Posts Tagged With: evangelism

Equipped Wednesdays Launch a Great Success

Pastors must be equippers.  Yes, we must preach, but we preach to equip.  Yes, we must teach, but we must teach to equip for the work and contribution to the kingdom of God.  Yes, we must visit and evangelize—in order to equip others for the gospel and in the gospel.

Last Wednesday, we reconfigured our Wednesday night times to be times of equipped—calling them the unoriginal but pointed title of Equipped Wednesdays.  The inaugural class?  Two Ways to Live

I only ordered 20 books—but God is moving in such a way at our church that 32 showed up. God is placing a desire in all of us to start knowing and sharing our faith. 

So if you’re in the area, come on out to Arapahoe Road Baptist Church here in Centennial on Wednesdays at 6 pm.  Below is a sample of what the presentation is about and how to present it (Australian accent optional):

Come on out!  It’s not too late!

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9 Marks at Southeastern Evangelism Conference Videos Online

I had the privilege of visiting Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary for the 9 Marks at Southeastern Evangelism Conference.  I had the privilege of hearing Danny Akin, Peter Williams, Mark Dever,  Thabiti Anyabwile, John Folmar, and J.D. Greear speak biblically, passionately, and God-glorifyingly about the need of sharing the gospel with the lost.

The videos of these talks are now online.  Take time to listen and drink deep!  Thankful for these men and for 9 Marks.

[UPDATE: Apparently, I am not able at this point to post these videos up. You can watch them here.]

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How Do We Understand, Engage, and Evangelize Mormons with the Gospel? John Divito Helps

My good friend, John Divito, just conducted a five-part interview with Mormon Research Ministries that you would do well to hear. John was converted to Christ after growing up in the Mormon church. He recently contributed to The Gospel Coalition as well as Christianity Today regarding connecting and engaging Mormons with the true gospel. John currently serves as the Administrator for the Midwest Center for Theological Studies in Owensboro, Kentucky.

John describes the content of each part:

The first part is my testimony and background. The second part covers my contribution to Christianity Today. The third part looks more at Jana Reiss, a well-regarded Mormon who responded to the CT article. In the fourth and fifth parts, I interact with Reiss’ response.

Listen here to all five parts: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4| Part 5

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Wishing you a Christ-Filled 2013!

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A Believing Community is a Persuasive Apologetic for the Gospel

John Divito who serves at Heritage Baptist Church in Owensboro, Kentucky, recommended a great book to me by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis called Total Church: A Radical Reshaping Around Gospel and Community that really helps us see the local church as a gospel community on mission—something that chimes with me.  I was especially struck by a paragraph in chapter three on the topic of evangelism.  First, the quote: 

In our experience people are often attracted to the Christian community before they are attracted to the Christian message.  If a believing community is a persuasive apologetic for the gospel, then people need to be included to see that apologetic at work.  People often tell me how they have tried telling their unbelieving friends about Jesus, but they do not seem interested.  So they want to know what to do next.  My answer is to find ways of introducing them to the Christian community.  The life of the Christian community provokes a response.  When Peter says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have,” he is not speaking to individuals but to churches (1 Peter 3:15).  Too much evangelism is an attempt to answer questions people are not asking.  Let them experience the life of the Christian community.  The church is the home in which God dwells by His Spirit (Ephesians 2:22).  Its life is the life of the Spirit, and its community is the community of the Spirit.  Let our relationships provoke questions.  And do not worry if your church life is sometimes less perfect than it should be!  We do not witness to good works but to the grace of God.  Our commitment to one another despite our difference and our grace toward one another’s failures are more eloquent testimony to the grace of God than any pretense at perfection.

This really chimes with me for a number of reasons. 

First, I agree that a powerful apologetic is seeing the church (warts, wrinkles, grace, and all) at work.  

Secondly, our evangelistic efforts should primarily come out of relationships we forge.  If they see Christ in us, they will give more of a hearing to us about that Christ they see. 

Thirdly, this affirms the conviction I have put forth to our people at Arapahoe Road Baptist Church here in Centennial, Colorado:  invite, invest, involve.  Invite your unbelieving friends to our community and let them see our faith in action among our people!  Powerful indeed!

Thoughts?

If you’d like to buy this book, click here to get it.

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They Matter to God, They Must Matter to Us

“Don’t tell me you lost them!”

“No, I didn’t lost them! I distinctly remember putting them right here in my bookbag. Just give me a second!”

“Well, please hurry. We’re almost to the ticket counter and our plane leaves in 45 minutes.”

Guess what? They were not there. No matter how hard I looked, they were not there. You see, these were not just any plane tickets. These were tickets to Jamaica. We were not going there for a little vacation— oh no! This was our honeymoon. I had one responsibility — to keep those tickets with me at all times. But they were not there.

Now, I’m not the sharpest pencil in the box, but I know a problem when I see one. So Cindy stayed at the counter while Wes, the Delta representative, sympathetically tried to help us out. I went to the phone and called the hotel, asking them to check our honeymoon suite to see if there were any tickets. Five minutes later, she told me there were on the nightstand. I told her, “I will pay you handsomely if you can get to Louisville International quickly.” I barely got the words out and she was off.

With 5 minutes to spare, she pulls up. I pay her, she gives me the tickets and I was OUTTA THERE. I made it there with seconds to spare. As Cindy and I sat in our seats, I looked at her and said, “Well, I guess things can only get better, right?” Then we had a good laugh.

Have you ever lost anything? All of us have. John Kramp, in his book Out of Their Faces and Into Their Shoes, says,

“A search always reveals your values. If we lose something and choose not to search for it, we essentially say we place little value on that item. Actions, not words, reveal our values.”

When we read Luke 15:1-7, we see who Jesus values.

Jesus said in Luke 19:10 that He came to “seek and to save those who were lost.” That must be our mission as well. Why?

1. The lost matter to God, they must matter to us!

Does this surprise you? Does it surprise you that you are of value to Him? If it surprises you, then maybe it is because we often place our own thoughts and ideas and prejudices upon God that think that He thinks and feels as we do! As we talked about last Sunday night, too often we believe that God accepts our worship when we go through the motions of worship and attend all the services and hear all the preaching and go to all the Sunday School times — yet if our hearts are not desiring to obey Him in reaching the lost, our worship comes up short of what God intends.

See in verse 1 that “all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him.” This description described how the Pharisees, the religious leaders of the day, viewed those who were outside the Kingdom of God. They were considered unclean and unworthy to be loved and ministered to. And while even the religious folks turned away from these ‘lost sheep,’ Jesus presence and personality and compassion seemed to attract them to Him.

Edwin Markham wrote a poem which says:

​Some draw a circle that shuts men out;
​Race and position are what they flout;
​But Christ in love seeks them to win,
​He draws a circle that takes them in!

Vance Havner once said,

“Evangelism is to Christianity what veins are to our bodies. You can cut Christianity anywhere at it’ll bleed evangelism. Evangelism is vascular — it’s our business. Talk about majoring in evangelism, you might as well talk about a doctor majoring in healing. That’s our business.”

Few would disagree with Bro. Havner’s assessment. Evangelism is what Christianity is about. Evangelism, coming from the Greek word euaggelion which means “gospel, glad tidings or good news”, is the process of we as a Great Commission people performing the basic task that Christ purposed for us — to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Yet, the problem for many of us in the church is that we have been Christians for so long, that we have forgotten what it is like to be without Christ. I have noticed that those who are rather young in the faith are very zealous.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, whom do we represent? Are we like those Pharisees, who look down upon sinners and the unseemlies of the world

2. If you are lost, God searches for you.

Jesus tells His listeners, “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?” (Luke 15:4, NKJV).

To many of us, this seems rather strange. Why would someone risk their lives over one weak, feeble, lost sheep when they had ninety-nine strong ones that were able to keep up with the pack? In our day of “survival of the fittest,” we would just leave that weak sheep out with the elements and carry on.

I’m so glad that God does not operate the way we often do. The religious leaders of that day taught that God would receive sinners who sought His forgiveness earnestly enough. But this parable shows God being the One seeking the sinner. In the Middle East, the shepherd was responsible for every last sheep — none must be lost killed or injured.

Or if you subscribe to Darwin’s theory of “survival of the fittest.” The strongest survive because they have the tools to survive. The strength of a species depends on those who are strong to help carry it on. The weak hold our species back, won’t survive — so maybe they should be left behind.

Yet, look with me at 1 Corinthians 1:26-29:

[26] For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. [27] But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; [28] God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, [29] so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

Our world says, “You must be rich, be productive, be beautiful, be muscular, run fast, be popular.” Yet, in God is not calling those who are wise and powerful by the world’s standards — He actively sought out the foolish, the weak, the despised in order to advance His Kingdom. The people that Jesus hung around are the ones who will bring glory to God because they have nothing in this world to glory in.

And we who are Christians must be careful when we say, “I’m so glad I found God.” Yet, this story shows that we are too weak, too feeble to look for God. When we are lost, we are just that — lost, with no way to know how to get to God. Yet, this parable shows that the Good Shepherd searches us out. He takes the initiative. We have found him only because He first found us.

I’m thankful that God is not a Darwinist. If so, all those who are weak, no-account, lost, feeble, and worthless would be of no value to God. Yet, God’s Word says something far different. He puts out an A.P.B. to all of those who are lost, weak, and wounded in heart.

Do we have God’s heart? Thom Rainer did research on unchurched and recently unchurched individuals and found that 83% of those who were recently unchurched but are churched now came to church because someone invited them. Think of that! The harvest is ripe — will we go and be instruments of God’s use and search them out?

3. When you are found, God rejoices over you — and so must we!

And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!” I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance (Luke 15:5-7).

The Pharisees mumbled and grumbled when Jesus welcomed the unwantables in that society. Yet, God rejoices when those who are unwanted and lost come to heaven. It says that there is “more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.”

How often do you hear folks say, “I am so glad I found God”? Yet this passage speaks volumes in showing that it is not the sheep who find the shepherd, but it is the shepherd who finds the sheep! The sheep that was left behind was weak, unable to keep up, had lost his way.

If you are without Jesus Christ, do you feel as if God doesn’t nor couldn’t ever love you? Not only do you matter to Him; not only does He conduct an all-out search for you; but God throws a party for you. Think about it: the party is not for those religious leaders. That party is not for the Billy Grahams or the Charles Stanleys of the world who preach to millions of folks. That party is for a sinner who was an enemy of God in open rebellion before Him who has been found by the Great Shepherd and brought into the fold.

Now, right now, you may be sitting there in your seat feeling something going on in your heart and in your gut— as if someone is drawing you to God. That is the Holy Spirit. God is ready to throw a party for you and to embrace you as the father did the prodigal son later in Luke 15. All the heavenly host will rejoice over you if you will turn from your sin and self and trust in Jesus Christ, the Great Shepherd who has searched for you and will bring you into the sheepfold of His Kingdom.

Conclusion

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy
​Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you
​Full of pity, love and pow’r.

Come, ye weary, heavy-laden
​Lost and ruined by the fall
If you tarry ‘til you’re better
​You will never come at all.

Will you arise and go to Jesus;
​He will embrace you in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior
​O there are ten thousand charms.

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“I Didn’t Want Her to Think I was Some Kind of Religious Nut, So I Held It In”

ESPN.com has a set of articles by Mike Downey, former Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribute sports columnist, about his 50 favorite moments on the 50th anniversary of Dodger Stadium. 

The Los Angeles Angels (soon after, the California Angels, soon after the Anaheim Angels, soon after the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) called this stadium home from 1962-1965.  Downey puts as #3 an event that happened on June 1, 1962, subtitling it “A true Hollywood star.” 

On her 36th (and last) birthday, Marilyn Monroe goes to Beverly Hills to pick up "Something’s Gotta Give" co-star Dean Martin’s 10-year-old son, Dean Paul, to take him to a baseball game, as promised. At the park, Angels outfielder Albie Pearson is chosen to escort Monroe to home plate for a charity presentation. A week later, Monroe is fired from her film. A few weeks after that, she is found dead at her L.A. home.

Pearson (played for Angels 1961-66): "When she took her life, or whatever happened, it really devastated me. I looked into her eyes and she looked so lonely. I remembered every Bible verse I ever learned while I was staring at her. She asked me, ‘What? What is it you want to tell me?’ I didn’t want her to think I was some kind of a religious nut, so I held it in. It put my life on a different path from that day on. I saw past that woman’s beauty. I saw a lonesome, searching person. Her sadness had a profound effect on me."

All of us have been in situations like this.  We risk not wanting someone thinking we are a nut, especially of the religious persuasion.  But when death and hell are so close to so many, we cannot afford to be worried about what men may think.  We are here as ambassadors for Christ.  Let us proclaim His Good News to all who will hear: “Be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). 

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Connection Between Evangelism and Apologetics

“The very reason why Christians are put in the position of giving a reasoned account of the hope that is in them is that not all men have faith. Because there is a world to be evangelized (men who are unconverted), there is the need for the believer to defend his faith: Evangelism naturally brings one into apologetics. This indicates that apologetics is no mere matter of "intellectual jousting"; it is a serious matter of life and death – eternal life and death. The apologist who fails to take account of the evangelistic nature of his argumentation is both cruel and proud. Cruel because he overlooks the deepest need of his opponent and proud because he is more concerned to demonstrate that he is no academic fool that to show how all glory belongs to the gracious God of all truth. Evangelism reminds us of who we are (sinners saved by grace) and what our opponents need (conversion of heart, not simply modified propositions). I believe, therefore, that the evangelistic nature of apologetics shows us the need to follow a presuppositional defense of the faith. In contrast to this approach stand the many systems of neutral autonomous argumentation.”

(Greg Bahnsen, Evangelism and Apologetics. Accessed 21 July 2010, available at http://www.cmfnow.com/articles/PA013.htm [on-line]; Internet.)

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How Pervasive is the Social Networking Revolution? Just a Fad? (Video)

Watch this video and see how this type of communication and networking is changing everything! Think this won’t be crucial to how churches operate under the mandate of the Great Commission? Think again. (HT: @NationsBeGlad)

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A Piece of Sheet Rock, Some Sharpies, and a Broken Heart for Those Without Jesus

BCBC Drywall

Our First Piece of Drywall in New Building

This past Sunday (November 1) was our church’s “Arise and Build Sunday.”  As part of the festivities, we brought in a piece of sheet rock, complete with Sharpies beside it.  On this, our members would write down names of people who need to come to saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Many came forward to write down these names, and I pray they understood that the purpose of our church facility as well as our future facility will be to spread His glory from our neighbors to the nations.

Pray for us as we build on the momentum of desiring to directly influence these men and women, boys and girls, to plant the seed of the gospel in their hearts (1 Cor 3:8).

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