Reaching people

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.

DO YOU HAVE GOSPEL FLEXIBILITY?

Last week I wrote an article on “Watching Our Cultural Diet”.

Today, I am encouraging you to watch out for cultural inflexibility.

The point in my previous article was guarding what we allow into our lives, while my point today is making sure we are touching lives in the world around us.

There are several practical problems that come up as we become culturally Christianized.

We have fewer relationships outside of the church in which we can share the gospel.

Our changes in lifestyle make us increasingly uncomfortable with the culture around us. This is a good reality, but unbelievers can feel our discomfort and think we are looking down on them.

Our conversation is peppered with “Christianese”; words that are confusing to unbelievers.

We can become judgmental on people we think have flagrant sins, rather than being burdened for their souls.

Sometimes we can think that our use of “Christian” symbols, words, plaques and music is witness enough. However, it is not enough for people to know we are Christian or religious, they need to hear the actual truths of the gospel (Romans 10:17). It is the gospel which leads people to salvation not religious influence.

We have to exercise thoughtfulness and prayerfulness to overcome the obstacles of Christian culture, but the Holy Spirit is eager to help.

Don Carson provides a few thoughts on these issues in this article “Are You Flexible for the Gospel?”

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!

 

SERMON LEFTOVERS 6.17.13

Prepared for Great Things”  1 Timothy 2:1-7

“First of all” pray

This opening phrase tells us this is a beginning place

The intent is more than casual prayer: “Lord Bless today. Amen”

Paul mentions four types of prayer in v1

We are being asked to go beyond prayer at meals, or for help

We are being asked to become prayerful people

Our prayer is to include “all people”

Love for God never asks us to do the least we can for Him

So then praying for all people is more than “Lord bless everyone today. Amen”

Yet, we cannot literally pray for every person

We are to pray for all kinds of people 

People outside our circle

People we don’t understand

People who annoy us

We are to cultivate the habit of praying for the people who cross our path throughout the day

This approach to life changes more than those we pray for

Praying for all people changes our agenda for all people

Praying for all people gives us God’s heart for all people

Our prayer is to include “kings and all in high positions” (v2)

This is for the broad sake of the gospel

When governments are just, society has led impediments to the gospel

When life has less turmoil, we are less distracted from serving

The kingdom of Christ and his gospel is the great purpose we serve

Our life is in biblical focus when that purpose makes our heart say ‘Amen’

Whether or not we like our place in life, the gospel is needed where we are

This encouragement toward prayer, is to lead us to God’s heart (vs 3-4)

If we don’t pray for what is on God’s heart, then we don’t share it

If our lives are not preparing for what God wants, then we are not pleasing to him

Are you getting the sense of urgency of this passage?  

There is “one God”, and there is only one way to him (vs 5-6)

To think there are various ways to God, denies Him (Acts 4:12, John 3:36)

To say God’s judgment will not fall, mocks Christ who paid our “ransom”

No other way can save us, because only Jesus paid the penalty for our sin

There are pressing implications in these verses

1.  Prayer prepares our life to serve God

Prayer is not to inform, convince or move God

Prayer will shape, refocus, strengthen and encourage us!

2.  Prayer has impact

Prayer doesn’t move God, but He does use it (James 5:16)

Prayer brings change, grace, blessing and answers

3.  We are not serious about God, if we are not serious about prayer

How can we be, if prayer is communication with God, and God has told us to do so?

4.  God wants us to be part of amazingly and wonderful things

Your Church is not trying to bug or burden you, but to awaken us

Jesus did not overstate the value of the Great Commandments, which tell us to love God and neighbor

Part of our Ministry Action Plan is that all of us become disciple-makers!

This means we intentionally taking part in reaching and growing people for Christ

Don’t we recognize that to neglect these things will rob our life and cause us regret?

There are people in our life who need the gospel now

HOW DO WE GROW IN SHARING THE GOSPEL?

Today’s post was suggested by our Pastor of Outreach, Past Tedeschi. It comes out of an article by J.D. Greear, who is the lead pastor of The Summit Church, in Raleigh-Durham, NC and author of Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary and Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart: How to Know for Sure You Are Saved.

J.D. offers thoughts that came out of a church leadership meeting to discuss hindrances to evangelism. They came up with 4 key thoughts that are worth our attention:

1. Raising the temperature of intentionality (making outreach our habit rather than something that happens by chance)

2. Sensitivity to the Spirit (we don’t try to force the gospel in, but follow Spirit’s lead)

3. Providing people with tools (guidance in sharing our faith)

4. Models (seeing other people share the gospel)

Every church and every believer needs regular reassessment concerning our how we are reaching other for Christ. I hope you will take the time to read J.D.’s thoughts so that we can be as effective as possible in reaching the people all around us who stand condemned unless the gospel penetrates their heart. Click here

SERMON LEFTOVERS 12.10.12

Compelled By the Gospel    Luke 14:16-24

The Bible often uses the picture of a great feast to portray eternity with Him. It tells us that His kingdom will be filled with His goodness and our contentment

In Jesus parable, those invited failed to show up

It was not an outright rejection, they simply didn’t value the invitation

They all had reasons, but these were just excuses

Excuses are close at hand and easy to find – in fact, they find us!  

We may not think we are rejecting God, but the pursuit of our own agenda pushes Him aside

Any response to God that is not yes, is a rejection of Him

For God is our Creator, Lord and Judge, we are accountable to Him

Just thinking we can come to God on our own terms is a form of rejecting Him

This parable makes it clear that the Master was angry, and v24 tells us there are consequences

More amazing than our rejection of the feast, is that the feast was not been cancelled!

God will have his house “filled” for the celebration of eternity (v23)

This brings up this question, ‘Who will be there?’ We find the answer in John 3:36

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him

We have been sent out to invite anyone we can to the feast of God’s Kingdom

Our Lord has told us to go where ever we can find people (vs 21-23)

We must go into our communities with the gospel

We must reach out to each generation, even if it is not always comfortable

We must reach out to those who are a mess, knowing the Holy Spirit will flow through us

Since we are blessed, we have a responsible to go far into other parts of the world

But people don’t naturally want to respond, because their focus is on other things

v23 We need to “compel” them to come; not by force, but through conviction

How do we “compel” those we want to reach?

1.  First we must be “compelled” by the gospel

If love for Christ and his gospel is not compelling us, why would it compel those who know us?

What motivates and draws you?  If as a Christian it is not the gospel – why not?!

Before we can compel others, we must be compelled  

2.  We compel people with the power of a clear gospel message (Romans 1:16 and 10:17)

There is no means outside of Christ to be saved (Acts 4:12)

There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved

This truth is under attack, even by church leaders who equivocate in public when asked if faith in Jesus alone will save us

Be confident that God’s word is sufficient for every situation (including yours)

If we want to be compelling with the gospel we need to be clear with the gospel

**To improve in this area, I highly recommend the book “What is the gospel?” by Greg Gilbert

3.  We compel people through the work of the Holy Spirit

No one comes to Christ without conviction and rebirth by the Holy Spirit (John 16:8)

If the Holy Spirit’s involvement is necessary, what are implications?

Live in a way that honors the Holy Spirit: obey his voice by embracing His conviction and leading

Live as an instrument of the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-38)

Persistently plead with the Spirit to work in and through you

4.  We compel people by living compelling lives

Steadfast love is very compelling

Patience and graciousness are very compelling

Someone who pays attention and listens is very compelling

A serving life is very compelling

Wholeness of life is very compelling

Consistent joy is very compelling

Imagine if our entire church lived this way – it would be extraordinarily compelling!

WILL YOU PRAY FOR THIS?

Like many churches, we have been seeking to serve the people in our community affected by Hurricane Sandy. This is a special opportunity because people are aware that they need help. We hope to serve these physical and emotional needs in such a way that we can also touch their deeper God need.

For many years our church has done a great job of providing outreaches that drew unchurched people to our building, giving us an opportunity to share the gospel to them. We still want to do this and do it well. However, we have not done as good of a job in reaching out into the community. We are asking God to help us grow in this area, and the aftermath of the storm provides many opportunities for us to work at it.

Parallel to this, I have been struck by the number of unchurched people this month who have visited our services on their own – they have not come because they were invited or because they know someone at Greentree. I don’t know the reason why this is happening, but I do rejoice in it AND I am praying that God will accomplish a fresh and mighty work of grace in our midst.

If Greentree is your church home, would you join me in praying that God will work in fresh and mighty ways among us? I am not asking you to offer a brief prayer as you read this and then move on; I am asking you to consider making this a special daily emphasis in your prayers.

It is wondrous to be part of what God is doing. We want God to use us. We need God to use us.

We don’t know if this is the beginning of a new season God is giving us, but we can beseech God that it would be.

 

SERMON LEFTOVERS 3.19.12

 

“We are part of God’s plan” Acts 9:1-22

What makes people angry at the gospel?

‘Gospel’ means ‘good news’.

It tells us our sin can be forgiven, and we can have an unbreakable relationship with God. And all the gospel offers, is free to anyone who puts their faith in Christ

What is there is dislike, let alone reject in the gospel message?

Yet many ridicule and even rage at the gospel

To some it’s foolish:  the gospel seems detached from life’s realities

To others it’s threatening:  the gospel claims too much for Christ (he is the only means of salvation) and too much from us (he wants all our heart and life)

Saul was among those who saw the gospel as a threat

As a Pharisee, he gave great emphasis to protecting the law of Moses by adding many conditions to it. Saul had learned to trust in his own righteousness

The gospel threatened his views of God and life.  Saul thought he had to persecute the Way of Jesus (Acts 26:9)

What is your view of Christ and his gospel?

1.  Are you threatened by it?

Jesus does ask for much, but gives far more. He makes us clean and whole.  He gives us lasting peace and true hope

2.  Do you think the gospel is foolish?

There is nothing more real than entering eternity or facing God. Foolishness is ignoring consequences as if they are not coming

3.  Have you never given much thought to the gospel?

It should not be hard to realize we are sinners or that a just God must condemn all sin. In our helpless condition, God took the action we cannot, by becoming a man in order to die in our place and pay the debt we owe. No one can deserve this payment, but anyone can receive it by trusting in Christ to save us

What must take place for someone to love the gospel?

1.  As with Saul, spiritually blind eyes need to receive sight (2 Corinthians 4:4)

Until then we are blind to the realities of sin & judgment . . heaven & hell . . peace & hope

When it comes to sharing the gospel, we need to give people light

Do not give them your opinions or a watered down gospel that proclaims God’s blessing while downplaying his judgment. We cannot appreciate God’s grace until we recognize our condition

When it comes to living out the gospel, get out of the shadows

Stop holding back from living fully for God. It is a giant lie to think greater zeal for God will reduce our quality of life.

2.  As with Saul, Jesus must speak to us (John 5:25)

Christianity is unlike human religion, it declares that God must come to us

In sharing the gospel, keep pointing to Christ, he is the One people must trust in

In living out the gospel, make Christ the main character in your life

To save you, Jesus came to you and he will never let go of you. Will we neglect or minimize his place in the routines of life?

We continue the storyline of the book of Acts

God has chosen to use us (2 Corinthians 5:20)

Ananias was not sure he wanted to be chosen

Like him, we face many opportunities that we don’t want to take because of fear

At other times we simply miss opportunities out of preoccupation with ourselves

Whenever we have an opportunity to share the gospel, God wants us take it

We never know what God is doing. Who knew Saul had been struggling under conviction (Acts 26:14)?  Neither do we know what God is doing inside people

God wants to use us now

Saul immediately became a witness for Christ.

As soon as we know Jesus as Savior, we can tell others that he saves!

Start taking steps as a witness for Christ and you will be greatly blessed!

1.  Make sure you clearly understand the gospel

2.  Pray for a heart to share the gospel. Pray for those you know without Christ. Pray for opportunities

3.  Engage people: be friendly and conversational, serve people and be attentive to them

We don’t know what God is doing in people, but we do know . .

. . Everyone needs Jesus

. . Jesus saves sinners

. . We are part of his plan