How can we increase our evangelistic opportunities and encourage others to share their faith?

Every month I attend a networking luncheon of like-minded pastors in my area. Over the years, it has proven to be a great time of fellowship and group learning. Each month, as we gather, we not only have a meal with one another but we discuss a particular topic in an effort to sharpen one another’s ministry. The last time we gathered our topic was evangelism. The question that guided our discussion was: How can we increase our evangelistic opportunities and encourage others to share their faith? Our group consists not only of seasoned pastors but church planters as well. As we discussed the question, helpful ideas came from both groups. Some of these are ideas I had thought about before, but others were new.

(1) Coach a team

Almost every city has an opportunity and need for little league coaches. Not only is coaching a great way to give back to your community, but it is an excellent way to get to know kids and parents in the area, who you might not otherwise run across.

(2) Be intentional about getting to know your neighbors and using your home

If we are honest, it’s easy to stay in our family bubble once we get home from a long, hard days work. For the most part, that is not a bad thing. We need to spend time with our family relaxing, but we can’t forget about the Great Commission. Instead of holding up in the house or playing in the backyard out of sight from our neighbors, we should try to move some of our activities to the front yard where we can more easily engage those who live next to us. Once we meet our neighbors, we should invite them over to hang out, watch the game, have dinner, or have their kids over to play with ours. Getting to know their name is only the beginning. If we want to impact their life for Christ, we have to spend time with them.

(3) Be a part of events in your community

One of the church planters in our group rents a space at the YMCA. His church intentionally attends, works, or hosts a booth at almost every event the Y holds. Being involved in these events has allowed them the opportunity to meet a much larger cross section of the community and impact people’s lives for Christ than they would have been able to do by hosting their own events. Besides the increased connection with non-believers, piggy-backing on an already planned event takes the load off organizing and hosting your own event, which gives you more time to focus on the connections you have forged, the people in your church, and your Sunday Service.

(4) Work at a club in your area

Another pastor in our group volunteers his time at the Boys and Girls Club near his house. Not only has he been able to get to know a number of the kids there, but he has also been able to connect with the Director, which has opened up other opportunities. His church has been able to host a VBS at the club and invite those who normally attend to participate.

(5) Be aware of the people God continually puts in your life

Every day we encounter others in our community. Sometimes we come across the same people regularly. When that happens, don’t think it is a coincide. Rather, recognize it for what it is – someone God has placed in your life that He wants you to get to know. So don’t let what seems like a coincidental encounter be wasted, get to know the person.

(6) Video testimonies

Having someone who recently came to Christ through your ministries evangelistic efforts share their testimony is a great way to encourage and spur those in your church to persevere at the task. I suggest videos because they can be edited for time and shown easily in a service and on social media.

(7) Record the number of last week’s gospel conversations in your bulletin

Another pastor in our group has begun to lead his church to talk to as many people about Christ as they can each week (as we all should!). In order to encourage his congregation to take every opportunity to spread the gospel, he quit recording last week’s tithe numbers in the bulletin and replaced them with the number of gospel presentations his members made that last week. Each Sunday he uses that number to either encourage his congregation to do more or keep up the good work.

Question for Reflection

  1. What are other ways to increase our evangelistic opportunities and encourage others to share their faith?

Resource

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Evolution vs. God

Hear expert testimony from leading evolutionary scientists from some of the world’s top universities:

• Peter Nonacs, Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCLA
• Craig Stanford, Professor, Biological Sciences and Anthropology, USC
• PZ Myers, Associate Professor, Biology, University of Minnesota Morris
• Gail E. Kennedy, Associate Professor, Anthropology, UCLA

A study of the evidence of vestigial organs, natural selection, the fifth digit, the relevance of the stickleback, Darwin’s finches and Lenski’s bacteria—all under the microscope of the Scientific Method—observable evidence from the minds of experts. Prepare to have your faith shaken, if you are an atheist, and your faith bolstered, if you are a Christian.

Apologetics: A Reasonable Defense

Ask most church goers what it means to do apologetics and you will most likely be met with blank stares, an explanation about how we are to apologize to others, or tales of boredom as they tried sitting through a lecture or trudging through a book full of philosophical arguments. While the study of Apologetics can take you off into heady arguments, that’s not all Apologetics is.

Apologetics?

Apologetics simple means to offer a reasonable defense. At a minimum, that requires us to tell others what we believe and why we believe it.

Be Ready Always

As Christians we are called to do just that – offer a reasonable defense for our faith. Peter makes this clear when he says,

“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” (1 Pe 3:15–16)

The context in which Peter gives his command wasn’t peaceful. Christians were living in exile, experiencing ostracism for their faith, and suffering persecution. Yet Peter tells them not to fear or cower, but to be ready to offer a reasonable defense for the hope within. Christians, then, in all walks of life, locales, and cultural climates must be ready to offer a defense of their faith.

Tied to Our Mission

In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus commands His disciples to go and make more disciples. In order to be obedient to Jesus’ command, we must be able to tell others what and why we believe what we believe, which means we must spend time preparing ourselves to offer a reasonable defense.

“When we become Christians, we do not leave our mind in the parking lot. We are called to think according to the Word of God, to seek the mind of Christ and an understanding of the things set forth in sacred Scripture.” – Burk Parsons

So if your neighbor notices you are a Christian and asks what you believe, you should not only be able to answer his or her question, but you should also be able to tell them why you believe it. Hearing that means many of us need to get busy learning what we believe and why.

Suggestions to Get You Started

The first place we have to start is with God’s Word. It is the foundation of our beliefs because it is the place where God reveals who He is, who we are, what He has done and is doing, and how we are to live. There are a variety of tools to help you read through the Bible. Here is a great list.

Next, I would suggest looking into the Theology and Biblical Theology books listed on my Book Recommendation page. These will give you both an overview of the biblical storyline and a deep understanding of the theology and doctrine of God’s Word.

Lastly, take a look at the New City Catechism. It is a quick way to build your doctrinal and theological knowledge.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do you know what you believe and why?
  2. Are you ready to give a defense?
  3. How will you prepare yourself?

Resources

With Gentleness and Respect by Burk Parsons TableTalk Magazine January 2016, pg 2

An Apology for Apologetics by Stephen J. Nichols TableTalk Magazine January 2016, pg 6

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Are You Prepared to Give a Defense?

In his first epistle, Peter writes,

“In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” (1 Pe 3:15).

In his commentary on 1 Peter, Dr. R.C. Sproul writes:

Our preparation is to make us ready to give a defense and a reason for the hope that is in us…If your neighbor says, “I notice that you are a Christian. What is it that you believe?” are you ready to explain not only what you believe but why you believe it? Some Christians tell those who inquire that we simply take a leap of faith with no bother about the credibility or the rational character of the truth claims of the Bible, but that response goes against the teaching of the text. The only leap of faith we are to take is out of the darkness and into the light.

When we become Christians, we do not leave our mind in the parking lot.

We are called to think according to the Word of God, to seek the mind of Christ and an understanding of the things set forth in sacred Scripture.

Question for Reflection

  1. Are you prepared to talk to others about the hope within you?

Resources

Table Talk Magazine, With Gentleness and Respect, January, 2016, pg 2.

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Share Your Story

If you are a Christian, you have a story about how you came to salvation — a testimony.

My Story

My testimony is that I grew up in a Christian home, and I went to a Christian school. Because of my familiarity with the Bible through church and school, I mistakenly thought I was a Christian.

However, when I was 16, some of my friends in the youth group and my Youth Pastor, at the time, started to challenge my understanding of what it meant to be a Christian. I knew all the right words to say, I knew all the answers to give — I was a sinner, Jesus was my Savior, I needed to repent and believe. If you would have pressed me, I would have said I believed those things. There, however, was just one problem, what I professed to believe hadn’t affected my life. I still desired, did, and sought out the same things as before. That’s a problem because when you become a believer your heart should change, which means that your affections, desires, and will should change so that they are for the things of God. Of course, this will take place in greater degrees over time through the process of sanctification, but if this has not happened in your life, then you may need to question whether you are a believer or not like I had to do.

As I thought about the conversations I had with my friends, I realized I was actually living in opposition to God instead of for Him. It’s at that time I repented of my sins, made a public profession of faith through baptism, and I started to actually live my life for God. Since then, I have had my fair share of struggles and setbacks, but, for the most part, I have been living for and growing in my relationship with Jesus. That’s my story.

Share Your Story

I know you have a story as well. Just like I have shared my story with you, it is good for you to share your story with others. It’s an easy way to evangelize, and a way to worship the Lord for the work He has done in your life.

If you haven’t shared your testimony with anyone lately, I challenge you to do so. Hearing that, some of you may be like a deer in the headlights — frozen with fear. Or you might be thinking, “You want me to actually open up to someone else and tell them my story?” Yes, that’s exactly what I want you to do. I want you to share your testimony with someone else. To make it easier, I suggest you start with your spouse or a family member. You know them well, so it should be easy to talk with them.

After you have shared your testimony with a friend or family member a few times and are comfortable with it, begin to work outwards. Next time you are talking with a co-worker, friend, or neighbor and the conversation turns toward the spiritual, take some time to tell them your story. It’s a great way to share the gospel with them because everyone loves to hear stories, especially stories of change. So if you haven’t shared your testimony lately, I challenge you to do that this week.

Necessary Elements

While we all have our individual stories of how we came to salvation, there are several threads that should be present in all our stories.

  • We must all recognize that we are sinners, who deserve to be punished by God.
  • We must all recognize Jesus is our Savior, the One who took our punishment for us.
  • We must all recognize our need to repent of our sins, and follow Jesus as the Lord of our lives.

Those are the necessary elements that should be present in all our stories, so build your testimony around them as you practice sharing it this week.

Question for Reflection

  1. Who did you share your testimony with this week?

Resources

Post developed from my sermon The Humility of Salvation.

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Are You Prepared to be A Part of the Salvation Process?

Who is Jesus? That is a question many people have asked throughout history, even Jesus Himself.

The People’s Response

Walking with His disciples into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He asked them who the people say He is (Matt. 16:13). The people’s response in Jesus’ day is about the same as it is today. Jesus is a good prophet or teacher who has come to teach them about the Father, show them the way to God, or be a good moral example, but He isn’t “The Way” Himself. He doesn’t provide us with salvation through His work, but rather shows us how to attain salvation through our work. For millennia, people have been responding to Jesus in this way.

The Disciples’ Response

The disciples, however, respond differently. Instead of seeing Jesus as the masses do, they believe Him to be the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matt. 16:16). In other words, they believe Jesus is God incarnate, who has come on a God-directed rescue mission to save His people from sin, Satan, death, and God’s wrath through His work, not theirs.

Why the Difference?

As you can see, the disciples’ response is markedly different than the crowd. Why the difference? Was it because they were smarter? Or was it because they had personally walked with Jesus, seeing Him perform miracles firsthand, hearing His teaching, and experiencing private tutoring sessions with the Messiah Himself? Did those things lead to their response, or was it something else? Jesus tells us they responded in the way they did because the Father in heaven revealed it to them (Matt. 16:17). He opened their eyes so they could see the truth about Jesus (Matt. 11:25-27). That is not to say the things they saw and heard weren’t a part of the Father’s revelation, they certainly were. It is to say, however, that without the Father opening their eyes, all that they experienced wouldn’t have made a difference.

A Process

While God can do anything, we see that the disciples’ profession didn’t occur overnight. Rather it happened over time as they saw with opened eyes the truth about Jesus. Overtime as they walked with Jesus, they were confronted with His teaching, miracles, arguments, and private conversations. It was all those things, along with the Father opening their eyes, which led to their profession of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God.

That’s true in our lives as well. Thinking back on my own salvation experience, a lot happened before I professed Jesus as my Savior. I was blessed to be raised in a Christian home, where I was taught God’s Word. I went to a Christian school, where I learned more about Jesus. I attended church weekly, and I was involved in a Youth Group. Overtime, as I experienced those things through opened eyes, I came to see that I was a sinner, who was in need of a Savior, and Jesus was that Savior. I bet most people came to Christ that way as well, because salvation is a process. That’s true even for those who respond to the gospel the first time they hear it.

So while I would like to think my preaching convinced someone in that moment to come to Christ, when I really stop and think about it, I know a lot has happened behind the scenes beforehand. I know God has been working on their heart, whether they realize it or not, and God has opened their eyes so that they finally and fully understand the truth about themselves, that they are sinners, and about Jesus, that He is their Savior (Matt. 16:17). So whether we realize it or not, salvation is a process. At times, we get to play a part in that process.

Our Role

Knowing that salvation is a process we, at times, get to play a part in, helps us see our role. Thinking about our God-given spiritual gifts, we see that someone has to teach, pray, answer questions, encourage, etc. We can’t do all those things all the time, but we can be a part of the process in one way or another (1 Cor. 3:5-10a).

We Must Prepare

But here’s the thing, if we want to be a part of the process, we must be prepared. One of the best ways to prepare is by being in God’s Word. After all it is what we are sharing with others and what we are allowing to guide our counseling and prayer, so we must know God’s Word. Which means if you are not reading God’s Word on a regular basis, then it’s time to get started, so you will be prepared when God calls you to play a part in the salvation process.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do you believe Salvation is a process?
  2. How are you preparing to be used as a part of the process?

Resource

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