evangelism

LET YOUR HOSPITALITY HELP GROW YOUR EVANGELISM

 

This 84 second video will help and encourage your gospel outreach.

Matt Chandler, Lead Pastor at the Village Church in Texas, makes a strong connection between practicing hospitality and sharing Christ.

84 seconds doesn’t give him time to dig into the implications, but with only 84 seconds watching the video, you will have plenty of time to contemplate those for yourself.

Here are a few quick ones that came to my mind:

(1)  Expressions of love and care will impact people and open their hearts to us.

(2)  These actions will also draw them to want to know more about our world – a world in which Christ is the epicenter!

(3)  Hospitality is wonderfully expressed in our homes, but we can also make it a mindset throughout the day.

These should be encouraging thoughts for every believer who wants to reach people; work on your hospitality to impact those around you who are without Christ.

HAVE YOU TRIED SHARED EVANGELISM?

I am reading through “Compelling Community” by Mark Dever for the third time (this time it’s with the pastors). Near the end of the book I was struck afresh by his reflections on the corporate witness of the local church.

Dever points out that fruitful evangelism should not be limited to church events or individual witnessing. He offers a third category of “community witness”. When a church practices vibrant biblical community, this is a very compelling witness of gospel truths.

Here are some of the ways Dever suggests we can put Community Witness into practice:

Talk about life at church

We easily talk about what is going on in our life during conversations with friends and acquaintances. Try salting those conversations with what is taking place in our church life. Let people hear about biblical community in action. It should be obvious that sharing complaints about church would be counter-productive to the gospel.

Mix our circles of hospitality

When you have neighborhood or family events, invite church friends. And when you have a gathering with church friends, invite unbelievers you know. When we are in a small group, we have a natural pool of people to include in these social events that are common to life. Over time they will build relationships with our family and friends.

Invite church friends to join you in evangelism

Include a church friend in a spiritual conversation you are having with someone at a coffee shop, or you can invite a believing friend, and an unbelieving friend to read the bible together with you once a week.

Connect church life to your neighborhood

Find ways to impact people in the neighborhood around your church or around your small group. Get together with fellow believers and discuss how you can share life within that community.

SO WHAT’S THE SECRET?

What is the secret of Evangelistic Churches?

Thom Rainer wants us to know that it is not a secret at all.

Churches are evangelistic when the people of that church are passionate about the gospel. As we say at Greentree, “If we want to be a more evangelistic church, then we need to be more evangelistic people”.

In this article, Tom Rainer shares the attitudes, habits and patterns in Christians who are fruitfully engaged with people for the gospel. Or in Jesus terms, those fulfilling who they truly are as “Salt” and “Light” in this dark and desperately lost world.

There are obviously actions that must be in our life if we want to be evangelistic people. Just as clearly, being equipped will help us wisely take the gospel forward. Reading Rainer’s article is a small, but good little step in moving forward as a person who wants God to use them for the gospel of His Son.

But above all – it is our heart that God must have for our lives to be fruitfully used.

1. We all can have a heart for the gospel today!

2. And everyone we meet today needs gospel truths and encouragements (whether they are an unbeliever or a believer)

Are you willing to pray and ask God to help your heart to be more gospel driven?

Are you willing to ask God to show you the people he has for you to impact?

BEING A NEIGHBOR

We seek refuge in our back yards, rather than sit on our front porches

We park in our garages, instead of in the street

We shop online, rather than downtown

We change address more often, instead of settle at one place for life

For these and many other reasons, it is harder today to build relationships with our neighbors.

Yet,

The Bible tells us to “love our neighbor”

Our churches tell us to reach out to our neighbor

And we want to be a good neighbor

So, how do we make this happen?

A good place to start is to read this month’s book recommendation: “The Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside your Door”, by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon

No book can do the work of neighboring for us, but reading this book can increase your heart for it and it provides lots of practical thoughts on what to do now.

Here is an excerpt

“The beauty of the art of neighboring is that it’s simple and genuine. You don’t need to memorize any pitches. You don’t need to chart out a master plan for evangelizing your neighborhood. You don’t need to worry about having a canned speech in your back pocket. In short, you need not make your neighbors your “pet project”; make them your friends. You simply need to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, strength, and body, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

ARE YOU TOO CHRISTIAN?

“Are You Too Christian for Non-Christians?”

One of the other pastors on our team recommended an article with this title from the Desiring God Blog that asks us to look at how engaged we are with people who don’t know Christ.

The point being made is vital,

If we have no connection with unbelievers, how do we reach them?

The article by Rick Segal also makes the point that it can be difficult to develop new connections when we are uncomfortable with what people believe and with how they live.

Segal’s article ends with a few helpful suggestions for being used by God in reaching people around us who need the gospel.

Any article is worth reading if it helps us to think through what keeps us from sharing Christ and provides good advice on steps that will help us become more gospel effective.

Please read it!

 

MAKE LIFE MEANINGFUL

Yesterday, I brought up the uplifting truth that God is sovereign over this big, complicated and messy world.

Fortunately, I had the help of Pastor Josh Blount, who brought his insightfulness to how the reality of God being sovereign over all that happens, encourages us to represent Christ in all that is happening.

Today, I am sharing one more related thought from Josh’s article “Encouragement to Evangelize”.

In the quote you read yesterday, Josh helped lift the burden of making the gospel work in people off our shoulders.

Now, he excites us with the potential that God’s sovereignty places in our simple and routine lives:

“Do you see what all this means for evangelism? Every moment is bursting with eternal significance! Oh, there’s mystery here, to be sure. We choose. God controls. And yet our choices matter. And yet God is not subordinate to our choices. That’s a mystery, but a precious mystery—a mystery that changes how you view the guy lifting weights beside you at the gym and the elderly lady who just moved in next door. The conversation you strike up or the moving help you offer all fit into the cosmic, eternal, glorious plan of God. “There are no ordinary people,” C.S. Lewis said. And, we might add, no ordinary moments.”

Oh that we may see that it’s God who makes life significant – a significance that reaches into the furthest corners of forever! Once our heart has been grabbed by this truth, God will have our actions as well.

Read the entire article

WHAT TO DO IN A BIG COMPLICATED WORLD

We live in a big and complicated world!

At least to us it sure seems this way.

The moment we think we understand how life works – a huge new wrinkle jumbles all we thought we knew.

However, to God – our God, this world is not complicated at all.

Oh, He sees it as quite messy, but the answers to how it all should work are always clear to Him. God is never confused, surprised or anxious. That truth alone calms my worried and wearied soul.

This reality that God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is sovereign over everything in the universe no matter how great or small, should lift our hearts and spur our actions in many ways.

One of these encouragements is in the area of bringing the gospel to people around us. Josh Blount, the pastor of Living Faith Church in Franklin, West Virginia, makes this observation about God’s sovereignty:

“Do you see what all this means for evangelism? The burden doesn’t lie on us! God, in his triune glory, is the great Evangelist. For the glory of his name and the good of his people, God is at work to spread the gospel around the world. He uses everything to accomplish his purposes. Everything. Every single thing. Weather patterns. Wars. The clash of empires and the explosion of technology—and a warm greeting in the checkout line, a hot meal waiting when the neighbors return from the hospital.”

May our confidence in God’s sovereignty encourage us to be more active in making His name known!

Read the entire article

CONNECTING EVANGELISM and CHURCH (part 2)

Yesterday I gave the first 5 suggestions from Jonathan Leeman concerning how local churches should connect church life with our desire to be effective in outreach.

Leeman’s purpose is to show that the traditional focus by churches on events and programs that draw unbelievers is only part of healthy outreach. Churches also need to grow “a contrast culture, which acts as this attractive backdrop for evangelism”.

Here are Leeman’s remaining 5 points:

6) Encourage members to live lives that bless outsiders. 

Church members, hopefully, are known as kind, friendly, and quick to lend a hand. We should be quick to jump in with a rake to help clear the neighbor’s leaves, quick to offer help to an office-mate, quick to defend a victim of abuse, quick to work hard at preserving the jobs of hard-working employees in difficult times, quick to bless in all sorts of ways. Good deeds should adorn our evangelistic words.

7) Invite people into formal and informal gatherings of the church. 

Countless stories could be given of how non-believers heard the gospel and then watched the church in motion, both in formal or informal gatherings, and then came to faith. The church’s life together compelled them. It pointed to something they had never known in their family, school, or workplace. In other words, inviting outsiders into the life of the church surely must constitute one part of our evangelism.   

8) Set the example in evangelism.

Wherever a church’s elders are known for their evangelism, you can expect to find an evangelistic church. Where the elders don’t, you won’t.

9) Feature evangelism and conversion stories. 

Church leaders should pepper stories of evangelistic encounters into their sermons and lessons. Church members should share prayer requests for evangelistic opportunities. Baptismal candidates should be given the chance to share their conversion experience. Things like these all help to make evangelism a “normal” part of the Christian life and the church experience.

10) Brag about your church.

The apostle Paul sometimes boasted about his churches as a way of boasting about Christ (see 2 Cor. 9:2; 2 Thes. 1:4; cf. Phil. 2:16). Christians, likewise, should look for ways to speak positively and gratefully—not obnoxiously or pridefully—about their churches around non-Christian friends. When a colleague asks about the weekend, mention how your church gave your wife a wonderful baby shower. Mention something encouraging the preacher said on Sunday. Mention the work your congregation is doing at the shelter when the subject of homelessness comes up. Doing this well, no doubt, takes practice.

Jonathan Leeman, an elder of Capitol Hill Baptist Church and the editorial director of 9Marks, is the author of several books on the local church.

CONNECTING EVANGELISM and CHURCH

Healthy churches want to grow and true believes want to see people come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Because of this churches are continually trying to find what is effective in reaching those who are without Christ.

In a recent article, Jonathan Leeman from 9Marks examined the culture within churches. What makes a church the kind of place where people see the gospel powerfully lived out. Or as he describes it how should we connect evangelism and church?

Leeman offered 10 suggestions for how churches can be a place of contrast to the world and so point to Christ. Here are the first five suggestions:

Often, pastors try to strengthen a church’s evangelistic ministry by exhorting people to share the gospel. Surely that’s one piece. But it’s also critical to grow the church as a contrast culture, which acts as this attractive backdrop for evangelism. 

1) Evangelism should lead to baptism and membership. 

Churches should not evangelize and then leave new converts out on their own. Nor should they evangelize, baptize, and then, maybe, someday, get around to bringing someone into church membership. Except for exceptional circumstances, churches should do what the church in Jerusalem did: baptize people into their number (Acts 2:41). Baptism, after all, is the corporate and authorized sign by which a church formally affirms a person as a believer. That affirmation should then be protected and nurtured by the ongoing oversight given through membership and the Lord’s Supper. We don’t leave new hatchlings outside of the nest, but bring them inside.

2) Teach members to integrate their lives with one another.

In order to strengthen a church’s apologetic power, members should constantly be reminded through the teaching of the word and the celebration of the Lord’s Supper that we are one body (e.g. 1 Cor. 10:16-17; 1 Cor. 12). Hardly a Sunday should go by when members are not reminded to build relationships with one another so that they might encourage, build up, strengthen, speak truth, warn, and love one another (e.g. Rom. 12:9-13; Eph. 4:11-32). They should be exhorted to show hospitality (Rom. 12:13; 1 Peter 4:9). All this creates an attractive witness for the gospel.

3) Teach members to sacrifice for one another.

Even more specifically, Christians should think about how they might better sacrifice for one another, financially and otherwise (e.g. Acts 2:42-46; 2 Cor. 8-9; 1 Peter 4:10). In a consumeristic nation, especially, the example of shared generosity among believers presents a powerful contrast culture. Remember, Jesus told Christians to love one another as he has loved us (Jn 13:34) a sacrificial love if there ever was one

4) Practice church discipline.

Christian hypocrites and heretics in our midst compromise the witness of the church. When the church members in a community are known as liars, backbiters, and adulterers, that church’s evangelistic work will not go so well. That’s not to say that a church should discipline every saint who still struggles with sinning in their midst. Then there would be no church left. Rather, churches should confront and discipline unrepentant sin.  This serves, ironically, to evangelize the unrepentant member (see 1 Cor. 5:4), as well as a church’s city more broadly

5) Equip members to share the gospel. 

Church leaders should look for various ways to make sure every member can explain the basics of the faith. This can be done from the pulpit, the Sunday School classroom, the membership interview, and elsewhere

Jonathan Leeman, an elder of Capitol Hill Baptist Church and the editorial director of 9Marks, is the author of several books on the local church.

OUT OF THE MOUTH OF BABES

By Debbie Huber

Last weekend I participated in Servant Outreach Saturday (SOS) at Greentree Church. There were several groups going to different locations, from survey evangelism to nursing home outreach. I was a part of the neighborhood outreach where we walked through local neighborhoods handing out gift bags to demonstrate care for others because of the wonderful grace that God has lavished upon us. We met many welcoming neighbors and we even had the opportunity to pray for some.   My nephew, Jacob, was with me and he was full of enthusiasm to knock on the doors and meet the people.

After everyone reassembled back at the church we listened to each other share about our experiences. Everyone who participated was glad that they did. A recurring theme was how the children seemed to make it easier to meet others and even share the Gospel!  We heard how young Jessa explained to children her age how we are all sinners and we can’t be good enough to get into Heaven on our own so that is why Jesus came. We heard how other children were full of excitement to talk and pray with people in a nursing home.  There was more than one parent who said that their child talked them in to coming that day. What a joy it was to see parents and children work together to reach out to our community.

I would venture to say that many of the adults who were there were nervous to initiate conversations and bring up the Gospel to others. But when the children were with us they encouraged us, making it easier to speak to those we met because of their innocence and unencumbered belief in the Gospel. We tend to be fearful and worry that we won’t use the right language or not be thought of highly by the people we talk to.   The simplicity of the Gospel is something that we as adults can sometimes unnecessarily complicate.

The Gospel is the greatest thing we can give to others. It is not as complicated and scary as we make it. God is holy and we are sinners with no way of saving ourselves. But the good news is that Jesus loves us so much that he died to receive the punishment that we deserve for our sins and that he demonstrated victory over sin by his resurrection from the dead.

I, along with the other adults present that day, were encouraged and learned from these children.  The women who shared the Gospel with me 27 years ago may have been fearful but when God opened my heart to hear it, I didn’t hear something to be embarrassed about; I heard the most wonderful, joyous, life-changing news possible! I thank God that those women spoke those words to me. Why should I not want to share that life-changing truth with others?