Archive for the ‘Evangelism’ Category

EvangelismWe want you to be involved in sharing the Gospel but the unfortunate truth is that most believers will not.  The reasons are usually related to fear or ignorance.  We launch new programs and campaigns and offer training in our church and we still have the same results; those people who are predisposed to sharing the gospel do  and all others have just add another area of their spiritual life where they feel failure.

I want you to be a success in your journey with Jesus. I want you to be able to think about the Gospel, about missions, about soul winning without feeling like a guilt-ridden failure.  I want to show you how believers can freely and enthusiastically be involved in evangelism.

Two Observations about Evangelism

  1. When Jesus and the Apostles talked to people about the Gospel they were often in a large group but sometimes in smaller groups and one on one.  In each of these groups, they were invited to speak about the Gospel.  The group expected to hear it, the group came for that purpose, or the group asked a leading question.
  1. In our culture, the people reject any effort to impose the Gospel on them.  They will resist an unsolicited presentation. However, if they initiate the conversation about Jesus, they will freely talk and listen.

You are at this moment freed from ever having to interrupt a person’s day with an unsolicited Gospel presentation.

 At the same time, pray also for us that God may open a door to us for the message, to speak the mystery of the Messiah, for which I am in prison, – Colossians 4:3

How can we all be involved in evangelism in the local church?

Pray

As the text tells us, pray that God opens a door for the message.  In 1 Timothy 2 we told to pray for everyone because God’s wants to save them all, in Luke 10:2 we are told to pray that God will send workers into the field.  The Bible is clear that God wants us to pray and to pray for people to hear the Gospel.  The movement of a non-believer to believer is a supernatural event that requires a supernatural force. We ask God to do the work in preparing the non-believer and the believer.

If you don’t do anything but pray you are heavily involved in evangelism.

Pause

Then we wait. John 6:44 tells us that no one comes to the Father except the Spirit draw him.  So we must wait for this drawing to take place.  We must wait on the Spirit to prepare us and to prepare others.

This is evangelism you can do every day for as long as you want.  You haven’t spoke to a soul yet you are still involved in the ministry.

While you are in Pause, you could still Pray.

Proclaim

Now, this is where we could have a break down but we won’t. See, we are waiting for the invitation.  When you are “prayed up” and watching for God’s movement, you’ll also be ready.  Someone will say something to you that indicates they are ready to hear from the Lord.  You are not going to miss it, they will ask you a question and all you have to do is answer the question.  I don’t know what they’ll ask, but if you have  a good handle on your own salvation story and a good handle on Jesus’ story you’ll be able to answer those questions.

I  was working  in a “serving” type ministry one day when a person who had been watching stopped me and asked “Why do you do this?”  This is a clear invitation to speak.  I simply answered the question.  “I like people.  I became a follower of Jesus Christ and He lead me to this job to help people.”  They person continued, “what does following Jesus have to do with this?”  I said,  “When I heard the Good News that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, was buried and rose again on the third day and is alive today and that I can be forgiven and changed, I became his follower and have been in this process of becoming like Him.  He has put into me this desire to love people as He does and to serve them as He does.  I wouldn’t  be able to do this without Jesus Christ.”

It was that easy.  I just answering a question.  The fellow was not offended  and didn’t yell or argue or do anything negative.  He said, “Interesting” and wandered away.

You might not get an opportunity everyday, but you’ll get them. You’ll be able to enthusiastically talk about your faith because someone asked you a simple question.  You’ll be involved in the ministry of evangelism every day and we’ll be fulfilling the Great Commission of “as you go make di
sciples… “

Do the work of an evangelist – 2 Timothy 4:5

1. Evangelism is Action – Do

We do evangelism.  It is an activity.  We’ve tried to make a part of our everyday activities rather than a special event that requires us to gather in one spot, touch home base (the church building) then go out together following a program.  However, sometimes we get a little off-centered and we exchange other activities for evangelism.  Some of these activities include; fellowship gatherings, conferences, concerts, bible studies, community service, hanging out at the coffee shop together, hanging out at the park together, hanging out at the building together. We do a lot of stuff that doesn’t equal evangelism.  The Great Commission, the last instructions given to the church prior to Jesus ascension, is to make followers of Christ out of all nations.  That’s something specific to do.  Let’s do it.

2. Evangelism is Labor – the work.

This is not easy.  It will be much easier to talk about it, to preach about it, to read about it, to blog about it, to sing about it, to dream about it, to plan it, to program it, and to organize it,  The work is difficult and challenging.  The result do not come easy.  The risk is great. We are commanded to go (Matthew 28:19) but we are not sent alone  (Matthew 28:20).  So we must team up with Jesus and get to work.

 3. Evangelism has a Focus – of an evangelist.

We are to do the work of an evangelism which is evangelizing, which is telling people the simple good news of Jesus Christ.

Every Christian is either a missionary or an impostor. – Spurgeon

(I took this outline from evangelismcoach.org)

I read a blog this week where the writer said we shouldn’t try to be the church down the street, or the awesome church in the news, but to be the church that does what we do well.  We should find out what we do well and do it.

We asked this morning what we (sojourn) do well.  Using our poor grammar, we asked, What are we good at?  Here are our answers.

We are good at;

Growing beards

Potluck Dinners

Hanging out

Eating Ice Cream

We also discovered that we are really good at meeting people, loving people, making people feel welcomed and accepted, and sharing the Gospel.  We are good at reading our Bible, praying, and obeying Jesus.  We are good at worshipping.

So, the goal isn’t to try to do something that we are NOT good at, but to “play to our strengths.”

Sojourn is good at reaching people with the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Let’s keep it up.

 

 

Sojourn is doing something different!  This week for Easter we will model our worship gathering after what we beleive to be the way the early believers met in the temple.  (modified for us, of course).  We will still sing, pray, preach, and fellowship, it will just be a little more fluid and open.  Image the room set up with the fellowship area with food, the museum of church stuff, the offering area, the be-still-and-know-that-I-am God area, the prayer wall  and several worship stations.  You’ll simply visit the various areas at your own speed, with or without someone, you’ll worship and connect with God in the various stations throughout the hour, however, we’ll interrupt this by calling everyone together at different times for worship through singing, praying together, reading the Word of God, and preaching.  It willl feel like a church-worship-gathering-open-house. We will have an instruction sheet
I think it will be an amazing time of worship together and a great opportunity to bring along a non-believer or young believer with you.  You’ll be able to act like a tour guide and do some discipling and gospel sharing.

 

I was hiking down a road in Iowa (County Road L31) south of Council Bluffs when I spotted an old grave yard.  The ancient tombstones caught my attention so I went in to investigate.  There was a marker for Samuel Allis, the first Presbyterian missionary to this area.  (Moses Merrill was the first Baptist in 1833, Allis arrive in 1834).  Allis ministered to the Pawnee people who liked him and let him live with and among them.  There were no conversions to Christianity during his time with them, though by the 1920’s about 25% of the tribe were members of a Protestant Church.  Allis wrote in May of 1837;

“There are so many difficulties and hindrances at present, among [the] Indians, the prospect of introducing Christianity among them at present is rather discouraging … it is a mistaken idea that many Christians have at the present time, thinking that nations of Indians are to be born to God in a day … I believe that many years will pass first.”

Allis had some great missional ideas; he lived among the people, he travelled with them during their semi-annual hunts, he learned their language, he even suggested to his mission board that it would be a good idea to marry into the tribe (for stability and credibility). The Mission Board became upset that the missionaries spent so much time travelling with the Pawnee and not establishing a permanent mission station.  The board and the rest of this first missionary movement had a fatal flaw; they believed they had to get the Native Americans to give up their traditional lifestyle and begin to live and act like New England farmers before they could become Christians.

Now, the lessons from the past.

1.  Our mission is NOT to convert them to our culture but to Jesus Christ. 

These early missionaries spent a lot of time trying to convince the Pawnee to stop their semi annual hunts and take up farming full time. Their goal was simply to fit the Pawnee into the missionaries idea of a church community; a building with people living around it.

We’ve been trapped in this mindset for some time.  We get a nice building, a nice sound system, a great worship service and then expect the people to come to us.  When they come we bad-mouth everything they like; rock music, tattoos, long hair, video games, MTV, etc…

When they meet Jesus, He’ll clean up their culture.  Getting people to act like us in not the goal, following Jesus is the goal.

2.  Living missionally among them is the right way.

We need to follow their example of living in the community, learning their language, participating in their world, and having some legitimacy there (no need to marry for that any longer).  We can’t go to a church activity every night and then expect to have time to connect with the natives.  Meet some people.  If a non-believer invites you into his world, go.  Redeem what you can, don’t do what you shouldn’t.

3.  It takes time, obedience to God is the plan. 

We are living in a post-Christian America.  They do not know our stories, nor do they naturally respect the institution of the church.  So we can’t expect that they understand us.  The Spirit of God has to move people a long way from their pagan, self-worshipping ways to an understanding of the grace of God through Jesus Christ.  This will take time.  Let’s let the Spirit work. We must love people, remain consistent in our obedience to Christ and continue to serve and minister to others.  Don’t get in a hurry and “force” the conversion.  Don’t give up, either.

Quality chek'd ice cream

Ice Cream

There is much fear related to sharing the Gospel.  We all struggle with the fear of rejection.  We also fear we’ll blow the opportunity.  We fear being embarrassed.  The receiver (person hearing the Gospel) fears that someone is trying to scam them, sell them something, push something, manipulate, or embarrass them.

An environment to hear the Gospel.  How do we negate all these fears and share freely?  Let’s first, remember a major social rule in the USA.  Don’t shove your religion down my throat!  This means don’t talk to me about religion unless I want to talk about religion.  Most people will throw up the “walls” as soon as you bring up the subject, however, if they bring up the subject they will let you talk with them all day.  So the secret obviously is to create an environment where they can bring up the subject.

We built “Ice Cream and Answers.”  A real ice cream kiosk in the Mall of the Bluffs (we’ve since closed it down and made a mobile version).  We’ll call it ICA in this blog.  We gave away free ice cream and answered questions.  Now, this was quite a curiosity for people since nothing is truly free.  We gave away the ice cream with no strings attached at all.  This caused people to be curious and ask questions.  A typcial encounter went like this.  Them: “What are the answers?”  Us:  “What are your questions?”  Us:  “we know stuff” “We are really good at relationship issues; how to raise children, how to understand teenagers, how to fix your marriage, etc”  This usually sparked something that was on their mind and they would ask a question.  “What do I do if my wife doesn’t trust me?”  “How do I potty train my child?”  We would talk (I really do know  a lot of stuff) and I would simply answer their questions.  Sometimes I would ask probing questions to clarify their question.

Where is the evangelism in this?  Since most of our problems are generated from our sin nature (or someone else’s sin) then it is natural for the topic of spiritual things to come up.  I would just let this happen.  When they brought up religion or anything spiritual I was free to discuss Jesus.  More on this later.

Now, remember, you must create an environment where people can feel free, welcomed, accepted, and not pushed.  If you let the Spirit of God do they work inside the person and just wait, they will bring up the issue and you’ll be free to speak.  Patience is important.  We never brought up church, Jesus, God, religion or anything spiritual until they did.  Even when they asked who funded ICA, we would say “A few national organizations, local groups, a couple of churches and several rich friends.”  More on this later.

Jesus

Image via Wikipedia

Everyone loves originality. People are naturally attracted to new ideas and fresh methods of achieving an age-old goal. For Christ-followers, this translates into discovering innovative methods of evangelizing. God has given us all different talents, different visions, and different people that we best relate/minister to.

This summer, I’ve had the tremendous blessing of experiencing ministry in an unconventional setting. A church in the mall … giving out free ice cream to anyone who asks. How often does that happen?

My time at Sojourn Church has been refreshing in that it’s cemented certain ministry truths and methods within me that, at times, seem to buck against traditional “churchy” evangelism. Let me share a few with you.

1. Numbers don’t matter.

Okay, not everyone gets extremely hung up on numbers. (i.e. How many people were in church on Sunday, how many people have accepted Christ this year, etc.) But too often it does become a misleading gauge of success. Minimal decisions for Christ don’t necessarily constitute failure in ministry, nor do phenomenal attendance numbers equal real spiritual growth. One truly sincere decision to follow Christ is more valuable in God’s eyes than a thousand fakers.

2. Let them ask you – it’s fun.

We sometimes get the idea that in order to evangelize we need to knock on doors and comb the streets, passing out Gospel tracts to every random person we see. While tracts can be quite handy in their own proper setting, they’re not very profitable in everyday conversations. If you simply live out the qualities that Jesus promises to produce in all His followers (love, joy, peace, patience …), you’re sure to get questions on why you live the way you do. Just live honestly in your faith and someone will eventually ask you what’s up.

3. Listen.

Everyone needs a listening ear. Especially if they’re going through some rough stuff in their life. Don’t try to fix them constantly. Let them talk, ask them questions about themselves, and be available to hear their story.

4. Don’t push.

Nobody likes pressure. If an unbeliever feels that we’re “pushing our religion” on them, they’ll shut down. We should be bold and open with our faith, but it should also come across naturally. Don’t deliberately shine the Light in its full force on those who may need to gradually break out of their darkness.

5. Be their friend.

In the end, it all comes down to building relationships. Gain an unbeliever’s trust. Show them that you genuinely care about them and what’s going on in their life. Be gentle, be kind, be patient, be the fun buddy that they know they can go to. Let God create a friendship that may help lead someone on the narrow road to Heaven.

So there ya have it. Just a few things one should never forget when it comes to ministering to the lost.