Archive for the ‘Evangelism’ Category

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.