Archive for the ‘Evangelism’ category

Tim Keller, Deed Ministry, and Bridge Building

March 24, 2010

In his book, Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road, Tim Keller gives three ways in which mercy (deed) ministry supports the evangelistic work of the church.  He says it serves as (1) a plausibility structure for the lost, it (2) builds a bridge to the lost, and (3) functions as a communication medium to the lost.

Regarding the first point, it has often been said that people don’t care about how much you know until you show them how much you care.  In other words, by your actions, you make your words more plausible.  The third point is similar in that in that the incarnational approach to evangelizing the lost means that we should do more than be drive-by Christians.  Our loving commitment to the lost is communicated meaningfully when it is demonstrated in sacrificial living and in the humble service of others.

But I want to point out the second point for the sake of this post to draw out the distinctions that Keller argues (actually from Frank Tillapaugh) regarding the lost.  He says there are basically four types of lost people:

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21 Questions I’ve Been Asking (Myself) Lately

February 17, 2010

Several of you will find these questions familiar, but their familiarity does not minimize the piercing factor for this pastor.  I wanted to put them out there in case others might find them helpful.

1.  If our church would cease to exist in our city, would it be noticed and missed?

2.  If all the pastors were tragically killed in a car accident, would the church’s ministry cease or fall apart?

3.  If the only possible means of connecting with unbelievers were through the missionary living of our church members, how much would we grow? (I ask this because the early church did not have signs, websites, ads, marketing, etc.)

4.  What are the subcultures within the church?  Do they attract or detract from the centrality of the gospel and mission of the church?

5.  Is our church known more for what we are not/against than what we are/for?

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Social Media and the New Frontier for the Local Church

February 13, 2010

The videos below are not new but perhaps might be new to some of you.  I’m posting them because of their implications for community and church life.  The rise of social media/networking cannot be overlooked, both the pros and cons, on the future of the church.  If you church is in tune with the socialnomics and seeking to use technology to engage your culture, let me hear your thoughts.  Much similar to Kent Shaffer, SEO can carry more potential for evangelism in the future than we realize.

The Good News of Christmas at Grace

November 23, 2009

About six weeks ago, I received in the mail a bag that said “The Good News of Christmas.”  In the bag was an ESV New Testament, a personalized invitation, an ESV Study Bible trial for 30 days, and a tract by Max Lucado.  After discussing this with our pastoral team, we felt that this was an excellent opportunity to share the Christmas story with others by putting the Bible in the hands of unbelievers in our community, getting into the story of their lives, and hopefully sharing the story of how Jesus Christ has changed our lives.

This time of the year is a rather unique period in the calendar season where spirits are lifted and hearts are more open and receptive to receive from others, even strangers, a kind and sincere offer.  It is our desire to see Jesus become more than a Christmas carol, and that through the story of the gospel, He would be treasured by those who looking to lesser things to provide them greater joy.

When Peter referred to the new birth in his first letter, he told his readers that they had been born again

“not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for ‘all flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass.  The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever’” (1 Peter 1:23-25).

The Scripture which is “able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15) is an imperishable seed, unlike the seeds of grass and flowers which wither and fade.  The new birth comes through the living and abiding word of God which endures forever.  What greater gift could we give to those in our community?  Gold and silver will fade and loose their value.  God’s Word is precious and enduring.  The things of this world may bring make other happy for a moment, but those who have “been brought forth by the word of truth” (James 1:18) will experience happiness both now and for eternity.

We want people to see the kingdom of God, not just sing about Christ the newborn King in a sentimental way.  But Jesus said this is impossible unless they are born again.  The good news for us is that the Spirit is blowing wherever He wishes; we do not know where, when, or who He will draw, convict, and bring to life.  But we do know that by the Spirit and through the Word, we have everything we need to reach a world of people enjoying the Christmas season while failing to enjoy Christ.   It is our prayer that the Spirit, the Great Evangelist, will own our efforts to bring the Scriptures to thousands of people in our city, and through the imperishable seed of the Word, everlasting fruit will spring up as the kingdom is established in the hearts of men.

Last night, we handed out 1,200 of these bags to our members and suggested to them the following ways of getting into the community:

Individually

1.   Students: give Christmas presents to everyone in your classes (yes, all of them)
2.  Employees: give Christmas presents to all of your coworkers
3.  On Black Friday, spend the morning passing out these gifts to those in line waiting to get into stores
4.  In businesses where you normally frequent, give these bags to everyone who works there (in my case, it would be Panera Bread, Uno’s Chicago Grill, Chick-fil-a, Publix, and the local 7-11 Gas Station)
5.  Take a box with you in the car so that wherever you go, you will have some with you to give to those you encounter, such as in parks, shopping centers, bank tellers, etc.
6.  Provide an opportunity for those in your neighborhood whom you have not met to come over for dinner and read the Christmas story together while giving them these gifts while inviting them to our Christmas Eve service

Community Groups

1.  Customize the bags with invitation to your next community group meeting
2.  Host a neighborhood Christmas Party and give these gifts away
3.  Go door-to-door (look out!) canvassing the neighborhoods around where your community group meets, or perhaps give them away you go Christmas caroling
4.  Distribute these bags in your community, inviting those interested to an evangelistic Bible study where everyone will be reading through the gospel of John together

These are just some ideas I came up with and shared with our members yesterday evening.  There are numerous other ways that you creative folk can come up with for sure.  Here at Grace, we have been ramping up for next year’s mission trips, and one of the ways we are preparing our church to engage in overseas missions is to think and live like missionaries here.  I have challenged our members to think of this next month as a one-month mission trip to their own backyard.  When you are on mission, you think less of yourself and are tuned into how the Lord may be leading you to make a direct impact in the lives of others.  It is my hope that such a structured opportunity will train more of our members to live evangelistically as their normal standard of living as we seek to create a missional culture and celebrate the work of the Spirit in sending us out to make Christ known.

If you would like to read and learn more about this outreach opportunity click here.  The only caveat I would make is the evangelistic tract by Max Lucado may be something you want to leave out.  Since you are the ones stuffing your bags, you can make that choice (I would prefer it not be in there).  Other than that, the fact that you can get a New Testament and invitation in a nice bag for $1 is wonderful.  I hope others seize this opportunity in an affordable way to give the gift of the New Testament to a world that news to know that God has spoken and has sent His Son Jesus into the world to rescue sinners and cause us to sing, “Glory to God in the highest!”

Gospel and Personal Evangelism Bibliography

October 1, 2009

As I mentioned earlier, I spoke this past weekend on the gospel and personal evangelism.  One of the things I challenged the college students to do is to read and resource themselves on the subject of the gospel and evangelism.  One of my goals is that, no matter what I’m studying or where I am in my theological development, I always have a book about the gospel before me.  I cannot afford for there to be a time in my life where I’m not being challenged and comforted by the gospel.

Below are the books I recommended to those at the college retreat.  The reading and resourcing challenge is one of ten areas where I specifically encouraged them in the development of a personal evangelism strategy, which I hope to write about more in the near future. By the way, I was able to fit these books all in one backpack. 🙂

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Gospel Workshops – An Idea for Consideration

September 29, 2009

I have argued for several years now that the greatest need for our churches today is the recovery of the gospel.  Some people have concluded that what I mean by that is everyone embracing the doctrines of grace; however, a casual observer of my blog could able to discern that is not the case.  What I mean is understanding the functional centrality of the gospel and its sufficiency in every aspect of the church.

I have become more and more aware of this need when I talk to, for instance, seminary-trained Christian counselors who have never heard or been trained in how to apply the gospel to situations in life involving believers and conflict of any sort or a leadership style that reflects more of corporate one-upmanship rather than the gospel style of decreasing to serve others.  I have grown up in the county-seat First Baptist Church and heard how the gospel of Matthew was a how-to manual to overcome stress, worry, fear, and so on and also been in the seeker-sensitive megachurch where the stories are gripping but the gospel missing.  I have been in the smaller, more rural church where the preacher is excited and earnest as in the tradition of revivalism but the gospel is reduced to a few points and a prayer.  Reflecting and experiencing these realities have served to increase the burden in my heart for the gospel to be preached, lived, and result in truly transformed lives.

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Soma Communities: Living as a Gospel Community

September 26, 2009

Last week, I linked to a series of talks on “Living Inside the Gospel Story” from Soma Communities.  I want to follow up this week with another series by Soma Communities on “Living as a Gospel Community.”  The links below are to downloadable audio and available PDF’s are in parenthesis. Enjoy.

1.  Moving Outward (PDF)
2. Relating in Gospel Community (PDF)
3. Gospel Contextualization Part 1
4. Gospel Contextualization Part 2
5. Gospel Embodiment
6. Gospel Hospitality (PDF)
7. Spiritual Gifts

This Weekend: The Gospel and Personal Evangelism

September 25, 2009

College RetreatStarting this evening, I will be in Fort Myers to lead a college retreat for New Life Baptist Church (Davie, FL). I will be speaking on the Gospel and Personal Evangelism and appreciate your prayers as I share with these college students.  On Saturday afternoon, I will be going with them to Fort Myers Beach to share the gospel instead of the normal “free time.”  Here’s the schedule:

Friday Night: “What Is the Gospel” (Text)
Sat. Morning: “How Does the Gospel Work” (Pretext)
Sat. Morning: “Communicating the Gospel” (Context)
Sat. Afternoon: Evangelism on the Beach
Sat. Evening: “Gospel, Community, & Renewal” (Subtext)

Join me in praying that the gospel will run deep and wide in and through these college students and come away with greater delight in Jesus and greater passion for His glory in the salvation of the lost.

Tim Keller on Network Evangelism

September 24, 2009

17 years ago, Tim Keller wrote about a form of evangelism that effectively engaged “an increasingly privatized, secular society.”  Those of you who know the recent discussion about door-to-door evangelism and disagree with its use will agree with Keller’s assessment and method.  Keller intends to explain how evangelism through networking is intended to create “a whole philosophy of ministry based on friendship evangelism.”

Predominant evangelistic methods have changed over the last century, as Keller observes how the 1930’s-1960’s = crusade evangelism, 1960’s-1990’s = visitation evangelism, and 1990’s-present = network evangelism.  Visitation evangelism, as I explained in my last article, focuses on first places and practiced by the older, more traditional evangelicals while network evangelism focuses on third places and is practiced by many in the younger, more missional generation.  Keller argues that “the more modern, the more secular, the more urbanized, and the newer cities and communities, the more these traditional programs do not seem to bear fruit.”

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Evangelism in Every “Place”

September 22, 2009

This past week, we at Grace “parked the Great Commission” again, and included in that effort was going door-to-door, inviting neighbors to join us for a picnic and games in the park.  When I got back, I tweeted:

For those who don’t believe in going door-to-door, 2nite my group was 19 for 19 in engaging folks w/ invitations. Don’t abandon 1st spaces.

What happened after that was about a dozen conversations debating the merits of door-to-door evangelism in a post-Christian culture and what in the world I meant by “1st spaces.” What I would like to do is explain the thinking behind the places/spaces and how we can think intentionally/missionally in redeeming each place for the advancement of the gospel.

What Is a “Third Place”?

As I understand it, Ray Oldenberg developed the idea of “third places” in his book The Great Good Place. Third places are places or environments where people in the community interact with one another outside the first and second places.  The first place is that of the home, and the second place is that of a person’s workplace.  Oldenberg explains that “third places” are

“anchors” of community life and facilitate and foster broader, more creative interaction. All societies already have informal meeting places; what is new in modern times is the intentionality of seeking them out as vital to current societal needs. . . .  These hallmarks of a true “third place”: free or inexpensive; food and drink, while not essential, are important; highly accessible: proximate for many (walking distance); involve regulars – those who habitually congregate there; welcoming and comfortable; both new friends and old should be found there.

Popular “third places” include coffee shops (such as Starbucks), malls, city parks, exercise facilities, restaurants/pubs, and venues for the arts/entertainment.  Personally speaking, Panera Bread has become my dominant “third place” as I spend approximately 15-20 hours of my work week there.

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On Silence and Sinful Prudence

July 28, 2009

The easiest way to avoid persecution and suffering is to be silent for Christ and then come up with justifications to make such silence feel legitimate.

Jesus tells those who are entrusted with His mission in Matt. 10:17-20 two things they can count on: (1) they will be delivered up by men operating as “wolves” and (2) it will be given to them what they should say as those led by the Spirit of God.

Informed Christians might consider the call to “beware of such men” is to avoid them altogether. Don’t live among them or seek to reach them.  We think to ourselves, “After all, what does sheep have in common with wolves?  Aren’t they after us?  Just play it safe.”  This is the opposite of mission and living sent.  It is staying where you are because the comfort and safety you enjoy is of far greater value to you than the glory of Jesus Christ spread by means of suffering for His name.  At this point, one begins to look for the best alternative to mission, as though Jesus makes such a provision in his instructions.  J.C. Ryle, in his Expository Thoughts on Matthew, powerfully addresses this “so-called prudence” in the avoidance of mission:

“The extreme into which most men are liable to fall in the present day is that of silence, cowardice, and letting others alone.  Our so-called prudence is apt to degenerate into a compromising line of conduct, or downright unfaithfulness.  We are only too ready to suppose that it is of no use trying to do good to certain people: we excuse ourselves from efforts to benefit their souls by saying it would be indiscreet, or inexpedient, or would give needless offence, or would even do positive harm.  Let us all watch and be on our guard against this spirit; laziness and the devil are often the true explanation of it.  To give way to it is pleasant to flesh and blood, no doubt, and saves much trouble: but those who give way to it often throw away great opportunities of usefulness (100).”

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Christopher J.H. Wright on “False Dichotomies of Mission”

July 9, 2009

Christopher J.H. Wright, author of numerous books although most notably The Mission of God, was recently asked (here and here) on Koinonia (Zondervan Academic blog) the question,

“In what way have we as evangelical Christians failed to grasp or live out the fullness of God’s missional intent? How (if at all) has our theology of evangelism been weak?”

Summarily speaking, Wright believes evangelicals have created false dichotomies and separated things that ought to be kept together because the Bible keeps them together; furthermore, evangelicals have given priority of one over the other.  The five specific areas are noted below, including what Wright sees as “regrettable bad results.”

1. We have tended to separate the individual from the cosmic and corporate impact of the gospel, and to prioritize the first. That is, we put personal salvation and individual evangelism at the centre of all our efforts, (and of course individual evangelism is an essential part of our commitment).

The church is not just a container for souls till they get to heaven, but the living demonstration of the unity that is God’s intention for creation, in itself a ‘preaching’ to the principalities and powers because of what God has accomplished and proved in the creation of ‘one new humanity’ in Christ. . . . The bad result of this weakened theology is that Christians evangelized by such a truncated version of the biblical gospel have little interest in the world, the public square, God’s plan for society and the nations, and even less understanding of God’s intention for creation itself. The scale of our mission efforts therefore is in danger of being a lot less than the scope of the mission of God.

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Parking the Great Commission

July 7, 2009

Sunday night, we parked the Great Commission.

It’s fourth of July weekend, lots of people traveling out of town on vacation, and with one of the biggest holidays of the year, the reasonable thing to do would be to alter the Sunday format to accommodate according to lowered expectations.

Not exactly.

About a month ago, I pitched the idea to take advantage of the 4th of July weekend by taking our church gathering to the biggest park in town and reach out to the community.  With the recent convention travels, VBS, and a busy June, very little time was allowed (one week to be exact!) to plan what I was calling “Worship @ the Park” (not to mention that half our staff would be en route overseas with a team to labor among an UPG).  For those of you who do not know, Grace is not a large church, so there was no cool signage, props, or video promotionals.  In fact, the fliers we passed out was made by yours truly with MS Word and an old Flickr photo. 🙂

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Creeds, Deeds, and the Great Commission: Dr. Danny Akin at the 2009 Founders Breakfast (MP3 & Video)

July 2, 2009

On Tuesday, June 23, 2009 Founders Ministries held their annual breakfast at the Southern Baptist Convention in Louisville, Kentucky.  Dr. Danny Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, was guest speaker and addressed the 200+ in attendance with a message from 3 John entitled “Creeds, Deeds, and the Great Commission.”  Akin concludes his excellent exposition with words of appreciation and caution for future partnership in a Great Commission Resurgence which I encourage all my Calvinist brothers to hear.  The breakfast concluded with by Akin answering a few questions, including one from Tom Ascol about working with non-Calvinists for the cause of gospel consensus and reaching the nations.

The audio and video was produced from my hip pocket – literally.  I ripped the audio from my Livescribe Pulse pen and the video is from my Kodak Zi6 handheld HD Camcorder.  This breakfast was a warm and rewarding time of fellowship, encouragement, instruction, and godly exhortation, and I hope you enjoy it as well.

Here’s the MP3: Founders Breakfast with Danny Akin

Here’s the video:

Note: It is best to play and pause the video until the entire message is buffered for better viewing.

Insight Podcast: Interview with Tullian Tchividjian on Gospel, Church, and Culture

April 9, 2009

My good friend Doug Baker has continued his long list of excellent podcasts with his most recent addition – Tullian Tchividjian.  It was recently announced that Tullian accepted the position of pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, suceeding Dr. D. James Kennedy.  Tullian is the author of several books, most recently Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by Being Different (which we will be giving away at this year’s Band of Bloggers fellowship).

The podcast is broken down in two segments, and the flow of the interview is listed below. To download, click on MP3 next to each part.

Part 1 DOWNLOAD MP3

A Church Like the World – What We Need?; Wanted:  Servants not Celebrities; The Big Business of Evangelicalism; “Christians make a difference in this world by being different from this world; they don’t make a difference by being the same”; Relevance – What is It?; The Irrelevance of Relevance; Against the World for the World; The Bible as God’s Listening Post; An “Emergent” Humility?; Evangelism – God’s One Great Work?

Part 2DOWNLOAD MP3

Culture – What is it?; Sola Scriptura or Sola Cultura?; Jesus and Cosmic Renewal; The Cultural Mandate – What and Why?; What is the Kingdom of God?; Contextualization – What is It?  Do We Need it?; The Church as God’s Greatest Evangelistic Tool.

I’m grateful for Doug continuing to offer informative and engaging discussions on topics that matter from some of the most respected voices in Baptist and evangelical circles.  To subscribe to the Insight Podcast on iTunes, go here.