Rss

Archives for : Missional

PRAYER-CARE-SHARE

Prayer Care Share

Mission America is connected with the Lausanne Conference with their focus on reaching all of North America with the gospel.  They have begun a new campaign called Love 2020 with a threefold approach of Prayer, Care, and Share.  They state, “The vision of Love 2020 is for every person in America to be loved by at least one Christ follower, who is living a prayer-care-share lifestyle by the year-end of 2020.”  The spirit and passion to blanket our country with the gospel of Jesus Christ was very compelling.

It was my joy and privilege to meet with Mission America last week in Chicago, IL.  They invited twelve different affinity groups to come together and consider how the Love 2020 initiative could become a reality- not just a vision of what could be.  The affinity spheres included government officials, marriage and counseling ministries, denominational leaders, prison ministries, and others.  My invitation came because Tom Nebel with Converge Worldwide was asked to bring several church planting leaders to the table.

One of the presentations shared the history of evangelism around the world.  The Jesus Film was able to answer the “what” in many cultures that had no previous knowledge of the gospel.  The tract Four Spiritual Laws (and others) answered the “how” for those who were asking.  Now many in our culture are asking “why” because they have a negative image of Christianity.  Researcher George Barna just released a new study entitled Are Christians More like Jesus or More Like the Pharisees?  His findings revealed that most Christians lack Jesus’ love for others. 

The church planting affinity group I was a part of gave a report to the leadership at the end of the meeting that, “The church planting world is always excited and encouraged to get behind any initative that promotes Christians loving others the way Jesus loves us!”  We praise the Lord for leaders who have a passion to get the gospel not only presented but demonstrated by the love of Christ to every person in our nation.  We also expressed our skepticism that some might see this as the newest “bestest” program on the market to turn everything around for every ministry.

All of the church planting leaders felt that most planters are already striving to live missionally by demonstrating the love of Christ in as many practical ways as they can while being faithful to present and preach the whole gospel.  Our heart was, “Great idea!  Now let’s do it!”  Every believer can begin, right now, to reach those in their circle of influence through Prayer-Care-Share.  Our minds raced, “What could it look like?”  “What might God do if Christians began to make this their daily practice and lifestyle?”  

You do not have to wait for the packet to come out or receive the email update but you can start by praying faithfully and fervently for your neighbors, co-workers, family members, and others you know who need Christ.  You could check out www.love2020.com and you will find a very simple biblical missional approach that every believer can follow.  We are called to be missionaries in our zip codes and remember that “The Holy Spirit moves in wonderful and mysterious ways when we pray for people.  He convicts, woos, and draws people to Jesus.”

The first step is Prayer: Praying for those who do not know Jesus.  Then you can Care: Show them love in tangible ways through acts of kindness and meeting needs.  Then it is time to Share: Share the gospel with them lovingly and appropriately.  We need winsome courageous believers who are not relying on their presentation but are looking to God for His power and presence to move in mighty ways.  Where might God be asking you to get started and who has he placed in your life to Pray-Care-Share!

Dr. Paul Cedar said, “We are not asking you to become involved in another short-term program.  We believe it is time for us to change our long-term lifestyle by becoming praying, caring, and sharing followers of Jesus.”

Every Christ follower can and should practice Prayer, Care, and Share!

Developing a Prayer Strategy

Prayer

     God’s word is very clear that we are to be a people of prayer and our churches should be a house of prayer.  The battle we are in is a spiritual battle and when Paul tells us to put on the armor of God he says in Eph. 6:18, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;”  Prayer is not preparation for the battle, it is the battle!

 

     When we strive to advance the kingdom of God there will be resistance because the devil is not going to release the ground he controls without a fight.  However, the devil does have difficulty making progress when we speak in Jesus’ name, when we use the word of God, and when we are praying with a positive attitude and spirit.  There are a lot of things Christians are praying against but who are you praying for, who are you asking God to enable to win the spiritual conflict they are in right now?

 

     Do you have a prayer team?  Have you developed a strategy where people are praying regularly, faithfully, and fervently for one another?  Are you praying daily for the leadership of your church?  Are you using the P5 Prayer calendars to pray for a missionary family somewhere around the world, every single day?   We get together to sing, we love to fellowship, but how often do we get together to pray fervently for someone or some specific region of the world?

 

     Henry and Norman Blackaby’s book Called and Accountable has six chapters designed to help you discover your place in God’s eternal purpose.  The six chapters are: Why Does God Call Us?, What Is A Call?, Who Are the Called?, How Am I Called?, When Am I Called?, and How Do I Live Out The Call?  Chapter 1 ends with a wonderful story about how prayer can make a difference in carrying God’s call because of the power of prayer.  Here is that story:  

 

     “Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf was born in 1700 in Dresden, Germany, into one of the noblest families of Europe.  As a young adult, Nicholas visited an art museum in Dusseldorf, Germany, where he saw the painting by Domenico Feti titled Ecce Homo (Behold the Man).  The painting depicted Christ with a crown of thorns on His head and the legend, “All this have I done for you.  What are you doing for Me?”  The face of Christ in the painting never left Zinzendorf’s heart, and Christ’s love became the compelling force of his life.

 

     The love Zinzendorf felt for his Savior expressed itself in his love for other believers, especially through a small group of approximately 300 Moravians whom he allowed to establish a church on his estate at Herrnhut in 1722.  He helped the Moravians develop a deep passion for their Savior and helped them to live out Christ’s command to love one another.

 

     Zinzendorf’s love for Christ was also expressed through his life of prayer.  He spent countless hours in communion with his Savior and sought to lead others to commit to a life of prayer.  His example led the Moravian believers to begin a powerful prayer movement they called “hourly intercession.”  They prayed in shifts, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for the work of Christ around the world.  This “hourly intercession” went on uninterrupted for more than 100 years!

 

     The desire Zinzendorf had to reach those who did not know his Savior was another manifestation of his passion for Jesus.  By 1752, The Moravian Church at Herrnhut had sent out more missionaries than the whole Protestant church had done in 200 years.  Before long, they had three members on the missions field for every one at their church in Herrnhut.  All of this was accomplished by men and women with little formal and theological education, but with a burning passion for the Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

     Zinzendorf’s life was a labor of love for his Savior, who had done so much for him and a lost and dying world.”

 

What Happens When?

Be a Blessing

I am writing this while flying back from Philadelphia after having the privilege of teaching The Multiplication Workshop at First Baptist Church in Blackwood, New Jersey.  David McMurray has been the pastor since 1975 following his father, Silas McMurray, who planted the church in 1968.  First Baptist is a very diverse congregation having almost a 50/50 ratio of Caucasian/African American. 

Also attending was the Living Word Fellowship, an African American church in Glendora, NJ. It is wonderful seeing two churches working so closely together.  Their pastor, Dr. King, preached an awesome message on Sunday morning.  When I opened the Sunday bulletin I was thrilled to see an article Bro. David had inserted.  It was exactly why we were there and what we were challenging the church to implement into their lives.

“Most people have heard something about Jesus and, truth be told, whatever they’ve heard or seen has give them ammunition to form an unpleasant understanding of Him. Their perception or limited understanding of Christ is distorted or blemished. We all agree that Christianity—and subsequently, Jesus—has an image problem.  So how will outreach and evangelism impact and influence this cultural context over the next ten years?  Numerous answers and possibilities exist, but here, I offer a truly essential one: real human relationships.

Why do they matter?  Relationships matter because they help debunk and break down fears, stereotypes, caricatures, myths, pain, and anger.  The answers that will speak to and deeply engage the dis-churched, overchurched, and never-gonna-step-into church kind of people aren’t buildings, more conferences, more theology or even more doctrine.  While these all have important value and purpose, something is so simple and profound about the power of human relationships. 

The story of God, leading up to the time of Jesus, became very confusing and inaccessible to everyday people.  The message was blemished by sin, deceit, legalism, abusive power, and false teaching.  What changed?  The story of God became truly accessible through the power and mystery of the incarnation.  One of the most profound and irrational scriptures is recorded in John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” (The Message).

What’s next?  The future of outreach and evangelism will take many shapes, forms, and turns. This is inevitable because change is constantly taking place and at a pace more rapid than at any point in history.  As our churches continue to weave through this inevitable path of change, we need to remember what we can be accomplished through the power of real relationships.

  • What happens when our churches move out from their buildings to engage the community?
  • What happens when we embrace our neighbors as part of our great calling?
  • What happens when we share time with our neighbors and learn their stories?
  • What happens when we drop our routines and deadlines and focus on relationships for the sake of the mission?
  • What happens when we start eating with sinners, once again, like Jesus?

What happens?  That’s what we need to find out again in a fresh way.  Remember, God calls us not to be a light to the light, but a light to the world.  Let’s enjoy our churches and Christian communities, but let’s not forget to move into the neighborhoods and, in doing so, point people to Jesus by the way we live our imperfect lives by God’s grace.”

What happens indeed?  We cannot afford to wait any longer; every believer must begin now to be a missionary in their zip code.  God has placed people in your circle of influence so that you might point them to Jesus.  A great way to build real relationships is to:  First, ask them questions about their lives and listen to their story.  When you are willing to listen to someone you are telling them that you value them.  Second, tell them your story.  If you are born again you have a testimony you can share about what God has done in your life.  There is no stronger witness than a transformed life that loves people like Jesus loves them.  Third, when the opportunity opens, and it will, share His story.  It has been said, “Share the gospel and use words if necessary.”  At some point and at some time it will become necessary!

 

Get Out of Your Bubble

Our family was living in Romania in 2000 and we had a college student come to spend the summer with us.  She was a fine Christian young lady fitting in well with our family and was a great encouragement to all of us.  She interacted well with the Romanians and was always ready to help any way she could.  One of the things she did that still makes me laugh was when someone would get in her space she would say, “You’re invading my bubble, please move back a little!”

While this makes me smile, the way many Christians and churches seem to be living inside a bubble breaks my heart.  We have built a sub-culture where we stay to ourselves and enjoy our Christian friends while giving the impression that no one outside of our bubble had better get into our space.  That bubble seems to define being a good Christian as someone who is faithful in attendance, follows all the rules, and holds a position in the church.

The Christian bubble focuses on our needs and taking care of one another.  Church membership to some is more about entitlement and protecting their rights rather than about enlistment into service.  Churches are in trouble because we have lost our passion for any ministry beyond our own personal bubble.  We do not have time nor space for those on the outside because most programs and activities are centered on taking care of those already on the inside.

The time has come to burst the bubble of being inwardly focused and begin developing intentional relationships with lost people.  Many churches talk about being the friendliest church in town but the people outside of their bubble will never know it because they have not been allowed inside.  We have our circle of friends who are saved and faithful so there is really no space or room for anyone else that isn’t already inside of our bubble.

What if we took a lost neighbor hunting with us?  What if instead of always going out to eat with those who are already saved and nicely secure inside our bubble we invited our lost neighbors over for steak?  What if we decided to pay for a round of golf for that coworker who is unchurched just so we could demonstrate the love of Christ in a practical way?  Maybe instead of expecting them to burst through our bubble by attending an event we should show them Jesus as we do life together with them?

We must seek to engage the culture around us by caring about and relating to individuals on their turf which, I know you know I’m going to say it, requires allowing them inside our bubble.  They should not have to burst our bubble for us; instead, we should burst our own bubble and pursue them.  When we get out of our bubble we will be constantly looking for ways to engage the culture we live in rather than creating programs to serve only those who are already saved.   

Well, did I burst I burst your bubble?  If we are going to be salt and light as the Lord has commanded us to be then we are going to have to figure out ways to penetrate our culture.  We have to find a place of entry where we can contribute to our communities but it won’t happen if we continue to protect our space and stay inside our self-created bubbles.  Matthew 5:16 says it well, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father, who is in heaven.”