Summary: We can connect unbelievers to God by understanding their context, by making a connection, by communicating in their language, and by presenting a relevant gospel message that challenges them to make a decision to follow Christ.
(I AM PREACHING THIS SERMON TO A CHRISTIAN MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL)
Everyone, turn with me in your Koran to the book called “The Dinner Table,” we will start in chapter 5, verse 17:
(17) Certainly they disbelieve who say: Surely, Allah-- He is the Messiah, son of Marium. Say: Who then could control anything as against Allah when He wished to destroy the Messiah son of Marium and his mother and all those on the earth? And Allah’s is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth and what is between them; He creates what He pleases; and Allah has power over all things,
(18) And the Jews and the Christians say: We are the sons of Allah and His beloved ones. Say: Why does He then chastise you for your faults? Nay, you are mortals from among those whom He has created, He forgives whom He pleases and chastises whom He pleases; and Allah’s is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth and what is between them, and to Him is the eventual coming.
Hopefully, you have realized that I am not reading from the Bible, but from the Koran, the Muslim’s Bible and hopefully, this bothers you (joking)! Every time I have a speaking engagement, part of my preparation is to put myself in my audience’s shoes. For you guys, I try to think of what would I want to hear, if I was in this school. Without a question, I am going to use the Bible, but what passage am I going to use. Am I going to come here and preach a sermon geared towards 1st - 6th graders? NO! What I am going to preach is a sermon that is on your level with this setting in mind.
Also, if I were to witness to somebody from the inner city, the ghetto, where there is poverty, etc. where people do not have as much education as you who does not know Jesus in a personal way. Am I going to use big words when I approach this person and say things like you need to get saved, receive salvation, be baptized, and repent for the kingdom of God is near. I do not think so. They will probably think that I am on drugs and need more help, then they do.
The words you choose to use when witnessing to un-believers have to be hand picked. It all boils down to your audience. When we talk to unbelievers, we have to tone down our vocabulary to meet people where they are at in life. How are you going to do that? How are you going to speak into somebody’s life that does not necessarily live in the same culture as you and like the same things as you? How are you going to cross cultural boundaries and effectively bring the gospel to people who are in desperate need to hear about Jesus?
How to connect to the unconnected?
Let me assure you that this task is not impossible. I want you to see how the apostle, Paul, crossed cultural boundaries with the gospel in Acts 17: 16-34. Since there are 18 verses and since I understand you will be bored and probably fall asleep (joking), if I read them all in one shot, so I decided that I am going to break them up into smaller portions through out the message.
The main idea, I want you to take from our time together is that “we can connect unbelievers to God by understanding their context, by communicating in their language, and by presenting a relevant gospel message that challenges them to make a decision to follow Christ.”
Background Information: Paul is on his second missionary journey where he comes to Thessalonica. When he arrives there, he goes to the synagogue to speak to the Jews about Jesus from the scriptures. There were Jews who were jealous and agitated, so they rounded up people of bad character, who were to go look for Paul and Silas to drag them out to the crowd. That same night, Paul and Silas snuck to Berea. Paul began to preach the gospel in Berea, but as soon as the Jews in Thessalonica heard about this, they sent Paul to Athens by himself. Now Paul is in Athens, a place that he was not supposed to be. What do you do, when you are not where you are supposed to be? What do you do when you do not know what to do?
16 “While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, "What is this babbler trying to say?" Others remarked, "He seems to be advocating foreign gods." They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, "May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears and we want to know what they mean." 21(All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)”