Spiritual influence

July 24, 2003

[50 Most Influential People]Rule of thumb: If you have a home group that is part of a larger church with weekly services, and you’re wondering what to do in the next home group meeting… discuss the sermon. You don’t have to prepare much, you don’t have to be a great teacher. (By the way, this makes it easier to raise up new home group leaders.)

All you need to do is take notes during the sermon, and be able to start a discussion. The message on Sunday posed some really good questions regarding being “fishers of men”: What are the ponds around you? And what are those fish biting on?

So to get the ball rolling last night, I asked the following opening question: Tell us about the person who was most influential in bringing you to faith. This is a fun icebreaker because you get to hear people’s stories of how they met Jesus.

I have used this question before in other groups, but last night I was surprised. More than half of the group shared that their search for God led them through Eastern or New Age religions. And a significant number shared about direct supernatural encounters. Is it because we’re in California now and not the Midwest, or is it that times have changed?

Kay asked a great question: Given the stories we heard about what drew us closer to faith (and what repelled us) and about the supernatural leadings of the Holy Spirit, is the standard evangelical approach we were taught as young Christians still meaningful, or is God calling us to reach out in a different way? What about being soft in relationships and aggressive in prayer?

So I gave this assignment: As we are in contact throughout the week, whether in person, by phone, or by computer, take some time to pray for each other’s outreach. Mike added to this: In addition to those people you normally hang around with anyway, contact someone in the group whom you don’t normally get in touch with.

Jon Reid

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As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

One response to Spiritual influence

  1. You are going to have a lot more people come to Christ through Eastern or New Age religions out on the West Coast because a.) there are a lot more adherents of them out there and b.) there’s a whole emphasis on spirituality vs. religion when you talk about faith.
    It’s very strange for me to listen to people talk about evangelism here in Ohio because it’s such a different culture from northern California. Someone in my Small Group was talking about prayer in school and how we should be forcing them to pray and return to our Biblical roots as a nation. I was completely taken aback by that because prayer in school was such a non-issue when I was in the San Jose Unified Schools. (I graduated from high school 5 years ago.) You just don’t have prayers at graduation or even before football games because you have such a diversity of religions and viewpoints present and you can’t emphasize one over the other. (I led my school’s Christian club so I know exactly what the rules are and what we can and can’t do.)
    I found in my own conversion and in the conversions of my friends in college that it was the example of the people that led us to Christ that made the difference. My neighbor was the one who read me the Christmas story when I was 6 and she made sure that I knew that Jesus was my best friend while growing up. She and her family weren’t pushy and they were always willing to talk faith stuff with me. I really saw Christ in their lives and it was something that sparked me. I think evangelism on the West Coast is all about honest discussion and also witnessing by example. As St. Francis said, “preach the Gospel and if you must, use words.”