Last night we discussed another helpful concept that Andrew Baughen introduces in Therefore Go. Just as the blind man in Mark 8 goes through four stages in his restoration (meeting Jesus – being led by the hand – regaining partial sight – regaining full sight), Andrew proposes four stages that people tend to pass through before receiving God’s grace – and four steps that we can engage in to help people along the way:
Building relationships and making contact with people disconnected from God. Avoiding the trap of the ‘holy huddle’ where Christians spend all their time with each other. This is really about intentionally investing in relationships and praying to find your ‘people of peace’.
Building respect with the people we know by allowing them to observe how Christ makes a difference in our daily lives. This is about loving people and about listening to them and understanding why they aren’t Christians. It’s about living a distinctive life and providing commentary on that so that people can make linkages between how they see us behave and what we believe. And it is about asking them questions that make them question their unchallenged assumptions that have led them to reject the gospel. The outcome of this step is really building respect for our behaviour (seeing the positive impact of following Jesus) and for our beliefs (seeing belief in Jesus as a valid and defensible possibility/option).
Building relevance with the people we know so that they can see how knowing Christ would make a difference to their daily lives. This is about us showing how the gospel’s message of love, grace and hope meets their deepest needs; and how a Christian perspective can help make sense of broader issues in the world and in life.
Building response by explaining the gospel truth plainly and to invite people to follow Jesus. This is fundamentally about helping people understand their need for redemption and the call of Jesus to repent and believe the good news and follow him.
I think these stages are very helpful, as it helps us understand what people are likely to need and when. It can also help us understand where we are strong and where we are less able to help people progress. We will do some more thinking as a group about how to apply this framework to our lives.