Walk the Line
Fox 2000, PG13
Main Point: Evangelism is BEING good news through friendship.
Before the Meeting:
Make sure you have a white board or flip-chart paper and large markers to make two separate lists. One list will be “Descriptions” and one list will be “Feelings.”
Tonight we are going to take a look at evangelism. That’s one of those words that you hear in church but different people have their own definitions of what evangelism is. Tell me what you think. When you hear the word “evangelism,” what do you think of? (The following is a list of questions that all ask the same thing in different ways. You don’t have to use all of them.) What does it look like? What are other words you would use to describe it? What has your experience with evangelism been? Just shout out one or two word descriptions. I’ll make a list of words on the white board/flip chart. (Or have a volunteer do the writing). Re-ask the questions a few times in different order so that students keep thinking about descriptions of evangelism.
Now I’d like to shift the question and ask you for a second list. When you think of evangelism, what do you feel? (Leader should give ONE personal example, like, “Sometimes I think evangelism is stressful.”) Even if you don’t have a personal feeling about it, what do you think most Christians FEEL about evangelism? Shout out some words for those feelings; I’ll get them written up on our “feelings” side of the white board. Record as many responses as possible.
Transition into Clip:
Throughout history, there have been changes in evangelism styles. There are crusades where people bring friends to hear about Jesus. There are tracts, or little pamphlets that talk about the message of Jesus and forgiveness of sins. There are even people on street corners who pass out papers about God and yell out to the crowd messages from the Bible. Tonight we are going to explore a style of evangelism that Jesus modeled in a number or Bible passages. First though, we’re going to look at a movie clip from Walk the Line.
This is the story of Johnny Cash, a famous singer loved by many. But Johnny had a dark side. He struggled with depression and drug addiction and was not a faithful family man. He got caught up in his fame and became totally dependant on drugs and alcohol to numb his emotional pains. In this scene you will see him waking up from a long sleep. His friend (and the woman he loved, June Carter played by Reese Witherspoon) and her family have taken Johnny away from his fast paced life and forced him to “de-tox.” They got rid of all of his drugs and alcohol and they want to see him turn his life around. Listen to this conversation.
Start Clip at Scene 31, 1:49:25 “Second Chance.” *NOTE: Make sure you have subtitles on as much of the conversation is whispered.
June: It’s good to see you again. Can I get you anything else?
Johnny: You’re an angel.
June: No. I’m not.
Johnny: You been here with me.
June: I had a friend who needed help. You’re my friend.
Johnny: But I done so many bad things.
June: You’ve done a few. That’s true.
Johnny: My daddy’s right. Should have been me on that saw. Jack was so good. He would have done so many good things.
What have I done? Just hurt everybody I know. I know I hurt you. I’m nothing.’
June: You’re not nothing. You’re not nothing. You’re a good man. And God has given you a second chance to make things right John. This is your chance, honey. This is your chance.
Scene changes to church parking lot and there is singing in the back ground as the two approach church.
June: It’s ok. Come on.End scene at 1:52:34 as June and Johnny walk toward church.
One of the events that happened in the early part of Johnny Cash’s life was the death of his older brother Jack in a saw-mill accident. In the clip we saw that he carried guilt about that tragedy. The movie implies that his drug use was his method of escaping guilty feelings. His friend and singing partner stood by him though. She was a loyal friend who acted like good news.
In our small groups we’re going to take a closer look at evangelism through authentic friendships. Let’s break into those groups now.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
Small Group Questions:Discussion Questions:
- ASK A FEW: In the clip Johnny said, “You’re an angel.” What do you think he meant?
- ASK A FEW: Why did June say, “No I’m not.”
- ASK A FEW: Share about friend who has seen you (or is currently seeing you) through a bad time in life.
- ASK SOMEONE: How is that kind of loyal friendship like evangelism?
- ASK A FEW: What are some of the things or feelings your friends need?
- ASK SOMEONE: Read Luke 19:1-10. It’s the story of a man who was not well liked because he was a tax collector. (Zacchaeus)
- ASK A FEW: In this passage, what did Zacchaeus need? (To see Jesus, to hear Him, to be safe from the crowd…)
- ASK A FEW: How did Jesus meet that need? (Invited him to come down and eat a meal, made a public show of his desire to spend time with people who were not well-liked…)
- ASK A FEW: What was Zacchaeus’ response? (He had dinner with Jesus. He gave a bunch of money to poor people. He gave back to people from whom he had taken too many taxes…)
- ASK A FEW: Do you think that Zacchaeus felt like he needed Jesus? What makes you think that?
- ASK A FEW: What do you think Zacchaeus’ need was?
- ASK A FEW: What did Jesus see as Zaccheaus’ need?
- ASK A FEW: Can you think of other Biblical examples in which Jesus meets a need as He builds a relationship?
Evangelism means “to bring good news”. The good news is that new life, a totally fresh start, is available through Jesus Christ.
As Christians we understand that we need Jesus. We mess up. We go our own ways. But when we trust Jesus to change our hearts and lead our lives, we get hope. We get peace. We get a second chance like June explained to Johnny in that movie clip. The good news is that God loves us and pursues relationships with us. And if we chose to trust Him with our lives, Jesus promises He will never leave us and we will have life even after we die.
June knew Johnny well enough to know that he felt guilty and needed to feel forgiven. They were friends first. She stood by him even when he was at his worst. She understood his need and could see how God’s forgiveness was good news to Johnny.
Think of the people you know who don’t yet understand the good news of Jesus. Think about what they need.
A lot of times friends don’t seem to have a need for Jesus. They might say things like, “I’m not really into religion.” But in close, authentic friendships, you start to see needs in your friends’ lives. Maybe you see their loneliness or pain caused by family or other friendships. Maybe you see their needs in the poor choices they make. Jesus saw the needs of people too. Let’s look at an example.
Tax collectors were notorious cheaters; getting rich off of the needy. The Bible points out that Zacchaeus was a small man who had to climb a tree to see around the crowd. So not only was he not liked because of his profession, he was also probably disregarded because of his size.
Jesus models evangelism through friendship in this passage. He stopped for relationship building and he hung out with a guy that nobody liked. Imagine how Zacchaeus might have felt with Jesus hanging out with him.
Here are a few:
- Luke 10–Martha and Mary
Matthew 9–Matthew and tax collectors
Matthew 8–The Roman Officer
John 4–The Samaritan woman and the village she came from
Evangelism, sharing the good news of God’s relationship with us, is best modeled by Jesus. He loved people. He saw their needs. He wasn’t bugged by the sins of people who just didn’t know better. He showed, by example, that when we build authentic friendships with people we can see their needs. And when we see their needs we can help them see how Jesus wants to meet their needs. That’s BEING good news before telling good news!
Written by Teddi Pettee
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.