November 2016 Resource of the Month: The Power of the Phrase “Some Time”

As the holidays near and (hopefully!) you’ll get to spend more time with family and friends, if you’re anything like me, you may be putting pressure on yourself to get into “good, deep” conversations about God with those family and friends. One thing that has helped take the pressure off for me and to actually get into good spiritual conversations with others I know, is to say to, and ask others: “One of the most important, or actually, the most important thing about me, is my relationship with God/that I’m a Christian. I realize I’ve never/I rarely (insert whatever is accurate) asked your thoughts about God and some of these big questions about life. Could we hang out (get coffee, go out to eat, etc) and talk about this sometime?” Or, “Could I hear your thoughts about spiritual things/hear about your spiritual journey sometime?” (be ready, because they may even suggest talking right now!)

Here’s a brief quote from the article: “The most powerful witness for a non-Christian is often the witness of a close friend. Yet connecting spiritually with those closest to us also feels the most risky. But what if we connected spiritually with non-Christian friends in such a way that it actually deepened the friendship––and not hurt it?”

Here’s a link to the overview and guide to help you start to have these types of deeper conversations with family, friends, co-workers, neighbors: “Some Time” Guide

p.s. If you’d like more resources related to this, including some materials to help your Bible study group start taking steps of faith to share the gospel with friends, send us an email or follow this link: https://www.cru.org/train-and-grow/share-the-gospel/outreach-strategies/sometime.html

October 2016 Resource of the Month: Reading Your Gauges

Now that we’re in the midst of autumn and the holiday season is on the horizon, along with the busyness that comes with Thanksgiving, Christmas and all of the preparations, a resource we thought may be helpful is called “Reading Your Gauges.”

It’s written by Bill Hybels, who has written various leadership and “personal-management” articles that we’ve found to be helpful in reading and discussing with students regarding how they’re doing, how they’re handling stress, and time management. The author writes from his perspective as a pastor, but the article has relevant application no matter what your vocation or life stage is.

May the Lord refresh you and energize you in the coming months!

Here’s the article: “Reading Your Gauges” by Bill Hybels

August 2016 Resource of the Month: How to Transition to Spiritual Conversations?

What are those questions and conversation topics that come up everyday for you? At work? With other parents when you’re at your children’s events and school activities? When you’re watching football with friends, lending a tool to your neighbor, or run into a friend at the grocery store?

This month’s resource aims at looking for ways to go from surface-level, mundane, normal conversations to deeper, spiritual conversations and conversations in which you can share the gospel with another person – whether friend or stranger. Taking those conversations you have every day, topics you inevitably talk about, and finding ways to take those conversations deeper and potentially getting opportunities to introduces others to Jesus.

If God created us and the entire world, and He loves us, it makes sense that He cares about every aspect of our lives is involved in every detail. We can honor and enjoy God whether we’re sitting on our porch reading the Bible or sitting with your family eating dinner or driving to work. So the challenge in our daily lives is: How can I see or acknowledge God in and through every situation, conversation, interaction, activity, etc.? This is not something that comes naturally to me. But as we start to see God at work in the normal, daily parts of life, we’ll start to see and acknowledge how He “connects” to every detail of our lives and as a result, we’ll start to point that out to others.

This 1-page article shares a way to think through how to make connections between conversations you have every day and conversations about God:

By clicking this link you can read the resource:
“6 DEGREES TO THE GOSPEL” BY TIM HENDERSON


How we use this resource with students:
We read through the article with students and then discuss questions that they get asked all of the time (ex: What’s your major? Where are you from? Do you have any hobbies?, etc.). Then we talk about what questions you can ask others that could naturally lead to spiritual topics. If you ask someone a question, they’ll general reciprocate and ask you the same or similar question. So what are those questions you can ask that will eventually lead to spiritual topics, and how can you inject comments into your conversation that lead that way. Then, in light of their area of study, their hobbies, their part-time job, etc., we role play how some potential conversations would go. Our aim isn’t necessarily to have “scripted conversations”(or to be “fake!”)  but to start having the mindset of how every part of their life connects to God and how they can naturally guide a direction towards Jesus.

Example conversation for a student:
Person A: What’s your major?
Person B: I’m studying engineering. What about you?
Person A: I’m studying nursing. Why did you decide to study engineering?
Person B: Person B responds…What about you, why did you decide to study nursing?
Person A: I really enjoy math and science. But I also really like helping people. [I’m a Christian, so] I think that everyone has value, meaning, and significance. That’s kind of what motivates me.
Person B: That’s cool.
Person A: Yeah, it’s really shaped my perspective on why I chose to major in nursing. Do you ever think about what gives value to people’s lives? (and a possible follow-up question: Where do you find meaning or significance in your life?)

Note: I know this may be oversimplifying a conversation, and there are countless other questions you could ask, but I find it helpful to give a general idea of the types of conversations I’m talking about.

How can you use this resource?
Read the 1 page article (above), and think about the different things that make you who you are: your interests and hobbies, your family, your career, your story, etc. Where do you see God in and through those things? How can you take conversations about those topics towards spiritual things (and possibly eventually getting to share the gospel, or at least getting to share part of how you came to know Jesus or how He influences your daily life).

Some reminders to keep in mind as you pursue opportunities to share the gospel with friends, family, co-workers, and strangers: 
-Everyone is on a spiritual journey: Every human being is created in the image of God and has a soul. Every human being has worth in God’s eyes.
-Look for “Divine Appointments:” A Divine Appointment is an opportunity that God is setting out for us to help point someone to Him. God wants to use His people, you and me, to help other people know come to know Him. As we seek by faith to be led by Him, He will guide and direct us to opportunities.
-Pray for “Divine Appointments:” Because we know God desires people to believe in Him, and because we know He wants to use His people to reach others, we know this is a prayer God likes to answer!
-Walk by faith into “Divine Appointments:” God is with you and wants to use you! Even if you don’t know what to say beforehand, God will help you and guide you as we seek to honor Him.

July 2016 Resource of the Month: Let the Nations Be Glad article

This month’s resource is a short article by John Piper, entitled “Let the Nations Be Glad” (primarily excerpted from his book by the same name). In it, John Piper shares biblical reasons for seeking to make disciples of all nations and why global missions exists, as well as why the best thing for someone is that they would know and love Jesus.

Katie and I love this article and the book this article is an excerpt from. It reflects our motivation for leaving behind family, friends and students we love, along with a place we love, to move across the ocean to embrace people and a country that is new for us. This 5 page article also helps readers to see that they can be part of the Great Commission and that you don’t have to pack up and move across the world to be a part of taking the gospel to the nations.

Our hope is that this article would cause you to be all the more in “awe” of God, and stir in you a greater desire to help others experience that “awe” and joy.

 

Here’s a link to read this article on Cru’s website: Let the Nations Be Glad
or
Click this link for a PDF version of this article that’s ready to print

How we use this resource: We’ll often read and discuss this article one-on-one or in small groups with Christian students whom we are training. This article does a great job of helping us to look beyond ourselves and to better grasp that God is worthy of all of us, and that God desires people from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation to love and worship Him.

How can you use this resource? This article is great to read for your own benefit, as well as for passing on to friends and family. Hand out copies of it at your Bible study group/Sunday school class and encourage them to read it on their own before or after a Bible study discussing world missions. Read it with a friend, or encourage a friend to read it and then discuss it together, along with discussing the passages from the Bible that are referenced in the article. (Make up your own questions, or ask questions such as:
-What in this article most strikes you or interests you? Is there anything you didn’t understand or that you disagree with?
-Which Bible verses referenced in the article were new for you, or do you see in a different light now after reading this article?
-What do you think about the reasons the author gives for why missions exists?
-Which illustration stood out to you the most? Why?

p.s. If you enjoy reading the article and are interested in learning more, the book is more comprehensive and is a great read. You can buy the book from a variety of places, including Amazon.com and WTSBooks.com: Let the Nations Be Glad by John Piper on WTSBooks.com

June 2016 Resource of the Month: Listening & Asking Questions in Evangelism (Part 2)

Following up on our previous post about listening and asking questions, we wanted to post some ideas of questions that may help begin or continue a conversation about Jesus and faith.

These are just some examples of questions we’ve used or have friends who use. But be creative – think of your own question ideas! And certainly mold the questions to the person you’re talking with and the situation you’re in. It can be helpful to think about the things you and those around you are interested in and that you talk about, and how they can point to God.

Do you have any questions that you’ve found to be helpful in starting conversations about spiritual things with those around you?

Example List of Spiritual Conversation Questions
-Do you ever think about spiritual things?
-Do you come from a spiritual background? What kind of spiritual background?
-We’ve never had a chance to talk about your religious/spiritual background. Where would you say you are in your spiritual journey?
-What would you say your life revolves around?
-What is the most important thing in your life? (family, career goals, success, reputation, money, etc.) If it was taken away from you, what would you do/how would you feel?
-Do you ever think about what happens after we die? (follow-up question: How did you come to that conclusion?)
-What do you think about God?
-What is your concept of God? Do you view Him as good or as unloving? How did you come to think those things?
-If you could do one thing in (or “with” your life) your life, what would it be?
-There’s something really important in my life that I’ve meant to share with you but never have. Could I talk to you about it?
-I’m involved with a church, and we’re always curious what people believe about God and meaning in life. What do you think about ___?
-As a Christian, I try to pray for people I know/friends and family. Are there any ways I can be praying for you?

June 2016 Resource of the Month: Listening & Asking Questions in Evangelism (Part 1)

One important skill that many people overlook in evangelism (and relationships in general!) is the art of listening and asking questions. People can often think of evangelism as one person simply talking and “telling someone how it is.” While there is a gospel message that must be explained and proclaimed, very few people will listen to you if you’re unwilling to listen to them. Unless you ask questions and listen, you also may waste your time focusing on truths that someone already believers and agrees with while not even touching on the issues that are actually hindering them from believing in Jesus.

Below are a few principles and tips on listening and asking questions as you seek to share the gospel with family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, strangers – really, with anyone you encounter! While there are some thoughts that are original to us, most of what we’ve included in this short blog post are insights we’ve gained from a variety of evangelism training that we’ve received.

The Importance of Listening and Asking Questions:
-Proverbs 18:13, James 1:19
-The best transitions to the gospel come from good listening.
-Jesus was a master at asking questions and getting to the heart of the spiritual issues at hand. (Matt 22:17-20, Mark 10:17-18, Matt 12:9-12, Luke 20:1-8)
-We must engage with people where they are at, not just where we want them to be.
-Question-asking conveys care, love, humility, the posture of a learner.
-Evangelism should be a dialogue, including listening, seeking to understand, asking good questions and a clear explanation of Truth, not merely a sales pitch.                                                          Benefits of a Dialogue rather than a Monologue:
-Keeps us from being on the defensive
-Leads to further discussion
-Helps us to go deeper to get at the underlying barriers that prevent the other person from embracing Christ (intellectual, emotional, etc.)

Am I A Good Listener?
Questions for personal reflection:
-Do I find myself finishing other people’s sentences?
-Do I get restless or impatient when others are talking?
-Do I lose track of what they’re saying or interrupt with frequent comments and questions?
-Do I rehearse what my response is going to be while they’re talking?


How To Listen Well
-Become a curious person. Learn to appreciate and enjoy the people around you.

-Be genuinely interested. Every person has a lifetime of stories and experiences, strive to learn what people think and why they think it.

-Ask good questions. Good questions often begin with a “W” word: why, what, who, as well ‘how.’ From book “God Space”:
“Wondering” questions: wondering things, and asking out of curiosity. For example, “A few minutes ago you said ___, which made me wonder, what do you think about ___.”…”I wonder, do you ever think about spiritual things?”
“Noticing” questions: where you notice things about them, their home, their office, etc., and ask questions about them. Example: looks like you have 2 terrific kids, ‘tell me about them.’ Notice things that are important to others and run with it.
-Reflective listening helps the other person know that you’re interested and that you care.         Examples of “active listening” responses include:
-“Tell me more.”
-“What was that like for you?”
-“It sounds like you’re saying ___”, etc.

-Acknowledge what they’re saying, seeking to affirm what you agree with, and not attack: look for opportunities to affirm them (finding ways to affirm them as a person, even while not agreeing with things you don’t agree with). Sometimes it is important to let some less important things pass so you can get to what’s important – Jesus.
There are times that you won’t agree with what they’re saying. In those situations, strive to understand their perspective and show care, without necessarily agreeing. In situations where you agree with part of their perspective but disagree with another part of their perspective, seek to affirm and agree with the parts you agree with. And yet you can acknowledge that you disagree with part (or most, or even all) of their perspective, but disagree in a kind way without attacking them.

-Agreement and confession when necessary and appropriate: sometimes it can be helpful to acknowledge if this person has felt hurt by Christians in the past, etc. (ex: “Thanks for sharing with me that you experienced that, I’m so sorry that people treated you that way. That was really unkind of them. I wonder if they didn’t realize how that would affect you.” or “I’m so sorry that happened to you. As Christians we recognize that we still sin and hurt others as well. I’m so sorry those people hurt you.”)

May 2016 Resource of the Month: “Getting Biblical About Evangelism”

This month we’d like to share with you a resource called “Getting Biblical About Evangelism.” It’s a tool we use in our ministry to help students understand what the Bible says about evangelism (thus, the name of the article 🙂 including what God’s role is, what our role is, and the message we share, in introducing others to Jesus Christ.

One of the things we’ve most appreciated about this resource is that it helps you make observations on a number of passages from the Bible, and the author of the resource puts some basic questions and tools in your hand to help you hear from God, allowing God to shape your convictions and perspectives about evangelism.

In the coming months we intend to share more of the resources we use to help Christian students go from being scared or unsure about how they might engage someone in a spiritual conversation, to being able to lovingly and clearly explain to someone how they can receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. But first, we wanted to share this month’s resource with you because we want all that we do to be shaped by God and what He says to us in His Word.

***You can view and download (and then print if you’d like) the resource hereGetting Biblical About Evangelism by Keith Davy

Ways to use this resource: This resource can be used in a variety of ways, but some of the ways we’ve found it helpful is:
1)in our personal time with the Lord. It can be great to use for your personal devotions for a week or two because you read and then make observations on various passages in the Bible.
While it was initially designed as a self-study tool, we find that it can also be helpful to use:
2)in your Sunday school class or home Bible study group.
3)one-on-one or in a small discipleship group, or with a family member or friend.

How to use the resource: We recommend reading the introduction to the study because it will help explain the purpose and aim of the study. Then select 1 passage at a time to make observations using the questions that the author provides – What do you observe in the passage about:
1)God and His part in evangelism?
2)The audience in evangelism?
3)Believers and their role in evangelism?
4)The message that was communicated?
5)How the message was communicated?

Then, make a few notes to summarize what you’ve found in the passages that you studied. Then, don’t just view this as “an intellectual exercise,” but ask God to shape your heart and mind about evangelism, and then share that with another Christian(s). And then put what you’ve learned about sharing the gospel into practice!

If you have any questions, comments, or insights you’d like to share with us, we’d love to hear from you – please don’t hesitate to contact us!

April 2016 Resource of the Month: Position in Christ

As a Christian, how we view God, and how we perceive that God views us, is incredibly important. When someone becomes a Christian, or even if someone has been a Christian for years, it can be easy to feel like God has a hard time forgiving you. So many times we talk with students who say, “I know the Bible always says God loves me, I’m just not convinced that he likes me.” I think a lot of people feel like they need to earn God’s love and forgiveness. Even someone who is a very “mature Christian” can struggle with doubts that God forgives and accepts them.

But it can also be hard to explain how we keep sinning, after we become a Christian. This resource, Position in Christ, seeks to show how we can know and experience that when you receive Jesus as Savior and Lord, your position in Christ never changes. You can be 100% certain that you are forgiven and saved. And yet our daily experience shows that we still sin. In spite of that, God has us on a lifetime journey of growing in Christlikeness – a journey that will continue during our whole life on Earth. God’s love for us is based on what Christ has done, not on what we think or feel we need to do to earn God’s love.

We hope you’ll enjoy and benefit from this small study. What we find helpful when sharing this resource with students is to give them a blank piece of paper and a pen/pencil. With our Bibles open, we look at the verses in order (as the article shows), and then have them draw the diagram, step by step.

Who should I use this resource with? This resource can be great to go through by yourself, and is also a great tool to talk through with someone else – friend, spouse, son/daughter, etc.

You can click this link to find this month’s Cru resource: 

 

Position in Christ article

Or, you can simply follow along with what we’ve copy and pasted from the Cru article: 

To help make the difference between our position and our condition clear, you can draw a simple diagram and share a few passages of Scripture. As you look through the following passages of Scripture and ask the following questions, draw the corresponding parts of the diagram.

Slide1

1. The x-axis indicates our righteousness. The y-axis indicates time

1) The vertical axis is meant to show righteousness, while the horizontal denotes time over the course of your disciple’s life.

Slide2

2. Our position before we knew Christ

2)Our Position Before we knew Christ. Take a look at Ephesians 2:1-3. What was true of us in our position in Adam before Christ ?

Spiritually dead (no life of God within us), enslaved to sin. Walked according to the world, flesh, and the d evil. We were children of wrath (confer John 3:36). Rom. 5:12-19 – death, judgment, condemnation, sinners.

Slide3

3. Our position when Christ came into our lives

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3)When Christ came into our lives. Read Ephesians 2:4-7. What motivated God to take action on our behalf? His love and mercy. What did God do for us at salvation? He made us alive with Christ. He raised us up with Him. He seated us with Him in the heavenly places. On what basis did He do it? By grace, not because we deserved it, not based on our merit. Grace means unmerited favor, “even when we were dead.” What does His action in saving us display to the world? The surpassing riches of His grace. Now that we are in Christ. What is true of us in the following passages since we are in Christ?

Slide4

4. Position: in Christ we are justified, forgiven, and righteous

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4)Our Position in Christ is that we are justified, forgiven, and righteous.
Read:
Romans 5:1-2 We are justified, declared not guilty, standing in grace.
Hebrews 10:11-18 We have complete forgiveness, and perfect standing before God.
2 Corinthians 5:21 We are righteous before God with the righteousness of Christ.

 

Slide5

5. Our daily condition: growing to be more like Christ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5)Our Daily Condition: Though we are “perfect” in our position in Christ, we obviously are not perfect in our daily condition. When we trusted Christ, He not only gave us a perfect position in Him, He also began the work of making our lives look more and more like His. We want to continue making “progress” in our daily walk, so that our life in this world becomes more like who we already are in Christ. This is a life-long process that involves several spiritual disciplines that God has given us to help us grow and mature. These disciplines will be discussed in other lessons. Phil. 2:12-13 and 3:12-14 are just a couple of the many exhortations to pursue growth and maturity.

Further questions to ask/reflect on: 
1. What are some ways that you try to earn right standing before God?
2. When do you doubt God’s love and acceptance of you?
3. When you sin, instead of claiming God’s forgiveness and acceptance by faith based on His grace, what are some things you do to try to work your way back into believing that God loves and accepts you?
4. In what ways have you begun to see God change you in practice toward what you already are positionally?
5. Why do you think God does this through a process? What is gained?

Summary – Living out Our Position: The primary emphasis of this lesson is who we are in Christ and the fact that God wants us to see ourselves “in Christ” and focus on our position, not our condition. The enemy wants us to focus on our condition as the basis for our acceptance before God. If we are doing poorly, we tend to condemn ourselves and live in guilt. If we are doing well, we can be tempted with pride and thinking that God accepts and loves us more because of our spiritual performance.

The main point is that God’s love and acceptance toward us has always been based on grace (unmerited favor). We have not earned it nor deserved it from the beginning, and we never will deserve His love based on our spiritual performance. We are accepted by God based on the righteousness of Christ, not based on our own self-righteousness, which we often erroneously think comes from sinning less, or exercising certain spiritual disciplines, or attempting to act righteously. We stand in grace and rest in our new position. We employ spiritual disciplines, like prayer, Bible study, worship, etc., to grow and get to know God better, but not to gain favor and right standing with God. We already have right standing because of who we are in Christ.

Introduction: Resource of the Month

From time to time we’re asked about what kind of resources and materials we use with the students we minister to. Our desire is that you know and love God more and more each day. In light of that, a small way we hope to encourage you is to share with you some of the resources we’ve found to be helpful in a)growing in our walk with Jesus, b)helping other Christians to grow, and c)how to share the gospel. Each month we’ll post a resource on our website aimed at helping in one, two, or all three of those areas. These resources will be anything from articles, Bible studies, sermons, videos, phone apps, questions, and more! We’ll also include a short explanation about how that particular resource has been helpful for us and how we use it in our ministry.

If you have any questions or feedback as you look through them, please don’t hesitate to let us know!

Cru Highlights as a Global Ministry

Watch some highlights of how the Lord has used Cru around the world since it began in 1951. (click the picture or link below)

Through Cru ministries in 2015:
21.2 million people heard the gospel
314,827 became Christians
24,958 Christians were engaged in evangelism through Cru staff and ministries

Thank you for joining with us in helping people around the globe know Jesus!