A group of young people from Edenbridge, Kent, share their questions with John Kirkby, founder of i61m (Isaiah 61:1) which aims to support Christians in sharing their faith
Lizzie and Jessica: Sometimes one of the things that can hold me back from sharing my faith is my lack of knowledge in the detail. I’m worried that people will ask me questions that I don’t feel equipped to answer, like, I can’t argue my faith as well as I’d like to be able to. I think that is definitely something that worries me. I worry that they will call into question, having a faith in something that I can’t prove.
John Kirkby First of all, I would think that context of the conversation is probably the most important part of the question. I have a friend Dave who I chat with about what Jesus means to me. On a couple of occasions, he’s asked me some questions. And I’ve just said,”you know, I really don’t know!”. There is a mystery and a wonder, around God and around knowing Jesus and I just don’t know the answer to that. But what I do know is that Jesus is real, that he has transformed my life that I feel His compassion and his help. He has been with me, has guided me, my world has improved. I’ve learned so much and I’ve got great friends.
So for me, the vast majority of Christians are going to are going to win people over by just their own faith. And obviously, if someone has got a specific question, then I think it’s absolutely, totally fine as you would if I asked a friend the question, it didn’t know the answer, it will make it go. I don’t know the answer to that. But I will say, You know what, I’m just gonna have a look into that.
Daisy-Ella and Henry: I find it difficult to share my faith with non believers, because I feel that I’ll be criticised due to the stereotypes people have of Christians, for example, being homophobic, transphobic, or just not accepting people.
John Kirkby: This is similar to the first question, it’s OK to say that we don’t know the answers. But so much depends on the context and feel of the question: At Isaiah 61 the most important thing is to build friendships first. And whilst my friend has asked me some questions, i know he’s not out to get me! He is interested, because I’ve been interested in his life. He wants to know what my faith means to me. Our sharing faith is absolutely about sharing what faith means to you. And no one can go against what you think or you know. I think you can answer these questions with compassion and grace and also, as appropriate, ask a question back. Jesus did this all the time. Tell me what do you think?
I don’t think I’m going to explain anybody into the kingdom of God, I think people are loved into the kingdom of God. People are drawn to experience Jesus through people who care and build friendships,
Cara: One of the hardest things about being a Christian as a teenager, when you’re telling your non Christian friends, you’re Christian, and then you make a not so Christian mistake. They’ve seen you as a Christian, and then you’ve done something that’s not very Christian. And they’re asking, or why have you done that?
John Kirkby: It’s great to be honest. I didn’t hold back on telling Dave the mistakes I’ve made in my life, and the mistakes that I still make. Knowing Jesus doesn’t create a perfect person. But we are engaging with a perfect Jesus, and that his grace and love and forgiveness and compassion has embraced and developed my life for over 30 years. But as I keep coming back to it, it’s that sense of being honest and open around things. When we make mistakes, the person who’s talking to us just made a mistake anyway, they’re all making mistakes. And what the world is really looking for is genuine, sincere, authentic friends, who really will care for them are compassionate, and don’t judge
Folosade: I don’t evangelise because I’m so shy. I don’t know how to start the conversation.
John Kirkby: Isaiah 61 has a goal setting app. https://i61m.org/the-app/ So you are preparing to share your faith with others and you’re actually spending time before you get to the moment of saying something with others talking, praying, and thinking, what would that be like? And we always say no goal is too small. We don’t know people’s goals, we get thousands put on the app
So I think you can go as slow as you can. Your goal might be simply to start conversations. If you build a relationship with someone and Christianity is important to you, then it should just natural to share it as you would any other interest.
I was with a friend on walk just three days ago, and I had set a goal that I was going to share a little bit more about Jesus with him. It took me 35 minutes to say anything, even though I was intending to! . There’s a few people who are ‘cold evangelists’, but most of us aren’t. We don’t even use the word evangelism in our work
It is useful to have a few conversation starters up your sleeve such as: have you ever been to church? Were your parents Christian? Have you ever met a Christian?
Henry: I don’t want to admit to being a Christian because it’s not cool.
John Kirkby: It’s always been cool to be kind. It’s always been cool to be compassionate. It’s always been cool to be someone who cares about others. It’s always been cool to be concerned for other people. It’s always been cool to be generous.
Henry, you’re cool! You should be pleased. I want to be cool (by modern standards)l. I’m not, I’m 62 and I’ve got five kids, they will tell you! But I want the smile of God on me and I want him to be really pleased that Johnny Boy is trying he’s doing his best and having a go.
You could be used by God, to lead someone to find Jesus Christ. And if somebody hadn’t done this for me 32 years ago in my life, oh, my gosh, where would my life be!
This article is taken from an edited transcript of an interview that was aired on Inspirational Breakfst. To listen to the broadcast go here: