The first step toward having effective Table Talk is realizing who you are in Christ. Most Christians think their job or contribution in the advance of the gospel is to attend a church service, give, volunteer once-a-month, and occasionally invite their friends to church where they can hear the gospel from the professional Christians, like preachers and worship pastors. The reason most Christians believe this is because that is basically what church leaders have told them their whole lives. However, the Bible says something much different.
Our problem is that we have often understood the church as an event that we attend rather than a living organism or body of which we are members. According to scripture, the local church is not something that people attend. Rather, the local church is presented as a local group of believers joined together for the glory and mission of Jesus. Sometimes those believers are gathered in the same place, but usually they are scattered throughout the city or local area in a variety of roles and responsibilities. It is important to realize that even when the church is scattered that it is no more or less “the church.” If this is true, we have to ask the following questions: 1.) What is the primary purpose of the church gathering?, and 2.) What is the primary purpose of the church scattering?
The primary purpose of gathering for corporate worship is that the followers of Jesus would worship together, and in doing so, remind one another of who God is and what he has done for us in Christ. Pastors, elders, and other church leaders carry the responsibility of leading the church to more deeply understand the beauty and the mystery of the gospel. This is not to say that evangelism does not happen when the church gathers for corporate worship. Proclaiming truth to the lost certainly happens during the worship service, however, the primary target audience is the group of believers who make up the church.
The primary purpose, then, of the church scattered is that the glory of God, the power of the gospel, and the Kingdom of God would go out to a world that has been separated from God by sin. This is done so that God might restore all things to himself through the proclaimed gospel of Christ. This means that the primary purpose of pastors, elders, and other church leaders is to equip the church to that end; that the church would be mature and ready for making an impact in the world for Christ (see Ephesians 4:11-16).
The Bible calls all believers to be bold ambassadors as God himself makes his appeal through them (see 2 Corinthians 5:20). Therefore, it is so important that when Christians gather for corporate worship that the church be strengthened and equipped to scatter well. It is also important to recognize that missional living does not happen by accident. True missional living does not depend on special organized missions efforts. Rather, missional living is the fruit of ordinary people doing ordinary things with gospel intentionality. To that end, we are providing the concept of Table Talk as a tool to help you grow in gospel intentionality.
Table Talk is an intentional, relationship-building meeting (a coffee, a lunch, a dinner, a walk, etc.) where you can talk, build a relationship, and hopefully lead them to hear and understand the greatest news ever - the gospel of Jesus Christ. The following are some guidelines on how to make Table Talk a useful, important part of your life:
Write down the names of three people that you will regularly pray for. Pray specifically that they would come to know and treasure Jesus. Do not short-change the power and importance of regular and consistent prayer. Put the list in a place where you will see it every day as a reminder to pray.
2. Create a rhythm
Our goal with Table Talk is that you would create an intentional rhythm in your life when you connect with people that don’t know Jesus. For example, you could take an unbeliever out for lunch every other Monday or one Monday per month. Or, you could invite someone who isn’t a Christian to coffee every Thursday afternoon. Or, you could invite one of your unbelieving neighbors over for dinner every other Tuesday. These scenarios represent the kind of gospel intentionality we are inviting you to make part of the regular rhythm in your life.
3. Build the relationship
As these relationships begin, make every effort to develop them. Our goal with Table Talk is not even that you would share the gospel with someone at the first meeting, rather that you would build relationships with people who don’t know Jesus with the hope of sharing the gospel with them. These relationships will take time and intentionality to build.
4. Share the gospel
If you are intentional about building relationships and useful in your areas of influence, the Lord will likely give you favor with people. Don’t get lost in this favor and forget about gospel intentionality. Remember the kindest thing you can do for someone is to share the good news that they can be restored to fellowship with God through Christ. The simple gospel is that Jesus came to restore broken sinners like us into fellowship with God by his righteous life, atoning death, and life-giving resurrection. We respond to the gospel through repentance and faith.
5. Follow up
Remember our goal is not to just share the gospel. Rather, we are put here on this earth as Christ’s body to make disciples. While inviting someone to church maybe shouldn’t be the first step in evangelism, at some point we want people coming into the community of faith where their relationship can grow and flourish. Repentance and faith are the ‘what’ of the Christian life, but the ‘where’ of the Christian life is the fellowship of believers in the local church.
Of course, our pastors and elders are available to help you through any of this, so please reach out to them as you pursue living life with gospel intentionality through Table Talk.