There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
— 1 Corinthians 12:4-6
Welcome to session one of the Contagious Faith Training Course. I’m glad you decided to join us, and I hope you’ll be able to continue with the group throughout these six sessions, as they form building blocks that will expand upon each other. Together, we’ll learn how we can naturally and effectively share our faith with the people around us.
According to the Bible, we were made not only to know God, but also to introduce Him to others. To share the love and truth of Jesus with everyone we can. To reach people for Him. To help them find and follow Christ — and then, in turn, to assist them in helping others find and follow Christ as well.
“As the Father has sent me,” Jesus declared, “I am sending you” (John 20:21). And He added, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Our faith is not just for ourselves. It’s not to be hoarded. It’s meant to be spread to others. To be infectious. Contagious.
If you’ve been a Jesus-follower for any length of time, you’re probably aware of the biblical expectation that we will tell others the Good News about Him. But many of us have mixed feelings about that. Let’s talk about it.
• What comes to your mind when you hear the word evangelism? Positive thoughts? Negative ones? A mix of both?
• This course talks about how our faith can be contagious. Obviously, that can be a negative term — but can you think of some things that are contagious in a positive way? What do you think a contagious faith might look like?
When we understand it biblically, I believe that developing and sharing a contagious faith is one of the most important and rewarding things we can possibly do. I’ll explain this in the video teaching portion of our session, next.
Now watch the video for session one. As you watch, you can use the following outline to record any thoughts or ideas that stand out to you.
In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus looked at His disciples — and through them at us — and told them to go into their world and make more disciples. In effect, He was telling all of us who are His followers to develop a contagious faith — a faith that will spread to the people around us.
Many of us reflexively respond, “This isn’t for me. It’s not my gift. It’s not my personality. I just want to be an ordinary Christian.” I can relate to those feelings of hesitancy. I spent a whole summer in England with my wife Heidi trying to share my faith — mostly in ways that didn’t fit me.
Gradually, though, Heidi and I began to innovate. We realized we were more effective when we played to our own strengths, taking roles that best fit each of us, but in partnership with each other.
When we got back home, this approach was reinforced one night at church. Our pastor taught that even in the pages of the New Testament, followers of Jesus shared their faith in a number of ways, or what he described as a variety of evangelism styles. This was liberating to me and encouraged me to keep exploring and developing natural approaches to share my faith.
I spent years adapting and expanding upon these ideas and now teach what I call the five Contagious Faith Styles. In the sessions that follow we’ll explore each in depth. Here are the five styles:
Friendship-Building—this employs a relational style that creates a positive environment for spiritual discussions (like Heidi’s approach in England)
Selfless-Serving—this entails helping people in tangible ways that, over time, can open doors to talking about your faith
Story-Sharing—this approach flows out of your testimony of knowing Jesus, and applies what you’ve learned to the life of your listener
Reason-Giving—this involves offering reasons, evidence, and answers that reinforce the trustworthiness of the Christian message (this is Mark’s primary style)
Truth-Telling—this is exhibited by those who are more direct and at times challenging in how they interact with others
During our group interaction time we’ll fill out a simple assessment to help each of us discover our primary Contagious Faith Style — along with any secondary styles we might have (many of us will have a combination of two or more).
In the sessions that follow we’ll also explore and, in some cases, try out some Key Skills that will help us become more confident and effective at sharing our faith with others. These skills cut across all the styles and are therefore important for all of us — regardless of what our particular Contagious Faith Style happens to be.
Until we’ve become more comfortable with these Key Skills, we’ll naturally feel a bit awkward. This is true with any area that’s new to us, whether biking, playing tennis or golf, or learning to ski. But what starts out feeling stilted can eventually, through practice, feel natural and even enjoyable. The same is true with developing a contagious faith.
I mentioned that we’ll explore some Essentials for a Contagious Faith (a few of which I discuss in the video). We’ll list all the Essentials from the Contagious Faith book in our later discussion and give you the chance to reflect more deeply on them, especially in the Between-Sessions Personal Study section at the end of this session.
We’ll also identify people in our lives who need Christ and pray together for them.
As a member of the body of Christ, you were called by Jesus to share your faith with others. He wants to use you to communicate His love and truth, and to influence people to follow Him. This will become much more natural when you learn and deploy your main Contagious Faith Style, and it will become increasingly effective as you understand and hone the Key Skills we’ll discuss in the sessions to follow.
*Purchase the Contagious Faith Study Guide to fill our the Contagious Faith Style Assessment.
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Let us know your thoughts on Contagious Faith. We’d love to hear from you in the comments!