Walking with the Wayward

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When someone in your life has walked away from their relationship with God, it can feel almost impossible to navigate important conversations. Drawing from their experience in ministry, John Bailey and Mark Renfroe offer advice for walking with loved ones who have walked away from God.

Key Points from the Podcast

  • If you are ministering to someone who has walked away from their Christian faith, remember that it is about them not you.

  • God through Christ has given you the right to preach the gospel, but truth must be transported over the bridge of relationship. Find neutral ways to connect with wayward friends and family so that trust can be established.

  • A helpful means of engaging with someone who has left the Christian faith is to ask them their story without arguing. Ask them to help you understand why they walked away from Christ.

  • Truth delivered at a time when someone is not ready to hear the truth can actually inoculate them from the truth.

  • Always be ready to share the gospel. In conversations with prodigals, test the waters to see if they are open to a discussion on faith before asking them if they are ready to come back to Jesus.

  • Pray that the Lord would bring peers into a prodigal’s life—people from whom they would be willing to receive truth.

  • People typically walk away from their faith because of a doctrinal issue—God can’t be good if there is so much suffering in the world—or some hurt they have experienced in the church or among fellow Christians.

  • When we have a loved one living in a sinful lifestyle, it can be tempting to compromise on the truth of scripture. We must not be sloppy with grace, but neither should we be condemning. We must share God’s truth in a grace-filled and loving way. In between condemnation and compromise is Christ-centered compassion.

  • Remember that God wants your wayward friend or family member in his kingdom infinitely more than you do. Do your part—authentically loving them, praying for them, and sharing the truth with them—and trust the Holy Spirit to do his part—preparing their heart and bringing revelation.

Bible Verses Referenced in the Podcast

1 Timothy 3:4; Proverbs 11:30; 2 Timothy 4:2; Matthew 23:26; John 3:16; Ephesians 4:15; Deuteronomy 6:6–7; Deuteronomy 11:19; Romans 7:12; 1 Timothy 1:8; Luke 4:1–42; Ephesians 2:8–9; 2 Peter 3:9; Psalm 51:3; Luke 15:15–17; Psalm 40:1

Resources Mentioned in the Podcast

About John Bailey

Pastor John Bailey serves as the Chief Operating Officer at World Challenge. John came to know Christ in jail after some difficult struggles as a young man, and God has done a powerful work of transformation since! Spending 13 years in Next Gen ministry, he excelled in discipleship and helping young leaders discover giftings to serve God. John was called next to serve as a missionary and pastor in Western Europe. John and his family then returned to plant the Springs Church in Jacksonville, Florida. Today, the church is a thriving body of believers excelling in outreach and missions. John has now brought his giftings and vision to World Challenge, accelerating the spread of the gospel in America and around the World.

About Mark Renfroe

Mark married his college sweetheart, Amy, with whom he has four adult children—one girl and three boys. The Renfroes have been involved in field missions work for 30 years. They served in the Arab community of San Francisco for four years before becoming foreign missionaries in 1995. Mark was asked to serve as the Area Director for Assemblies of God World Missions in 2007. As part of his role, he led missionaries and interfaced with national church leaders in the 18 countries of the Arab World. In 2017, Mark created Reaching Africa’s Muslims, an initiative to mobilize, equip, and deploy indigenous African missionaries to reach Muslims on the continent. Mark has graduate degrees in Intercultural Studies and Executive Leadership. He currently serves as the Chief Missions Officer for World Challenge in Colorado Springs.