Do you wish your ministry grew by conversion?
I am a happy man today because Nick Kwok, the Greek InterVarsity Staff at UCLA, is doing a phenomenal job planting the ministry and seeing it grow. But not just growing by accumulating believers. He is growing the ministry with God through conversion.
Recently, Nick was able to lead a student in a fraternity to faith and that was obviously exciting. But the news just gets better. Nick led another guy to faith in that same fraternity. It is a great sign of growing by conversion and an answer to our prayers. At the beginning of the year, this was a fraternity without a believer in it, and now God led one guy to faith in Jesus and that guy opened the door for his fraternity brother to experience the same. That is the kind of ministry that excites me and that is growth through conversion!
One of our goals this year in the plant was to see seven students come to faith in the ministry. So far we have six as of last night. Nick has been radically committed as he plants this ministry to not just accumulate believers in Christ but to articulate a vision that makes tons of space for people who are skeptics and seekers of Jesus. He makes space by doing four specific things.
1. He always articulates in his vision that skeptics and seekers are welcome
This is a subtle thing, but most of the time when we talk about our vision for ministry or explain our group we talk in a way that makes it seem like only Christians are welcome. We don’t mean to do this, but when we say things like, “this is a Christian group committed to helping people grow in Christ” or a “group that is committed to encountering God and growing in love for others” skeptics and seekers still feel as though it isn’t for them. How do I know this? Because I hear them say things like, “oh but I am not Christian?…”
One of the best things Nick does is talk about his group like this,
“Greek InterVarsity is a place for people to learn about how Greek life and faith life come together. It doesn’t matter if you are a Christian or not. In fact our group is designed to help those seeking faith as well as those skeptical of Jesus. We want to make space for them to ask their questions and find their place.”
2. He gives his time to them
Nick makes time in his schedule for skeptics and seekers and loves being with them. One of the most common reasons we don’t have skeptics and seekers around is that we don’t make time for them and we don’t prioritize them. We fill our time up hanging out and discipling Christians. This is especially easy to do if you have a larger ministry you are part of. Nick cancels things with me and others so he can jump on an opportunity to meet with them. He always seems to have a space in his schedule for them and is meeting with someone almost every week that is not following Jesus.
3. He goes to them
Nick goes to them. He doesn’t make them come to his structures or bible studies. He meets them at their fraternity or in a coffee shop. Many ministries don’t have a lot of skeptic or seekers come to faith because they are expecting them to show up at the meetings. I hate to break it to you, but most skeptics of Jesus aren’t coming to “your thing” and not many seekers either. But if you make it clear that you will hang with them or make space in your schedule for other meetings designed for them, then you should see those people emerge.
4. He studies the Word with them
Nick is passionate about studying the word with skeptics and seekers. Just the other day I was asking him a question about how to talk to an atheist friend of mine and he said, “you have to get him in the word and get him arguing about the scripture, not just your ideas”. I loved that. It was something I knew, but his reminder was powerful. Get your friends in front of Jesus in the gospels and let them wrestle with him and his words. He creates scripture studies that are evangelistic and just for the skeptic/seeker type of person. It is no coincidence that the guy Nick led to faith had been in a GIG (God Investigation Group) with Nick for four weeks. They looked at John 5, the healing of the man at the pool, and the guy comes to faith. Of course!
Nick is a growing evangelist and has a large proportion of skeptics, seekers and new believers around his ministry. People who are trying to figure it out and connect the dots. He loves these people and does the four things mentioned above tremendously.
Which of the four principles do you need to implement more often in your ministry?