I’m reading a book by discipleship author Bill Hull entitled, Conversion and Disciples… You can’t have one without the other. Bill Hull states in his book, “if you were to ask Christians in the west about discipleship, they might say, isn’t that what you do after you become a believer? What does discipleship have to do with becoming a Christian? Conversion and discipleship are distinct and yet they are really two sides of the same coin… You can’t have one without the other.
To summarize Hull’s Book, discipleship it what happens at conversion and continues on without a break into fuller life in Christ. An important part of making disciples is that we sometimes forget about the importance of working with our disciples in the area of reaching out to the people in their spheres of influence through finding common ground.
1 Corinthians 9:22: “When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some.”
An estimated 80% of Christians today don’t have close relationships with non- Christians. Do you? Chances are, you want to reach out to the non-Christians in your life, but aren’t sure where to start.
In today’s world, outreach requires us to be proactive in our bridge-building, rather than reactive. In his book, Finding Common Ground (Moody), Tim Downs reminds us of the forgotten biblical art of sowing—what he calls “the behind-the-scenes, slow process of preparing the ground for a person to eventually hear and believe the Gospel.”
The entry point to a connection with our unbelieving neighbors or co-workers can be as simple as learning to share common experiences or taking an interest in their world.
Where are you right now? Do you know basic facts about your non-Christian neighbors or co-workers? Think of four non-Christian neighbors or co-workers you hope to reach and answer the questions below:
List their first and last names.
What are their children’s names?
Do you know what your neighbor does for a living?
What are their hobbies, favorite sports?
When are their birthdays or wedding anniversaries?
What is their religious background?
Where do you want to begin? Think of the non-believers you regularly come in contact with and identify three to six commonalities (sports, hobbies, married, children, single) you share with each person. Searching for common ground means we take the spotlight off ourselves and shine it on others to discover what really makes them tick. Get to know their likes and dislikes, their dreams, struggles, spiritual experiences and what they’re excited about.
List 2 to 4 non-Christians you want to know better.
How will you get there? What can you do to help cultivate a relationship with each one? First, pray for specific opportunities to talk to them. Start thinking about your common interests. What questions could you ask to find a connection?
This week. Be proactive and visit your neighbor’s house or a co-worker’s office. Observe what magazines and books he or she reads. Look at the photos and plaques on the walls. Items like these tell you about a person’s interests and priorities. Ask a question about a specific item (such as “Where was this photo taken?”) and start a conversation based on your common interests and experiences.
In your discipleship time discuss ways you can reach out and find common ground with your neighbors, coworkers, friends and family. Look for ways to get the spotlight off of yourself and onto them and ask them curious questions. Actively listen to what they have to share and look for places that you find common ground so that you can build bridges to share the Gospel.