Theology Network Groups
Evangelism Through TN Groups
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Every tutorial is an evangelistic event!
Evangelistic events are good (we’ll talk about that more later), but it is essential that, from the beginning, you communicate to your group that they have so many evangelistic opportunities already available to them – every tutorial is an evangelistic event! As a theology or religious studies student, several times a week you meet with a group of people in your tutorials that are at least interested in ‘religion’, and for an hour you discuss with them about God, the Bible, other faiths etc. Other Christians would long for this kind of opportunity! The Apostle Paul encourages us: “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Col. 4:5-6). So encourage the people in your Theology Network group to be wise in the way they act in their tutorials. For a start, don’t arrive not having done the reading! Study the texts you are given for each tutorial, pray over it and ask God to give you clarity of mind so that you are able to input in a way that guides people to the truth. Often, this will require hard work! And it may be that you end up doing twice as much work for tutorials than other students! After reading the set text you may want to read an evangelical view on the subject “that you may know how to answer everyone.” So pray faithfully for your tutorial groups, work hard, speak gracious and salty words, and “make the most of every opportunity” to commend this great gospel of Jesus Christ to your course-mates.
So lead your Theology Network group in seeing every tutorial as an evangelistic event, and every hour afterwards as a follow-up course! In a similar way that God in Christ left heaven to dwell among us, to teach us the truth and draw us to himself, we also must be willing to leave the comfort of our Christian groups and ‘dwell among’ our non-Christian course-mates. So after the tutorial, go to the pub or for a coffee with them, get to know them as people, their beliefs and doubts, and make the most of every opportunity to share Jesus with them. Treat course-mates as people not projects, friends not targets: get to know them, join the department religious studies society or social action group, go to the canteen, pub or coffee shop with them; get to know them and share the love of Christ as His Spirit works in you.
Confident in the truth
Nobody is saying this is going to be easy! So many Christians choke with fear at the thought of evangelism to theology and religious studies students – they know so much! We’ve said already that the first thing to do in running a Theology Network group is to rejoice in the gospel. But many theology and RS students will find this difficult at times when they are dealing with big questions raised by their courses or friends. So you and those you are leading with need to get yourselves equipped to help your group think through these questions. Direct them to theologynetwork.org where they’ll find plenty of articles and mp3s on why we believe the Bible is true, the cross is central, God is triune, and much else besides. We can also recommend a number of introductory books that will help give Christian students confidence in their faith while studying theology, biblical studies or religious studies. We’d recommend Keeping Your Balance: Approaching Theological and Religious Studies, Encountering God’s Word: Beginning Biblical Studies, The Trials of Theology: Becoming a Proven Worker in a Dangerous Business, and Unapologetic Apologetics: Meeting the Challenges of Theological Studies. You may also find our sister apologetics website www.bethinking.org helpful.