Category Archives: Lessons in Evangelism

Do I really love people?

I’ve been reading Galatians lately and a couple of verses that have jumped out to me are Galations 5:5-6, which reads:

For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

I bolded that last part because it’s what has been ringing in my head for a month. Is my faith working itself out through love? Does my faith and hope in Jesus Christ for righteousness result in me loving people? Throughout this chapter, this same theme keeps reoccurring that for a Christian, walking daily in faith produces a freedom to love people. Over the last month I’ve developed a few gauges that have helped me realize whether or not I actually love people.

The Elevator Gauge.

Is there a more awkward environment than an elevator with a mirror? That’s my daily routine. The gauge for me works like this. While I’m in the elevator, am I concerned about the other people in there enough to look up from my phone and say hello? How unloving am I when I don’t even choose to look up and acknowledge the people I share an elevator with for 30 seconds? Maybe you’re thinking it’s not a big deal, but for me it reveals a self-centeredness that places value on myself over others.

As I’ve tried to change this, I was shocked when I asked “How is your day going?” and my elevator mate responded “Really terribly actually.” We only talked briefly, but I thought, “How many people have been having miserable days and I’ve only been concerned about my email or what these people think of me?” It was terribly convicting.

The Cashier Clerk Gauge

This involves my heart and attitude at the checkout line in a grocery store or anywhere that I’m being served. If I’ve left the grocery store or restaurant or wherever, do I even remember the name of the person serving me or did I act like they owed me service without gratitude? I too often get caught up in my own schedule and needs that I treat people as robots instead of as potential friends. For me, this gauge shows me if I’m walking in faith in Jesus or walking in belief that I’m better than others. In truth, I hate this gauge, but man I need it as a good continual reminder that Christ loved and loves me whether I give Him great service or terrible service.

The Celebration Gauge

This gauge evaluates whether I really am excited for the successes of others or if envy and jealousy reigns underneath. When I see my friends or co-workers rewarded, do I celebrate with them or secretly wish it was me or worse, complain that they don’t deserve it. If I’m really walking daily in my faith in Jesus Christ, I find myself caring more for the success of others than myself. I desire for them to achieve their dreams and be able to toast their success. If I can’t celebrate with them, it shows me I don’t really love them.

The Grieving Gauge

This gauge tends to deal with how deeply you or I love someone. Most of us will be sad when bad things happen to people, but will we sacrifice things in our lives to grieve alongside them? In the gospel, we see Jesus Christ who suffers so that He can comfort those who suffer. If I believe that Christ suffered for me and that I am to follow His example, the results should be the freedom to cry and mourn with those who hurt, to try and put myself in their shoes as best I can and whether I can or not, to be sad simply because I care about them so much. Grieving with someone is a different level of love and caring for them. As Christians, we should be the first to grieve with any and all who hurt.

What about you?

These are just instances lately that have served as gauges for my love for people in general. The verse in Galatians has really forced me to consider whether my faith is manifesting itself through love or if I have sunk into a cognitive understanding of belief that doesn’t produce the actions of Jesus Christ.

I’m glad the elevator gauge and cashier clerk gauge happen so often because they serve so well as clear reminders of my need to depend of Christ through prayer and reading the bible so that I think and act differently, so that I truly let my faith work itself out in love.

Do you have similar gauges or situations that show you whether you are loving people? Occurrences that force you to evaluate your faith?

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Moving on from College Ministry

Last night was my last college ministry meeting at the Stone. College Ministry started for Amber and I by leading a community group bible study in our small Hyde Park house we rented after getting married. The summer of ’05, I met with Michael Powell to convince him I wasn’t a heretic and to let Amber and I lead a group. It started with 9 people that first night and ended 2 years later with some of the greatest memories and friends we’ve ever had.

A year after we started our group, Kevin Peck asked Todd Engstrom, Travis Wussow, & I to organize and lead the college ministry. I can never thank Kevin enough for investing in me and providing me with this opportunity to lead with my friends. It’s been an amazing experience.

We’ve known for a while that this was likely our last year in college ministry and it makes it easier knowing that the college ministry is going to better than before with Tyler David, Sarah Decker, Eric Klein, Tammie Beassie and a whole host of interns, coaches, and missional community leaders running it next year.

Last night I shared what I’ve learned over 5 years or at least tried to summarize it in 4 nice bullet points.

You never move on from the gospel, you only move deeper into it. As Christians, we believe what saves us is faith in Jesus Christ’s death for our sins and resurrection from the grave 3 days later. For much of church life, I thought there were deeper and more interesting things than that, but how do you move on from the new like that? It’s truly tremendous to think of God becoming man, living perfectly, dying in my place, and accomplishing victory though resurrection that I never could. All through the letters in the Bible, Paul and other writers are constantly reminding people that what saves them (the gospel) is also what will transform them and instruct them in life. It’s never something you move past, it’s only something you grow in understanding of.

Ministry success or failure does not define me. The past 5 years have involved failures, some success, and more failures. It resulted in some ups and downs in my life and the unfortunately reality at times is that I came to view myself in light of those successes or failures. What I’ve learned is my identity is not based on my success or failure, but based on the gospel, being saved by Christ’s work and being seen as a child of God. As a parent, I know I love my sons not because they do great things for me, but because they are my sons. For Christians, God views us as His children and He is constantly delighted in us thanks to Jesus. Do I disappoint Him at times? Surely, but He never stops loving me. I’m His son.

Ministry isn’t as complicated as we try to make it. You’ve probably seen churches everywhere use trendy and relevant gimmicks or programs to get people to listen to their message. I feel like it’s overcomplicating a simple reality. In 1 Thessalonians chapter 2, verse 8, Paul writes to Christians that “having so fond an affection for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.” Over the last 5 years, Amber & I have seen people influenced and changed by this truth, that when we offered them our lives, carrying about them through prayer and teaching the bible, having them in our home, God used it to transform people.

Ministry comes down to evangelism (proclaiming the gospel in word and deed) and discipleship (sharing your life and doctrine with people by walking through life with them).  Breaking it down further, I’d say it simplifies to prayer, understanding the bible, gospel-centered community, and being on mission together.

Lastly, I shared that there is no greater joy than doing ministry with friends. At our church we talk about missional community which is a groups of Christians actively proclaiming the gospel through evangelism and serving their community. I’ve had the opportunity to live that out with people who care about me and my family more than my contributions to ministry. They’ve reminded me of the gospel by caring about us and reminding us of and teaching us the truth of the bible.

So thank you to everyone we had the opportunity to serve with in college ministry. The list of names is too long to type here.

What’s Next?

A lot of people have been asking what we are going to do next as far as ministry. The truth is we don’t really know. We have been praying that God would show us what to do next and we will continue to do so. We do know we have a great neighborhood and great neighbors that we want to spend more time with and share our lives with as well. So we will definitely start there.

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The Gospel at Work

Does the gospel affect every area of your life or only your church life?

That’s the question I believe every Christian should ask. Often the latter, church life, is what most Christians focus on as a life lived for Jesus, where you serve on Sundays and your mid-week small group gathering. Only in the last 2 years, have I really evaluated every area of my life and assessed how the gospel of Jesus Christ should define my approach and how I live in those various environments (parenting, my job, what I consume and why, how I live as a neighbor, etc.).

One of the areas that I believe has changed the most for me is work.  What is my attitude for going to work? How do I share my faith in a work environment in a way that is normal and not attacking? The gospel had to change me first before it changed the answer to those questions. I believe it has not only made me a better employee, but also helped me immensely in sharing my faith as an outflow of my everyday life. As I spoke with a friend this morning, he’s seen a similar thing occur in his own life. When I asked him what had changed in the last year, he articulated it this way:

I just realized the other meaning in that title. I think that’s truly what changed this year. I could see and EXPLAIN how the Gospel was at work in my life…in life in general. It was being able to boldly and openly share how the Gospel shaped every aspect of my life. Why did I serve? Because Christ did. Why do I pursue a relationship with a girl the way I do? Because it’s supposed to be a reflection of Christ’s love for the church. It was the Gospel at work that allowed the Gospel being shared at work to be real to people. I’m not really sure I can keep typing this right now cuz it conjures up a lot of intense feelings. But I’m pretty sure that was the difference…that and allowing the Gospel to be my identity. Not a church-going Christian, but a Gospel-believing-and-Gospel-sharing normal guy.

As I read it, I felt like it explained what has happened in me as well. As the gospel begins to be at work in you, it will change the way the gospel is displayed at work through you.

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Lessons in Evangelism – Community Evangelism

In my last post in this series, I dealt more with a personal evangelism method (Questioning Evangelism) which is where most of us find ourselves when we seek to declare the gospel at work, in our neighborhood or apartment. It’s also how we’ve come to view and teach evangelism. It has become a personal responsibility that you do by yourself so you better know all the answers and the best methods to explain the gospel to anyone you see. This is a half-truth that often overwhelms us because the burden rests solely on us for it to be carried out. It’s true that we must be ready to give an account for why we believe what we believe, but evangelism was never seen as solely an individual activity.

I’m talking about the idea of community evangelism, which is joining with other believers in Jesus Christ to express the gospel through word and deed to similar individuals, a neighborhood, or a group of people. Instead of doing it on your own, partner with other believers to accomplish the same task together.

This is something I’ve primarily learned by observing it carried out by others, but also through observing truth in the Book of Acts in the Bible. In Acts you never see anyone sent out to evangelize or establish a church or to be on mission all by themselves, it’s as if it didn’t make sense to them. The first missionary journey (Acts 13) sets apart Paul and Barnabas to go together, and even with they split in Acts 15, they find others to go with them as they separate and never go alone.

Christ sends out His disciples in pairs in Luke 10 and then sends them as a group when He ascends into heaven. It appears more biblical to seek to do this as a community rather than as individuals.

Maybe for us the independent American lifestyle has bled into our evangelism methods and theology to the point we refuse to share our burden and responsibility with those we love that also happen to be closest to us.

Two examples of community evangelism in our college ministry:

Kasey and Clay: Two of our college guy leaders began interacting with and caring for Korean international students on UT’s campus. Each of them would interact with them separately, but also together at times and each time would seek to engage them with the truth of the gospel. As a result, they’ve seen a Korean atheist become a believer in Christ and then join them in reaching his friends.

Madison and Megan: Freshman girls in our college ministry that decided to pray like crazy and share their faith as much as possible. Together they have seen a number of people come to faith in Christ, baptized girls in their dorm’s pool and seen those girls join with them in sharing their faith and baptizing others. Here’s the video.

How does this play out in our lives?

I have seen this begin to play itself out in my marriage most of all. Amber and I are a ministry team that lives in close community as part of our marriage. We spend our weekdays separate, but with a common focus of seeing the gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed through our words and our lives to the people we see on a regular basis. When together, we encourage one another, keep each other accountable to staying committed to sharing our faith, we learn from one another and we pray for each other. Lately, we’ve also worked together in spending time with the people each of us has connected with individually. In those moments we get to show them Christ by our lives in community and then collectively declare the gospel. We’ve seen more opportunities to share our faith this way than ever before.

Community evangelism creates more opportunities for the gospel to be spread, provides a close training and support network for learning, encouragement, accountability, and prayer. There are small groups in churches everywhere, but many of them meet to serve just each other, what if their focus for gathering was centered on engaging communities with the gospel they encourage each other with? I think they’ll see and experience greater joy in Christ and see salvation in Christ more than ever before.

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Lessons in Evangelism – Questioning Evangelism

This is the next in my series on evangelism, the first few can be found in the blog archives.

 

After dealing with the motivation for evangelism (loving Jesus and loving others) and the content of evangelism (lifestyle change & Jesus as Lord), it’s time to get into the mechanics of evangelism. How do we evangelize? When we ask that question, we’re typically looking for the silver bullet of evangelism that works every time and that’s not the point.  The focus in regards to evangelism is simply talking about the gospel and doing it often using various methods. Just start seeking the Lord and then start talking about Him with others. Then you’ll learn the method of evangelism that is natural for you. So let’s discuss methods.

 

The first is Questioning Evangelism, which I’ll define as engaging people with questions regarding their beliefs rather than simply answering their questions about Christianity. You may be thinking, “That doesn’t make sense, if they ask a question, why wouldn’t I just answer it?” Well, let me tell you a story that ultimately forced me to figure out why I am horrible at evangelism.

 

My personal education

Last fall, during a family event, one of my family members asks me the question, “Logan, Do you think everyone has to go to church?” which resulted in me doing joyful back flips in my mind at the opportunity to talk about Jesus.

 

So I answered his question looking forward to the conversation that followed, only that’s when it ended with an “I agree”. Meanwhile my wife has taken this opportunity to start asking questions to the girl sitting next to her and spends the next hour outlining the gospel.

 

I sat there wondering, What did I do wrong? And why does this seem to always happen? And why is my wife better than me at doing this (I’m a little competitive)? It led me to listen to my wife as she was talking with the girl sitting next to her, and it led me to look at the scriptures, specifically the gospels to see how Jesus responded when people asked questions. This is what I found.

 

How did Jesus do it?

Many people came to Jesus with questions and he responded in ways I wouldn’t have thought. Luke 10:25-37 is a perfect example of questioning evangelism. A lawyer comes to test Jesus and asks “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Sounds like a simple question. Jesus responds with “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” The lawyer answers, Jesus agrees and seemingly moves on (not your typical evangelism training method). The lawyer then proceeds to ask another question, and then Jesus is able to speak to the real issue the lawyer is dealing with (hating his neighbor) that is keeping him from seeing the gospel.

 

What Jesus has done here is what I’ve seen other evangelists do that is natural for them, but was foreign to me, He’s drawn the lawyer into an engaging conversation while revealing the lawyer’s motives.

 

The same works with conversations we have regarding faith and Christianity. We’re typically quick to speak an answer and then the conversation is over with a simple “I agree.” When you engage a questioner with questions, a few things happen:

 

1)     They are forced to articulate their belief system and worldview, which is something they have likely never had to do. This assists you in evangelism because it will show you where they stand in the spectrum of beliefs about God and allow you to speak the gospel directly to their worldview. Instead of being general, you can be specific.

2)     You get to the heart of the issue. It is often more than curiosity that leads someone to ask a question about faith. They may have a conviction or have been wrestling with certain issues. If you never ask, you’ll never know their motivation behind the question.

3)     You give them buy-in to the outcome of the conversation. If their beliefs are now on display, they’ll be more interested in the ultimate outcome and answer that is given.

 

Maybe they don’t engage you with a question initially, instead you engage them with questions from the beginning. People love it when you care about their response and speak directly to it. This is a method of evangelism that establishes a relationship based on deeper issues than who should be kicked off American Idol. The conversations you have in the future will reflect that.

 

Randy Newman wrote a book titled Questioning Evangelism and recently gave two messages found here that have helped me understand this method further and assisted me in many conversations. These messages are helpful, but you’ll learn more from personally trying to engage people with the gospel and it’s more fun too.

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