One of my favorite (preachers is Charles Spurgeon (that’s why we named our dog Spurgeon!). He, Charles, was called “The Prince of Preachers” during his long ministry in London, England. Recently, I read a blog by Tony Reinke about a sermon Spurgeon preached to his congregation on December 21, 1856, when he was just twenty-two.
(You can go to: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/how-to-share-your-story-this-christmas to find the blog or go to: https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/spurgeon_charles/sermons/0109.cfm to read the entire sermon).
Spurgeon, like pastors today, knew many would be spending Christmas with family and friends. What a great opportunity to share the gospel at those festive meals. Spurgeon said, “For my part, I wish there were twenty Christmas days in the year”!
So, Spurgeon wanted to help his congregation take advantage of the season to share their faith in Christ. He took as his text Mark 5:19: “Go back home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how kind he has been to you.” This is the story of the demon-possessed man who lived in a graveyard. Jesus delivered him and sent the demons packing in the pigs which then ran to the edge of the cliff and threw themselves into the sea. The grateful man came to Jesus wanting to follow him, but instead, Jesus told him to “go home” and tell his family and friends what grace and mercy he experienced from Jesus.
Spurgeon’s insights from this story in Mark gave him the opportunity to give wise counsel to help his congregation when they interacted with family and friends. Here are five bits of helpful advice from the “Prince of Preachers.”
- Share the story of God’s grace at work in your life and how you have experienced it. “You are not to repair to your houses to preach. You are not to begin to take up doctrinal subjects and expatiate on them, and endeavor to bring persons to your peculiar views and sentiments . . . Go home, young man, and tell the poor sinner’s story; go home, young woman, and open your diary, and give your friends stories of grace. Tell them of the mighty works of God’s hand which he hath wrought in you from his own free, sovereign, undeserved love. Make it a free grace story around your family fire.”
- Tell your story to encourage the believers.
- Tell your story to unbelievers, but not in a group; tell your story one-on-one. In a group, you might lose the attention of your listeners. However, with a single individual, you are more likely to get a more serious hearing from them as they consider your manner of telling the story.
- How should you tell your story? Remember, you’re not in a doctrinal debate, it’s all about grace. So, tell your story humbly (you didn’t deserve grace and you’re no better than your hearers), truthfully (don’t embellish, it’s a good storytelling of God’s good work; nothing can improve that!), seriously (that is, earnestly) and with evident gratitude toward God.
- What to expect: it won’t be easy especially with those who have known you a long time. Expect some tension but pray for opportunities. Having prayed for opportunities, look for them and be ready. Overcome fear motivated by your love for Jesus.
Christmas is a great time to have gospel-conversations with our family and friends. Get prayed up, expectant and wait for the opportunity God gives you!