Reflection

The importance of persevering

I offered to pray for him and he said: “Sure, it won’t work anyway.” I prayed for him there and then in front of a queue at the till, and the presence of God was clearly all over him. It was that experience of God’s presence that was the breakthrough with him.
Our friends watch us constantly – what we say and how we act. Wouldn’t it be amazing if they could see us live joyful, fulfilled and purposeful lives? Ones where we aren’t gossiping but are truthful and trustworthy friends. Ones where our friends see provision and hope for us in hard times, peace in stressful times and a deep joy in life.

Andrew Kirk in his book What is Mission? wrote:

“Mission is the fundamental reality of our Christian life. We are Christians because we have been called by God to work with him in the fulfilment of his purposes for humanity as a whole. Our life in this world is life in mission. Life has a purpose only to the extent that is has a missionary dimension.”

So we’re called to live missional lives. We go out, live, breathe, talk Jesus – yet what do you do when you’re trying your best but your friends just aren’t that interested?

Well, first of all, check yourself. We often have a tendency of thinking our friends aren’t interested when they actually are. Bill Hybels says:

“Don’t say somebody’s ‘no’ for them.”

So let’s not discount those friends who say they don’t want to go to church; with an invite, they might just say “oh, go on then!”

But what do we do if they’re genuinely not interested? From my experience, there are two types of disinterested friends:

First are those who say they’re not interested, but then follow that with lots of tough questions, trying to catch you out and argue about your faith. They may claim they’re atheists or have never believed in God, but actually find it so interesting to talk about it all. They have the classic questions and arguments and although these types of ‘disinterested friends’ can seem like the obvious tough atheist, their

They have the classic questions and arguments and although these types of disinterested friends can seem like the obvious tough atheist, their behaviour shows an engagement with faith. This is actually quite an exciting friendship to have. Tough, but exciting.

A tip for reaching this kind of friend is to learn your stuff! Have some answers prepared and invite them on an introductory course such as Alpha to ask their tough questions there. But also step out in the power of the Holy Spirit.

I once had an atheist friend who worked in Burger King with me. He made fun of my faith for three years and always had an argument against any answer to a question. But one day, he was in terrible pain with his back. I offered to pray for him and he said: “Sure, it won’t work anyway.” I prayed for him there and then in front of a queue at the till, and the presence of God was clearly all over him. It was that experience of God’s presence that was the breakthrough with him.

Second is the kind of disinterested friend who actually is disinterested. The friend that says:

“I’m totally happy for you to have faith and that’s great for you, but it’s not for me.”

Or the friend who will happily come to church with you, or an event you’ve put on because they want to support you in your social club, but when it comes to making any life decisions for themselves there seems to be no response. I’m talking about the friend who has heard the gospel a hundred times, or who has been in church, hung out with Christians and can see how lovely they are, but still there seems to be no budge in their response to Jesus.

Now this is definitely a more difficult-to-reach disinterested friend!

Three top tips for perseverance with a disinterested friend:

  1. Continue to live a godly, Jesus-empowered life. People need to see the good news as well as hear it. Research shows that many people begin to take an interest in the message of Jesus Christ when they are attracted by the life of a Christian. So let’s live that transformed, godly and pure lifestyle. Our friends watch us constantly – what we say and how we act. Wouldn’t it be amazing if they could see us live joyful, fulfilled and purposeful lives? Ones where we aren’t gossiping but are truthful and trustworthy friends. Ones where our friends see provision and hope for us in hard times, peace in stressful times and a deep joy in life. What an attractive life to have.
  2. Keep being a faithful friend. Keep inviting, keep talking about Jesus, keep telling them stories of healings over coffee, keep them in the mix with your Christian friends and update them on the exciting church events you have coming up. But more than that, keep serving your friend, keep loving them even when it’s difficult, be there for them when there’s a relationship breakdown, a death in the family or a job loss. Often it’s in these big life-changing moments when they will know that you are the faithful friend they can turn to. It’s at that point that you can offer to pray for them, support them or give them wisdom from the Bible. It’s often during these tough moments that our disinterested friends become interested in church, Jesus and prayer.
  3. Pray! Evangelism is God’s work long before it is ours. We need to pray for our friends. Pray for an encounter with Jesus, pray for opportunities to speak with them, and pray that the Holy Spirit would nudge them in their lives.

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