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Sent - Heather and Ashley Holleman

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman
The Truth Network Radio
January 23, 2021 1:00 am

Sent - Heather and Ashley Holleman

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman

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January 23, 2021 1:00 am

If the prospect of sharing your faith with someone makes you nervous, you have to hear this edition of Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. Husband and wife duo, Heather and Ashley Holleman have discovered a way to turn ordinary interactions with family, neighbors, and coworkers into an invitation to adventure with God. They call this an opportunity to live “sent.”

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If you've ever wanted to share your faith with others, but for some reason you can't, don't miss today's Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. It's this practical way of living every day with this adventure and intimacy with Jesus because he's sending you to seek and save the lost. It's part of our core identity as a believer to trust God and to be a part of what he's doing in the lives of people.

Welcome to Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . Today, Heather and Ashley Holliman talk about what it means to be sent. That might make all the difference if you're nervous about sharing your faith or maybe you feel like you won't know the answers to some hard question that might come up in a conversation. I hope you'll stay with us today and if you go to the website,, you will see the Holliman's book, Sent, Living a Life That Invites Others to Jesus. Now Gary, I see you as kind of a natural at sharing your faith because it's just part of you, it's part of who you are.

Was there ever a time in your life when you didn't feel confident sharing with others? You know, Chris, what jumps into my mind immediately is two weeks after I accepted Christ, and I accepted Christ when I was in the fifth grade, okay? A senior walked up to me at the bus stop where I was catching the bus to go to school. He said, somebody told me you're a Christian, is that right? And I looked up at him, he was much taller than I, and he had cigarettes wrapped up in his shirt sleeve. And I said, no, not me.

He said, okay, I'm glad. And he walked away, and I'm telling you all that day, I felt awful. I knew about Peter, you know, denying Jesus, and that's the way I felt. And that night I poured my heart out to God, you know, I said, oh God, oh God, forgive me, forgive me, forgive me. And help me never, ever, ever to deny again that I've accepted you as my Savior. It's a vivid experience for me. I mean, it was, I guess really, it was really at Moody Bible Institute as a student that I first really learned how to share my faith with people.

So in high school, I lived a Christian life, and I think people knew I was a Christian, but I didn't do much in terms of evangelism and really sharing the gospel in those years. Well, I wonder if that fellow with the cigarettes in his shirt sleeve, if he's listening today, you can break the news to him. I have an idea. He is deceased.

But I don't know. I went back to my hometown a few years ago and just asked around if anybody knew him. And I didn't find anybody that knew him. And I always regretted that I didn't go back later because we were at the bus stop. You know, I just kind of avoided him after that.

But we were at the bus stop every day. And I could have gone back and took my stand, but I didn't. Anyway, God knows what happened to him and I know what happened to me. But it is a regret that I have. We've had it. We've had a lot of conversations through the years.

That's the first time I've ever heard that story that you're told. But you know what? There's something real there. There's regret. There's this spiritual longing.

There's all the intervening years between that point and this. And my guess is that something our guests will say today will strike something in your own heart along these lines. I'm really looking forward to talking with Dr. Heather Holloman and Ashley Holloman. We talked with Heather before on the program. She's a speaker, writer, faculty member of Penn State's English department. Ashley, her husband, serves as the national director of Crews Graduate Student Ministry. He completed a Master's in Chemistry at the University of Michigan and then joined Crew staff to minister locally to grad students, first at the University of Michigan and then at Penn State. He and Heather have two daughters, Sarah and Kate, and you can find out more about them and our featured resource at

We're talking about the book Scent, Living a Life That Invites Others to Jesus. Well, Heather and Ashley, welcome to Building Relationships. It's so good to be on your program.

Yeah, thank you so much. What a joy. Since this is a program on relationships, let's start with how you two guys met and fell in love. What's your love story? Well, I love our love story because the Lord sent me to the bitter cold at the University of Michigan to get my PhD, and I thought I am never going to find the southern gentleman I have been hoping for. And when I got to the University of Michigan, the Lord called Ashley Holloman to get his PhD from, or he was entering into a Master's and PhD program, and he came from North Carolina.

So the Lord brought the south up to Michigan, and our love story really began. We were both seeking the Lord. We weren't established and strong in our faith, but we knew we wanted to shape our adult lives according to the Bible, but we were really young in our faith, or at least I was. And so I joined a ministry, Campus Crusade for Christ, which is now CREW. And as a grad student, I started reading the Bible and learning about how to share my faith. And here comes this handsome graduate student in chemistry, joined the ministry, also started getting excited about his walk with the Lord, and we just found a great purpose together.

Even back in our dating years, we just were really excited to see the Lord use us in the lives of others. So we quickly fell in love. We got married. I finished my PhD, and Ash went on to get, he finished his Master's and then joined the ministry of CREW. And the rest is history.

We've been married 20 years. Well, what's your story, Ashley? Well, to be completely honest, I had never dated before, and so this was kind of a really big deal.

I remember going home Christmas after my first year in grad school. I was like, wow, there's this girl here, and we're really good friends, and I like her a lot. And I'm like, oh, this is kind of how this works. And God just kind of, you know, kind of the dunce. But God just kind of took it from there, and he really molded our lives together. And the couple that was mentoring us at that time was like, you're sort of walking down the road, reaching out hands, holding your hands, and continuing to walk down the same road together.

And God really did that. He really built a life for us together, which I'm incredibly grateful for. That's grateful. I'm identifying with you because I live in North Carolina. Oh, do you? Yeah, Winston-Salem. Where did you grow up? I grew up outside of Raleigh, small little town called Fuquay-Varina. Oh, yeah, I've been there. Yeah, I know that. Went to school at the University of North Carolina.

Grew up at Tar Hill, always at Tar Hill. All right, all right. Well, that's exciting. How important was it for the two of you to be united in your faith, Ashley? Yeah, it was incredibly important. It was and is the foundation of our marriage. It established the values of our marriage and family.

It shapes the risks we take, the costs we count, the opportunities we say yes to, the opportunities we say no to. And our shared faith in Christ gave us the same purpose for our marriage and family. And it, and he, Christ, has drawn us to one another like nothing or no one else ever has.

Yeah. Heather, let's talk about the book you've written together. What does it mean to live a cent life? Well, we were so excited to write this book because this idea of living a cent life means that you fully embrace this overlooked identity in Scripture that Jesus is sending us. The number one way that Jesus describes the Father in the book of John is the Father who sent me. So this is like core to Jesus's identity. So by the time we get to John 20, 21, when Jesus says, as the Father has sent me, so I send you, I just got chills.

I got so excited to think this is who I am. Evangelism is a core to who I am as a Christ follower. So the book is really about what it means to live your life according to the principles of a cent life. And it's this practical way of living every day with this adventure and intimacy with Jesus, because he's sending you to seek and save the lost. Ashley, what do you say to the person who says that they don't have the gift of evangelism? A lot of people have said that to me through the year, they just don't have the gift of evangelism.

Can they live the cent life? Absolutely. First of all, I tell them I understand because I too don't have the gift of evangelism.

I really believe Heather does, but I don't. But I've seen God use me graciously. He's used me in the lives of several, many people. And so I tell them that they can still have an incredibly satisfying, joyful, fruitful life of seeing God use them to help others come to know Jesus.

They can absolutely live a cent life because doing so has everything to do with who God is and who God's called them to be. We share a story in the book about me shoveling snow or trying to shovel snow with our youngest daughter, Kate, or rather Kate trying to shovel snow with me. I love to shovel snow.

I love to shovel it efficiently, effectively. And one day many years ago, Kate, our youngest, walked out. She's four.

Imagine Ralphie's brother from a Christmas story. She's bundled up as she can be, barely move. She says, Dad, I want to help you shovel with the snow. And the first thought I have to my great regret is she's just going to slow me down. And I said, you know, Kate, just going back inside. I've got to finish this.

And she drops the shovel and just slumps her shoulders and walks back inside. And immediately I just felt God's spirit putting on my heart this idea of, Ash, did you ever just imagine that maybe she just wanted to spend time with you? And as I was kind of struggling with this a few years ago with this idea of not having the gift of evangelism, God brought this story up. And I was thinking, God, why are you bringing this up?

That was already painful back then. Why are we bringing this up again now? And he said, you know, Ash, when I thought about reaching the grad students of the world, and perhaps using crew to be a part of that and you've given direction to that, I never really needed you to do that. And I'm pretty sure you're going to you're going to cost me more time and more work by you being a part of it. But I thought back when I thought about doing this, I think it'd be really cool to do that with Ashley.

I think he'd really enjoy doing that with me. And so it just gets down, it's not about my greatness or your greatness, it's about the greatness of God. It's about the kindness of God who would say, I want to do this with you, because I think it would be really great.

Yeah, yeah. We began the program by my sharing with you my fear of acknowledging I was a Christian to a senior in high school when I was only in the fifth grade. But there's a lot of people at different ages who really have a fear of sharing Christ with other people.

How do we get past the fear? Well, as someone who regularly shares my faith, and I do think I have sort of a supernatural, you know, the classic gift of evangelism. And that means that my natural, like when I go out into the day, I naturally, it's just part of me, I want to reach out to people. My first question as I get in new situations in my mind is, does this person know Jesus and how can I help them know him? Whereas Ashley, it's more that act of responding to the Holy Spirit, knowing he's living a sent life, trusting God to use him.

But the fear is usually a fear of rejection, or it's a fear that maybe you won't know what to say. And the best way to get over that is to realize this is just a joyful adventure with Jesus. He's doing all the work. You're just cooperating with him. I mean, Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade famously said, success in evangelism is sharing your faith in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God.

And that's sort of how I just think, you know, it's not my responsibility to see that God is doing all the work. My job is to just joyfully and easily enter into the lives of others. So what I love about our book is it's really practical. We talk about how to ask really good questions, how to use your best resource, which is your own story of transformation, and to just begin sharing your life with people. And there's no fear because if someone says to me, for example, if they ask a hard question, I can't answer. My favorite response is, I don't know.

I have no idea. Do you want to read the Bible with me and we can figure it out together? Or I say, I don't know how to answer your question.

Let me find you someone who can. So there's no fear and there's no reason to feel like you can't leave your house and have the expectation that God's going to use you in powerful ways. As your life intersects the unbelievers that he's put in your path.

So instead of fear, I wake up with a joyful expectation. Now, Ashley's more of an introvert. That's why Moody was so excited to invite him to write this book alongside with me. Because as an extrovert, you know, I can walk into a room and Ash says I could lead a rock, you know, to the Lord. But he has a whole different experience.

And I love hearing the way he doesn't have the fear, but it is more of a step of obedience. Wouldn't you say, Ashley, it's more like that for you? Yeah, for sure.

For sure. Well, let's talk about that, Ashley, the introvert. Because, you know, there are people who get sweaty palms when you just even hear the word evangelism. So really, can an introvert come begin to feel comfortable sharing their faith?

Yeah, absolutely. And as Heather said, I'm an introvert and so I've had to learn this over several years. But I think the sweaty palms come from thinking that you have to be an extrovert, perhaps. For example, you think you have to always speak on the spot or you may have to talk to everyone all at once. To use a biblical metaphor, you may be thinking you may have to be David putting on Saul's armor.

And it just feels really uncomfortable and out of place and not how you're shaped. But instead, introverts have qualities, they have abilities that help make them perfect for sharing Christ in a natural way. Introverts tend to be really good listeners. They tend to like and are pretty good at focusing on one person at a time. Plus, they don't overwhelm their introvert friends like our extrovert brothers and sisters in Christ may tend to do. They like having ongoing long term conversations and return conversations, which is exactly what sharing Christ in an actual way often involves. Yeah, yeah. So introvert or extrovert, we can all learn to share our faith.

Yes. In the book, you talk about three core principles of ascent life. Describe these three principles.

Well, I love these three principles because what happened was Ash and I were hosting a group of graduate students and some faculty in our living room several years ago. And they said to us, you've got to tell us why. Why do you live your life the way you do?

How do we live like this? And, you know, I looked at Ash, she looked at me. And at that time, I thought, you know what? It's the three core principles. The reason why we start the day and we be and we think about evangelism, we get excited about the stunt life is because we know three things. And here they are.

We get really excited about them because it's a way to shape your whole life. The first is that God is always at work to draw people to himself. You know, whether or not you perceive him. We know from John five, Jesus says, my father is always at his work to this very day.

And I too am working. And the work that Jesus is doing, we know in Luke 19, he came to seek and save the lost. And so that principle that God is at work.

So if you think about family members or friends where you feel like it's a hopeless situation, just remember the father is always at work. The second principle is for whatever reason, God chooses to use people to lead others to Jesus. I remember exactly where I was in the student union at the University of Michigan. When I read Acts one, eight, I was sitting in front of Wendy's. And it's where we learned you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses. And I thought, wow, it could have said anything. It could have said you'll receive power and you'll be, you know, better worshippers or you'll be this or that. But it said you'll be my witnesses. So I began to just collect passages of scripture that indicate God will use people to lead others to Jesus. Second Corinthians, we know he's given us a ministry of reconciliation.

You know, we know from scripture that he chose us and appointed us to bear fruit. So the second principle is he's using others to lead others to Jesus. And then the last principle that just shapes our life, everything we do, it's that God is inviting us continually into the work of evangelism. And I love just thinking afresh about the Great Commission because Jesus says, you know, go and make disciples and teach them everything.

You know, to obey everything I've commanded you. And so I get really excited about that, that Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He invites us to join us with him. So we tell a lot of just stories in our book about what it means to wake up in the morning and shape your life. According to this principle, God's at work. He uses people to lead others to Jesus. He is inviting you into this work with with him. So if we put those three things on a three by five card, I'm thinking practical and just read them every morning. That would probably be a good place to start, right?

Well, it would because the Lord actually used a really powerful story because I don't know about you, but I've got people in my life where I think, God, I just don't sense you working here, but I want to live my sent life. And I was trying to get home from a speaking event, actually, in North Carolina. Oh, my goodness. I was so homesick. I was ready to get home. I go to check into my flight and I'm anxious. I'm homesick. And the United ticket agent says your flight has been canceled.

And I this is what the Holy Spirit did. I have to get on the phone with this this ticket agent. I'm crying. I'm homesick.

I'm trying to be spirit filled. And I said, I don't understand. You know, United canceled my flight. And this is what the ticket agent said. And this is what the Holy Spirit used to remind me of my sent life. The ticket agent said, you need to stay on the line.

You're not going to hear anything. But I am here. I am working and I am making this right. And then it was silence on the phone. And every few minutes I would say, are you still there? Are you still working?

And the ticket agent would say, I am here. I am working. You're not going to hear anything, but I'm making this right. And every morning I wake up and I think of the people in my life that don't know him. We you know, we talk about listing the names of five people in your natural pathways that don't know Jesus that I remember that United ticket agent. You know, I write down the names of people who don't know Jesus in my life. And I think, God, you're working. I may not perceive you, but you are at work.

That's great. Well, now, you mentioned that five names, writing down five names of people that you know, do not know Christ and begin praying for them on a regular basis. How does that fit into the whole plan of evangelism? That's a great question.

I think the first thing that it does is it just helps you take inventory and I mean that in a good way of those folks around you. Who do you know? Who are around you? Who has God sent you to? Who has God placed you next to? And it just helps you start to begin to think, do I see them the way God sees them? Can I see them as people dearly loved by God and created by God and created for relationship with him? It also may help you take inventory in the sense of, do I know five people who don't know Christ? And if the answer to that is, I don't know if I could come up with five, maybe that prompts you to think, well, should that change?

And how would that change? How could I get closer to those who don't yet know Jesus? I think that's the first thing that does for us. It just helps us to take an inventory of what God is doing and where he's at work and where he's inviting us to be a part of it. And the second thing that kind of goes along with that is, it just reminds you that this is something we're doing with God. And so the first thing I do is just ask God, who are those five people in this season of my life?

Who are you wanting to use me to help draw them to you? Who are we, in a sense, on mission together with? And then the other thing it does is, my heart grows for them.

I've heard it so many times. When you pray for folks, your heart can only grow for them. And it grows my heart for them and a desire for them to be blessed, desire for them to thrive and flourish, and desire for them to know the one who created them, who gave his life for them, and who wants to be with them forever. And then as I go throughout my day, as I'm praying for these five people, it makes me more sensitive to opportunities to talk with them about Christ when I'm with them.

I'm thinking about it because God is continuing to put it on my mind throughout the day as I pray for them. And perhaps the biggest thing that it does for us is that we really believe that prayer works, that God hears the words of his saints and he moves on their behalf, and that there's power in prayer, and that as we pray and ask God to move the lives of those dear to us, he does so, and really cool, supernatural, miraculous things happen. So what are we praying for when we're praying for a non-Christian? What are we asking God? Well, this was a fun part of writing this book because I found seven ways in Scripture that we see modeled for us about how we can pray for unbelievers, and the seven are really beautiful. So when I write down my five people, the first thing is I begin to ask that God would send them a spirit of revelation to know him. That's Paul in Ephesians. I love praying for my students, Psalm 119, where the priest says that their eyes would be turned from worthless things. So the things that they're pursuing suddenly don't seem that exciting. I've had many times I prayed that and a student will come and say, I want to know God, and I thought I loved my sin more, but now I'm drawn to God.

Can you help me? You can also pray from 2 Timothy, ask God to help them come to their senses. One supernatural thing recently from Matthew 9, you can ask God to send others to help. And I prayed that prayer for 25 years for a couple who wasn't walking with the Lord. And I just said, God, I'm far from them.

Can you send another Christian couple? God answered that prayer. And 25 years later, that couple rededicated their lives to the Lord, started going back to church. And the good news is, is they were my parents.

Can you believe that? The last three prayers are so powerful, and I think it really reflects Paul's heart. In Colossians 4, he prays, God, open a door for the message of the gospel. You know, so many times I'll be standing with someone and I'll say, I want to start talking about spiritual things.

Jesus, would you open a door here for me to talk about you? You can also pray that the gospel spreads quickly. But the last prayer is really wonderful because it's an overlooked part of scripture.

It's from Ephesians 6, where normally people associate that with the spiritual warfare as you know, the armor of God. But it's one of the only times in scripture, one of three times where Paul asks for personal prayer. And so he says in Ephesians 6, 18, pray for me that whenever I open my mouth, the words would be given to me. So I may fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly as I should. So you can pray for yourself what Paul prayed. Help me speak clearly. Give me the boldness, which makes me think Paul was also afraid.

And also nervous of his words. So those are the seven ways to pray and they're listed in our book. And there are ways you can begin praying for the five people God has put in. We call it your natural pathway, meaning we firmly believe that God has chosen the exact place where you live and work. We know that God formed the hearts of all and considers everything they do. That's Psalm 33. So we know that God's at work around you.

So who are those five people? And then you can begin praying for them. You know, I think anyone who's listening, who is really hearing and has a heart, you know, for God and really would like to grow in their ability to share with others. Those seven things that you just mentioned would be worth the price of this book because most people, they're not that focused in terms of what they're asking God for.

That's extremely helpful. Heather, Ashley, I've got a question for you for the person who's listening and they, you know, they believe in God and church is okay and they've read some of the Bible. Most of it doesn't make sense to them, but the overarching feeling that they get from their Christian friend is not that, oh, my friend really loves me and cares for me. It's that I'm a notch on their spiritual belt. I'm a name on their card and they're praying and they're looking for the right place to zing me with some apologetics or to send me a video or give me a book or whatever. What do you say to the believer who has a friend who feels like, I'm just a project to these Christians.

I'm just something that's in there or someone who's in their life that they need to change in order for them to love. What do you say about that? Yeah, that's a really, really good question and a really good one to ask. I think people definitely feel that from time to time. I would encourage the believer, the person whose friend has told them this or it feels that way, maybe they don't know that.

First of all, I would say, just kind of do a process check. How are your conversations going? How are your relationships, your friendships going? Do they feel like a project or do you feel like you have to sell them something when you're talking to them? And maybe alongside that, I would just really encourage them. We aren't selling something that we're really cooperating with what the Lord is doing in a person's life.

And it really is good news. It really is something a person would want if they understood it. And can we help that person have a real series of real conversations where they really understand who God is, who they are, what God has done for them, what God wants to do for them, and just enter into that journey, a spiritual journey with them and believe that God is at work, believe that they don't have to push it, they don't have to shove it, they don't have to sell it, but they're just cooperating with the God of the universe, the hound of heaven, who is pursuing their friend. And to consider themselves, how would they want to be pursued by God if they were in their friend's shoes?

What would it feel like for them? And just to really encourage them to look at their heart, look at their motivations and to, if needed, have just a really good helpful conversation with a friend about how that's going. I had to do that myself. I've got a dear friend who is, we've been talking about Christ since we moved here 12 years ago. He's my best friend in the neighborhood in State College.

We've had to have these kind of process checks along the way. He doesn't share my beliefs, but he knows because we've been able to talk about it and process it, that I just want what God wants for him and I love him dearly. If he never receives Christ into his life, we're going to be best of friends regardless. I love when Ash talks about the process check, because when I was beginning to share my faith with the neighbors, I had started this walk to school campaign and I would share, you know, we're walking to school, everyone's drinking coffee or having a good time getting our kids to school. And I would just start talking about things that the Lord was teaching me in scripture. And I turned to the woman beside me who I knew had converted to a Hindu faith tradition. And I just said, she was my best friend. I said, does it bother you that I talk to you so much about Jesus? I just said, does this bother you? And she turned to me and I will never forget the look in her eyes.

And I get tears thinking about it. She said, no, I would like to hear everything you have to say about him. She just was hungry. And not only did she pray to receive Christ when she understood the gospel, she led her husband and two children to the Lord. And she has an active ministry right now on our campus.

Wow, you know, it's always exciting when you see that God was at work, like in that situation. You know, there was, however, a Barna study that revealed back in 2019 that 47% of Christians believe that it was wrong to share your faith. And particularly those seem to be among millennials. What do you think that would be true among those who see themselves as Christians? You know, the honest answer for me is, I don't really know. I don't know why that is.

It befuddles me. The scripture seems to be clear that the greatest thing that's happening in the world is that God is drawing the people to himself, that people are lost apart from him, that the gospel really is good news prompted by God's love for people and for those whom he created. And it seems as we've been talking about in this book, it's part of our core identity to trust God and to be a part of what he's doing in the lives of people, good things in the lives of people. And so, it seems like the scripture is clear that it is not wrong.

In fact, it is fundamentally a good thing. So, it might be, I'm just hazarding a guess here, but there might be less biblical literacy currently than there has been in the past. And it may be that some have allowed the world and its beliefs or values to shape their thinking more than scripture in this area. And it may also be the other thing, it may just be bad experiences. It may be ways it was done not the best.

Maybe the ways were not helpful or loving. And there may be conflating ways that others have shared their faith with sharing their faith at all. Yeah.

Yeah. It was, you would think if a person really has a close walk with God and they're in the scriptures, it'd be hard to feel that we shouldn't share. I wouldn't want to share the good news, you know. How has the whole COVID situation impacted sharing the gospel? Well, for me, as the extroverted gatherer in the family, it was really difficult. I thought, okay, we've really got to figure out a way to gather people to care for our neighbors. And so we've done some things online. We have a soup and story night that we used to host on Monday nights to gather the neighbors together for soup and we would share stories, but we had to move that to a Zoom call one night. We've also done socially distanced fire pits are big in Pennsylvania.

You have a fire in your backyard and people can gather around. We've done walking. But the hardest thing was just figuring out how to unite with people. So we had a group of people that walked up and down the neighborhood and stood outside people's houses and immediately got their contact information just so we could have a group, a street Facebook group.

So that was one thing. But for me, I've done a lot of texting strategies, I guess you would call them, where I just text my five people and I'll ask them how I can care for them. One of the women that I just love and pray for, I texted her and I said, this is really amazing. Is there any way I can pray for you? And what I love about living a scent life is no one in 25 years of ministry has ever said to me, no, I don't want you to pray for me.

Not once. So I love praying for people. A lot of people know I keep a detailed prayer journal and my students will even say, you know, Dr. H, you know, I'm an atheist, but could you put me in the prayer journal today? So they know, you know, so those are those have been my strategies.

And I love it because Ash is so great because he is an introvert. And so he's really good at, you know, letting me plan things that don't exhaust everyone. So we've done different things like that. I don't know if Ash had anything to add, but mostly just thinking of ways we can text and do online Zoom calls and being outside as much as we can in a safe way to continue to gather with people. Yeah, there are people who say even if COVID were not around that they don't have time to get together with other people on a regular basis and thus build friendships where they can share the gospel eventually.

How do you push back on that kind of thinking? Well, I can answer that because I was one of those people a few years ago. Heather was, as Heather said, she's the community organizer and she had an idea.

This was probably 10 years ago. She noticed that, you know, when we grew up, you'd have dinner and then as soon as dinner was over, you were out the door, you know, because there was still light and time to play. And now we look around and no one's outside. And so she goes, where are all the kids? Where are all the parents? And so she just started calling randomly, not randomly.

She had a list of people in our neighborhood and she goes, my name is Heather Holloman. You don't know me, but in an hour, we're going to be gathering in my front yard to play. Would you like to come? And they came. And that first night it was 15 people. Two years later, we had regularly, weekly, we had 50 people.

We had to move it to a parking lot to do it. It was just a really cool thing. But at the very beginning as Heather was sharing this idea with me, I was like, nope, nope, nope. I'm exhausted. I've got this going on, that going on.

I can't imagine adding one more thing. And this is where the power of the Holy Spirit comes in. I really felt restrained by the Spirit. Like, just let Heather lead this. Trust me on this.

Take a step of faith and let's see what happens. I'm so glad I did. God was so right.

Heather was right. And it became an incredible time of us really reaching out to our neighbors. A couple quick things. Practically, we've learned along the way, besides just taking steps of faith and trusting God with the time, is do things with people, not just for people. People want time with you, not just service for them, although that is good. And so we try to focus on what are the different things we can do with them. In particular, what can we invite them to that we're already doing? So it's not a new event, but it's something we're already doing. So we always had Saturday morning pancakes for years as a family. And so I said, well, let's invite others to join us. And so we invited several neighbors over for pancakes. They came and then a few weeks later, we started an investigative Bible study out of that.

And it wasn't anything new. We were already doing it and just invited them in. And then likewise, join your friends in what they're already doing.

Because Christians aren't the only ones that are busy. They have full lives as well. And so what are they doing that you can join in on that helps build a relationship and time just to connect and talk? Yeah, those are great ideas. I mean, we have neighbors that love the outdoors.

They love to hike. So Ash and I quickly learned to become outdoor people, you know, things like that. And if you're interested, you know, that pancake time where you just gather people. I was really nervous how we would transition to the gospel, you know, gospel conversations. And when Ash asked everyone if they wanted to start an investigative Bible study of the book of John to learn about Jesus, the most hostile neighbor, the one that I thought would just be so offended, she turned to Ash and she said, I have been waiting for an invitation like that.

So we read the book of John together. And so you just wait and see what happens when you start taking the steps of faith. Heather, you say in the book that you wish all followers of Christ would more fully develop the character trait of curiosity. How does that play into evangelism?

Oh, that's right. You know, I teach professional development at Penn State and I think that interpersonal curiosity, which means the interest you take in other people is one of the best professional skills for anyone. And what I realized is being curious about other people, you know, there are lead researchers researching curiosity and its connection to well-being. But when you're curious about people, you train yourself to really be interested in them. It's a way to enact the truth of Romans 12, where Paul says to honor one another above yourselves or think about Philippians 2, where we learn in verse four, don't look out for your own interests, but take an interest in others. And to make it this fundamental part of your life, not only because it is perfect for evangelism, but it really, there's a lot of research that says that when you're curious about other people, it makes you, it makes your relationships better, you're less stressful, you're less angry. And it's a wonderful way to live. Now, I know many of you probably have been out to a coffee or lunch with someone and you're asking all the questions and nobody asks you one question about your life. I mean, my students tell me that all the time. They don't, nobody asks about that.

They don't ever get to share their life. So I do a lot of training in how to ask really good questions. And I'll share my favorite one with you. This is, I've been teaching 25 years and I keep a list of my 70 favorite questions to ask people. But when you're trying to get to know someone, or maybe it's one of the five people on your list, I love asking people this question.

And I think it'll change your relationships, your marriage, even your relationship with your children. Just turn to them and say, what question do you wish I would ask you about yourself? It is the best question to get to know people. So interpersonal curiosity, you want to bless people.

You want to honor them above yourselves. And then it leads to gospel conversations like my, I have four questions I always ask that make evangelism so easy. When you're with friends, you can just say, you know, you know, I'm a Christian.

I'm curious, what is your tradition say about Jesus? We share in the book that single question led someone on a journey of discovery and she prayed to receive Christ from that question alone. I also love naturally asking people, you know, I'm just really curious. Do you consider yourself on a spiritual journey?

What's that like for you? And then they'll say, what about you? Do you have a spiritual journey? I mean, we provide a lot of good, easy questions that lead to gospel conversations. But they're also just joyful questions that bless other people. So my dream for people would be that they would develop that just as a good professional skill. And it's also really good in marriage and friendships, but it will lead to natural spiritual conversations. Yeah, those questions are great. And the ones that you have in the book there, I think our listeners who really are tuning into this and saying, hey, this is an area where I really need to grow. They're going to find this book is just filled with practical things.

What you just shared is so practical in terms of how to open up conversations that otherwise would not even turn to Christ. But Gary, this mirrors what you've been talking about for years with "The 5 Love Languages" . Some people could say, well, you're manipulating someone with your question. No, you're just asking something about them and you're moving into their life, which is what you've talked about for years with "The 5 Love Languages" . It may not come natural to you, but you reach out with physical touch or with spending time together with the other person.

Do you see that same thing at work? Yeah, I think so, because I think as you get to know the person, you do discover that we love them. As Christians, we love people, which means we look out for their best interest. And that's why we're sharing Christ with them. And as we get to know them, we learn what their love language is, what makes them feel loved, and that I think is an asset because everybody needs to feel loved. I mean, we want to feel loved.

And so I think that's a part of that. Another question that comes to my mind is, because I've heard so many people talk about this as Christians when they begin to think seriously about evangelism, do you always have to quote Scripture to people, or where does that come in in the process of helping someone come to Christ? Well, I'm really passionate about this because I have found that God's Word is so powerful. We know it's the living and active Word of God. We also know that like Romans 10 tells us, faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God. And I also just look at the passage of Scripture where it's the Word that the Holy Spirit uses. I mean, there's metaphors in Scripture.

One of them is the farmer going out and sowing the Word. So I think what happens is when I'm talking to people about Jesus, one of my favorite things to say is, I just learned something really powerful in Scripture that's helping me deal with whatever it is, anxiety or fear. And then I'll share the passage of Scripture and I wait to see what God's Spirit does with that.

I was in my office with two professors who do not know the Lord, and one of them is an atheist. And she likes to remind me that she's an atheist. And I came in one day and I said, I just read a passage of Scripture that's really helping me deal with fear. And it's where we read that God has not given us a spirit of fear. And she turned around and she said, a spirit of fear? She said, I think I have that. How do I get rid of that?

Where is that? And I could just see God's Word was working in her. So I think when you read the Bible, it's not an ordinary book. The words have power. Think about what Jeremiah, how he describes the Word, the Lord says, is not my word like fire and a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces. And I think of the rock of the hard soul.

So I love it. I mean, Ashley is always saying I have a special gift of just memorizing God's Word, but I do put it to memory so I can use it naturally in conversation. I have favorite passages that I love to share wherever I go. I like the idea that you talk about what the Scripture means to you. You're not preaching to them. You're just sharing what is speaking to you.

I think that's, it's hard to see that as ever being offensive. You know, when you're sharing something that you read in the Scripture that's helping you in your life. And then God uses that. You're right. That's powerful.

Yes. And it really allows that person into your life as well. So it makes it truly a two-way relationship. For me, it shapes my devotional life. Because when I sit down now, I'm doing this more than I used to, but I'm like, God, maybe this, I know this is just me and you, but maybe these next few minutes aren't just for me.

Maybe it's for someone else because you want to show me something that I can share with someone else of how you're working in my life. I think it's a way of allowing other people into our lives, which we should do because we're asking them to allow us into their lives. Well, Heather and Ashley, our time is running out here, but as we come to the end of the program, what else would you want to say to people who are thinking about this and this sense of life and realizing they need to be moving in this direction?

What encouragement would you give them? Well, I would say first that if you don't know, if you don't feel close to Jesus, when I live my sent life, I feel this sense of intimacy and joy with Him, with Jesus all day long. It helps me worship Him and really experience life as a supernatural adventure. So I'm highly motivated by joy and peace and happiness, and it's just increased as I've surrendered more and more to the Lord. So that's my motivation is that joy and intimacy with Jesus. And I'd say there's adventure, there's intimacy with Jesus, there's growth, but there's also, to be honest, there's spiritual battle, there's cost to count.

I don't always get it right. I think the thing that motivates me the most is that God is inviting us into something that's really incredible. When time is done and final histories are being written on this side of heaven, I think I'm pretty confident that the single most important greatest thing that historians will record that happened over the course of human history is that God was faithful to His word to draw people to Himself.

He did what He said He would do. And that's the greatest thing that's happening. We've done a lot of great things as a people, but none of that compares to the greatest thing that's happening is that God is drawing the people to Himself and He invites us into that work with Him. And I think when we get on the other side of heaven, that joy and that purpose, the only other thing that will thrill us more is the presence of Jesus Himself.

Yeah. Well, this conversation has been very challenging, and I trust that our listeners will get this book because it's just filled with practical ideas on how to be the person you really want to be if you're a follower of Christ, and that is an instrument in God's hand for bringing other people into fellowship with Him. So thanks for being with us today. Thank you. It was such an honor to be on your program. Thanks so much. Again, go to And next week, we open the phone lines for your questions and comments.

I'll try to answer your relationship questions in one week. And you can leave a message on our listener line right now. Call 1-866-424-GARY. Our thanks to our production team, Steve Wick and Janice Todd. Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman is a production of Moody Radio in Chicago in association with Moody Publishers, a ministry of Moody Bible Institute. Thanks for listening.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-21 05:08:43 / 2023-08-21 05:28:37 / 20

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