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December 11, 2014Leadership

High Stakes Sharing: Reaching Out to Family, a guest post by Nancy Grisham

Working through family dynamics can be difficult, especially in the holiday season.
High Stakes Sharing: Reaching Out to Family, a guest post by Nancy Grisham

When I was growing up, my family had an unwritten code of silence. Even though we were professing Christians we didn’t talk about our faith.

Since we never discussed faith, I wondered if my parents had a relationship with Jesus or if they were just good church goers. I had fully trusted Him and hoped they were real Christ followers too.

But, I didn’t talk with them about it.

Maybe like me you have a tough time talking with your family about Christ. Your hurdles might be fear of rejection, their anger, mocking, rebellion, intellectualism, skepticism, questions, religion, or anything that tries to block you from talking with them about Jesus.

Your family needs to see Christ in you, if they’re going to listen about Christ from you.

No matter what the obstacle God is always greater.

Let’s face it, the closer the relationship, often the tougher it is to talk about Christ.

Concern for my parents led to having nightmares about my dad dying. In the dreams, I would be standing beside his casket, heart broken, because I didn’t know where he was spending eternity.

Then I’d wake up terrified.

Finally, I told a friend about the dreams and asked her to pray for my mom and dad.

She casually said, “Why don’t you just talk to your parents?”

Talk to them? That thought scared me almost as much as the dreams!

Get it out on the table.

One day, while visiting my parents, I got the courage to say, “There’s something that we never talked about when I was growing up and that’s spiritual things. I’m wondering, could we get that out on the table and talk about it?”

My parents said, “Sure we can!”

Who were these people and what had they done with my mom and dad?

That day my mother told me that she had trusted Jesus as the only way to God.

However, It would be years before my dad told me that he had put his trust in Christ. Two weeks later he died. When I stood beside his casket, it felt nothing like those nightmares. Even in grief, I had great comfort and joy. I knew my dad would be in heaven for eternity – and that changed everything!

No matter what the challenges are in reaching your family, keep loving and reaching out – especially over the long haul. Here are a few things I’ve learned that I hope are helpful to you too.

Love well in the process.

Your family needs to see Christ in you, if they’re going to listen about Christ from you. Look for practical ways to reach out and love them. Live, show, and give relationship.

Recognize your family dynamics, but don’t be controlled by them.

Don’t be ruled by unhealthy norms. Be kind. Choose to be led by the Holy Spirit – one step at a time.He will help you.

No matter what the obstacle God is always greater.

Face up to and deal with hurts, done to you and by you.

Wherever it’s needed, give and ask for forgiveness. Be at peace as far as it concerns you.

You don’t have to agree with your family to love and honor them.

We are all created in God’s image. Honor His work and love your family.

Anchor your prayers in scriptures.

Pray what God’s word says about your family knowing Christ. Example: Lord, You desire that none perish – that includes my family! Please send harvest workers into their lives. Thank You that Your kindness leads them to repentance. Thank You for loving my family so much that Jesus died for them. Open their hearts to understand and receive Your love relationship…. Take God’s word to Him in prayer!

Know four trigger-words.

When someone seems open, be ready to talk about Jesus’ story. Four words will help you stay ready to share the core relationship message.

Sometimes we walk a long road together before our loved ones come to faith in Christ.

The four trigger-words are: God, Us, Christ, You. [1]Couple them with the points below – that you probably already understand – and you can effectively start a conversation about Jesus’ story.

God – “God loves us.”

Us – “We blew it.”

Christ – “Christ paid for it.”

You – “You (and I) must receive Him.”[2]

If someone is open, have a conversation about these points. If they seem to understand ask, “Would you like to put your trust in Christ? If they say yes prompt them in prayer to: Ask forgiveness, receive, and trust in Jesus - then give thanks!

If someone’s not ready, always leave the door open for more conversation. Only God can give understanding.

Keep your confidence in God.

Sometimes we walk a long road together before our loved ones come to faith in Christ. Along the way, love well and also talk about Jesus. Only God knows how to apprehend hearts - trust Him with the results.

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