Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘Gossip the gospel’? It was a popular phrase in the Christian Union when I was a student and was about encouraging believers to make the gospel normal conversation. Just as your work colleague talks about their children’s achievements, why shouldn’t we talk about our activities in church on Sunday? Or just as your neighbour talks of whichever political scandal is on the news at the time, why don’t we respond by telling them of the life of Christ, coming to seek and to save the lost. We need to be a people who gossip the good news of the gospel in a world that really needs the light and hope offered in Jesus Christ.
The Bible commands us
The Bible commands that as believers we are to go and make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19-20). I know that if I ever found a pot of gold with endless treasures available to anyone who would receive it, surely I’d tell the whole world about it! That’s exactly what I have found! The treasure of knowing Christ, knowing sins forgiven and knowing a hope of eternity with him – what a treasure to tell the world about!
The Bible tells us to make the most of every opportunity and share the hope of the gospel with people that we meet. We should share Jesus in as many ways, with as many people, from as many walks of life as we are given opportunities. Paul is a great example in this, seeking to be all things to all men that he might win some (1 Cor. 9:22). If you read through Acts, you see the many different ways that Paul would reason and dialogue with folk. I love Paul addressing the Areopagus in Acts 17. He knows his audience and speaks in a way that they will understand and engage with. What a brilliant example to us!
How can I start a conversation?
Have you ever been in the middle of a conversation with someone and asked yourself, ‘How can I bring up things of the Lord in this conversation?’ I used to think this all the time, so I would challenge myself to do so. I would try and I would fail, but I would try again in the next conversation I would have and so I got better.
On one occasion I was getting a bus home from town in Swansea and I remember saying to the Lord, ‘Lord, put someone next to me who I can talk to about you.’ Would you believe it? A teenager dressed all in black, with a hood up and headphones in came and sat next to me! ‘Lord, how am I supposed to get talking to this girl?!’ I waited for a minute or two and noticed that she was wearing some funky boots that my mum would have loved. I bent down to get something from my bag and while I was down there I tapped on this girl’s boots! Outrageous I’m sure, but I wanted to talk to this girl to share with her the treasure found in knowing Christ. As I tapped on her boots, she pulled her headphones out to find out what I was doing. ‘My mum would love those boots! Where did you get them?’ I said, over the moon that her headphones were now out and we were talking!
I discovered that she was in college, applying to Swansea University. How convenient! ‘I work with students at Swansea Uni’, I said and off we went talking away. She asked what I did with the students, so I was able to share that I was a Christian. I told her that I work with Christian students and we want to give other students the opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel. ‘Do you believe in God?’ I asked her and twenty minutes later we got off the bus at the same stop and went our separate ways after a lovely time chatting.
Another way of gossiping the gospel is through story telling. I do enjoy telling a good story! Not so much written stories from books, but situations that I’ve been in that turn into stories. Being able to share life experiences with people is a wonderful way of relating to them. When you are having a conversation with someone who doesn’t yet know Jesus as Lord, it can be so helpful to illustrate your point with a story or a bit of imagery, which can help them understand what it is you’re trying to communicate! Jesus was a great storyteller! He often used parables or stories to communicate to his audience.
What if I’m not very good at evangelism?
I’ve always been a very chatty character and able to talk to anyone. Often Christians say to me, ‘Meg, you work in ministry so it’s easy for you to get onto the topic of ‘work’. You can easily talk about Jesus.’ That’s a fair comment and I understand that. Working in ministry can be an advantage but gospel conversations are always possible.
I was at Halfords just before Christmas with a gentleman helping me fix a car part. We were chatting away and I asked him if he was ready for Christmas – a classic seasonal question. He asked me the same question and I was able to share that I was ready, but I’m not entirely in the Christmas spirit until the church carol service which was that following Sunday. ‘Have you been to a Christmas carol service before?’ I said, and off we went. He remembered going to Sunday School once or twice as a child and some sort of Christian assembly service in church. ‘Oh really? Do you believe in God then?’
There are so many questions that can lead to a good conversation. I would encourage anyone who might be struggling with sharing their faith to ask questions. ‘Do you believe in God?’ or ‘Have you ever been to church?’ or ‘Do you know much about Jesus from the Bible?’ Always try a question and see how folk respond. I’ve had many wonderful conversations from asking questions.
I’ve also had plenty of times when people have mocked, laughed, ignored and a few times some have been angry. When I was a student, another student on campus had a real go at me. I couldn’t fit a word in. He was so angry that Christians were free to spread their message. There was nothing I could say in this case, because as soon as he’d finished expressing his anger he had to march off to a class. Other times though, I think it’s important that we’re able to bring the conversation back from something uncomfortable. Maybe it simply requires a change in topic or making a comment that sympathises and understands where the person is coming from. We feel frustrated when we aren’t listened to and we must be wise in listening to others too. Sometimes, simply listening to people when they are angry with the gospel message we’re proclaiming, and showing that we have heard them can soften a heart and change a tone.
Just give it a go!
I would like to encourage you to simply give it a go. Pray to the Lord for help and gossip the gospel. Just say a few words, anything that will open up the possibility of sharing the hope of Christ with someone. If someone asks you what you did at the weekend – never mind the trip to town shopping, you went to church! What an excellent opportunity! ‘I went to church on Sunday and do you know we read part of the Bible that I’ve never noticed before.’ Trust the Lord and ask him to help you in whatever opportunity that presents itself. He is with you. Gossip the gospel!