November 29, 2013

3D Gospel Conversations - Declare

This is the seventh in a series of posts regarding communicating the gospel. Each post is be a section from a booklet called "Gospel Conversations" that was printed in September at Northview Community Church. This post is an adaptation of the booklet's fifth chapter. If you would like to download a free PDF of the entire booklet, you can do so here.

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Conversations and monologues function very differently.  There is a time and place where well-crafted monologues are edifying and life-giving.  The great temptation for many Christians in the realm of talking about our faith is to craft a monologue and then hope for some opportunity to launch into our very best speech.  There is not a lot of verbal interaction during a monologue.  Listening to a monologue is by no means passive (it takes a lot of hard work to listen to well), but there are not a lot of opportunities during a monologue to ask the speaker to nuance what they just said.  Conversations, however, happen much more naturally in our everyday life.  They involve a give and take, opportunities to question and clarify, and opportunities to speak and to listen.  When we think about sharing our faith with others, we are wise to view them as genuine conversations rather than opportunities to launch into a well-crafted speech.
In his book, Questioning Evangelism, Randy Newman talks about the three main components involved in every gospel conversation:  Declaring, Defending, and Dialoguing.  Newman presents a helpful paradigm that is both robust and practical.  It captures all the important elements of a genuine conversation about any topic, but especially the gospel.  Plus, it’s catchy and easy to remember:  real gospel conversations are in 3-D - declare, defend, and dialogue.  Regardless of how easily or naturally the words flow out of us, when we engage in our gospel conversations with others we would be wise to use the 3-Ds Newman mentions.  Let’s take some time and examine each element in a bit more depth.


Declare
The first “D” we will take a look at is declare.  Out of the three “Ds,” declaring is probably the easiest one to understand.  As a part of a gospel conversation we need to do our best to faithfully articulate the core elements of the gospel.  We should be prepared to boldly, and winsomely, communicate that God is solely responsible for creating a good world.  Humans willingly rebelled against God and his good plan.  God initiated a plan to reconcile humanity back to himself ultimately through the perfect life, substitutionary death, and victorious resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Jesus will return to judge everyone and will bring his Kingdom to fully and finally bear on all of creation when he makes everything new.  Those who recognize their rebellion against God and trust in Jesus as their perfection and reconciliation will be a part of the New Creation, in the presence of God forever.  A conversation is not a gospel conversation if there is no attempt to faithfully communicate all - or part - of the good news of Jesus Christ.  Communicating the truths of the gospel is the way that people come to, and grow in, their committed following of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour.  Jesus has commissioned his followers to be active disciple-making-disciples (Matthew 28:18-20), and making declarative statements about the gospel is the primary way in which we will engage in this mission.

Next week's post will explore the second "D" of a 3D gospel conversation - defend.

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