Thursday, April 28, 2016

ITCZ 101 - An Attention Grabber

Have you ever wanted to share the Gospel or scriptural wisdom but couldn't come up with an ice breaker to segue into your topic? A great way to do this is to open with an attention grabbing statement or question.

They were amazed at His teaching, for His message was with authority.

So what kind of attention grabber is good to open with? It would depend on your topic. A good idea is to open with your conclusion. It can also be a statement or in the form of a question.
  • Have you ever wondered why there is no evidence for evolution and yet it is the only origin philosophy taught in public schools?
  • I think it's scary they teach evolution in public school even though there is no evidence to support it. 

Your Attention Please

For those of you who hold an evolutionary philosophy, I know that I now have your attention. For those who are unsure if there was a creation or an evolution or some combination of the two that explains our origins, I probably have your attention as well. I bet even a creationist would be wondering what I was going to say next.

The goal of the attention grabber is not to incense others. It's not to instigate or agitate. It's to get the attention of your target audience, raise their curiosity and guide them to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

If you already have a hostile audience there's no reason to rile them any further. In this case your target is probably not willing to listen anyway. Move on to someone who has the potential to be curious and/or open minded. 

Paul Did It

Paul used attention grabbers and here's how one played out:
So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: "Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: 'To an Unknown God.' This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I'm telling you about. - Acts 17:22-23 NLT

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

ITCZ 101 - A Place Of Power

Our goal in delivering the Gospel or the Word of God in any particular situation is not necessarily that we are heard, but that others are listening, curious and thinking. Let's take every opportunity to put folks in the best position we can so they can thoughtfully consider what we are sharing.

Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

When sharing your faith it's a good idea to do what you can to keep the other person engaged, curious and thoughtful. One way to do that is to let them have a place of power. Ok, now what does that mean?

The place of power is simply how you position yourself and the other person when engaging in a conversation.

Here are a couple of examples of the place of power.
  • Sit or stand lower than the other person. 
  • Open posture. 
  • Ask questions. 
  • Listen very closely.
  • Recap what you understand they said and meant.

Creating Opportunities To Connect

The purpose of letting someone be in the place of power helps them relax and keeps their thoughts out in front of their feelings. It's hard to be curious and thoughtful when one gets a jolt of emotions, feeling like they are going to end up in a debate or embarrassed.

Most people get uncomfortable real quick when they get the sense that they are "defending" their life philosophy. When they feel like they are simply sharing their ideas and have a captive audience, they will tell you everything they know.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

ITCZ 101 - Body Language

Our body language is always speaking. People are listening... with their eyes. In the same way our emotions can get out in front of our thinking process, the body will try to speak before you think, and this can move others to the defensive. We want to avoid doing this.

If someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.

So when is it important to know when my body language is working against me? It's usually when we are in tough conversations with others. An example would be discussing things such as life, philosophy, politics, a misunderstanding or sharing the wisdom of God or the Gospel.

The idea is to keep ourselves thinking and helping the other person to continue to be thoughtful and thinking as well. When they are faced with new ideas, especially ones that challenge their preconceived ideas, it's a good idea to help them maintain a thoughtful demeanor. Our body language can hurt or help that process.

A Calm, Cool Demeanor

We have discussed Conversations With Non-Christians and Conversations With Fellow Christians. Regardless of who you are engaged with, your body will be speaking volumes. A great way to help others stay engaged, especially when the content can be stressful, is to maintain a poised, calm, cool demeanor. 

First, we do this in our thought process. Then we want that demeanor to be reflected in our body as well.

Getting In The Cool Zone has many aspects to it. The mind, emotions, the body and our strategy for thinking are all helpful when they are complementary and cooperating.

The Priority Of Thinking

When we are delivering the Gospel or sharing our thoughts on life it doesn't take too long to get push back about God's wisdom. Especially, when we are stressed or in a difficult situation. When we make our attempt to share or give a defense of our faith we need a plan for our body.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Convo With Fellow Christians

God's ways are extremely interactive. I love it and I hope you do too. We have discussed opportunities to share the Gospel with non-Christians in, A Convo With Non-Christians, but what about engaging other Christians?

Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace.


Be Of One Mind

The Lord wants us to be one. We have a lot to talk about. Unlike non-Christians we have the entire breadth of the scriptures to connect with. We have so much in common and to figure out what those things are requires some "we time."

You'll never see people on the same page unless they stragegize together. Look how many times the scriptures tell us to be of one mind. How can we do this if we barely know each other?
That you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. - Romans 15:6 NKJV
Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, - Philippians 1:27 NKJV
Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. - Philippians 2:2 NKJV
Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; - 1 Peter 3:8 NKJV
Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. - Romans 12:16 NKJV

Strong Connections

The best way to be of one mind with fellow Christians is to spend some time together. Invest time in each other.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

A Convo With Non-Chrstians

While we are going about our daily business we are going to have opportunity to engage fellow Christians and those who do not know the Lord. Those who are not in the Lord, or non-Christians, are inherently going to have difficulty with the things of God.

The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God.

The scriptural things we have available to engage non-Christians with, are limited in the sense of content that is effective.

Can we talk about the scriptures to non-Christians? Sure we can. Yet, if we do not bring the Gospel to the conversation at some point, we are not setting them up for success.

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who wins souls is wise. - Proverbs 11:30 NKJV

Before Understanding... Salvation

Topics such as the scriptures, history, current events, religion, politics, science, etc. are fantastic mechanisms for engaging and raising curiosity but until the Gospel is offered, there is no intimate engagement of the Spirit and the unsaved person.

Having read the bible or having general biblical knowledge is not what connects the unsaved with the living God of the bible. (Before I get into too much trouble here, reading the bible and having biblical knowledge is how we learn about the Lord but only after salvation. Moving on...) We even see Nicodemus, who was a bible scholar, not understanding salvation until given the Gospel.

Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
... Nicodemus answered and said to Him, "How can these things be?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? - John 3:5, 9-10 NKJV

Until Nicodemus, the disciples, you, me and anyone else, confess and believe Jesus died for our sins and that God raised him from the dead, the ways of God are impossible to understand. Not hard to understand. Impossible!

But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. - 1 Corinthians 2:14 NKJV

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

ITCZ 101 - Curious Unto Salvation

We know that presenting the Gospel is a primary objective. So how do we do that? As discussed in the article, Deliver The Gospel, we need to know what the Gospel is. In the article, The Holy Spirit Leads we find that we plant and water but it is the Holy Spirit that brings conviction.
                             
So what's our strategy then for planting and watering? Curiosity!

Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.

Part of being In The Cool Zone is having a healthy curiosity about the things of the Lord. We discussed in, Curiosity… The Hijacked Virtue, that we have had our curiosity taken from us. When we take it back and take it seriously we open up a whole new world that the Lord has been leading us to affect.

He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. ... whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. - 2 Corinthians 3:6, 16 NLT 

Stirring Up Curiosity In Others

Curiosity has also been stolen from those not in the Lord. Have you ever had an encounter with someone who argued a point but had no curiosity about input you contributed that clearly proved them wrong? Yet, stubbornly they held on to their presupposition in effort to "win" the argument rather than learn?

Stirring the curiosity of others is a fantastic way to help them move away from defensive, combative thinking to thoughtful thinking.

Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up. We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don't try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this.
If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don't believe.
They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don't understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. - 2 Corinthians 4:1-4 NLT 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

ITCZ 101 - Developing Expertise

The Christian vocabulary doesn't often include the word, "expertise." It's common to think of developing expertise for work, games or hobbies and yet as Christians, there are also many skills that we have that can be developed and mastered.

Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.

Expertise - Definition
Noun - expert skill or knowledge; expertness; know-how.
Verb - to study or investigate as an expert.

Expertise - Synonyms
ability, competence, facility, judgment, know-how, proficiency, prowess, savvy, skill

Admonitions To Actively Train

Paul instructs Timothy to, "train yourself to be godly." The word "train", from Strongs G3958, means "to exercise vigorously, in any way, either the body or the mind." We are instructed many times throughout the scriptures to develop our expertise in the Lord:

Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong. - Hebrews 5:14 NLT 
Be transformed by the renewal of your mind - Romans 12:2 NLT
Don't act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. - Ephesians 5:17 NLT
If someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. - 1 Peter 3:15-16 NLT
But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the LORD who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. I, the LORD, have spoken! - Jeremiah 9:24 NLT

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

ITCZ 101 - Your Elevator Pitch

Question: What is your elevator pitch for the Gospel?


Answer: "What's an elevator pitch?" :-/


Ok, let's start there! An elevator pitch (EP) is a quick overview of a topic that expresses a thought or idea in a quick and concise manner. The pitch only takes about 20-30 seconds. So even the tightest window of opportunity to deliver the Gospel becomes easy to do.

If someone asks about our Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.

The EP does require a little planning and practice. However, just like doing mental reps to galvanize your heart, the EP becomes a faith boost because the preparation builds confidence.

Mind Tools has an excellent piece on Crafting an Elevator Pitch. This should give you a pretty thorough introduction. Thank you, Mind Tools!

Review, ITCZ 101 - Deliver The Gospel to nail down exactly what the Gospel is. Then craft your pitch. Practice it and get it down to approximately 30 seconds and you have yourself a powerful witnessing tool.

Preparation Meets Opportunity

When an opportunity presents itself you will be able to "quick draw" the Gospel in moments you previously would miss. In most cases, you won't even need to seek out opportunities. They will present themselves and you'll be ready.