Orality Missiology: The Discovery Factor and Life Encounters

By Jerry Wiles

A study conducted several years ago showed that almost every Christ follower acknowledged that a priority in their lives should be sharing their faith, communicating the Gospel and advancing the Kingdom of God. 

Yet, the same study showed that, with the majority of people, it is the weakest link in their Christian experience.  The more we are aware of the spiritual warfare related to pursuing the plans and purposes of God, the greater will be our recognition of the forces of opposition.

Find out what God is up to, and get in on it.

We believe that God is at work at all times in all places.  Our big challenge is to discover what He is doing, how He is at work, and connect with His redemptive activity.  The late Manley Beasley use to say, “Find out what God is up to, and get in on it.”  Henry Blackaby put it another way, “Identify the activity of God and join Him.”  There are a number of ways of doing that.  An important concept to keep in mind is that the Holy Spirit is unlimited and creative in connecting each of us with His divine purposes.

Discovery Discussion Groups, Anytime, Anyplace

It would also be important to keep in mind that – greater is He, the indwelling Christ, that is in us, than he who is in the world. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to be overcomers, more than conquerors, and to live victoriously.  It is that enabling that can make us effective communicators, disciple-makers and able ministers of the New Covenant.  That being said, there are many practical activities we can all engage in, in order to discover how we can be salt and light to those around us and impact the world for righteousness sake.

Cultivating a Prayer-Care-Share Lifestyle

For some time now, my wife and I have been on a journey endeavoring to cultivate a Prayer-Care-Share Lifestyle.  Part of that is engaging in what we call prayer-walking, which is more than prayer and more than walking.  It’s about being intentional wherever we go, in a spirit of prayer, watching for ways to connect with people and have conversations.  It can be in our neighborhood, the mall, farmers markets, various other shopping trips, or wherever we encounter people.  (Think of every shopping trip as a short-term mission trip). As we observe people, we look for opportunities to compliment, comment, ask questions, or show the care and love of Jesus.  It can often lead to Jesus conversations or discussions about spiritual matters.

Prayer-Care-Share, in the Marketplace

The following are a few examples of the questions that are useful in connecting and engaging with people:

  • Have you noticed any signs of spiritual awakening in this region (community, city, workplace, etc.)?
  • Have you observed how many people are becoming more aware of their need for the Lord (or have an interest in spiritual issues)?
  • How would you describe the difference in the spiritual climate here in Houston, compared to Dallas, Chicago, Denver (or wherever they may have lived before)?

These are relatively general, non-threatening questions.  The answers can give us some clue as to the level of interest and open the door to additional questions or topics of conversation, such as:

  • How about you, do you have an interest in spiritual things?  Do you have a religious belief system?
  • Would you be interested in knowing how you can have a more personal and intimate relationship with the Lord?
  • How would you describe your relationship with the Lord?  Or, what has been your most amazing spiritual experience?
  • If there is one thing I can pray for you about, what would that be?  (Note: Most people are not opposed to being prayed for).                                                                                                               

Power of Stories and Questions

A Community of Learning

In our Orality Training sessions, we emphasize the power of simply telling stories and asking questions.  Sometimes it is better to start by asking questions and then telling stories.  We can tell our story and move to telling God’s Story. When we ask the right questions, and listen well, people will often say something like, “How about you, what is your story or experience?”

I have often heard people say something like, “I don’t have that gift, or I could never do that.”  That attitude and mind-set has kept many from even making the effort to reach out and share the love of Jesus with others.  However, when one sees the transforming power of these simple methods, it can often put people on a new path of fruitfulness and impact for the Kingdom.

Small Changes, Big Difference

In one of the many African countries where we’ve conducted a considerable amount of Orality Training with Living Water International, we hear very encouraging reports.  An evangelist and church planter told us they use to go into the villages and communities and pass out tracks, share their testimonies and do street preaching.


With that approach, people wanted to run them out of the communities.  However, after receiving the Orality Training, they said they go and make friends, ask questions and tell stories, and people want to follow Jesus.  It may seem like a little change, but small changes can make a big difference.

Jerry Wiles is President Emeritus of Living Water International and serves on the advisory council and leadership team of the International Orality Network. He can be reached at: [email protected].


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