Summary: There a vast number of "religious" people who don't go to church. How do we witness to them like Peter and Paul might have?
OPEN: A grocer put up a sign that read "Eggplants, 25¢ ea. or three for a dollar."
All day long, customers came in complaining, "Are you serious! I should get four for a dollar!"
Confronted by their outrage, the grocer shrugged and packaged four eggplants.
The tailor whose shop was next door had been watching this and finally asked the grocer, "Aren't you going to fix the mistake on your sign?"
"What mistake?" the grocer asked. "Before I put up that sign no one ever bought more than one eggplant."
APPLY: Sometimes what you sell can depend on what you say and how you say it.
Over the next few weeks we’re going to be talking about witnessing and we’ll be using the examples we find out of the book of Acts to help us understand HOW to witness to others God’s way.
Over the next few weeks, we’re going to talking about:
1. Witnessing to people who are actively seeking Christ
2. Witnessing to people who are hurting
3. Witnessing to people actively oppose us.
This morning, we’re going to focus on witnessing as we see to people who are “Religious”
Now, there are all kinds of religious people in our city. Some are very committed to their church. Others may belong to a church… they’re just not very committed to it. And still others don’t go to church at all (but they’re religious).
ILLUS: Back in 2008, a researcher named David Olsen studied some statistics about the church
and came to the conclusion that about 80% of Americans DO NOT regularly attend church anywhere. (“The American Church in Crisis” by David T. Olson)
Of that 80% a vast majority have been to church at some point in their lives. They may have gone as a child, or they may have gone as an adult but have drifted away from church, or have had a bad experience at a church.
A survey by LifeWay Research surveyed the “formerly churched” people and found that…
· 28% say they are presently unlikely to consider regularly attending church
· BUT 58% feel it’s time to return to the church;
· 41% say they’d go if a friend or acquaintance invited them;
· 35% would return if they knew there were people there like them;
· And nearly a third (31%) feel God is calling them to attend church.
(Christian Post 10/19/06)
My point is that there’s a vast number of people out there who are just waiting to be invited to church. And just like that grocer who learned how to sell eggplant to his patrons - sometimes, it’s merely a matter of saying the right thing at the right time.
So now, let’s take a look at how Paul witnessed to some religious people down by the river side.
It’s a Women’s PRAYER Group. And Acts 16:13 says that “On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there.”
Notice, these were all women.
I’ve noticed that women are more receptive than men to the Gospel message. Men have are more prone to wanting to do things themselves and they are less likely to want God’s help. But women generally have a more tender heart to Christ’s love.
Now, these were probably mostly Jewish women. They were gathered for prayer on the “Sabbath”. Now Lydia may have been a Gentile who met with them. The term “worshiper of God” is often a code word to describe Gentiles who were attracted to the Jewish love for God and the stories that they found in the Old Testament. But she and the other ladies were gathered down by the river side.
But why there? Why not in some building in town?
That’s possibly because there was no synagogue in town. According to Jewish tradition, a synagogue could only be formed when there were 10 men to form the foundation of that group. But as you may notice - there don’t seem to be any men around down at the river… only women.
So here is Paul witnessing to a group of religious women down by the riverside. But he doesn’t appear to have been overly successful. As far as we can tell, only one woman seems to have responded to his teaching: Lydia.
Acts 16:14 says “One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshipper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.”
That would seem to be fairly disappointing.
Here Paul and Silas are big-time evangelists who travel all the way to Philippi where they find this prayer group that’s willing to listen to them and only one person is converted.