by Lisa Bluford#/Editor's note:/# Pulpit Helps' #/"go-to" staffer, Lisa Bluford-who doubles as circulation manager and graphic designer, among other tasks-covered the National Women's Conference held recently in Chattanooga. Here she passes along one of the lessons she absorbed./# As disciples of Jesus, we have all been called upon to be salt and light to our evil world. Whether we realize it or not, like Esther, we are "alive for such a time as this." Esther faced the annihilation of her people, and we face the imminent moral destruction of our country. Like her, we are called upon by God to help save a generation of people facing utter destruction. We do this by sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. But how do you evangelize when you never come in contact with a lost person? I have pondered this for some time now because I work for a Christian company, all my friends are Christians and my social life is centered upon my church. At this year's National Women's Conference, hosted by Precept Ministries, I was told to "get out of my church," which was to say get out of my box, if I did not have a relationship with five lost people. I don't even have a relationship with one. These were strong words for me and, frankly, a new way of thinking. I had previously been taught to not have friendships with lost people, in order to not be influenced by them. But if you don't have a relationship with someone, it is unlikely that you will be a very effective witness to them. As Rebecca (Becky) Pippert so succinctly stated at this conference, "no one wants to be your evangelism project." They want to know you care about them, she said. She described one particularly odd relationship with a woman who smoked, drank, wore small clothing and was having an affair with a married man while she herself was married. I have to be honest, I would have never considered allowing this woman into my life. I might have shouted "Jesus loves you" from across the hall, or stuck a tract under her door, but I would not have invited her into my home and I certainly would not have been seen with her in public. Thankfully, Becky did form a friendship with her and the end result was that the woman, her son, and her lover were all saved to the glory of God. At this point, I remember Jennifer Dean. Ours was one of those childhood friendships in which every spare minute was spent together. It was understood that if I spent the night with her on Saturday night, I would be attending church with her Sunday morning. This was the extent of my childhood church experience. Her greater impact though, was the way she related to God. She waited tables from age 14 on in order to pay for her college education. I sat on her bed and watched her carefully count out ten percent of her tips and paychecks to tithe to God. Once in college, she slept on a mattress designed for a 40 pound child because that was all she could afford, but God got His ten percent. I listened to her as she vented her frustrations in remaining a virgin for her future husband. You don't have these conversations with someone you casually meet in a grocery store. Throwing a tract at someone cannot replace this real life example of Christ. I have to ask if I would have become a Christian if I had never met her. I thank God I don't know the answer to that. So why did I need Becky Pippert to explain the concept of lifestyle evangelism to me when I had Jennifer? I don't know the answer to that either. What does Becky recommend we do after we have formed these relationships? The most logical thing in the world, of course, is to get them to read the Bible. She calls it seeker-studies. Who do you have your Bible studies with? I have mine with the ladies in my church. We get together every Monday night. It's very edifying. I think I should be having them with the ladies in my neighborhood instead. I don't know them yet, but I plan to. Love your neighbor-what a concept!
The convention in it's entirety can be viewed via Webcam, or CDs of the messages can be purchased from Precept Ministries at www.precept.org. The dates for next year's conference are July the 31st through August the 3rd.
Rebecca Manley Pippert is an evangelism trainer and author of several books including Out of the Salt Shaker, a guide to lifestyle evangelism.