CLUELESS OR WILLFULLY IGNORANT?

11 06 2015

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BY STEVE DUNN

I am often astounded when talking to church people who don’t seem to have a clue about the people living in the community around their facility. If they “see” people at all, it is to recognize the persons who are most like them and be reassured – or to see the ones unlike them and to move on down the road as quickly as possible. John Stott’s challenge for all churches to exegete their culture proves difficult because in their blindness, these people rarely see enough to gather the facts about the true nature of their community.

Bill Hybels is famous for his statement, “You have never locked eyes on someone for whom Christ has not died.”  But what motivation is that if our eyes are constantly averted from our neighbor and their condition.

I am reminded of the great premise of the American judicial system that “ignorance is no excuse.”  But in a higher court, one that we all face one day, the same premise holds true.  We read in Matthew 25:

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Isn’t it time we opened our eyes?

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A SIMPLE BUT EFFECTIVE WITNESS

8 03 2013

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BY STEVE DUNN

“Would you be willing to put a cross on your front line as a simple expression of witness?”

This is how an older lady in a Methodist Church in Harrisburg PA began  a quiet announcement in her church.  “People have all kinds  of signs on their front lawns for many purposes.  How about a simple cross that simply says ‘A Christian lives here.”

Ultimately 250 persons from her church living around the Linglestown area of the city had crosses on their front lawns.  Not garish.  No other messages–but the most powerful one.  “A Christian lives here.”

One day a lady knocked at the door of a house with this cross on the lawn.  “My car broke down, my cell phone doesn’t work, and I am lost,” she told the homeowner.  “I really didn’t known what to do, and then I saw your cross and thought, ‘Someone with  cross will surely help.”

What a wonderful serendipity of the Spirit!  What a wonderful witness!  What a wonderful way to say to a community in an inviting and non-threatening way, “A follower of Jesus lives here.”





THE URGENCY OF OUR COMMISSION

16 11 2012

BY STEVE DUNN

In our current round of Bridgebuilders Seminars and in presentations about the Bridgebuilders Principles, we have been sharing some disturbing news that goes to the heart of  renewing our passion for evangelism and making more and better disciples.

As a follow-up, I’d like to share some graphs that summarize the recent findings of the Pew Research Center.

Shawn Anderson in his blog living dangerously has some counsel for us based on these observations:

1. Realize that we are the seekers, not the religiously unaffiliated. Jesus told his followers to “go”. Instead of building a church building with the notion that “they will come” to us, we need to actively and intentionally go to our communities.

2. Target young people. The younger generations are the ones with the largest percentage of religiously unaffiliated. They will also dictate the future of the church. Therefore, we need to intentionally seek to develop relationships with them.

3. Communicate the love of Jesus. If we share the love of Jesus by serving others with no strings attached and by being transparent with them, it will show them that we are more concerned with their souls than money, rules and politics.





YOUR CHURCH CULTURE MATTERS

7 10 2012

This is a repost from Justin Meier, church expansion specialist for the Churches of God, General Conference and pastor of my home church, First Church of God of Harrisburg PA.

Posted by Justin Meier on Wednesday, June 20, 2012

When people visit your church what do they think? Did you know your church has it’s own culture. Some examples of culture may be whether or not your church is friendly and welcoming. Another example of your culture is whether or not you start service on time. One last example could be whether you music is played well or not. All these are part of your church culture. Why is your church culture import? I just recently received an email from Pastor Bob Franquiz , a pastor who helps churches grow and this is what he says about church culture…

Miami Dolphins fans recently had their hoped dashed when Payton Manning decided to sign with the Denver Broncos rather the Dolphins.

It didn’t make any sense.

Why?

Payton Manning has a house in Miami.

He loves being in the city of Miami.

Yet, despite Miami offering just as much money as Denver, he chose the Broncos.

Why you ask?

Here’s the inside scoop…

It’s about culture.

Reporters said that the QB was taken back by the Dolphins’ front office culture and that was the #1 reason he went to another team.

What does this have to do with your church?

Everything!

You can have great online and offline marketing pieces that attract lots of people to attend your church, but if your culture is uninviting to guests… then those people aren’t coming back.

No matter if you are utilizing marketing or not. Whatever your culture is at your church gathering determines a majority of the time whether or not a person will ever return. So if your church hasn’t been able to retain any of your visitors maybe it is a culture problem. Invite some people to come and be a critical eye of what is going on and see if you can change your culture.





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?





BECKY PIPPERT – 5 REASONS WHY CHRISTIANS HESITATE TO SHARE THEIR FAITH

13 02 2011




3 KEYS TO IGNITE TH EVANGELISM PASSION IN YOUR CHURCH

16 12 2010

How did I coach passion for Evangelism?

In my church, I would occasionally preach on Sunday morning, and then nearly every Sunday night for our 2nd service.

Here is how I coached an evangelism passion when I was the regular preacher.

1.  Model personal evangelism

This was somewhat unintentional, but happened in my sermons.  At least 2-3 times a month I’d share a conversation I had had with someone.

Personal evangelism is something I do, it happens in my life, and some of those conversational encounters would be connected to the sermon theme.

These conversations were often part of the overflow of my study of Scripture and sermon preparation.

They were part of the overflow from my networking and reading books out in public spaces like Starbucks.

I’d often connect the conversational encounter to the text, and then share my thinking process as I debriefed the conversation with the congregation.

For example:

  • What was that person’s spiritual thirst?
  • What was the Holy Spirit sharing with me?
  • What is the connection to Jesus and to the text?

I’d share the

  • Conversations that were fruitful
  • Conversations that were failures and laugh at myself.
  • Conversations that were adventures in missing the point.
  • Conversations that I wish I had, if I could do it over again.

All illustrations were to highlight the text I was preaching, not a “look at what I did this week” type.  In other words, I wasn’t bragging about what I was doing, but connecting my stories to the text from which I was preaching.

I found that most of the heart issues that the Bible texts raised could be  illustrated by a conversation I had had with someone.

Instead of asking the congregation “who did you talk to this week,”  I simply shared the conversations I was having.  It modeled personal evangelism instead of telling them they needed to do it.

2.  Repeated Exposure

These types of illustrations would creep into sermons 2-3 times a month.  By regular modeling of personal evangelism in my sermons, a funny thing happened.

People in the congregation eventually started telling me of their evangelism conversations with people.

The debriefing questions that I used in my sermon would start being reflected back to me, as the people were thinking themselves about these themes.

I’d ask follow up coaching questions to help my people grow in their processing skills.

My congregation began to reflect the modeling I did in my sermons and small group leadership.

3.  Connecting the text to my prayers for people who don’t know Christ.

Nearly every theme for biblical preaching can be connected in a sentence or two to an evangelistic prayer.

For example, perhaps you are preaching on forgiveness.

You’ve shared how you found forgiveness, you’ve shared how Christ forgives our sin.

You could simply add, “I long for my friends and family to know this same forgiveness that I’ve found.  I pray that they find this forgiveness and that the Lord would use me.”

Or I would often add: “This is my prayer for my neighbor: that they too would discover . .  . ”

What I found is that with this kind of thematic connection, people in the congregation would begin to think of their neighbors and non-Christian relationships more often.  They would begin to share with me how they were praying of their neighbors, and often their conversations with people.

During your sermon preparation time, ask yourself, how does this principle point fuel my prayers for my unsaved neighbors and relatives?

Simply make that a passing sentence on a regular basis and if your congregation was like mine, you’ll find that the congregation will begin to think the same way.

Post written by Chris Walker THE EVANGELISM COACH. This is a web site with tremendous resources.