Sharing our hope – Talk notes


Sunday 11th October              Sharing our hope

Readings Lam 3.22-26             Psalm 130        Romans 15.10-14                 Mark 6.1-12

Robert in the news letter says

We begin a new preaching series today, on ‘Sharing the Hope’ that is in us as Christians – a hope deeply rooted in Jesus Christ.  St Peter writes:

‘You must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ’. 1 Peter 3.15-16.

There are many conversations people hold with and about Christians, and many of us think these are likely to be tricky, or negative. Actually that may not be true! A recent survey showed:

  1. Most non-Christians enjoy the company of the Christian they know (60%).
  2. Non-Christians attribute more positive than negative qualities to the Christian they know.

This series will lead us up to Advent and Christmas.

Advent is about Arrival / Coming we have hope of a new arrival and new coming

I am starting this series off by looking at how people perceive us, perceive Jesus and the message we have.

[All survey Info from  Barna Group for a consortium comprised of the organisations Church of England, Evangelical Alliance and HOPE]

 Survey info here

Perceptions-of-Jesus-Christians-and-Evangelism-Executive-Summary

Hope          what do we hope?

what Hope do we have to share with others?

we can’t share what we do not understand ourselves.

 

Lam 3 25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him

 

Romans 15 13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

The biblical definition of hope is “confident expectation

so what is our Confident expectation as Christians?

 

Our Confident expectation in life is in Christ as we seek Him and trust Him.

 

In his sacrifice, His divine salvation

In His love.

In eternal life, the resurrection of the dead, redemption of the whole of creation

In forgiveness

The promise of the Holy Spirit, to transform us into the likeness of Christ

 

So we have a lot to share with others some of this will be covered in the following weeks.

 

 

Sharing also requires that we understand how others see us and the message we have

So how do others see us Christians?   [p9]

Non-Christians’ Perceptions of Christians
· A majority of English non-Christians know a Christian. Approximately two in three non-Christians report that they personally know someone who is a follower of Jesus-that is, someone they perceive to be a ‘practising Christian’ (67%). Most of these Christians are either family members (34%) or friends (40%).

  • One in three English adults do not know a practising Christian (33%).

These individuals are more likely than average to be ages 35-44 (24%), Asian or Asian British (9%)-specifically Pakistani (4%), or live in East of England (14%) or London (16%). These individuals are less likely than average to be ages 55+ (19%), or Black or Black British (0%).
           

Practising Christians identify as ‘Christian’ but also report praying, reading the Bible and attending a church service at least monthly (and often more frequently).

About one in six self-identified Christians [57% of pop] are practising (16%), about 9 per cent of the total adult population

 

Its a sad fact that only 1 in 6 people who say they are Christian are practising their faith. The Church in general has a lot of work to do with them as well as the other 43% of the population.

 

  • Most non-Christians enjoy the company of the Christian they know (60%).

Three out of five say they enjoy being around their Christian friend or family member always (28%) or most of the time (32%).
This is really good news it makes sharing easier, being a friend first and showing by how you live talks into the lives of those you spend time with. However it is important to know that we can sometimes get it wrong, that is when sorry is important.

 

 

  • Non-Christians attribute more positive than negative qualities to the Christian they know.

All within a few % of this.

Friendly 60%               Caring 50%                  Good humoured 45%              Generous 38%

Encouraging 20%        Hopeful 22%               [this last one are what we are looking at in this series, how do we share our hope]

Narrow minded 15%,  10% or less  Hypocritical, Uptight, Homophobic, Foolish, Selfish

 

Only around 20% of people have a view of us as hopeful. That is not great if we are trying to share our Hope In Christ with them.

 

However all this is good news in general, non-Christians see us positively which opens the way for us to engage with them.  This is different to how we often think about it.

My experience is that when people are ready they can be quite open to talking about Jesus, but just thrusting it at them is often counter productive.

This poll show that we need to be better at being encouraging of others and hopeful of our own lives and our future. We need to have hope to be able to share it.

Think about how people talk about their expectation of a new baby, a football game etc.

When we have hope we talk about it naturally.

 

We also need to get used to sizing the opportunity when it comes.

 

 

Perceptions of Jesus  [p6-8]

More than two out of every five English adults who are not practising Christians (40%) either do not believe Jesus was a real person who actually lived or they are unsure if he was real or not.

This means that 60% do believe that He was real.

 

At least around half of all people see Jesus as Loving that is a good place to start sharing our hope.

 

Belief in Jesus’ divinity is not common. Only about one in five English adults holds the orthodox belief that Jesus was ‘God in human form who lived among people in the 1st Century’ (21%). The most common belief about Jesus is that he was ‘a prophet or spiritual leader, not God’ (30%).

 

Why?

Multi-cultrisam  and secularism have both muddied the waters.

Most other faiths are happy to see Jesus as a prophet but not as God, it reduces the threat to them.

Secularism just wants to say there is no god and Jesus is just a good man with good ideas a bit like Ghandi

 

Just under half of English adults believe in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (43%). One in six believe ‘the resurrection happened word-for-word as described in the Bible’ (17%) while one-quarter believe the biblical story ‘contains some content which should not be taken literally’ (26%).
Black adults are much more likely to believe Jesus was raised from the dead (73%). A majority believes in a literal interpretation of Christ’s resurrection (53%) while one in five believes the resurrection happened but ‘the story in the Bible contains some content which should not be taken literally’ (21%).

 

This tends to show that even some people who say they are Christian do not believe in the resurrection.

Why?

 

This shows that we have a hope to share of a Loving, Wise and Inspiring God as most people do not see Christ that way. Even among non-practising Christians only 58% see Jesus as loving, which is not much different from all responders.

Why?

 

 

Non-Christians’ Experiences of Evangelism
· More than half of English non-Christians who know a Christian (58%) have had a conversation with them about Jesus.

Younger adults 18 to 34 (61%) are somewhat more likely than adults over 35 (54%) to report having had such a conversation.

 

  • When Christians talk about Jesus to non-Christens, the response is mixed.

Mark 6 2 They asked, “Where did he get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles?” 3 Then they scoffed, “He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary[a] and the brother of James, Joseph,[b] Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us.” They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him.

What does this say about our ability to share our hope?

Are we missing out on telling older people about our Hope in Christ?

Why do so few feel sad they do not share our faith?

 

Even Jesus found that people didn’t want to hear or scoffed at what He did.

We can expect no less, however this survey does show that a lot of people are open to hearing about the Hope we have.

 

He told His disciples

Mark 6 10 “Wherever you go,” he said, “stay in the same house until you leave town.11 But if any place refuses to welcome you or listen to you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate.”

They where to make friends and stay with them, sharing there life and also their hopes and show how they live.

 

  

Christians’ Experiences of Evangelism [p11]
· English practising Christians feel a responsibility to evangelise (85%).

  • Practising Christians believe talking to non-Christians about Jesus is evangelism (76%).

This is good news, even if this is not all at least most practising Christians feel they should share their faith with non-Christians.

  • Non-practising Christians [83% of those who say they are Christian] do not believe evangelism is their responsibility.

This is a shame, and show that the church is failing to share the Hope we have with all those who say they are Christians and how they should share it.

We need to encourage the rest practising Christians to share there Hope and also to help non-practising Christians to become practising ones and then share their Hope.

 

  • Most practising Christians have recently talked about Jesus with a non-Christian.

Two-thirds have talked about their faith in Jesus within the past month (66%). Eight in 10 have talked with a non-Christian about Jesus in the past six months (81%).

 

This is much better than we might think.

Have you shared your hope in Christ with a non-Christian in the last month or so?

 

 

  • Over half of practising Christians look for opportunities to talk to non-Christians about Jesus (53%) and seven in 10 are comfortable sharing their faith (72%). Only about one-quarter of practising Christians say they feel unable to take up opportunities to talk about Jesus (26%).
  • Most practising Christians feel confident to talk with non-Christians about Jesus (72%).

A significant minority are ‘afraid of causing offence when talking to non-Christians’ (33%); think others are better suited to talking with non-Christians about Jesus (35%); or ‘do not know how to talk to non-Christians about Jesus’ (23%).

  • Younger Christians talk about Jesus with non-Christians more often than do older Christians.

Nearly twice as many adults 18 to 34 (practising and non-practising Christians) say they talked about their relationship with Jesus in the past month (31%) compared to adults 35 and older (17%). Younger adults most often talked about Jesus with friends (45%) and family (21%).

  • Practising Christians are optimistic about the impact of their evangelism efforts.

More than half say the impact of their faith-sharing conversation on the other person’s opinion of Jesus was very or fairly positive (56%).

  • Practising Christians share about their faith most often with friends and family.

Over the past five years practising Christians have been the most active in sharing about their faith compared to non-practising Christians.

 

This is all good news for us. Over 1/2 of you are confident and open to opportunities to talk about your faith. You are also optimistic about the impact of that chat. Keep it up.

 

 

What happens when we share our Faith

  • Both non-Christians and practising Christians were asked to describe what happened after having a conversation about Jesus.

After talking to a non-Christian about Jesus, one in four Practising Christians recall asking if they could pray for the non-Christian. Slightly fewer non-Christians remember being asked this (19% compared to 27%). A similar proportion of non-Christians remember being invited to a church service (18%), although, fewer practising Christians actually recall doing this (15%).

 

SO it seems just offering to pray with others is very effective and is a good first step.

 

Conclusion

So we can see that a lot of people are quite happy to have someone talk about there faith in Christ with them.

What we need to do is share our Hope in Christ, what it is we follow Jesus for?

What is your hope in Christ?

 

Mark 6 7 And he called his twelve disciples together and began sending them out two by two, giving them authority to cast out evil[c] spirits. 8 He told them to take nothing for their journey except a walking stick-no food, no traveller’s bag, no money.[d] 9 He allowed them to wear sandals but not to take a change of clothes.

 

12 So the disciples went out, telling everyone they met to repent of their sins and turn to God.

 

So the disciples where told to go and share, share other peoples company and homes, and then share there good news.

Praying for healing, physical and spiritual, telling people to ask for forgiveness and showing them just how much God loves them.

That is all we are asked to do as well, and we can  see that a lot of people are open to hear that message.

yes a lot aren’t but Jesus just says ” But if any place refuses to welcome you or listen to you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate.”

The decision is always there’s people have free will and can choose to believe or not.

We just need to be prepared to Share our Hope when asked.

When we do we know that the Holy Spirit is already ahead of us and also with us, giving us the wisdom we need in that situation.

 

We need to seek our Hope in God and pray for the Holy Spirit to overflow in us.

Only then will we have a Hope to share and only then will others see Christ in us.

 

Let us pray

 

Lam 3 25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him

 

Romans 15 13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

 

 

 

*Survey info Copyright © 2015 by Church of England, Evangelical Alliance and HOPE.
This report was produced by Barna Group for a consortium comprised of the organisations named above. The information contained herein is confidential and belongs solely to these organisations.

 

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