Archive for the ‘Evangelism’ Category

Articles

I Hate Sharing My Faith

In Evangelism,Videos on May 9, 2014 by The Spillover

Francis Chan:

Articles

They Do It Better Than We Do

In Evangelism on February 11, 2014 by The Spillover

Tim Brister:

Imagine with me a disciple-making culture that looked something like this.

Disciple-makers have decided to commit a minimum of 9-10 hours a week providing hands-on practical training. This commitment did not coming with compelling arguments. The disciple-makers love it. They want to invest their time in the work. There is a team of disciple-makers–seven in all–committed to making a total of 12 disciples together over the course of several months. The kind of teaching and training they provide is not a classroom lecture, though there certainly is an intellectual component to it. But it is more than that. It is hands-on with a high level of participation and practice where those being discipled have an immediate opportunity to work it out. Along with the practical instruction and increasing depth of knowledge, there is constant encouragement from the team of disciple-makers. Any opportunity to affirm change and progress is acknowledged, not only by the team of disciple-makers but also those being discipled. Corresponding to the high level of challenge is a high level of celebration as it becomes evident that there is a high level of change taking place in those being discipled. The heads (instruction), hearts (encouragement), and hands (practical application) of those being discipled are trained by those modeling the life and work before them in their own context.

Sounds like a pretty amazing disciple-making experience, right?

What I just shared with you is my 6-year-old’s city league baseball team.

One year ago, my son was playing tee ball with 4-year-olds, where toddlers would race to wherever the ball was hit (and then the gang pile). Now, he is learning game scenarios and fielding techniques from his coaches, and kids twice the age of those he played with last year modeling for him how to do everything from running bases to cheering on his fellow teammates. For the past 2-3 weeks, it has been an amazing sight to watch my son go from making “confetti” with grass in the outfield to learning how to react differently to fly balls and ground balls.

My son’s team practices three days a week, and each practice is approximately two hours long. Most of the seven coaches arrive 30 minutes early for kids who want to shag balls or get some extra one-on-one instruction. Each kid invests a minimum $200 for the season, which includes registration, batting helmet, glove, and bat. None of this is coerced or has to be explained. Both players and coaches just know these are the expectations, and the desire to play the game is greater than any of these expectations placed on them.

As I began to process what was taking place here, I could not help but notice the dynamic disciple-making culture of the team and wonder why the church does not take a similar approach to making disciples. If we took baseball out of the equation and placed it with gospel-centered living, would we find 7 disciple-makers committed to 12 disciples for 10 hours together each week over the course of 4 months? Would each disciple be willing to not only invest the time but hundreds of dollars to get the necessary resources and tools to be well-trained as a follower of Jesus Christ? Such a commitment seems ridiculous for Christians these days, but it is normative and expected for little league baseball run by the public recreation department! What gives?! And we wonder why disciples are not being made and lives are not seriously being impacted with the transforming power of the gospel?

The fact is: my son’s coaches make disciples better than us. They are more committed than we are. They are more excited and desirous to make disciples than we are. They don’t complain about it. They celebrate it. It’s a privilege and joy. They are not going through some pre-packaged “discipleship curriculum” for one hour a week with a few questions. They are on the field, not the classroom, and they are asking dozens and dozens of questions and helping kids answered them with application, not just information. They are doing it one-on-one, and they are doing it as a team of 7 dads serving as coaches to get the most out of these boys. And the boys are loving every minute of it because they are being challenged and changed in the process.

It’s a sad commentary and indictment when little league baseball coaches are more successful and committed to training and developing boys into baseball players than disciple-makers are to making and maturing disciples of Jesus. They have a sport; we have a Savior. They are given trophies; we are trophies of grace. They a game to win; we have a life to gain. At the very least, I have enjoyed going to school in learning how to make disciples of Jesus by being one of the seven coaches on the field training kids to play baseball. I’m going to be a better discple-maker for the sake of the gospel because of this. I just wish I had this kind of disciple-making training earlier.

Articles

From Strangers to Missionaries: A Neighborhood Strategy for Mission

In Evangelism on August 8, 2013 by The Spillover

Tim Brister:

Over the past month, many people have heard about my “Jericho Road Moment.” That story is part of a bigger story this year where I’m praying and pursuing God’s kingdom work in my neighborhood and city with renewed initiative and intentionality. Over the past couple months, I’ve been working to gain greater clarity on how to make that happen.

Jesus commissioned His disciples to go into the world and make disciples. I believe, first and foremost, Jesus is speaking of cross-cultural engagement of unreached people groups. The thrust has an expansive, horizontal dimension no doubt. But, I also believe that the making of disciples has a depth dimension as well. Even in “reached” areas of our cities, there are many unreached and unengaged people. Let’s be honest: What percentage of our city is unengaged with the gospel? What percentage of people have any proximity to the kingdom of Christ?

A Helpful Diagnostic to Consider

In my city, we have 165,000 people. The best research I could find is that less than 10,000 belong to any church. That means 155,000+ people need the gospel of Jesus Christ. We dwell in the same city, but for all intents and purposes, they are strangers to me and every other Christian and church. When we are not on mission, the way a church “grows” is by shuffling some of the 10,000 when things don’t work out (transfer growth). It may give the appearance that we are reaching our city with the gospel when in reality we are simply receiving Christians who are either new to the area, or done with their previous church. We are skimming the surface with no missional depth to genuinely engage the city, evangelize the lost, and establish new disciples in the faith.

Here’s a helpful diagnostic to consider. How many non-Christians do you know on a first-name basis? How many of them would consider you a friend? What percentage of your relationship investments is with those who do not know Jesus Christ? How accessible are you to those in your world who do not know God? If the members of our church cannot, off the top of their heads, list 3-5 unbelievers they know, then we have missional atrophy. If the overwhelming percentage of relationship investments of church members are with other Christians, then it has become ingrown. If there are not pathways for pursuing those far from God in our lives, then we have put the Great Commission on the shelf to collect dust.

 

The Big Picture

What I’ve done to help me make sense is to answer the questions: What will it take for me to go deep into the unengaged sections of my city to make disciples of Jesus? How can I measure missional advance and impact? To help answer those questions, I have developed this city and neighborhood strategy:

» Strangers need to become Neighbors through missional intentionality.

» Neighbors need to become Acquaintances through incarnational integrity.

» Acquaintances need to become Friends through relational investment.

» Friends need to become Family through evangelical invitation.

» Family needs to become Missionaries through practical instruction.

When I begin, everyone outside of my church family are strangers to me. But when movement takes place, some will become neighbors. Over a period of time, and as deeper engagement takes place, more and more neighbors will become acquaintances, then friends, and then fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who are trained to repeat the process. All of this, in my opinion, is discipleship.

Moving Downward for Gospel Advance

If we are going to make disciples of Jesus Christ, we have to go after “strangers.” Strangers, those far from God, will not be attracted to our Churches attractional efforts or events. We must go to where they are by pursuing them. This begins by having an intentional approach to ordinary living. If we are threads for kingdom fabric, we are to be woven into the heart of the city with everyday rhythms and networking strategies that introduce you to strangers and invite them to become neighbors. These rhythms include where you eat, when you play, how you shop, etc. The networking strategies have to do with purposeful attempts to connect with people on a repeated basis. (I will tease this out more in a follow up post).

Strangers become neighbors when they know who you are and you know who they are. But the knowledge at this point is very superficial. A neighbor becomes an acquaintance when you begin to have a shared life through the integrity of your incarnational efforts. By that, I mean the sincerity of your words and consistency of your actions create a plausibility to neighbors that gives permission to share life through regular greetings, short conversations, etc.

Acquaintances become friends when you make an intentional investment so that the rhythms of life with other people sync up so that a shared life is more than a casual conversation. You are in their homes, and they are in your home. You connect on a regular basis. They open up to you in ways that you understand the story of their lives, and as a good listener, learn how the story of the gospel can find redemptive bridges to cross into their world.

Friends become family when you naturally share with your friends who you are and what is most important to you. You tell them your story and how God has made you new. And through the relationship investment, your friend feels safe asking questions and bringing up objections knowing they are not a project to fix or a sale to make. By seeing the impact of the gospel in your life and sharing the good news in everyday evangelistic conversations, friends are invited to brothers and sisters through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

Family members become missionaries when they walk with you through life-on-life practical instruction on what it means to follow Jesus. They become fluent in the gospel and shaped by the reign of Christ when seeking first the kingdom of God. And they wrestle with the struggles and share in the successes together with you while joining you as a missionary in their neighborhood and city.

The Significance of This Strategy

There are two main aspects of this strategy that I want to highlight. First, you notice that most everything happens outside the main structures and/or events of the church. I am all about church gathered and recognize the need to do attractional church well, but very little Great Commission advance, in my opinion, is achieve by the “come and see” approach. Second, some may argue, “Why don’t you just preach to strangers and see them trust Christ then and there?” In other words, why don’t you go straight from stranger to family? From my experience, this kind of leap truncates discipleship and make converts, not disciples the goal. I have seen little lasting fruit from evangelism divorced from relationship, presence, and service to the community.

As I plan out my missional engagement to make disciples of Jesus, I want to evaluate the percentage of my relationship investment for gospel advance. How many strangers have become neighbors? How many neighbors can now be considered acquaintances? How many are moving toward becoming friends? Friends to family? Family to missionaries? Where there is no movement to go deep in the community, we will relegate the Great Commission to the swapping of sheep instead of making new disciples of Jesus. We are to be a pioneering people, not a privileged people. Let us go as those who are sent and preach as those who have a saving message, and love as those who have been adopted by our heavenly Father.

Quotes

Jesus Fish

Placing a Jesus fish on your car isn’t wrong, but neither is it evangelism.

Burk Parsons

Posted September 5, 2012 by The Spillover

Articles

That Awkward Moment When…

In Being Real,Evangelism,Perspective on June 14, 2012 by The Spillover

From Ken Currie:

Evangelism is counter-cultural. It’s true everywhere on the planet, but perhaps it’s especially so in our increasingly post-Christian Western society. We live in a polite culture, for the most part. Talk about religion? You just don’t go there. Talk about how many tornadoes have come through, and how the team is doing, and how the city has new recycling bins. But Jesus Christ, crucified for sinners and risen from the dead? You just don’t go there. So they say.

For the time being, it seems the greatest threat to gospel-telling in such a society is not that we will be hauled before the city council, beaten, and have our property taken away. What we are really dealing with is some awkwardness.

Awkwardness is perhaps the biggest threat to evangelism for far too many of us.

Awkwardness Never Killed Anyone

I’ve done a little research and can confirm to you that there is not one documented case of someone dying, or even being severely injured, by awkwardness. Not one.

But when I read my kids’ Twitter, I see nearly half their tweets starting with “That awkward moment when… .” Awkwardness is catastrophic, and maybe especially so among the younger generation.

Awkwardness! It’s as if we imagine fire and asteroids and dragons. As if people are running through the streets yelling, “Run from the awkwardness, it’s going to get you! You might feel awkward. It would be terrible if you felt awkward!”

But a little awkwardness — or even a lot of it — is such a small price to pay for enjoying the power of God’s Spirit using us to be his witnesses.

Joy in Small Suffering

I write this as no super-evangelist. I’m right there with you, naturally fearful that things might be awkward. I sit on the plane thinking, “If the guy next to me doesn’t like my talking about Jesus, it’s going to be awkward.” Oh, no, I’ll have a hard life to deal with sitting next to this guy for two whole hours being awkward.

For the Christian, there is a joy and a privilege to suffer for Jesus, even a tiny little bit. Most of us can agree that when we do step out in faith, the awkwardness really wasn’t that bad in retrospect. Awkwardness seems so horrible when it’s in front of us. But it’s not nearly as bad behind us. All my limbs are together, I’m okay, it’s really not that bad.

You Are Involved

The aim here is not to press any kind of guilt on you. But I think when we look at this issue of gospel witness, we have a tendency to do what they do in big cities when somebody is laying on the ground. Everyone walks past the victim like they didn’t notice anything. Then the cops come around the corner and wonder why nobody responded. It was because nobody wanted to get involved.

Well, if you are a born-again believer, you are involved — really, really involved. The Holy Spirit lives in your heart. You cannot be more involved. You’re in the middle of it. It’s happening right there in you. You are the issue, you are the scene of the crime. You’re involved. We cannot dance out of the way.

Why So Difficult?

Why would God make something that we long to do so difficult to do?

For some Christians, it is isn’t that difficult to evangelize. In fact, these tend to be confused as to why so few Christians are involved in ongoing, bold evangelism. If this is you, I want to tell you, we praise God for your boldness. And you should know, you are a bit weird. For you, awkwardness is just an abstract concept. For the rest of us, awkwardness is like a plague to be avoided at all costs. But this is an example of the different parts in the body of Christ making their specific contribution to God’s glory and the advance of his kingdom. So why is something so important and integral to the Christian life so difficult for so many?

Here’s one answer: God gives most of us this awareness of awkwardness so that we would never, not for a second, trust in or magnify ourselves and drift away from the magnificence of the gospel. This awareness in evangelism makes the gospel tangible. It means I need the gospel right now myself. Not only does my hearer need Jesus at this moment, but so do I!

Jesus died for disciples who do a poor job of witnessing. He died for those of us who have all too often failed to commend him because we feared it might get awkward. But he also died to give us the grace to press through the awkwardness to testify to him.

May God give us the grace to rebound from our many failures and grace not to fold in the face of awkwardness in telling others the most important news in the world.

Links

Divine Sovereignty: The Fuel of Death-Defying Missions

In Evangelism,Links,Soul Food on May 1, 2012 by The Spillover

Friends,

This, to me, is more than the average blog post. In my daily life I peruse a significant amount of content online, and have done so for years. The message I’m linking to in this post is, I think, one of the most important messages I’ve heard in my life. I listened to it for the second time last night, and it has had a profound effect on me.

Please, set aside an hour and listen to what David Platt had to say about world missions at the T4G conference last month.

Articles

Make a Hit List

In Evangelism on April 23, 2012 by The Spillover

Good advice from Erik Raymond:

Prior to becoming a pastor I worked in the insurance industry. One aspect of this job that I really enjoyed was my regular time with so many different people. As I tried to get to know them I found out that most were not believers. I knew that in order to reach them with the gospel I needed to be more intentional. I began a quick little file called, “hit-list.” Contrary to the title this list was a list of unbelievers whom I was praying for and hoped that they would come to know Jesus. I would keep a file that referenced various types of conversations, needs, and burdens that they have expressed. I would also reference how I planned to try to reach them. (this became somewhat difficult to explain to the IT guy when he asked why my boss was on my “hit-list”).

Overall the “hit list” was very effective. It forced me to look at the names of unbelievers who were all around me. It moved me to pray for them and then talk with them. In short, it made me intentional.

If churches are going to be a faithful family of missionaries then we must underline the word intentional. Who has God put around us that need to hear about Jesus? Make a list, begin praying, and begin engaging.

Articles

Missing Mike

In Being Real,Evangelism on January 9, 2012 by The Spillover

Posts like this are why I read Tim Challies‘ blog every day:

I fell asleep last night thinking about Mike. Mike was a friend and colleague, something of a mentor in the first real job I had after graduating from college. I met Mike on the first day at that new job and it didn’t take long for us to click. We were never great friends—we didn’t call one another on the weekends or get our families together (though we sometimes talked about it)—but for several years, as long as the job lasted, we were friends at the office.

We had a lot in common, the two of us, though Mike was a few years older and in management while I was younger and nowhere near management. Mike knew of this great little Italian restaurant not too far from the office and we would often go there for lunch together, devising creative ways of making and losing wagers on who would pay for the meal. A sports nut, he would often make paying contingent on a team that won or lost, whether that team was winning or losing at hockey, football, baseball or pretty much any other game (we drew the line at wrestling). Sometimes we would go to the local driving range at lunch and hit a bucket or two of balls—still another way of determining who would pay for lunch the next time around.

We also had in common our dedication to family. We had gotten married within a couple of years of one another and we had children that were just about the same ages. In an office full of young guys who were still sowing their wild oats, so to speak, Mike and I were more dedicated to family than to fun. When all the other guys went to a local “gentlemen’s club” to celebrate a birthday or promotion, Mike and I would go to the Italian place, eat lasagna, and talk about our kids.

Mike and I sometimes talked about the things that matter most—sin and Saviors and salvation. A lapsed Anglican, Mike was not too interested in talking about faith. It’s not that he was outwardly hostile or combative; he was simply indifferent, polite.

One day our small, privately-owned company was purchased by a giant American corporation. We were promised stock options and insurance plans and all kinds of perks. Instead we were handed pink slips. The whole branch was shut down; the technology was taken south and the staff was laid off. Mike and I went our separate ways. I didn’t see him for the next couple of years. We emailed occasionally, but no more than that.

But after a couple of years had passed I got an email from Mike’s wife. Mike had come down with a cough and then a severe backache with that cough. A trip to the doctor raised the terrifying prospect of cancer; a trip to the specialist revealed the ugly truth of a virulent form of leukemia. The doctors gave him less than a 20% chance of survival. His wife wrote to ask if I would pray. She was desperate and afraid and knew me as the guy who prayed. So I prayed.

I went to visit Mike in the hospital one time, my Bible in my pocket. Because the constant rounds of chemotherapy had destroyed his immune system he was often in isolation, but eventually I was able to visit him. He was a shadow of his former self, an athlete reduced to little more than a living skeleton. I wasn’t allowed to get too close to him, so I sat as far away as I could in the tiny little hospital room and talked about old times. Mike had moved to another company and had been on the fast-track to promotion when he got sick. The boss there was holding the job open for him in the hope that he could return soon. We talked about our kids and marriages, about our jobs and the Toronto Blue Jays. Mike talked all about his illness and prospects and hopes for the future. He was certain that the cancer was about to go into remission and that he would soon be free to get on with life. And then a nurse barged into the room and, with all the authority that comes with her position, told me my time was up. Mike had some kind of a procedure to get to and I had become persona non grata.

I said my good-byes, promised to visit again soon, and walked out of the room, feeling the weight of that Bible in my coat pocket. I hadn’t ever taken it out. I hadn’t steered the conversation to the state of Mike’s soul. The opportunity had been lost. I resolved to go back very soon and to do better this time.

Just a few weeks later I stood at the back of a crowded church, a church where the gospel had not been preached for many, many years, and heard Mike’s family say their farewells. They remembered him as a loving husband, a proud father, a loyal son, a mischievous brother. They laughed and cried, they celebrated his life and mourned his death. His little girls sat there, knowing that daddy was gone, but not yet understanding the finality of death. It was the first funeral I had ever been to for a peer—not an elderly man or woman who died old and full of years, but a friend in the prime of life.

I stood back there silent and ashamed and knowing that death is final and yet not final. I knew what everyone else there denied—that Mike was dead but alive. His body had died and was already returning to the dust. But his soul was alive and well. Or not well. Probably not well. As far as I know, Mike never turned to the Lord. He never saw the depth of his sin and his need for a Savior. And in the fear of my sin, the fear of what one man would think of me, I missed the opportunity to tell him about the One who offered him life even in death.

All these years later I am still ashamed. I know I’ve been forgiven even for this sin, but still I wish that I had done what was right, that in that one great opportunity I had offered hope and offered life. I wish…

Articles

Do You Struggle with Evangelism?

In Evangelism on December 2, 2011 by The Spillover

Helpful post from Jesse Johnson at The Cripplegate:

Perhaps you are one of the many who does not find evangelism easy or natural. Here are some steps to take to help your evangelism be more effective:

Live a Transformed Life

The most eloquent and fluent Gospel presentation is muted if unbelievers identify you by patterns of sin in your life. The more holy and the more set apart our lives are, the more powerful our evangelism generally will be. In fact, the consistent testimony of a changed life is one of the more compelling proofs of the truth of the Gospel (Rom 12:1).

Pray Relentlessly

I have seen in my own life that in times where I am not praying for evangelistic opportunities, I have a hard time identifying them. However, the more I pray and ask God to open opportunities for evangelism, the more opportunities I seem to have. Prayer is not only answered by God bringing more non-believers into our lives, but is also answered by God allowing us see the opportunities that are already present. A sign of godliness is earnest prayer for the lost (Rom 10:1).

Start the Conversation

Because of your love and compassion for your neighbors and co-workers, develop relationships with them. Get to know their names, their interests, their joys and their trials. Ask them questions, and listen to the answers. I am always surprised about how many Christians don’t even know the names of their neighbors. Start the conversations with them, and watch how God may develop relationships that lead to the Gospel being proclaimed.

Explain the Gospel

In the course of your relationships with friends and neighbors, talk about spiritual things. Ask questions in a loving way, and be prepared to explain what you believe, and why it is different from their beliefs. Explain why you have an eternal hope. Explain who God is, that he is holy and that he is the creator. Explain why man is sinful and in need of a savior. Explain how Christ is that savior and how his death and resurrection can restore us to a right relationship with God. And finally, tell them what a saving response looks like by challenging them to count the cost, deny themselves, and become a follower of Christ.

Don’t be Discouraged

The worst-case scenario in evangelism is that people reject the Gospel. They do this because they are spiritually dead and blind to the things of God (Eph 2:1). The evangelist has an impossible task, one for which it seems we are completely insufficient (2 Cor 3:5-6). But we rely on God who can bring the dead to life, and we are faithful with the opportunities that God gives us, trusting him with the results.

Quotes

Evangelism is Not

It is not hard for people to talk about what they love. Evangelism is not a plan or presentation. It’s talking about the love of your life.

Tim Brister

Posted November 15, 2011 by The Spillover

Articles

Articulating Our Christian Worldview in Four Steps

In Evangelism on October 27, 2011 by The Spillover

Kevin DeYoung offers a simple four-step process to articulating our Christian worldview:

One God. We worship one, personal, knowable, holy God. There are not two gods or ten gods or ten million gods, only one. He has always been and will always be. He is not a product of our mind or imagination. He really exists and we can know him because he has spoken to us in his word.

Two kinds of being. We are not gods. God is not found in the trees or the wind or in us. He created the universe and cares for all that he has made, but he is distinct from his creation. The story of the world is not about being released from the illusion of our existence or discovering the god within. The story is about God, the people he made, and how the creatures can learn to delight in, trust in, and obey their Creator.

Three persons. The one God exists eternally in three persons. The Father is God. The Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, is God. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Father and the Son, is also God. And yet these three—equal in glory, rank, and power—are three persons. The doctrine of the Trinity helps explain how there can be true unity and diversity in our world. It also shows that our God is a relational God.

For us. Something happened in history that changed the world. The Son of God came into the world as a man, perfectly obeyed his Father, fulfilled Israel’s purpose, succeeded where Adam failed, and began the process of reversing the curse. Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world. He rose again from the dead on the third day. By faith in him our sins can be forgiven and we can be assured of living forever with God and one day being raised from the dead like Christ.

Obviously, this doesn’t say everything that needs to be said about the Bible or Christianity. But I find it to be a helpful way to get a handle on some of the most important distinctives of a Christian worldview.

%d bloggers like this: