Family Takes Time
Once we know the joy of salvation, we wish all our loved ones would experience a personal relationship with Christ. But no matter how much we witness and pray, family seems to take forever! Rather than
becoming exasperated with our family, we want to consider three points that will help us lovingly expose them to Christ.
First, we must understand that evangelism is a process. John 4:35-38 describes the process of one coming to Christ in agricultural terms. To harvest a crop we need soil preparation, sowing, watering, weeding and reaping. This does not happen overnight, but takes place over a protracted period of time. So it is with seeing someone come to a personal relationship with Christ. When we see someone come to Christ quickly, God is plugging us into the process near the end. When it comes to family members, we may be at the front end of the process and it may take longer to see them trust Christ.
Secondly, since we may be involved with the entire process of our family, we must learn patience. They could be total skeptics when you first approach them with the good news. When telling others of Christ’s gift, 2 Timothy 2:24 encourages us to be patient, even when wronged. We must be willing to hang in there for the long haul, if necessary.
Thirdly, we are called to pray for open doors in Colossians 4:3. When it comes to family we sometimes try to walk through closed doors. We cannot force our family to accept Christ’s payment for their sins, but we can pray that the Holy Spirit will convict of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16: 8-1 1). Remember, God is responsible for the results and we are to be faithful in the process.
When it comes to a family, it may seem to take forever, but we must remember that coming to Christ is a process. During this process we, as loved ones, need to lovingly care for them and answer their questions. While we wait, we are to pray for open doors, and never lose hope that in God’s time, our loved ones will become part of God’s forever family.
Family Evangelism Suggestions
Pray devotedly for them (Col. 4: 2-4). In addition to praying for your own relationship with them, pray that God will bring a Christian peer into their life and watch for that person.
Identify some activity in which your unbelieving relative is very accomplished and then ask their advice
(e.g.,Grandmother: weaving; Father: fishing; Son: computers)
Remember some enjoyable time together and write a card or note reminiscing about the time.
Be sensitive to specific habits or activities which bother your relative (e.g., an excess of Christian music, religious language and religious TV shows).
Spend time with them as people, not projects. They need your total presence when you are with them.
Make sure you communicate (in various ways) your unconditional love no matter what they ultimately decide about Christ.
Take time to recount the positive ways they have influenced you.
Be particularly sensitive to times of crisis. These provide many key opportunities.
Consider that God may be using them more in your life that He’s using you in theirs, so be receptive to learn from them.
If you live out of town, invite them for a weekend, write them periodically, call them regularly.
Be careful of extremes – always talking about Christ or never talking about Christ.
Share what you’re learning and feeling with other Christians who have unbelieving family members.
Be prepared to respond intelligently and sensitively to questions that they frequently ask.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED IN COMMON GROUND, VOL.14 NO.3, MARCH
1996. THIS MATERIAL MAY BE USED FOR STUDY AND RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.