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The 3 P’s of Evangelism

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Evangelism seems to be taking a back seat to almost every other kind of activity in churches today. Several authors have expressed concern about how even church plants can grow and do well but not reach the people that need to be reached the most, the lost.

One recent survey was shocked at how many in full time ministry say they do not have the “gift” of evangelism. In John 4:35 Jesus said, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.”

Alvin Reid in The Evangelism Handbook says, “The church growth movement influenced many in the latter half of the twentieth century. It offered a three-tiered look at the process of evangelism.

The three components are these:

  • P-1, Presence. For example, agricultural, medical missions.
  • P-2, Proclamation. Presenting the gospel in an understandable manner.
  • P-3, Persuasion. II Corinthians 5:11 encourages hearers to respond.

An analogy for this definition is a house. In presence evangelism, people’s needs are met; they see a demonstration of the gospel, and, therefore, a foundation is built on which the gospel can be communicated. Because the church growth movement began on the mission field, its importance is obvious.

Cross-cultural issues must be considered in a viable presentation of the gospel. Increasingly, in a post-Christian or even an anti-Christian culture in America, presence evangelism has a place. Servant evangelism (covered later) fits in nicely in our context.

Proclamation evangelism to continue the house analogy, allows the light of the gospel to penetrate through the windows. People not only need a foundation, but they also need direction. The gospel can never be presented by a demonstration only; there must also be a proclamation.

Finally, persuasion evangelism leads people into the relationship they need with Christ. One can live in a house and not be family; by persuading people to follow Christ, we are inviting them to join God’s family. There are strengths and weaknesses to this definition.

The weakness comes when believers define evangelism at the P-1 level only. We must build bridges, but we must also do more. Still others stop at the P-2 level. This definition is complete when we see it as a whole.

That being said, it is positive in that when we are stopped short of a complete presentation of the gospel, we know we have at least provided some aspect of the gospel that the Holy Spirit can use. In other words, we should always seek to present Christ through presence, proclamation, and persuasion; but when we cannot, we can be thankful that on some level we have presented Christ.”

Reid defines evangelism as, “Sharing the good news of Jesus Christ by word and life in the power of the Holy Spirit, so that unbelievers become followers of Jesus Christ in His church and in the culture.” One problem is that many see the term “evangelize” as the work of the evangelist and the preacher proclaiming the good news in a formal setting. While that is true it is also simply sharing the good news one on one. It is every child of God telling others the good news of what Jesus Christ has done for them.

Every believer on this side of heaven owes every non-believer on this side of hell the gospel! The gospel is the good news. It is not bad news and we need to share it with those God has placed in our circle of influence.

Here are three things to do:

  1. Pray for those you know who are followers of Christ. Do not underestimate the power of prayer. You can share the good news but only God can transform a life.
  2. Ask God to show what you could do to build a bridge to them through an authentic relationship. People are further away from the cross today which requires patience and starting with the very basics.
  3. Be willing to do whatever God shows you so that you might be able to share the good news with them. Once you have gained their trust they will then allow you to speak into their lives because they can see who you are not just what you are saying!

Here are three steps to sharing the gospel:

  • Listen to their story!
  • Share your story!
  • Tell His story!

Paul said it best, “Do the work of an evangelist!”

10 LESSONS FROM MISSIONARIES

 

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My wife, Shelby, and I are in Thailand for a mini-conference with several BMAA missionaries in Southeast Asia. We also were blessed to make the trip with our Pastor Todd West, his wife Paige, and their twin daughters, Addison and Riley. This afternoon as the missionaries arrived we enjoyed fellowshipping with them and getting to know them better. We have been listening to their stories as they share challenges and struggles they have been through.

Hearing them laugh together is special as you see a comraderie that sometimes escapes many. Then to hear one share the new beatitude that my good friend, Jerry Kidd, has shared many times put a smile on all of our faces. “Blessed are the flexible for they will not get bent out of shape!” The conference has not even started but already I am so blessed, greaty encouraged, and excited about spending this quality time with them.

Here are a couple of observations from what I have already seen:

  1. Travelling with the West family has been a great joy. They all have great servant hearts and are excited about this privilege to come and hang out with these special servants of God.
  2. Teenagers are great! At least the two 13 year old girls who are with us on this trip. Addison and Riley have made a very long tiring trip with a smile on their faces and great attitudes. I have not heard them gripe or complain one time.
  3. Take the wallet away from your pastor before you leave so he will not lose it. This is the second time a preacher has lost his wallet and money on a trip with me. Sorry, Brandon, I just couldn’t help myself on this one!
  4. Missionaries are great people to be around because their vision and energy is contagious. Hearing how they have already stepped out on faith and how they are about to step out on faith again is so challenging.
  5. Our missions department is an awesome place to work because of the commitment we have to pour into the lives of our missionaries. Our heart is to help equip and empower them as best we can so they can fulfill God’s calling on their lives.
  6. Oasis is a great church that believes in missions having helped to fund trips all over the world and in the United States. They get it!!! By helping the Wests and others go allows them to be a part of the Great Commission. Some go and some send!
  7. Don’t underestimate what you are doing for the Lord. It does make a difference. All of these missionaries have already mentioned someone who had a godly impact on their life. They have mentioned parents, pastors, Sunday School teachers and many others.
  8. Taking a missions trip is important because it gives you a better overall world view. We are not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy!  Mission trips are important for us to see other cultures, learn from them, and to encourage those God has called to serve there.
  9. We have an excellent young group of missionaries who have been assessed, trained, and are now being coached. (My wife brought up that we were the oldest couple in the room!) The Church Planting Movement systems we have been developing are working.
  10. They need our prayers and support in coaching them, mentoring them, and being their friends. Loneliness and isolation are real challenges to missionary families and the wife can struggle because the husband is absorbed in the “work of the ministry.”

I wish all of you could have been in the room with us this evening as they shared their hearts. Their authenticity was refreshing and their transparency was a blessing. They told of challenges but with such resolve and desire to obediently obey God’s calling on their lives. This trip has reminded me once again of how many people Paul thanked and showed his appreciation to for their support.

Thank you churches for striving to raise up godly young men and women to serve the Lord. Thank you churches for supporting and sending missionaries around the world in obedience to the Great Commission. Thank you churches for seeing the wisdom of healthy church palnting systems such as assessment, training, coaching, and partenrships. We really are better when we are working together.

Tonight at the end of our meeting with this special group of people Todd West shared how Onesiphorus brought refreshment to Paul. II Tim 1:16 says, “May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains.”

Who has refreshed you? Who has helped to bring a cool fresh breath to your life? Who has encouraged you to keep moving forward for the Lord when you wanted to quit? Who has been your encourager and cheerleader along the way? One last question: Have you thanked them personally?

THE DNA OF A CHURCH

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DNA is defined as the combination of features that makes something what it is. It is what carries our genetic information, reproduces itself, and is the means by which hereditary characteristics pass from one generation to the next. This major component of chromosomes determines a person’s hair and eye color along with many other features. We have all heard remarks like, “Wow, that apple didn’t fall very far from the tree” or “You could never deny that one” when a child looks a lot like one of their parents. God’s children should resemble Him!

Remember, anything healthy reproduces so what will your church’s children and grandchildren look like? In Organic Leadership, Neal Cole defines the DNA of a church as:

  • Divine truth
  • Nurturing relationships
  • Apostolic mission.

This definition is simple, uncluttered, and powerful. It promotes and produces a mindset of an always expanding and multiplying ministry led by the Spirit of God. DNA reminds us daily of our heritage and of what is most important to us. DNA determines who we are and who we are should determine what we do.

Even the tiniest of cells must exhibit DNA that is healthy and whole. A church will remain strong, healthy, and reproduce healthy children as long as its DNA is maintained. No matter what size a church is, it should have the Lord’s DNA because it belongs to Him, it is to glorify Him, and it should look like Him. Rick Warren has said, “Church size never determines significance! No airplane pilot thinks 15 passengers are insignificant!” The question is, “What kind of disciple should we be producing if our church has the right kind of DNA?”

The lowest common denominator in the church is the disciple. The DNA of the church will be determined by the DNA of the disciples that are being produced. What are the disciples in your church focused on the most? What takes up most of their time? How would your church describe a mature follower of Christ? Every church and every follower of Christ is commanded to make disciples. That is supposed to be who we are and what we do, but is it? Fact: unless making disciples is in the DNA of your church, world evangelism is a fantasy.

Neal Cole goes on to say, “If your ministry is struggling without leaders, don’t reevaluate your leadership program. Reevaluate your disciple making system.” DNA becomes infected and mutant when are churches become consumed with nonbiblical traditions. These traditions do not contradict the Bible but neither are they mandated or necessarily mentioned in the scriptures. Traditions such as singing happy birthday in the service, Sunday School, singing the great hymns of the faith, the way we take an offering, the pastor being at every surgery, and a host of others.

Traditions can be good or bad. They become wrong and dangerous when they are elevated to being equal or sometimes even above scripture. When this happens that church’s DNA is weakened and they begin producing anemic disciples. They stay busy with all kinds of activities and programs but the time has come for churches to quit focusing on matters that the Bible is silent on and begin again to obey what God has clearly commanded, making disciples. Don’t allow “good things” to become the enemy of what is best.

Spiritual maturity is not how much we know but what we are doing with what we know. The real issue is not where your church meets but how it operates. The New Testament norm for every believer and every church is to multiply. J. D. Payne says it this way, “A healthy ecclesiology advocates that your church is to grow and multiply itself throughout the world.” Every disciple is responsible for his spiritual walk and every disciple is responsible to make disciples. Where does it begin? By having the DNA of a disciple maker, Jesus!

The DNA of a healthy church requires that a mature disciple be defined as one who is making disciples that are making disciples!

MULTIPLYING LEADERS

Teamwork

“If the pastor leaves and reproduction stops, then you have a multiplication person not a multiplication culture!”  Wow, when I heard this statement recently it was like a ball peen hammer right between the eyes.  Leaders produce leaders not curriculum, classes, nor programs.  It takes investing in others through relationships that model disciple making and leadership development.  It requires an intentional mentoring relationship with others which in its purest sense is empowering them to succeed!

Dynamic Church Planting International training defines a mentor as, “Someone who has been where you want to go and is willing to help you get there.”  Here are some other definitions of a mentor:

  • “Mentoring is a brain to pick, a shoulder to cry on and a kick in the pants.” –John C. Crosby
  • “Mentoring is a relationship experience through which one person empowers another by sharing God-given resources.”  -Paul Stanley and J. Robert Clinton
  • “…the mentor relationship in its simplest form is a lot like a big brother, big sister relationship.  The big brother really wants to see the little brother win.”  -Bob Biehl
  • “A mentor provides modeling, close supervision on special projects, individualized help in many areas- discipline, correction, confrontation, and a calling to accountability.” –Ted Engstrom
  • “Wherever you turn today, you will find men looking for a guide, a coach, a model, an advisor.  They are looking for someone who knows about life.  In essence, they are looking for a mentor.” –Howard and William Hendricks
  •  “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” –Apostle Paul

God has a way of providing mentors for us throughout our lives.  Many of them occur naturally and some of them accidently but I want to challenge us to be more intentional in developing leaders through our leadership systems.  This way in our ministry multiplication will be in the culture of our ministry not just driven by one person.  We must all have an exit strategy just like Jesus did (see Jn 14:12).  Mentoring includes discipleship but it is more than that because a mentor can fulfill many roles such as teacher, coach, sponsor, friend, counselor, or advisor.

What does it look like for a leader to develop leaders through mentoring relationships? 

First, share your leadership!!!  There must be a willingness to lead through other people.  If you are not careful your commitment to excellence will hurt your desire to develop leaders.  You see, the temptation is to think we are the only ones who can do things the way we want them done.  You know what I’m talking about because many of us have said, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself!”  That actually is not true!  The risk here is to trust other people and delegate responsibility but this risk must be taken.

Second, spend time training and developing others.  There must be a focus on training leaders to do the work of the ministry.  Remember, Jesus did not ignore the crowds but He did focus on His small group by pouring into their lives and encouraging them to do greater things then He did.  Someone has said that to encourage means to “pour courage into someone else.”  It is easy to develop a culture in our ministries where everything depends on us but that is not scriptural.  Who are you pouring courage into through intentional relationships so that they might develop into reproducing leaders?

Third, shift from a “me” mentality to a “we’ culture.  We really can accomplish more working together!  What activities do you need to pass off to someone else so that you can focus on leadership development?  If you are too busy to mentor potential leaders than you are too busy!  Take a closer look at what you are doing and realize that 80-85% of what you do could be done by someone else.  We must make time to develop leaders and develop a multiplication culture of reproducing disciple and leaders.  What would happen if you were to dedicate 5-10 hours a week to mentoring others who would then mentor others?

Healthy ministries work hard at developing a multiplication culture!

 

REDEEMING THE TIME _ Part 2

Pastor Now

How do we redeem our time? How do we prioritize our time and make sure we are focused on the right things? There are plenty of ways to waste our time and to invest our time in things that will never produce the results we desire. In Growing New Churches (training materials by Dynamic Church Planting International) Hal Seed shares tips on dealing with time demands. He gives “Ten Biblical Guidelines for Managing Your Time.”

In last Tuesday’s blog we covered the first five:

  1. Our time is precious!
  2. We will give an account of how we spend our time!
  3. We must seek God regularly to guide our use of time.
  4. We spend the most important time each day with God.
  5. Rest is important for our long term health and therefore our time management.

In Building a Discipling Culture (How to release a missional movement by discipling people like Jesus did) Mike Breen describes two New Testament words that are translated as time. The one we are probably the most familiar with is Chronos which refers to things in a sequential order. This is why we have 24 hour days and a 7 day week. The clicking of the clock is what often drives us to set our goals, timelines, and planning the future. The calendar rules!

Another word for time in the scriptures is Kairos. Breen defines it as, “an event, an opportunity – a moment in time when perhaps everything changes because it is the right time. A kairos moment is when the eternal God breaks into your circumstances with an event that gathers some loose ends of your life and knots them together in his hands. In kairos moments, the rules of chronos time seem to be suspended.”

Our goal in redeeming the time is to make sure that God is directing our day. We want our schedule to be under His guidance. Hopefully, we desire to be the best stewards of our time that we possibly can be in taking advantage of every opportunity that we have to advance His kingdom.

Here are the next 5 biblical guidelines in managing your time:

6. Saying ‘no’ to good uses of time to say ‘yes’ to the best uses. Martha and Mary’s response to Jesus’ visit in Luke 10:39-42 is a great example. Mary said no to housework and hospitality while saying yes to sitting at His feet. Just because you can do something does not mean you should do it. It is easy to allow busy work to distract us from important work. Most have a ‘to-do’ list but we would wise to also have a ‘don’t-do’ list. What should you stop doing so you can focus on something of greater importance?

7. The best use of our time is to prepare believers to do ministry. There is no better use of our time than discipling and mentoring others. Joby Martin has said, “The measure of your success is more about who you raise than what you’ve accomplished.” Dave Ferguson puts it this way, “The core competency of any movement is apprenticeship, a fundamental principle of reproduction.” Do you have an easily reproducible plan for leadership development?

8. Avoiding or procrastinating important tasks is often a result of ungodly presumption and laziness. Mark Twain suggested that if there was something you knew you needed to do that day but did not want to you should go ahead and “swallow the frog.” Get it over with and behind you. Delayed obedience is disobedience.

9. Busyness does not equal godliness or productivity. Every job requires our taking care of tasks that are unpleasant and we do not enjoy. Do not avoid the unpleasant but important tasks. Resist the temptation to only spend your time on the things that are ‘sexy’ or ‘fun’ to you. Are you only busy doing ministry or are you busy multiplying ministry through others?

10. We must plan the wise use of our time. Psalms 90:12 says, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”

Listen to the wisdom of Bill Bright, “For many years, one of the first things I do every morning is to evaluate all the day’s competing demands against one single criterion: How will each opportunity enable me to maximize my contribution to helping fulfill the Great Commission? I prioritize accordingly. Some of the demands go to the top of my list, some down the list, and some get eliminated.”

IS IT A GOOD IDEA OR A GOD IDEA?

Good Idea

 

“Is it a ‘Good’ idea or a ‘God’ idea?”

This challenge from my pastor, Todd West, caused me to consider all the decisions I do make and are they directed by the Lord?  He shared that the USA Today reported that every individual can make up to 35,000 decisions a day.  Wow, that’s a lot but when you consider how many decisions we make as second nature it does add up.  But what about the bigger decisions we are faced with?  We are faced with choices every day where we must discern God’s direction and leading in our lives correctly.

Nehemiah had a big decision as he was challenged to do something about his hometown Jerusalem.  He was passionate about his desire to see the walls rebuilt and the city restored to its former glory.  The book of Nehemiah is often used to teach excellent leadership principles and in this area of discerning between a ‘good’ idea and a “God’ idea it serves us well again.  There is a huge difference between a whim, an impulse, or a desire and knowing 100% that God is behind our thoughts and plans!

Todd then gave us 6 principles of how to discern between a ‘Good’ idea and a ‘God’ idea based on Neh 2:17-18, “But now I said to them, “You know very well what trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace!”  Then I told them about how the gracious hand of God had been on me, and about my conversation with the king.  They replied at once, “Yes, let’s rebuild the wall!” So they began the good work.” (NLT)

Principle #1:  God Ideas Start with a Burden – Nehemiah saw the condition of Jerusalem and he was greatly troubled by it.  The burden grew and he knew he had to do something.  The burden increased and it remained on his heart calling him to action.  He could not escape this “God” idea!  The King noticed his sadness and even wondered why he was depressed.

Principle #2:  God Ideas Contain Present Reality – His hometown was laying in ruins and the situation was very bad.  There are some who always want to be optimistic, no matter what, but Nehemiah admitted that something was wrong and needed to be done.  He took a step towards being a part of the solution realizing He needed God’s help and the help of others.

Principle #3:  God Ideas Can Be Clearly Stated – Nehemiah was able to articulate the vision of what needed to be done next.  “Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace!”  If you cannot clearly state the next move God desires you to take then you should wait until you can.  If it is a little fuzzy to you it will be very foggy to those you are leading.

Principle #4:  God Ideas Show Evidence of God’s Approval – Nehemiah said this, “Then I told them about how the gracious hand of God had been on me.”  Have you prayed and sought His mind on the matter the same way Nehemiah did?  Has God opened doors you could not have opened on your own and you clearly see him in this idea?  You see His movement and His hand!

Principle #5:  God Ideas are Affirmed by Godly People – When Nehemiah shared the vision with them they said, “Let’s start rebuilding” and they were encouraged to do this good work!  There is wisdom in the multitude of counsel.  If Godly people you trust cannot see it you need to step back, reevaluate, and seek the face of the Lord.  Seek Godly wise counsel!

Principle #6:  God Ideas are Always Met with Opposition – The walls begin to be rebuilt but there were those who were against it from the beginning.  Those people are still with us today!  Nehemiah had to go to work with a trowel in one hand and a sword in the other.  While he was building he also had to be prepared for battle.  If you don’t want any opposition then don’t do anything!  Oh, and then they will complain that you aren’t doing anything!

Principle #7:  God Ideas are very Unique to You! – ( I added principle #7!) There are many good things you can be involved in but God has a calling on your life and a purpose for you.  God has uniquely created you and gifted you to fulfill His purposes and bring glory to His name.  Good ideas are plentiful but God’s perfect will for your life is distinctive and requires asking His direction!

Good ideas are plentiful.  Everyone has a lot of what they think are “good” ideas but making sure it is a “God” idea takes seeking His face, being in His presence, and knowing it is what God has for you at this time and place.  When it is a God idea you are passionate about it and it consumes your thoughts and motivates you every single day.  Make sure your “good” ideas are “God” ideas!

REDEEMING THE TIME

Redeem Time

One of the greatest challenges of leadership is the proper management of your time.  This has been verbalized many different ways.  Dr Ronnie Floyd said, “Pastor, rise up in your leadership and quit focusing on secondary things.”  Through the years I have heard several say, “Make sure you are making the main thing the main thing.”  Another is, “Don’t allow your busyness to keep you from the real business.”  If you do not take charge of your calendar someone else will!

Redeeming the time is a challenge to make full use of it and not to waste opportunities.  It is a call to allow God to guide us in prioritizing our schedules.  We must have filters in place to help us better determine into what we should and should not invest our time.  First, what is unimportant and not urgent?  Second, what is unimportant but urgent?  Third, what is important but not urgent?  Fourth, what is important and urgent?  We must make sure we are using our time wisely.

The question then is – how do we redeem our time?  How do we prioritize our time and make sure we are focused on what we should be focused?  There are plenty of ways to waste our time and to invest our time in things that will never produce the results we desire.  In Growing New Churches (training materials by Dynamic Church Planting International) Hal Seed shares these tips on dealing with time demands.  He gives “Ten Biblical Guidelines for Managing Your Time.”  Here are the first five:

  1. Our time is precious! Ephesians 5:16-17, “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.”  Colossians 4:5, “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.”  Redeeming time requires that you trade something for something else.  Are you trading your time for things of no value or for things of significance and eternal value?
  2. We will give an account of how we spend our time! 2 Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”  All of us have three basic resources; our talents, our treasures, and our time.  Are we being good stewards of our time and using it for His glory?
  3. We must seek God regularly to guide our use of time. Jeremiah 10:21, “For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the LORD: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.”  The idea of “brutish” here is that they had lost their senses.  They were being stupid because they were not asking the Lord to direct them in what they should do!  Wayne Grudem has said, “I find the most helpful thing I do regarding the use of time is to spend time in prayer each morning bringing my plans and my ‘to do’ list before the Lord and seeking His direction.”
  4. We spend the most important time each day with God. Mark 1:35, “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.”  What is God saying to you in your daily walk with Him?  Todd West in a recent message challenged our church to discern between a “good” idea and a “God” idea!  The only way to do that is in His presence.
  5. Rest is important for our long term health and therefore our time management. Hebrews 4:9-11, “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.  For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.”  This is not meant to be a legalistic practice but is meant to help us make sure we are recharging ourselves spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  What do you do that helps you to recharge?  Here is what a recent tweet from our church said, “If you don’t come apart, you’re likely to come apart!” (Matt 14:22-27)

     In deciding how you will redeem your time, it is my prayer that this quote from Henry Cloud in Boundaries will challenge and guide you, “When we create boundaries, we aren’t saying to the world, ‘I can’t help you.’  Instead, we’re saying, ‘I must focus intentionally on the specific things God has placed right now in my direct influence.’ By saying no to people and to things that are not contained within God’s distinct vision for our lives, we’re actually saying ‘yes’ to His sovereignty.  He knows the best way for His will to be accomplished. For us to assume we can handle more is rebellious and counterproductive!”