Fruitful Practices for Muslim ministry — Storying, Intentional Reproduction
November 2020
By a member of SEND’s Diaspora | North America team — While I wanted to make a plea this month for inviting your Muslim colleagues and friends over for Thanksgiving, I will have to put that idea on ice unless you are willing and able to be crazy creative in finding a way to do that while still putting people at ease in the current COVID environment.  If you do find a way to invite Muslims to your home or church for some kind of Thanksgiving gathering, then please write me and let me know how you did it as I would be very interested in considering it for Christmas!

This month we are looking at Fruitful Practices 5 and 6—Storying and Intentional Reproduction. While all the fruitful practices are crucial in reaching Muslims for Christ, I really want to emphasize the importance of Storying and Intentional Reproduction.  

5. Storying
We touched on Storying as one of the various methods of using scripture to share God’s story last month. However, those researching the Fruitful Practices found such an overwhelmingly positive response from those using this method that they felt it merited its own focus. 

Storying can include telling chronological stories from the Bible, but it also involves much more. It is first of all having an attitude, as one person put it, “of answering each spiritual or moral question with a story.” Second, it is realizing that many people, especially people who are Muslims, prefer oral communication to written forms of communication. This is due to many reasons, but at the core is that many Muslims come from very relational communities and these communities value stories, because as far as they can ever remember, stories are the main way they have passed on their culture, history and faith.

Actually, this is our history and heritage, too. Much of our Old Testament is narrative in form, and Jesus often used stories and parables to get his point across. Telling a story helps makes your point memorable to the listener, and it also makes it easier for that listener to then pass it along to others. 

Because our Western culture values literacy and formal education so much, we forget that many other cultures are predominantly oral learners. We also can easily miss that while most people in Western culture are literary learners, they also enjoy and learn through orality. Interestingly, research has shown that even here in North America, 80% of the population prefers oral learning! Almost every preacher today will throw a story into their sermon to illustrate a point. They do that to draw their audience’s attention and to hopefully help them remember the sermon long after Sunday lunch is finished. 

There are several ways to work at learning to tell stories, and one of these is by using “Simply the Story”or STS. STS is an interactive way of presenting the gospel story and then drawing questions out of the listeners to help them go deeper into the text. Three times the story is told: first by the presenter, second by asking the listeners to repeat the story, and then again by the presenter together with the listeners helping. This cements the story in the mind of the listeners. Check out the STS linkfor more information and perhaps to see if there is a training site near you in the coming months. 

6. Intentional Reproduction
We desire to see followers of Jesus multiplied, and to see this happen we have to be intentional in our witness. We have to be willing to seek out others to share with. We have to be willing to be vulnerable and visible. Sometimes Christians take Jesus’ warnings to the Pharisees too literally. Yes, Jesus said don’t pray on the street corner so that others see you and think you are a great religious person, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t show or live out our faith publicly. 

If people don’t know that we are followers of Jesus, why would they come to us with spiritual questions? We have to be careful here, so that we don’t become hypocrites as the Pharisees did, but we still want to live out our faith in a way that shows we are spiritual people who have a relationship with Almighty God. Jesus said let your light shine! But too often many of us hide our faith under a lamp shade instead.  

We have a unique opportunity because the post-election climate gives us a chance to live out our faith. Regardless of how we voted, how are we reacting to the results? Are we being graceful and loving if our candidate lost, or are we being defiant and abusive? If our candidate won, are we being graceful and understanding that the other side is disappointed? We can be involved in politics, but it should never overrule or outshine our love for Jesus. How are our neighbors seeing us? How are they evaluating us? Are we intentionally living out our faith before them? 

Seeking Intentional Reproduction means having a plan: With whom are you sharing and how? This might include keeping notes and tracking what stories or lessons were shared previously, so that you can be aware of what you could share next, or what might be reviewed from previous visits.

Too often, if we aren’t careful, we will find that we are great at making friends, but not quite so good at getting the gospel out there, too. Let me encourage you, from the very beginning of a relationship with someone you want to share with, let them know you have faith and that God is important to you and take the opportunity to pray with them. Then as they come to faith, encourage them to do the same. As they interact with others, may it be their goal to let others know that they are spiritual and trust in God.  Not religious, but spiritually minded so that prayer is on their lips, so that scripture is being read, studied and lived out. As one person said, “To know Jesus is to speak of Jesus.” If new believers have seen it in you, their mentor’s lives, they are apt to replicate what they have seen and experienced.

Prayers for the Muslim world
  • 10/10 prayer challenge: Pray for 10 percent of the Muslim world to come to Christ in the next 10 years. Join with Christians around the world who are seeking God’s face for this miracle.
  • Pray for those of us who follow Christ to live out our faith in visible ways, so that those we are sharing with have no other understanding, but that to know Jesus is to speak of Jesus. 
  • In the post-election climate in the United States, may Christians lead the way in reconciliation for people on either side of the political spectrum.
  • Pray for mission families and singles on the field who are still struggling with COVID-19 issues and limitations. Ask the Lord to give wisdom and creativity to share his truth and light with the nations.

Read about other Fruitful Practices for Muslim Ministry: Language Learning & Reputation Building and Using Social Networks & New Scripture Formats.

Graphic of an opportunity to serve with SEND in Eurasia.

Can you tell a good story? In Central Asia, telling stories from the Bible creates opportunities to share spiritual truths with the Muslim population. The SEND Central Asia team seeks disciple makers who are committed to long-term incarnational ministry. As Muslims come to Christ, we trust the Lord will use them to reach their neighbors, other people groups, and neighboring countries for God’s glory. Click to learn more! 

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