Posts Tagged ‘evangelism’

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… “

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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.

 

As we’ve discussed in our sermon series on Identity, people struggle almost constantly with these feelings of fitting-in and acceptance. They are unsure and insecure.  When the come to sojourn they are taking a huge risk.  They have plenty of reasons to NOT go to church and that fear wells up inside of them.  We must help them to visit us.  We can help them by making them feel totally accepted and welcomed.  This is not easy when their natural disposition is the opposite.  Here are some steps.

The Arrival

A person’s first encounter should be with a smiling and welcoming believer.  This means that there must be someone at each door looking out for them (much like the father of the prodigal son).  We’ve done a good job at making sojourn warm and welcoming but people need that friendly face to greet them and reassure them that it is ok to be there.  If their biggest reason for not coming to church is that they are afraid, this is the greatest ministry we can do.

1.  Look for people.

2.  Smile and greet warmly.

3.  Stay with them.

Be Hospitable

Let’s treat them like they are in our home.  We wouldn’t just expect them to walk around and find everything themselves and help themselves to everything.  We must stay with them.

1.  Give them a tour of the spaces.

2.  Offer a snack and drink.  Take them to the snack spot.

3.  Take them to a seat

4.  Introduce them to a few people.

Be attentive

They have come to check us out.  But they are also looking for a connection. We do a lot at sojourn about connecting.  Let’s include the new person.

1.  Include the new people in your conversations.

2.  During the welcome activities, seek out the new person and engage them in the activity.

3.  During anything interactive, attend to the new person.  Help them out.

4.  When they leave make sure you say good by and invite them back.

 

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.

BART: Safe area

Connecting with people and telling them the good news of Jesus Christ is difficult.  The problem we face is that the world, the flesh, and the Devil have successfully put people on alert to “religion” and they are on guard against “pushy” religious folks.  However, we know that people are interested in spiritual conversations and that they seek to be right with God. How do we get past their shields in order to communicate the good news?  How do we share the Gospel without sounding crazy, religious, pushy, or like a salesman?  How do we effectively reach people with the Gospel?

The following is a quick summary.  I’ll blog more details in the near future.

1.  Create the Environment. In order for people to hear the Gospel they need to feel welcomed and comfortable.  We don’t want to seem like we are “selling” them or being pushy.  We want to convey that they are real and important people to us and that they are safe and free to be who they are.  This is created both in the safe area in which you speak (like a fast food restaurant) and in your body language. If you truly love people like Jesus loves people your body language will show it.  Regardless of the energy you spend hiding it, a judgmental or hypocritical attitude shows in body language.

2. Create the Opportunity.  We must figure how to connect with people without being a “creeper.”  Having some attention getting device helps.  Your clever and “not lame” t-shirt, a copy of a current best seller, a really cool car, or a sign “ask me about _____”. Also, a few interesting conversation starters would work fine. Complimenting something about them is always a great way to start a conversation as well as a comment about something you are both experiencing.

3. Get Approachable.   You need to be and look friendly, but not crazy and eerie.  Ask your friends how you look sitting there in McDonald’s.  A friendly face is very approachable.  A smile is invaluable, but insanity and psychotic is not.  Find a good balance.  Be prepared to talk about topics that are relevant to non-believers.  Make sure you are living in the same reality as they are living.  Be real.

4.  Eliminate conversation killers.   People carry with them a stereotype of what they expect Christians to be like.  Let’s not act the negative way they expect.  Do not verbally condemn anyone.  Keep all your negative opinions to yourself.  Don’t tell the a bunch of rules about following Jesus, don’t tell them what they “ought” to do, don’t lecture, don’t drop cliches, don’t correct their opinion, don’t speak poorly about anyone.  These behaviors do not help you share the truth of Jesus Christ nor do they help you get closer to the person.  Also, plan to listen a lot more than you speak and keep your comments to under 40 seconds at a time.

5. Connect their story with Jesus’ story.   This is a challenge.  You’ll need to listen to the people speak while constantly praying and an thinking of where this person’s life intersects with Jesus.  If you are having a healthy back and forth conversation you’ll be able to quote someone or tell a story about Jesus during the conversation.  Your comments must fit the context.  God is always at work and if He has worked out this encounter He’ll move the person in the conversation to a connecting spot.  You have to be ready.  Then you simply make the connection in your conversation.

If the person is listening and feeling the pull of the Holy Spirit he’ll connect with your “Jesus comment” at which point they will ask a question or two about Jesus or church or salvation.  Now, you can share your story or answer their question with a simple Gospel presentation.