe that evangelism is about recruiting the next generation of people to run churches.
We need to be convinced that without Christ people are going to hell. We need to understand the wonder of what God has done in us by rescuing us from his wrath at our sinful dishonouring lives. We need to understand that we were starving beggars who have been invited to an amazing banquet, and that we must pass on the invitation to others. We need to be convinced that the very purpose for which we were saved was so that we can glorify God by being his witnesses in the world. Our evangelistic efforts should spring from the right motives, which come from a correct understanding of the gospel.
A first step to developing an effective evangelistic strategy for men in your church is therefore to get motivatation into our hearts. Using the excellent training resource Prepared for Mission produced by A Passion for Life would be a good place to start.
Men with a message
We are failures in evangelism too because, for the most part, we have never been shown how to evangelise: taught what to say and how to say it. This is an area that is easily addressed, because there are many excellent resources available to help train ourselves in understanding, memorising and using a gospel outline. Men usually need help in developing their understanding and skills in three different areas:
As men, we are not that good at talking about ourselves. But if we are truly converted, then we have a wonderful story to tell others about what God has done for us. And we need to practise doing it regularly. Try to make a testimony (someone telling how they came to understand and believe that Jesus Christ is Lord) a regular feature of all your men’s meetings at church so that you get used to the idea.
It may also be a useful exercise as men to write down our testimonies. They need to be Christ-centred, not man-centred, so although we may include details of our past life - our aims, lifestyle etc. it will concentrate on how we discovered the truth about Jesus. Having it written down will enable us to discuss the helpful or unhelpful aspects of it (e.g.: too much unexplained jargon) and therefore hone it and practise it with one another. Getting men regularly to share the opportunities they have had for witness (and their disasters) will also encourage others to keep going.
A Gospel Outline
Even if this is not part of your regular meetings, or a part of your church’s training programme, it must be an important priority to start teaching a gospel outline to equip people for personal evangelism. This could be as simple as the Bridge illustration, or as detailed as Two Ways to Live. Don’t let the wide choice stop you from seeing to this priority.
Many gospel opportunities come within the context of a question being asked. ‘What do you think of the war?’ ‘That’s a terrible tragedy—how would you cope?’ ‘Surely science has disproved the Bible!’ ‘Christianity is so old fashioned’. We need to be equipped to know how to answer these kinds of questions and statements in a way which is gentle and leads towards the gospel. The resources advertised in section five will help, as will reading Paul Williams' article on page 176, Answering Difficult Questions.
“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”
1 Peter 3 v 15-16
1. Personal Witness
These verses lay down the basics to which we should all aspire - being able to give a clear and understandable account of the gospel to those who ask, and in a way that is godly, and having a godly lifestyle to back it up. We must be ourselves in the way we bring the gospel message to others, and this will inevitably mean we will have different styles:
- Confrontational (Acts 2 v 1-39)
- Intellectual (Acts 17 v 16-31)
- Testimonial (John 9 v 1-34)
- Invitational (John 4 v 28-30)
- Service (Acts 9 v 36)
- Hospitable (Luke 5 v 29-32)
But whatever our personal style it does not excuse us from the basic need to both know the gospel and be able and willing to share it when the occasion arises. For most of us, we will do our evangelism by building friendships and trust, and by inviting people to events where they will hear the message. But there will still be the need in this context to engage friends in conversation about what they have heard.
2. Group events
Many men’s groups have established a pattern of events that provide a less threatening way into talking about Christian things than simply inviting them to a gospel talk. The model of a sports stadium may help explain this. If we allow different entry points to our meetings this will allow people at differing stages of their understanding to the gospel to join in without being put off.
Level 1: Hospitality tent
These might be unthreatening sports, cultural and social activities that have a minimal Christian content. The aim is to invite people who perhaps have had no contact with the gospel or Christians and they might even distrust Christians. The likelihood is that, humanly speaking, they might not respond positively to something that is more openly Christian. Through contact with believers in a more social setting, their confidence in listening to our message will grow.
Tried and tested ideas include the following:
- Cultural: wine tasting; art exhibitions/talks; debates on current issues; day outings.
- Sports: 5-a-side football; skittles; golf afternoon; big screen viewing of a major sporting event; touch rugby; go-karting; paintball.
Level 2: The stands
This is for people who are already asking questions or discussing the gospel with Christian friends. Many of the previous events can be used at this level, including more direct Christian content, but more often it will be meetings that are specifically designed to stimulate and stir people to think. These events should include regular Sunday services, any opportunity you may have to get to a lunchtime service, evangelistic breakfasts and evenings at pubs or curry houses. The aim of these meetings should be to recruit people to level 3...
Level 3: On the field
Most often this is a short course for people to explore the gospel and provides an opportunity to raise questions and doubts about the Christian faith. This may be done on a one-to-one basis, or in a small group. The key is to have a defined time to which people can commit themselves (usually one session per week for anything from three to seven weeks), a clear and progressive explanation of the gospel, the opportunity to ask questions, and a relaxed environment where people can open up and not feel under threat in any way. There are many excellent packages available for this (see resources in section five).
3. Evangelism at work
For many men, their most fruitful area of evangelistic contacts will be at work, although often they are difficult to capitalise on because people may live a long distance from your home church. Some churches in central London have sought to get around this by establishing evangelistic and Bible-teaching services in the middle of the week. Some lunchtime talks also happen elsewhere around the country and can serve the witness of Christians in the workplace.
There are also possibilities for developing more overt forms of witness in the workplace. Many Christians are members of workplace Christian groups where believers meet to encourage one another to stand firm as Christians and to pray for evangelistic opportunities with colleagues. Some of these groups have run evangelistic events like company carol services or an Easter service which they organise so they can ask a faithful Bible teacher to teach the gospel. Others have held in-house courses for enquirers using courses like Christianity Explored, while some have held dialogue lunches in a restaurant or pub to which a speaker is invited and many questions are fired at them after a short talk on an aspect of the gospel or a current issue.
4. Evangelism in the family
Our responsibility as husbands and fathers means that we must make evangelism at home a priority also. If we have unconverted wives, we will want to reach out to them by living godly, transformed lives. And we will want to raise our children in the nurture of the Lord. Establishing a daily Bible reading time with children will go a long way towards this. This may take the form of reading stories and saying prayers before bedtime, or a brief Bible time over breakfast or dinner.
There are plenty of good Bible story books to be found in Christian bookshops, and Table Talk is an excellent resource for a short Bible time over the meal table (available from The Good Book Company, www.thegoodbook.co.uk tel: 0333 123 0880)
Outreach event ideas
- Pub games evening – Teams of 4 compete in a mad dash of pub games – dominos, shut-the-box, bagatelle, shove ha’penny, darts etc. Food laid on and a gospel talk. Prizes for winners and losers.
- Clay pigeon shooting – Generally similar to the above, but it doesn’t take place in a pub!
- Quiz night – In teams with a testimony afterwards.
- Daddy and Me – Saturday morning 9-10am. Male version of Mums and Toddlers. Good opportunity for men to (1) Spend time with their toddlers which is popular with the whole family; and (2) Meet others in the village. A talk to draw in the young ones. Relationships being built. A good platform to invite to other things.
- ‘Dad & Co’ – We have around 80 mums coming along each week to a mums and tots group (65-70 not Christian), with many having now done Christianity Explored courses and coming along on Sundays. We started our Daddy and Me equivalent, ‘Dad and Co’, a year ago to try and reach the husbands of these mums. We meet informally once a month to have coffee and bacon butties. Around 30-35 dads come and the mums have been only too keen to get the dads out of the house with the kids on a Saturday morning! We have subsequently done a couple of curry nights with the dads that led into a men only Christianity Explored course at a local pub and a ‘Bar and Grill (the preacher)’ also at a local pub, which both seem to have gone really well.
- Church Banquet – Given the credit crunch we did an ‘investing for life’ theme, with a short talk and then questions to a panel of Christians who worked in the city. The event seemed to go well with around 30 coming, mostly non-believers.
- Table Talk – Informal evening in a pub (once every 6 weeks) to discuss a topical issue aimed at Christian men bringing their non-Christian friends along. Tables of 6 with a ‘host’ who keeps the discussion moving. One hour discussion time. Last time out the topic was “The Credit Crunch – is it such a bad thing?”
- One-to-one – Rico Tice suggested at the 2008 London Men’s Convention, equipping and encouraging men to be looking to read the Bible one-to-one with men who aren’t Christian but whom they have been getting to know.
- Curry Night – Take over local curry house to seat 60 with occasional speaker or testimony (e.g. a Christian in sport).
- Greasy Joe breakfasts – With a short talk and round table discussion.
- Golf Day – Variation on a theme with a day together followed by ‘awards’ and after dinner evangelistic speaker.
Tip: unless everyone hits straight, there’s not much chance for significant conversation on the course. The programme needs to build in time in the clubhouse for chat. Or, have a team format (e.g. Texas Scramble) so team members spend more time talking to each other (never a strong point for men), rather than being on either side of the fairway (golfers will understand...).
- Fishing Day – As per the above, but for fishermen!
- Ten Pin Bowling – Book 6 lanes for a couple of hours then retire to the pub for informal chat and friendship building.
- Paintballing – We found that the men love to do a ‘post-match analysis’ in between games – great for building friendships.
- Scene It – A hi-tech 007 (Bond) board game. An afternoon or evening with 4 teams of 2 or 3, enjoying clips from Bond movies and answering questions. One of our men got this for Christmas and has had a really enthusiastic take up to invitations to play.
- A night at the dogs – Good for being cheap and simple: a beer, bag of chips, (gasp) a max 50p a race bet, and lots of time to chat between races.
- Walks / seaside trip / sailing weekend for dads and kids
- Get dads involved (non-Christians included) helping coach kids church teams
- Join the local Pool league
- Set up a footy team with weekly training, really helps long term friendships
- Trips to sporting events
- Jazz evening, music and food