To disciple our children we must help them learn to obey their Lord and live according to His code of conduct—His Word. One command is especially important, and that was His last command to us as He left Earth. “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Jesus used two key words: “go” and “preach.” “Go” is very clear, and the Greek word for “preach” means to herald or proclaim.
Jesus often used practical, real-life examples to illustrate spiritual truths. In Matthew 4:19, He spoke to Simon Peter and his brother Andrew: “And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” A fisherman’s job is a proactive vocation. If he waited for the fish to jump into his boat because it looked more desirable than the water, the fisherman would starve. Fish love the water and die if they are out of it. Obviously, they do everything they can to stay in the water, and that is why it takes effort on the part of the fisherman to catch fish. We must be proactive as fishers of men if we are to be obedient to the Lord Jesus.
It appears that most believers have abandoned actively fishing in favor of hoping the fish will think the boat looks more inviting than the water. No doubt most churches still want to see people come to Christ and join their church, but I wonder how many believers are actively sharing Christ on their own. Even if they participate in going out witnessing as part of a church outreach, do they see evangelism as a command of Jesus for their daily lives? Are they sharing Christ with those whom they come in contact with each day?
In Florida while attending a large church, Teri and I went out faithfully every week and visited those who had visited the church. We had been trained how to share Christ, which we did on visitation when we encountered someone who was lost. However, witnessing was not something that I owned personally, as evidenced by the fact that I didn’t share the Gospel with those I met during my normal day-to-day life. When we moved from Florida and were part of other churches, we didn’t even become involved in their visitation programs. I was quite content with what is often called “lifestyle evangelism”—living my life for Christ so that those around me would observe Jesus in me and be drawn to Christianity by my example. Usually if we parents aren’t doing something, we aren’t going to teach our children to do it. Teri and I can see that we didn’t teach our older children how to share Christ, nor did they develop an appetite to witness during those early years. It has been in the more recent years that situation has been turned around in our family, and I want to give you some of the highlights of this blessed and exciting journey in our spiritual lives.
Over time, I became more convicted of our need to share Christ, and more concerned for the souls of others. At first, I timidly began to pursue conversations with those I met while I was out and about in the hope of discussing Christ. I was uncomfortable in being direct, though, and as a result usually didn’t get very far. Several years back, Sarah discovered a book on witnessing by R.A. Torrey, titled “Personal Work,” and we read it together as a family. We were convicted, challenged, instructed, and excited by the information. We were growing in our burden for souls, and the Lord was providing resources to help us learn to be more direct. One of the greatest helps we learned from Mr. Torrey was the importance of having the person you are sharing with read the passages out loud from the Bible so that he can see for himself what the Bible says.
Soon after that, Christopher, in his desire to learn more effectively how to share Christ, found the LivingWaters website. From them we discovered how important it is to use the Ten Commandments when witnessing. “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalms 19:7). “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24). Just one word of caution concerning LivingWaters’ material. They are not very conservative, as evidenced by contemporary music and modesty issues on their DVD training set. With some degree of care, however, you will find some very helpful information about witnessing from LivingWaters.
Since then, most in our family have learned how to share Christ clearly and without being offensive, starting with Christopher and me. I have worked at telling my family at the supper table about any witnessing experiences I have had that day. When I have had occasion to interact with others during the day, my family has come to eagerly ask me whether I shared the gospel with that person. I will specifically relate my discussions with them so that they may learn how to ask questions, what to ask, and where to take the conversation. Simply by what the Lord has been doing in my life, I am observing my children gaining a desire to witness that I personally didn’t have until these past few years, nor could I instill it in them when it was missing in my life.
Christopher, our twenty-eight-year-old son, will often share the gospel with those he speaks to on the phone. When we are traveling, he brings his work with him, which means he has regular work-related cell phone conversations in the van. He may be calling to turn on the cell phone coverage for the laptop at the beginning of a trip, when the children will hear him ask, “Do you have time for a question that doesn’t have to do with our business?” Often the answer is positive, and they hear him continue, “Would you consider yourself a good person?” As soon as he hangs up, everyone wants to know what the other person was saying in response to Christopher’s side of the conversation.
When the children are with me when I am out, they can hear the whole conversation I have with someone concerning Christ and can see that other person’s response. They learn through my example, and they gain not only knowledge in how to witness but a comfort level that will help them as they share Jesus on their own. They also see how one person can lovingly and gently help another person to understand that without Christ he stands condemned before God. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36).
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” (Isaiah 52:7). May I encourage you, as the spiritual heads of your homes, to move out of the comfort zone of lifestyle evangelism into the uncomfortable, but highly exciting, zone of “go” and “preach.” In future articles I will describe some reasons people give for not overtly evangelizing, and I will give you more specifics on ways to lead your family to become overt in sharing Christ and encourage you in that path. In addition, I will share an unseen benefit your children will experience that, by itself, even if it wasn’t a command of Christ, would make it all worthwhile. Do your children have beautiful feet?