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Special Section: Personal Witnessing

What is personal witnessing? Is it truly something we can all do?
By DAVE JENNINGS
Read Time: 7 minutes

The LORD has greatly blessed our community, providing an open window for us to share the living Word. There have been an exponential number of baptisms in some regions. Enthusiastic brothers and sisters have assisted countless men and women to come to the Truth, changing their lives forever.

Each one of us is positioned uniquely in this world.

Thank you to all who tirelessly knocked on doors, distributed leaflets, provided public talks, led exciting Bible seminars, or provided radio and television messages for decades! Thank you for speaking the word “in season” to the neighbor across the fence or over a supper table. Many of us reading these articles are here because you cared and had faith sufficient to share your belief fearlessly.

Each one of us is positioned uniquely in this world. We interact with a distinctive number of people God has put in our orbit. They may be quiet colleagues in the office. They could be the troubled client you are doing home repairs for. Maybe the harried and impatient mom standing in the check-out line at the grocery store or the neighbor you wave to almost every day? No two of us have the same adjacency to these people. We are divinely given our own opportunity each day to shine the light of the gospel. In the gospel of our Lord, willing individuals, laborers in the harvest, are deeply valued.

personal witness has always been the rock bed of preaching

Yet we may have lost sight of the important principle that each of us has a non-delegable responsibility to serve as a personal witness for Jesus Christ. In 1897, Sis. Jane Roberts wrote, “Every Christadelphian is a missionary.” Over the decades, the Christadelphian community has developed powerful preaching programs, each in its own way attracting men and women to the gospel. But personal witness has always been the rock bed of preaching. Ecclesial preaching programs have their place, but they were never intended to displace what an individual represents to the men and women they interact with daily. To them, you are the gospel.

New Methods

Christadelphians have generally not been pioneers of new preaching methods. We were not the first to do radio or television preaching. We weren’t the first to offer Bible seminars. But as individuals and ecclesias, we are free to be inventive and try new outreach methods. Our community has learned that there is immense value in leveraging new technologies, which effectively utilize our human resources and stretch our budgets. 

Learning

Until the early 1990s, ecclesias frequently depended on the “Bible talk” format. It was an old friend, a heritage of our past. In recent decades, attendance to lectures has mostly been extremely poor. There was important utility in these addresses, as it supplemented the education of our young people and the few visitors that did come. But sadly, most ads did not result in visitors from outside our ecclesia. Some concluded that because we live in a “dark and degenerate age,” our preaching must merely be a witness to a world that seemed to have no time for God. I admit to concluding this myself after countless campaign disappointments. 

When public Bible seminars were introduced in the early 1990s, there was considerable excitement that this might be a new way to reach people. It certainly was! Frankly, those days in the mid-1990s were the most exciting times I have ever experienced as a Christadelphian. Suddenly, we found an overwhelming response to our ads in the same newspapers we had always advertised. 

Men and women eager to learn how to read their Bible more effectively filled our venues. I remember the conclusion of the first seminar night in 1994, when, after speaking to more than 75 excited friends, I sat quietly and alone in my car in the parking lot, overwhelmed with gratitude to our Heavenly Father. Scores of baptisms from seminars and follow-on classes have greatly blessed our community. As we consider the people the LORD blessed us with, we can hardly imagine our lives without them.

As I thought through my prior conclusions about the willingness of men and women to listen to the gospel message, I realized that many had open hearts. However, our manner of teaching was just not connecting with them. It wasn’t God who wasn’t of interest. It was how we were talking about Him!

Today, public seminars are no longer drawing significant responses in the format we have used for thirty years. The world has changed since 1994. Attending a public Bible talk may have represented a unique opportunity to learn about the Bible. But those were the days before the explosive Biblical content (good and bad) on the Internet today.

Curiosity about God and His plan hasn’t dried up.

Why would one go out on a chilly night to meet with strangers? Instead, they can sit at home in their pajamas and view Bible topics on almost any subject. But our message has not become uninteresting; Curiosity about God and His plan hasn’t dried up. 

Let’s not make the mistake we once did, concluding men and women no longer have an interest in what the Bible has to say. The public seminar process may be seeing the end of its utility, but the world is still struggling for purpose and meaning in life. It is incumbent on us to find the next method of preaching. Newspaper advertising is no longer the faithful friend of past campaigns.

We need to harness new methods of reaching out to people and participate in new networks where people spend their discretionary time. How can we use modern technologies without compromising who we are or what we teach? Our focus must change from “speakers” to “facilitators of learning.” How can we use the briefest of time to help a person learn the importance of Scriptural fundamentals? We are blessed to have many great “lecturers” in Christadelphia. In the future, lecturing opportunities will be fewer, but teaching opportunities will abound.

There will be innovative technologies and new ways to teach and communicate that we cannot yet envision. Before the explosion of the Internet, we would never have dreamed the Truth could be available in every global metropolis, as well as in small hamlets or tribal villages. With all the significant threats the Internet has introduced, we can be thankful we live in an age where we can freely preach to billions of people. We don’t have the infrastructure or global presence of many denominations, Yet we can get our message out through the Internet as if we did.

What Hasn’t Changed?

The hands-down most effective way to preach has always been personal witnessing. Even in exponential growth regions like Africa, personal witnessing fuels the progress. But what is personal witnessing? Is it truly something we can all do?

There are two parts to our witness. First, it’s about telling others what Jesus has done for the world and his destiny to rule over all the world in peace and righteousness in the Kingdom. The second aspect emphasizes our personal experience and how it has brought meaning and purpose to our lives. It’s about putting our unique transformation on display. The fruit of the Spirit is the seal of authenticity that empowers our message.

Some have personally witnessed in insightful and magnificent ways. We hear impressive stories of how a complex Biblical debate brought someone to the Truth. But I suspect far more have come to know of the Truth simply because a brother or sister observed or shared what they did on vacation at Bible School.

I am blessed to be part of this community because someone invited my mother to a Bible School in 1942. Personal witnessing is not inherently difficult. It can be a simple, natural expression. Demonstrating your faithfulness to your neighborhood each Sunday by attending the meeting can be a vigorous witness. It is powerful because the Lord Jesus Christ can use that modest witness to draw a person to him. We are merely clay jars, bearing the Lord Jesus Christ in our lives. For those seeking him, we just need to make him apparent.

While it is clear that in the Last Days, there will be scoffing about the claims of the Bible, and many will abandon their faith, we also see around us today a world still looking for answers. Most are not finding viable explanations in the institutions they are turning to. It is possible there has never been a more momentous time to witness our faith. People are hearing “comic book” interpretations of prophecy. They are sometimes fed illogical and unsound sermons from their church leaders.

Some are beginning to read their Bible and are quite confused as they try to understand what they should believe. They lack the foundational platforms that the gospel requires, fundamentals many of us have learned since our Sunday School days. When exposed to the Truth, things fit together and make sense. They simply need someone who cares about them to give them a hand.

A New Special Series

LORD willing, we will enjoy hearing from members of our community who share their insights about personal witnessing. In the months ahead, we have planned the following articles:

  • What Are the Biblical Models for Outreach in Scripture?
  • The History of Preaching in Our Community Over 170 years. 
  • When God Opens a Window of Opportunity: Iranian Christadelphians in the UK. 
  • Personal Witnessing in Africa and the Philippines
  • Praying Earnestly for God to Help Us Witness 
  • Overcoming Fear of Personal Witnessing 
  • Personal Testimonies As Part of Personal Witnessing.
  • The Basics of Effective Personal Witnessing Skills for Sharing One’s Faith.
  • How Ecclesias Can Provide Ongoing Personal Witnessing Support.
  • The Case for Formal Ecclesial Preaching Programs. 
  • How is Personal Witnessing Critical to the Future of North American Ecclesias? 

We hope you will enjoy this series in the New Year. May we all renew our enthusiasm for touching the lives of the men and women the LORD God has put in our lives.

     Dave Jennings

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Norma Tutticci
5 months ago

Many thanks Dave for this great article! Fantastic! The coming articles for 2024 look so interesting! THANKYOU so much!! I absolutely love this magazine and am extremely grateful for those who work so hard to put it together.
Merry Christmas to all and here’s to a bright happy and healthy 2024. Who knows? 2024 may just be the year we meet our beautiful Lord face to face!

Last edited 5 months ago by Norma Tutticci
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