When followers of Jesus grasp the significance of being on mission with God, it can become a delight to share His life changing message with others. It’s also a great joy to be a part of a community where there is a tangible demonstration of love and unity in the Spirit. One of the main benefits of being actively engaged with a community of Christ followers, a local church, or fellowship of believers is the collective (or corporate) witness to those outside of the Body of Christ.
Hurting People are Everywhere
The opportunities to witness and minister to others are everywhere. Just our normal traffic patterns can put us in touch with people who are hurting and need the Lord. When we share life together and seek to reach out as teams, our witness and impact can be even greater than just our individual efforts. Support and accountability groups can greatly enhance our effectiveness as salt and light in a world of darkness. In our experience in Living Water International, those support and accountability groups can become reproducing disciple making cell groups and have great impact for Kingdom expansion.
Faith Comes by Hearing
Surveys have shown that most believers acknowledge that they should be sharing the Gospel, but admit that it is the weakest link in their Christian experience. A big question is how do we effectively share our faith. While we may show Christ’s love and character by our lifestyles, people need to hear and understand the Gospel. In the Orality Movement, we often say it’s not enough to proclaim the Gospel, people need to hear it, understand, be able to respond, process it (usually in community), remember and reproduce it. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Of course the communication of the message can take on many forms of expression.
Being Salt and Light
Not all of us have a platform for public preaching, proclamation or lecturing God’s message. However, we all have opportunities to be salt and light to those around us. We can tell our stories and God’s story to those in our spheres of influence. Bible Storying or storytelling is an important stream in the Orality Movement. With proper training and orientation, Biblical truth can be accurately communicated through stories and questions in very natural and compelling ways.
Our Best Model for Missional Living
Our best model for storytelling and the use of parables is the Lord Jesus Himself. He told stories, asked questions, engaged in conversations, created relationships and community. What Jesus did has been reproduced by many of His followers for more than 2,000 years. An important part of the Orality Movement is the rediscovery of the most effective ways that people have learned and communicated from the beginning of time. However, about 500 years ago the Church became more dependent on text-based or written materials, and neglected, for the most, the most effective ways people have learned and communicated from the beginning of time. Thankfully, there is a growing recognition that we should communicate the Good News of Jesus and make disciples by all means available.
Reproducing Disciple Making
We’re finding that Orality-based methods and strategies are equipping and enabling ordinary followers of Jesus to more effectively share His life and message, anywhere and everywhere. One of the greatest opportunities for missional living and sharing is in the workplace, the business world, or marketplace. There are numerous resources available today in the Business as Mission movements. A lunch room, coffee shop, shopping mall food court or corporate boardroom can be a place for spiritual conversations. Those can become disciple making cell groups, simple churches, communities of Jesus followers, even reproducing movements.
Better Caught than Taught
Working as teams, in community, rather than as individuals, is a biblical and fruitful strategy. Many have discovered that prayer walking (which is more than prayer, and more than walking), is an integral part of cultivating a Prayer-Care-Share lifestyle. By working as teams and in community, newer or younger believers have the opportunity to observe those more mature in the faith. It is true that our life in Christ is better caught than taught, though we need both. One of the things we observed during the Jesus Movement in the early 1970s was how just one person with passion for knowing and sharing Christ could impact many others. That’s also been the case in many other places where revival and renewal has broken out.
Openness to the Lord
A friend shared some results from a recent study that showed that nearly 80% of Americans are open to have spiritual conversations. That’s amazing. Yet the same research showed that less than 5% of believers ever share their faith. One of the best motivators to activate people to begin sharing is to observe others doing so, or hear impact stories of how God can work through ordinary people in everyday situations. The neighborhood, the shopping mall, the medical center, airport, or wherever we encounter people is an opportunity to engage in Jesus conversations. The Holy Spirit will use our most feeble efforts when our hearts are right and we trust Him for the results.
Lifestyle of Witness and Ministry
There is no shortage of books and multi-media resources on sharing our life in Christ and communicating the Gospel. However, there is no substitute for just doing it and taking actions. It can launch us into a lifestyle of witness and ministry. It is encouraging to know that God often does His most significant work through the most unlikely candidates and in some of the most unexpected places. In the contemporary disciple making and church planting movements, we are discovering the flexibility and universal applications of Orality-based communication and instruction methods. From the bush, to the shopping mall, to the marketplace, and even to the boardrooms and classrooms, the more relational, communal, oral strategies are having impact and gaining momentum. Story clubs, discussion groups, simple church and many other expressions of the Body of Christ are obviously growing and spreading around the world.
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].