Several questions submitted did not get asked in person at the National Gathering, so we will be blogging some responses to your questions. Let’s start with this question:
“What is your ‘gospel in 5 minutes?’ How do you tell the gospel to a non-believer in short?”
Where to Begin
One of the things about fresh expressions type ministry is that it must be authentic both to the one sharing the gospel, and the one hearing it. So although you want to think through succinct, articulate ways to share the gospel, we don’t want to give you a canned 5 minute gospel to lay down on people in this work. The gospel needs to make sense for the person and the moment.
Here’s a really good way to think about it: What would be good news for this place/this person/this community/this moment?
Think about a diamond…a diamond has many facets. The good news of the gospel also has many facets.
Jesus gives hope to the hopeless.
Jesus is powerful.
Jesus is humble in spirit.
Jesus challenges the status quo.
Jesus rebukes oppressive religious leaders.
Jesus knows our sin, yet offers us living water.
Jesus puts death in its place.
I could go on and on because there are many facets to the gospel. At certain times and in certain realities, some of those facets will be more visible and brilliant to those with whom you are sharing than others. If you can become attuned to many different starting points for sharing the gospel, you will likely make the gospel more relatable and accessible for those you are hoping to reach.
Put It Into Practice
First, think about who Jesus is to you. Not the 4 spiritual laws that you may have memorized, but how it became real to you. What do salvation and redemption and new life mean to you? Strip away your “churchy” language and try to use common language or metaphors that a non-church person might understand. Then set a timer, and try to share the gospel through your story in 5 minutes or less.
Prayer walk around your community and get a sense of some of the heartbreak and celebration in your community. Then think, what part of the good news of Jesus might feel like good news to this community? Practice sharing that good news with a 5 minute timer.
Intentionally foster some conversation as you are out and about. Ask curious questions and hear some stories from some people with whom you are intersecting during the day…your grocery checker, your mechanic, your barista, your neighbor…and consider what might be a facet of the good news that could resonate with the people with whom you are engaging. Set your timer, and practice sharing the gospel from that starting place.
If you can begin to lean more towards story than script, use more accessible language and less church-speak, and be more attentive to the facet of the gospel that might be most meaningful in a particular situation…you will probably become a more effective evangelist in this post-Christian mission era.
Shannon serves as Director of Training, leading our team of mission strategists and trainers in the development and implementation of the Mission Shaped Ministry course through Pioneer Learning Communities. She is also a pastor on staff with Riverside Church in Sterling, VA, a Church that worships in two languages and engages in several Fresh Expressions of Church. In the last several years, Shannon has been involved with the Presbyterian Church’s New Worshiping Communities initiative, and has directed the coaching network that supports pioneer leaders. Shannon lives in Springfield, VA with her husband Patrick and teenage daughters Catherine and Suzanne.