Author: Ron Graham
—The third step in outreach
Having discovered genuine interest through the opening process, and having got acceptance of your invitation, you now want to complete the process as successfully as you have begun it. You want to succeed like Paul did with Lydia, and like Jesus did with the woman at the well.
OUR STUDY PROGRESS
- 1. The Opening The first step, the opening, is to be natural, not contrived, evocative, stirring curiosity, agreeable, avoiding argument.
- 2. The Invitation The second step, the invitation, is to be indirect, suggested subtly, definite, as to time and place, noncommittal as to subject. These first two steps are the beginning of the outreach process.
- 3. The Reassuring Now we come to the third step, the reassuring. This step moves into completing the outreach process, so it is a critical step. The reassurance we give must have certain marks or qualities as discussed below.
1 Quality Reassurance
It is not without some trepidation that a person agrees to attend a Bible study with or among strangers, especially when the person is unsure of his or her intentions. People need sincere reassurance and confirmation that they have done the right thing.
This should be quality reassurance, and there are four things that make it such. Take note of these carefully...
Immediate It is important that you encourage people at the very moment they accept your invitation. "Don't give the devil an opportunity" (Ephesians 4:27) to snatch them back from their step towards God. Don't let doubts develop.
Repeated From time to time, as you have opportunity, strengthen people's confidence in the step they are taking. Of course, you should not pester them, but when it seems fitting, say again some word of reassurance.
Selfless When giving reassurance, avoid the constant use of the first personal pronoun, "I". Instead of saying, "I know you'll be glad you took this step," say, "Don't you think you'll be glad you've taken this step?"
Don't tell people how you yourself feel, rather let people examine their own feelings. It is a much better reinforcement and has the solid advantage that if you have been a bit pushy a person has an opportunity here to indicate that feeling, and you get feedback.
Reinforced The teacher will add further reassurance in his initial teaching, and will exercise judgment as to when the one being discipled has received sufficient reassurance to cope with the coming unsettling.
2 Scriptural Reassurance
One of the marks of quality reassurance we noted above, was that it is selfless. The best way to ensure that the reassurance is selfless (not your own thoughts and feelings) is to quote God's word appropriately.
The word of God is sharper and more powerful than any words you can make up. "The word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword" (Hebrews 4:12).
A person will be more influenced by God's word than by your own personal feelings. This point is all the more important if the person has not yet come to trust you fully. Your confidence will transfer to the person if the source of your confidence and reassurance seems to be outside of yourself and above your own personal wishes.
Some Examples of Scriptural Reassurance
There are dozens of suitable words of divine inspiration, which you can use for others' reassurance. This is so important, let's pause to look at some examples.
Example 1. You could say... "You should feel a bond with Lydia, of whom it is said in Acts 16 that the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken. Aren't you like that?"
Example 2. You could say... "Jesus said, 'He who has ears to hear, let him hear!' You'll be putting your ears to good use now, don't you agree?"
Example 3. You could say... "In Matthew 7:24, Jesus likened one who hears his word and acts upon it to a wise man who built his house upon a rock and not upon the sand. By your willingness to hear God's word and act upon it, you seem to be laying that sure foundation for yourself."
The techniques you are learning are not high pressure tactics. Failing to understand the outreach process could mean missing or spoiling God-given opportunities to win souls. Learn to recognise at what stage you are at with the person you are seeking to win, otherwise you may linger too long without progress, or blunder ahead too soon.
However, don't let this danger put you off. Simply advance carefully from stage to stage with a "try and see" approach, leaving the way open for retreat back to an earlier stage if needed.