Knowing when to talk about God or not!
As I have been going around Holistic Ways Festivals in Scotland for the past couple of years, I have built up favour with the organisers. This has led to invitations to give talks on dreams to the people attending these New Age events. In Glasgow I felt that it was right to talk about ‘Strange Events’ that can happen while we are asleep. I talked for 30 minutes or so about transportations, translations, angelic visitations and so on explaining that just because these things happen while our bodies are asleep it doesn’t mean that they are dreams.
After I had delivered my ‘talk’ I opened the floor up to questions. It was surprising, in some ways, to find that in a room of about 35 people they nearly all had questions about events that happened while they were asleep that, up to this point in time, they had assumed were dreams. One lady though asked what my opinion was on sleep paralysis. Now I have to confess, this was not a phrase I was familiar with, so I asked her to explain this to me. She said that sometimes she saw a face in front of her when she woke up and other times if felt as though there was someone sitting on her chest. As there seemed to be quite a bit of nodding happening in the room I asked if anyone else had similar things happening – 19 people put their hand up! They wanted to know how to stop these things happening.
You will possibly have realized by now that this is demonic activity – my issue was how to explain to a group of people who had paid to attend a New Age event that this was the cause. I knew that the ‘antidote’ was Jesus, but how could I tell them this without offending them? Eventually I bit the bullet and said that I believed that names had power and that the most powerful name I was aware of that could help in this situation is the name Jesus. With fear and trepidation, I looked around the room expecting to see lets of angry faces. The response came from a young woman in her late teens/early 20s who came to my aid with “Yes that really works!” To hide my surprise, I asked her to share her story.
One night she woke up and could not move or talk. She had no way to get her partners attention about the situation even though he was in the bed next to her asleep. All she was able to do was to ‘think’ things. She said that she found herself praying and that the minute she prayed ‘Jesus’ everything changed, she could move, she could talk. Right there in a room of people exploring New Age Spiritualities there was testimony to the power of the name of Jesus.
Being a Christian is so much fun! If I had ever known that I could hear the voice of God for other people, I might never have shied away from evangelism. We are regularly seeing encounters like the one I described and these encounters seem to be increasing as we go places and make ourselves available to God.
One of the biggest issues in using our spiritual gifts to help influence people for Jesus seems to lie in the area of knowing when it is appropriate to talk about God and when it is not. It takes practice in listening to God and discerning where people are in their process of coming to Him. It also takes making some mistakes and watching people be open one minute and walking away the next.
We are seeing that people are very open to talking more about God when we get outside of our traditional evangelistic methods. We use dream interpretation and spiritual reading (prophetic words, not psychic) as a way to engage in conversations with people and then wait for God to open the doors to go deeper.
Here are a few simple steps for you to consider as you learn to communicate with people outside the church:
First, avoid one way communication. As Christians we need to realize that the world is not obligated to listen to us. People are complex and need to process information. Traditional evangelistic methods tend to have us do all the talking. Nowadays people like it when someone listens to them. If you listen to them, they will listen to you.
Second, find common ground. The Apostle Paul talks about finding a common ground with people in 1 Cor. 9:20-23. We are finding that dreams and prophetic words from God communicated in common language are an excellent common ground. If someone is not open to hearing you, then don’t be pushy.
Third, be encouraging. As we do our prophetic outreaches we share words from God in an encouraging way. We tell them how God sees them or the unique characteristics that they posses in their life. People have often been beaten down by life and just a little bit of encouragement will go a long way. Encouragement is listed as a gift in Romans 12.
Fourth, understand the spiritual decision process. I was trained that our goal of evangelism is to get someone to receive Jesus (pray the sinner’s prayer). This is called “decision based evangelism.” It helps to realize that a decision for Christ is not the end result. It is actually the beginning of the process of becoming a disciple. The majority of the people making decisions to pray the sinner’s prayer as a result of an encounter on the street never end up in a church. We will be much more successful if we choose instead to make it our goal to nudge people one step closer in their process of finding Christ. This means that we might not get to talk about God in every conversation.
Fifth, learn to speak “non-religious”. I wrote a booklet on this subject called Speaking Their Language. Christianese does not cut it outside the church. Consider 1 Cor 14:9 …Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying?
One of the best studies on the subject of determining when to talk about God and when not to, is in the revised version of Power Evangelism by John Wimber.
The bottom line is that it takes practice to know when to talk about God and when not to. We are seeing that when we are around people outside the church we are a positive influence on them by simply bringing the presence of the Holy Spirit near them. People tell us all the time that they feel better when we are around or that there is the presence of peace around us.
My advice is to unload our “Gospel Guns” and not be so ready to pounce on people with the message of Jesus. Trust that God will indeed water the seeds we plant and that we also are watering seeds that others have planted. When you do find someone who is ready, by all means lead them to Jesus!!!!