Monthly Archives: February 2009

Lessons in Evangelism – What?

Last week I began a series, Lessons in Evangelism, dealing with how God has changed me over the last 6 months. I’m not a televangelist, though sometimes I look like Joel Oesteen with a curly-haired mullet, and I’m not even remotely considered an evangelist, but the last 6 months I’ve made an effort to do the work of an evangelist.  I’m documenting what I’ve learned from the motivations of my heart to the methods I’ve used and everything in between. Through this process I learned a lot about my motivations (which I dealt with last week) and this week I want to focus on the content of the message when you evangelize.

 

The question and debate is always what constitutes evangelism? When does a conversation become evangelism?  Here are my conclusions.

 

1)     Christ and his disciples focused on a change of behavior (repentance) and belief in Christ alone as God.

2)     These ideas were presented in different language and form based on their context.

 

Different in form, alike in Content.

 

In high school, I was trained to evangelize using the 4 Spiritual Laws, The Spirit Filled-Life, and using the Roman’s Road. These methods are based on the assumption and the idea of one-shot evangelism where you need to cover the whole realm of Christian thought in that moment or it wasn’t truly evangelism and you may never see that person again. In reality, the majority of our time is spent in on-going relationships where Christianity can be validated by deeds and shared with words over time. That doesn’t mean we neglect one-shot evangelism, as we should be prepared for those moments as they come, but we have to reevaluate our methods.

 

When we look at scripture, we will find that evangelism happened in both circumstances and we’ll realize that we do not have to cover every aspect of Christian theological thought for it to be considered evangelism. Looking at Peter in Acts 10/11, and Paul in Acts 17 as examples, the forms, language, and structures were different, but the content was the same. These were of the one-shot evangelism type and if you want to see Paul participate in the ongoing evangelism, one instance is evidenced in Acts 18 (reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath). The conclusion we can come to is that a conversation becomes evangelism when Jesus is exalted and proclaimed as Lord, and people are called to change their ways (repent) and believe in Him.

 

As you discuss Jesus with various types of people, the word choice you use, the structure of your explanation will vary. Artists don’t interact, connect, or talk like engineers, so the language and issues for each vary and they will connect with descriptions of these 2 major points of evangelism differently. Even in scripture, different language is used to describe sin (darkness, evil, rebellion, disobedience) and salvation (light, peace, redemption, rescue, following). Word choice may sound trite, but each word carries different symbolism and background for each different hearer.

 

This makes evangelism easier for us all. We don’t have to master a method, we don’t have to memorize a certain series of scripture as the magic evangelism bullet, we simply put the focus on Jesus and His declaration for men and women everywhere to turn from their ways and follow Him. Every Christian can do the work of the evangelist if they are a follower of Christ because they themselves have changed their behavior (repented), and believed in Jesus as Lord. This was Jesus’ first message, “Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is near” and it becomes our message as His followers.

 

 

Next in this series, I’ll be getting into the various methods I’ve seen used that are normal. The next post will be discussing the idea of questioning evangelism. You can check out the gospels and see how Jesus responds when people ask him questions to get a sneak preview of what I’m talking about.

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Welcome Abigail Ruth Wilson!

Congratulations to our friends Lee and Beth Wilson as their first baby girl was born today at 11:11am! She was 8lbs, 20oz., 20 inches long, and healthy.

 

You can see the pictures on their blog and follow the entire delivery thanks to Lee’s uncanny ability to love his wife, not sleep, and blog. Beth, you’re a trooper.

 

We’re so happy for you guys and hope to meet Abbey soon.

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Eli and Kidstuff

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Kidstuff is The Austin Stone Community Church’s environment for kids 6 weeks to 5th grade. They do an amazing job of caring, praying, teaching, and showing Christ through using volunteers from the church. Usually the pattern for kids when they start in kidstuff is sadness and tears when mom and dad leave them at Kidstuff. Then they get more comfortable with the volunteers and start having fun, end up loving it and look forward to it on Sundays.

 

That was Eli, at first he would cling to me and cry when I left, which is a miserable feeling, but it has all changed. Now he cries when we take him out of Kidstuff. He loves going to Kidstuff and apparently tries to run the show. Here’s a story from last week.

 

After the lesson, Eli organized the desks (Kidstuff is held in Austin High classrooms) into a single row and labeled it the school bus. He then corralled the kids in the class onto the bus and proceeded to “drive” the bus.

 

In recent weeks, he also led a classroom to create a paper storm by tearing pieces of paper up and throwing them in the air.

 

I have a cool kid. Love you Eli.

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The 20/80 Rule: Are you the 20 or the 80?

The 20/80 Rule is that typically 20% of those who attend the church do 80% of the work/service of the church. I’ve only been serving the church for 4 years, but I’ve found this rule or idea to be absolutely true. It’s not necessarily a rule as much as it is something that leadership at churches notice. Actually, sometimes it seems like the 10/90 rule.

 

One of the causes of this rule is a consumerist culture that breeds individuals looking to be entertained or even hear messages they agree with as long as nothing is demanded of them. But it is also the result of the way we do church, the way that we market or promote the idea of church. Church, especially here in the south, is primarily a Sunday thing, or if you’re Baptist, a Sunday/Wednesday thing. Which when you think about it, makes it a lot like American Idol, where you watch multiple times a week, you know the songs, even sing along if no ones is watching and anxiously await the comments from the leader of the judges. When church becomes solely about the Sunday worship time, every Christian suffers and the leadership will bear all the burden of actual ministry, which likely explains the moral failures of many a church leader or their family.

 

What if instead of attending to listen, sing, and be around Christians for social hour, you took ownership of your local church to the point that you partnered with it for its growth and health. The church was never intended to be about only a select few operating in their gifts of preaching and leading worship, it was intended that we all engage in how we have been gifted so that a city can be changed by Jesus’ message carried out through a local congregation working together in word and deed.

 

If you don’t like the church, it’s because you’re not functioning in the church as you should. Maybe instead of church-shopping to find the best church for you, you find a church and engage in service so that you see others changed.

 

Until then, 20% of Christians will work to accomplish city renewal and life transformation that they actually need the other 80% of people to accomplish.

 

 

 

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Indoor Soccer Gentrified

This is the best way to play indoor soccer.

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Lessons in Evangelism: Why? Part 2 of 2

Yesterday I started what I hope will be a series about evangelism titled Lessons in Evangelism, because I feel like the last 6 months God has been teaching me various lessons in Evangelism which have changed the way I view evangelism and changed the way I evangelize. I’m starting with the motivation behind why we should evangelize as Christians because they directly correlate to our actions whether we do or do not evangelize. My motivations had been simply out duty and a sense of obligation, but the 3 changes in motivation I gave yesterday are these:

 

1)   I love God and His gospel.

2)   I’ve started to actually love and care about the people around me.

3)     It causes worship in me and exalts His name.

 

I covered the first one yesterday, so here are my explanations of the final 2 reasons.

 

I’ve started to actually love and care about the people around me.

 

Have you ever noticed you are much more interested in the people’s lives that you are closest to? This is obvious I know, but it’s changed how I view the people around me who I know don’t believe as I do. It sounds like a jerky thing to say that I “started” to care about the people around me, but the reality is that I’m often caught up in all the things in my life and that needed to change to care about people well. I can’t make myself care, but I can ask God to grow my care and love for my co-workers, my neighbors, and the random person I get in the elevator with.

 

As He has grown my love and concern for these people, I want them to know the things I enjoy. The counter of that is that I don’t want them to continue to live with broken lives, because the end result of that is everlasting death, instead of eternal life. Where do you want the people you love to end up, a lot of death or infinite joy and life? It’s a no-brainer.

 

In Romans 10, Paul says “Salvation comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” As I’ve grown in my care and concern for the people I am around, I want them to know the greatest news in the world and they can never believe simply by me showing I care about them, I have to talk about Jesus and what He has done and then let God save. You don’t talk to people you don’t care about, so those people will never hear the gospel unless your heart towards them changes. God is good at changing hearts.

If you don’t care or have genuine concern for the person you are trying to evangelize to, please stop. You’re making it harder for the rest of us.

 

It exalts Christ as supremely worthy and causes worship in me.

 

Evangelism by nature says that Christ is greater than anything any individual can choose to enjoy, worship, depend on, etc. If Christ is who He says He was, that means He is the greatest thing that has walked this earth. Evangelism asserts that to the world, it puts Him in His rightful place. As I’ve seen Christ as supreme, I feel there is no other option but to place Him above everything else when I talk to others. This eliminates any shame or fear in me and it will in you as well.

 

The last reason that has changed for me in regards to evangelism is that nothing causes me to seek the Lord, thank Him for salvation and desire to know Him more than evangelism. If you’ve ever evangelized, even if the person doesn’t respond and say “I believe”, you walk away with joy because you got to participate in God’s plan for salvation. You also realize how much you need God to work in people’s lives for them to change and when they do, there is so much joy in seeing someone experience for themselves salvation in Jesus Christ.

 

I am thankful my motivations have changed because it has caused me to love Jesus and love others more than I ever have. I pray this helps you do the same.

 

Ask the Lord to reveal your views on Evangelism. Ask Him to show you why you do or don’t do it? That’s where I started. Then get ready to be educated. It’s sometimes embarrassing, but really great at the same time.

 

Next: Lessons in Evangelism: What?

As in… what do I say? What is the gospel? Then I’ll get more practical in the methods that I’ve learned don’t work and others I’ve seen work quite well.

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Lessons in Evangelism: Why? Part 1 of 2

Over the last 6 months, the Lord has put me through a crash course in Evangelism, not an actual class, but learning through my life discussing Jesus with people who don’t know Him. Evangelism simply defined is sharing the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ with those who do not share these views as evidenced by their words or life. I’ve decided to document what I’ve learned in a series titled Lessons in Evangelism so that people can learn from my mistakes. The end goal: making evangelism normal for Christians again. Part of becoming a Christian is understanding the gospel and then as you are living your life, you tell others the gospel.

 

I am far from gifted in evangelism, if there was such a thing as ungifted that would be me, but I’ve learned that Paul’s exhortation to Timothy to “do the work of evangelist” likely means Timothy wasn’t either, but the command is still the same. I am starting with the question of “Why should I evangelize?” because it deals with the motivation of your heart which in turn reverberates through the actions you take. Evangelism always felt simply like a command (which it is) and a duty, which left me feeling guilty and ashamed of not doing it more, but my motivations for evangelism have been changing so that it is starting to feel normal.

 

I’ve come up with 3 changes in motivation that explain why I have evangelized more:

 

1)     I love God and His gospel.

2)     I’ve started to actually love and care about the people around me.

3)     It causes worship in me and exalts His name.

 

I love God and His gospel.

 

I’ve found that the reality is we are all evangelists of the things we love. I’m a Dr. Pepper and 24 evangelist because I enjoy them a lot, sometimes too much. Mac evangelists are possibly the worst because they think they’re cooler than you. Evangelism stems from enjoyment, that which you enjoy and consume you will also proclaim and discuss. If you love sports and ESPN, you’re going to educate uninterested people in your non-expert opinions of sports.

 

The past 6 months, I’ve enjoyed the gospel more personally than ever before. I talked about it with other Christians, I read about it a lot, it consumed my thoughts and humbled me often. As a result, I talked about it a whole lot more with the people I was around, whether they agreed or disagreed. It became simply discussing my life, which is a lot less awkward than forcing an evangelistic system. Gospel Evangelism becomes normal when enjoying the gospel becomes normal.

 

An explanation of motivations 2 & 3 coming tomorrow…In the meantime, what are your thoughts on evangelism? What motivates you to evangelize or prevents you from it?

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My Blog Subscriptions and Why

I subscribe to way too many blogs and don’t get to read them all, but here are some I subscribe to and enjoy. If your blog isn’t on here, I swear it’s because I don’t know about it.

 

22 Words: Abraham Piper’s blog, where every post is 22 Words. It’s really an education in making blogs simple, yet worth it.

 

Money Saving Mom: Despite that fact I am not a mom, this website posts coupons, deals, and even a training session on the CVS shopping system where if you do it right, you could make money shopping at CVS (you’ll also own a lot of random items). Warning: This blog posts WAY too often.

 

Bill Simmons: A sports writer from Boston who is hilarious. He’s the best sportswriter I’ve read, since he mixes culture, comedy, and sports in a readable manner.

 

The Scriptorium Daily: A Church History blog that tells you major events in church history that occurred on this day.

 

Church Planting Novice: This is a church planter here in Austin who has great thoughts and resources for missional communities and starting churches.

 

The Stewart Family: Kimberly Stewart blogs on the Stewart family and recently on raising kids to enjoy the gospel, while learning to discipline them effectively have been challenging and encouraging. Following their family is fun. If you’re trying to figure out how to raise kids, they are great to learn from. (See Also: The Pipers)

 

Our Friends:

Ethereal Thought Train – Todd blogs on working as the college/connections pastor and theological ideas.

An Elephant and a Mouse – The Engstrom family blog. Olivia is quite witty and Micah is a lot of fun.

La Casa de Lopez – The Lopez’s blog. It’s fun to get an additional peak into our friends lives.

Pittsfest – The Pitts family. Some of the godliest people I’ve ever been around.

Re:Wilsons – Lee, Beth, and soon to be Abby, live in Tennessee, take plenty of video, post often, and we miss them.

Kell & Co. – The Fraziers who live in the Woodlands, which is too far.

The Pereira’s – Friends from camp.

 

Like I said, way too many blogs.

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