Witnessing at the Workplace--
Jesus and the Early Church Model
On 15th of Nov, 2002, we had the privilege of inviting Mr. Peter Hammond, Vice-President of IVCF USA, an elder of PCUSA and also Marketplace Ministry Champion to share with us at a public meeting and subsequently at our annual GCF conference. Mr. Hammond is the creative director for "The Word in Life Study Bible" (the only study bible with a focus on Ministry in Daily Life) and serves as an advisor for Marketplace Christian Network. The topic for that evening was "Witness at the Workplace: Jesus and the Early Church Model."
In one of the classes where he was teaching in the Philippines, the class researched some basic questions regarding Jesus' style of evangelism. There, basic questions like, "Who started the conversation?", "Where did the conversation take place?", "What was discussed?" and "What can we learn from Jesus' example?" was researched.
Who Started the Conversation?
We usually have an assumption that Christians should start the conversation and ask the tough questions. However, during this time of research through the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, it was found that of the more than 40 meetings between Jesus and various individuals, in only 9 cases did Jesus initiate the conversations. An example is a Samaritan woman (John 4:7-42). In 25 instances, it was the other party who started the discussion. Jesus responded to other people's inquires. An example is a rich young ruler (Matt 19:16-30). Other conversations were triggered by third parties. An example is tax collectors and other "sinners" invited to a party by Matthew (Matt 9:9-13).
Where did the conversation take place?
The majority of Jesus' interactions occurred in the workplace. Examples are with James and John (Matt 4:21-22) and with a lame man (John 5:1-15). Many also took place in homes. An example is at Peter's house with his mother-in-law (Mark 1:29-31). Few were in religious settings. Instead, Jesus talked with people about spiritual issues where they were most familiar. He did not need a special environment or control over the circumstances to discuss things of eternal significance.
What was discussed?
Jesus asked questions in more than half of the conversations He had. He connected with people's feelings. He understood that new ideas need to be connected with existing frames of reference if they are to last. He seldom pressed for "closure" or a decision. Instead, He understood that time is required for ideas to simmer and for people to own them before they act on them.
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