Families can be strange and wonderful. Wonderful because home
can be a place of comfort, refuge, encouragementsomewhere you can just be
yourself. Strange because we live and act at home like we do nowhere else. Yet,
being ourselves in a family setting can be a two-edged sword. Indeed it
provides an environment where we can relax. But, being our true self is not
always our best self. When those closest to us see our many imperfections, it
can create challenges in speaking to them of spiritual matters. Dont give up!
It can be done! Your family needs to hear the gospel.
Live out loudSince family members know uswarts and
allwe must address the issue of believability. Allow me a paraphrased clich:
Actions speak with more credibility than words, especially in the family. This
tension of actions versus words is at the heart of ministering on the family
mission field. This is why its sometimes easier to share Christ with someone
across the country than across the kitchen table. The people who live with you
know you. The real you! Theyve seen you at your sinfullest! And youre
going to tell them about Christ?
Probably not effectively. Rather than tell them, you will need to
show them Christ in your life. The true meaning of being a witness is
to tell and show how Christ has changed you.
How churches can minister to unbelieving family members
Make the church body aware that every home is a mission field. Its important
not to overlook our relatives. Keep this concept in front of the people through
sermon illustrations, testimonies of individuals who were led to Christ by a
family member or discipleship classes.
Offer evangelism training to families. If they need assistance in the
harvest phase (actually leading someone to accept Christ), make it clear that
your pastor, staff or other church leaders will be happy to assist in that
part. For evangelism resources visit www.namb.net/family.
Remind the body that they are to sow seeds. Help the church understand that
its everyones role to participate in sharing their faith. Some might serve as
the planter of the seed (sharing the gospel with someone who has never heard it
before). Others might water that seed. Remind the church that no one is greater
or better than the others. All phases are necessary and whatever role one plays
How many times have you heard someones testimony, and 95 percent of it was
about their life of drugs, sex, prison, etc.? Then they close with something
like, but now Ive got Christ in my heart and everything is different. Praise
God for people with drug problems who are saved; yet, when possible,
testimonies should be balanced with how our lives have been changed
since coming to Christ.
This emphasis on change (the specifics) will clearly speak to the heart of a
family member as you demonstrate how Christ affected your life.
Pruning your attitudeLets look at some attitudes and
tips on speaking spiritually with your loved ones. Your attitude toward the
spiritual condition of your loved ones should involve asking yourself three
Do I see my relatives as God sees them? As an
actual mission field? (Perhaps not since you know their warts like they
know yours!) Ask the Lord for a kingdom view of your family. Its easy to see
the mission field as over there and home being here. Bringing the mission field
concept into our homes can transform our views, change our paradigm and perhaps
improve our everyday behavior. A kingdom view can help us see that our family
is as much of a mission field as the farthest country we can imagine.
What should my focus be regarding my lost relatives? Your
objective is to see your loved ones come to know Christ. You alone cannot
accomplish that goal, no matter how hard you try. You simply cannot open
anothers heart to receive Christ, that is the work of the Holy Spirit. However,
your goal can be to honor Christ with your life, to be the best salt and light
you can be, even in the most challenging of mission fieldsthe home. Such an
intention is a goal that can indeed be reached. Remember, Acts 1:8 does not say
that we shall be His converters, but His witnesses. So, witness as He provides
opportunities for you. Not with a showy, Ive-got-something-that-you-dont-have
kind of attitude, but in an obedient and loving way. We are servants who need
to be witnesses as our Master commands.
Is there anything Im doing that is keeping my relative from coming
to the Lord? As a child I recall hearing our pastor frequently tell us
to take a spiritual inventory of ourselves. I didnt understand what that meant
then, but it makes sense today. For example, do you want your prayers for your
loved ones to be heard? Psalms 66:18 cautions us that if we cherish sin in our
heart, the Lord will not hear us. Is there something you are cherishing that
could keep God from hearing your prayer? Im not referring to being perfect, but
are you living the kind of life that would prompt a family member to ask What
do you have that I dont have? Let them see the gospels impact on your life.
When married to an unbeliever...Control only what you
can control. No matter how much you would like to, you cannot make your mate
become a Christian. Its his or her choice all the way. So what can you do?
Become a godly spouse. That you can control.
Choosing a close walk with God will give you the wisdom to know when to make
a silent stand for Christ in front of your spouse and when to make a verbal
statement. Furthermore, your spiritual strength can create a spiritual aroma
that your spouse will sense. It might even prompt them to express an interest
in your Jesus.
Lighten up on the hard sell. Avoid the guilt trips that might actually
drive your spouse further away from the Lord. Instead, be positive and look for
ways to affirm your mate even though he or she still needs Christ. Sometimes
the kinder, gentler method can be more effective than playing hard ball.
Keep praying! It might seem old or redundant, but Jesus teaches us to
pray consistently (Luke 18). Its true that prayer changes things. It also
changes pray-ees and pray-ers. Your love for your mate will deepen and he or
she might just come into the Kingdom because of your consistency. Dont give
Sowing the seeds, watering the fieldHow can a
Christian support a family member in his or her spiritual journey toward
Christ? Here are some tips for ministering in that home mission field:
Be in prayer. Throughout the entire chapter of Luke 18,
Jesus tells us to pray consistently, not giving up. James 5:16 says The
prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Pray that your
relative will see his or her need for Christ. Prayer can change things,
including yourself, so keep it at the top of the list of things to do.
Be alert. Look for opportunities in front of your relative
to give God credit for good. Also, do not hesitate to acknowledge His strength
and comfort in the challenging experiences of life. Seize those moments.
Be appropriate. Should your loved ones ask some questions
regarding your faith, dont panic and share all 12 sermons you have prepared for
them! Dont overload them. If someone asks you what time it is, you dont explain
how to build a watch. Rather, direct your answers according to where the person
is. Answer appropriately. If asked a general question, answer in general. If
they want more information, then you can go deeper, but let them ask first.
Be sincere. Sounding too preachy, holier-than-thou or too
technical can shut down your inquisitor and quickly end the dialogue. Sarcasm
can also kill spiritual talk abruptly. For example, if someone finally musters
up the courage to ask you about Christ, a wrong approach would be to say, Well
its about time you started asking some questions! Instead, 1 Peter 3:15
challenges us to Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks
you to give the reason for the hope that you have. Earn your family
members trust on the spiritual level by showing them you are approachable and
that you respect their questions.
Be willing. Do your part, even though you might not know
what part you are playing. 1 Corinthians 13 reminds us that now we see through
a glass dimly. We have finite minds. Only God has the complete picture, so we
may not know if our witness to our brother is planting the seed, watering or
leading to an immediate acceptance of Christ. In Lee and Leslie Strobels book Surviving
a Spiritual Mismatch they speak of people who contributed to their journey
toward salvation as links in a chain. Its not important for us to know where we
are on that chain as long as we are obedient. We trust God for the increase
anyway, so lets be faithful to do our part.
Your role could be assuring your relatives that you are praying for them in
a struggle they are experiencing. It could be sharing a scripture with them. Or
it could be your modeling the peace of Christ before them as you go through
your own storm. Our focus when ministering to the family mission field is no
different from any other mission field: to follow Christ, glorify God and trust
Him for the increase in the setting where He has placed us.
Rodney A. Wilson is minister of marriage and family
enrichment at First Baptist Church in Smyrna, Tennessee.
Family Evangelism Resources
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC