MORE THAN OUTREACH

22 05 2011

by Steve Dunn

Many churches have begun to reach out to their communities and neighborhoods. They have begun to develop strategies of outreach, to respond to and meet their neighbors’ needs.

There is a danger in all of this.  Outreach, although never easy, is easier than evangelism.  Lots of time and energy is invested in serving the community in practical ways.  But much of it is done without communicating the message of Jesus Christ.  We do many good things in Jesus’ name but do not necessarily lift up the name of Jesus.  Recovery programs, food pantries, neighborhood clean-ups, childrens’ day camps do not necessarily include conversations with people about Jesus Christ and the Good News he brings.  People are easily motivated by the sense of personal satisfaction that comes from knowing they have done a good thing; but often fear is the motivation for letting it stop there.

Chris Hunter, the Evangelism Coach, recently made this comment in a workshop I attended.  “Without an opportunity to actually talk to people about Jesus Christ, all we are doing is good deeds.”

Do we create those opportunities?

Do we equip or train people to carry on those conversations?

Do we value these conversations even more than the blessing that comes from doing something good?

They are questions worth asking?  The answers will impact the eternal destiny of those for whom we are doing good.





WHAT IS APOLOGETICS

20 05 2011

Via THE POACHED EGG  blog comes this excellent article by Brett Kunkle.  I encourage you to follow the link to the APOLOGETICS STUDENT BIBLE, a resource that many Bridgebuilders would be well-served to have in their libraries.

What is Apologetics?

January 20, 2011, 1:08 am » Brett Kunkle

I Peter 3:15 says to “always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”  Simply put, that’s apologetics.  But in this short description, we discover three important details.

First, doing apologetics means playing defense.  The Greek word for “defense” is apologia, from which we get the word “apologetics.”  Think about a football game.  At any time during the game, one team is trying to score (the offense) while the other is trying to stop them (the defense).  If your team has a really bad defense, you’ll get blown away.  Similarly, maybe you’ve been roughed up by some really tough objections to Christianity.  You’ve heard the challenges before.  “How can a good God allow suffering?” “The Bible is full of errors.”  “Jesus can’t be the only way to God.”  Apologetics helps us defend Christianity against tough questions.

Second, doing apologetics means playing offense.  Back to the football analogy.  A good defense is vital but you can’t win if you don’t score.  The offense must advance the ball to get a touchdown.  In the same way, apologetics attempts to give a “reason” for our hope by advancing arguments in favor of Christianity.  We offer evidence for God’s existence, reasons to trust the Bible, and arguments for the bodily resurrection of Jesus.  By playing offense, we give others good reason to think Christianity is true.

Third, doing apologetics means giving hope.  What are you defending and giving evidence for?  “The hope that is in you.”  Ultimately, apologetics points people to our hope, Jesus himself.  That’s why “we demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).  Objections raised against Jesus must be demolished.  But notice something.  The Bible doesn’t say we demolish people.  Rather we demolish arguments.  Belittling others is not our goal.  Merely winning arguments is not enough.  Instead, we remove obstacles of doubt to Christianity so people can take a serious look at Christ, the only source of hope for this world.  True apologetics is hopeful.

A final word.  I Peter 3:15 is sandwiched between two very important sentences.  Peter starts the verse with a challenge:  “Set apart the Messiah as Lord in your hearts.”  Apologetics should be done amidst a certain kind of life, one where we surrender more and more of ourselves to Christ.  When we do this, He transforms us.  So a transformed life is the beginning point for our apologetics.

And what will this kind of apologetic look like?  Defense doesn’t mean being defensive.  Offense doesn’t mean being offensive.  Rather, verse 16 tells us our defense is made “with gentleness and respect.”  Doing apologetics with Jesus as Lord and Master of our lives means our encounters will be marked by humility, warmth, grace and love, even while we stand boldly for the truth.  By doing so, we follow in the way of Jesus, who was “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

 *Used with permission. This article first appeared in the Apologetics Study Bible for Students published by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, Tenn.  For information, click here.





FROM THE ARCHIVES OF THE EVANGELISM COACH: BARRIERS

20 05 2011

A few years ago, I listened to a talk given by Mark Mittelberg, who was on the staff with Willow Creek at the time.

It was titled “Sharpening Your Evangelistic Edge.”

Below are 8 barriers to effective communication that Mr. Mittleberg shared. If you have others to add, I’d love to hear them.

Barriers to Effective Evangelism:

  1. Lack of freshness in our relationship with God.
  2. Lack of confidence in the Scripture
  3. Lack of exposure to the Scripture
  4. Lack of clarity about the gospel itself.
  5. Lack of courage to present Jesus as the only way of Salvation.
  6. Lack of confidence in the power of the gospel.
  7. Lack of preparation.
  8. Lack of guts (courage).

The simple solution to most all of this is to spend time nurturing your own relationship with the Lord.

You’ll want to share about what God is teaching you from the Scripture, you’ll be propelled by grace, and you’ll have the confidence in the power of the gospel.

We need to study to know the truth, know what we believe, and know how to share it.  We should always be prepared to give a reason for the hope that lies within us.

Let me ask you this?

Are you prepared to share your faith today?

Is your relationship with God vital enough that you cannot help but share?