Archives For share the gospel

The local church is God’s evangelism plan. The local church is God’s evangelism program.

-Mark Dever, 9 Marks of a Healthy Church

Evangelism & The Church @9MarksOnline @MarkDever

 

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Why don’t we evangelize? What is the gospel? Who should evangelize? What is evangelism? Why should we evangelize? Mark Dever’s book, The Gospel And Personal Evangelism, seeks to answer all of these basic questions about evangelism for the common Christian. In today’s Christian culture, evangelism has fallen by the wayside in terms of priority and is often seen as the one thing that the church always has on their to-do list but never gets around to actually accomplishing it. In The Gospel And Personal Evangelism, Mark Dever desires to answer some of the questions that people have about evangelism, clarify some of the terms that the church uses in evangelism, instruct his readers on how to do evangelism, and challenge all Christians to practice evangelism. Over all, this book aims to discuss the best news there has ever been given and how we should share that news with others.[1]

In order to accomplish this task, Dever’s book consists of answering the common questions by first asking them, and then answering them based on his own, personal experience. Dever also includes quotes from current and past theologians and helpful illustrations. Each chapter is titled as a common question that is asked by many within the Christian church. Then, the content of each chapter discusses the common answers with Dever’s refutations, illustrations, and comments based on the question being discussed. For example, Chapter Two is titled “What is the Gospel?”[2]. In the contents of this chapter, the author explains that there is some confusion among Christians about what constitutes the Gospel message and that a large amount of Christians do not explain clearly what the Gospel is when sharing with others. After this, Dever dives into the common answers or implied answers that non-believers receive when they are witnessed to and what implications those answer have. For this chapter, those assumptions would include; The Good News Is Not Simply That We Are Okay (the gospel is not simply a feel good message)[3], The Good News Is Not Simply That God is Love (the gospel declares that God is more than just love and has many other attributes)[4], The Good New Is Not Simply That Jesus Wants to Be Our Friend (the gospel is more than a relationship that needs to be cultivated)[5], and The Good News Is Not That We Should Live Rightly (the gospel is more than corrective action from sin)[6]. At the end of each chapter Dever concludes by answering the question proposed in the chapter’s title from his own opinion and view on theology. In Chapter Two, Dever writes the following.

 

“Here is what I understand the good news (the gospel) to be: the good news is that the one and only God, who is holy, made us in his image to know him. But we sinned and cut ourselves off from him. In his great love, God became a man in Jesus, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross, thus fulfilling the law in himself and taking on himself the punishment for the sins of all those who would ever trust in him. He rose again from the dead, showing that God accepted Christ’s sacrifice and that God’s wrath against us had been exhausted. He now calls us to repent of our sins and to trust in Christ alone for forgiveness. If we repent of our sins and trust in Christ, we are born again into a new life, an eternal life with God.”[7]

 

Overall, the author answers his thesis in a clear and consistent manner throughout the book.  Dever tackles all of the questions which he sets out to address in each chapter. However, because the author holds a reformed view of theology, some of his answers to the basic questions may cause some readers to have further questions about his interpretation of evangelism. This specifically plays out when Dever begins to address his application and methodology of evangelism in chapters four, five, and seven. (Ch. 4 – How Should We Evangelize?, Ch. 5 – What Isn’t Evangelism?, Ch. 7 – Closing The Sale) For example, because of Dever’s belief in reform theology, he holds the view that God’s regeneration precedes a person’s profession of faith and therefore presents a weak set of instructions for giving a call for those who are being witnessed to, to accept Christ. We see this in the way that he confirms the statement that accepting the gospel is a “journey” and further explaining that Christians should “Let people find the truth themselves. These days of simple tracts and surefire, sales-presentation evangelism is over.” [8]As a result of statements like this, the reader walks away with the impression that they are to politely talk through a gospel presentation without pleading the urgency of the matter with the receiver of the message and then simply rely on God’s sovereignty to redeem those who are unregenerate.

I find this troubling because, first and foremost, it is not consistent with Scripture. Jesus did not simply have a conversation with Nicodemus[9] or the Woman at the Well[10] and send them on their way to process the message. He challenged them on what they believed and then called them to repent and be born again or to drink of the living water. Jesus presented the message and called the hearers to make a decision. It also does not portray the urgency of the gospel which we see the Apostles use when witnessing to those who formed the early church in Acts. Secondly, these statements disqualify several forms of evangelism that are very effective such as preaching and door to door evangelism. Dever attempts to justify his position in Chapter Seven by explaining that his desire is to avoid any false professions of faith because of the emotional pressure of the moment. However, I would then desire to ask him how many people has he witnessed to that would have made the decision to accept Christ but did not, because he did not ask them to.

It is imperative that we call people to make a decision to accept Christ when sharing the gospel for two reasons. First, that they may have the opportunity to profess their belief in Christ and receive the forgiveness of their sins[11]. Second, if they do or do not profess salvation they are without excuse on the Day of Judgment when asked if they have heard the gospel message[12]. Aside from Dever’s theological position and the implications it has on his evangelism tactics, it should be noted that he did an excellent job of tackling some of the culture’s questions when it comes to evangelism and I would encourage others to read this book.



[1] Mark Dever, The Gospel and Personal Evangelism (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2007). Page 16-17

[2] Ibid. Page 31

[3] Ibid. Page 32-35

[4] Ibid. Page 36-37

[5] Ibid. Page 37-39

[6] Ibid. Page 40-42

[7] Ibid. Page 43, Italics added.

[8] Ibid. Page 64-65

[9] Crossway Bibles., Esv Study Bible : English Standard Version, ESV text ed. (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Bibles, 2008).  John 3

[10] Ibid. John 4

[11] Ibid. Romans 10:9-10

[12] Ibid. John 9:39-41

I am in no way affiliated with the publisher or writer of this book. But I endorse this because it impacted my life and I would like that same blessing for you. Click Here for Other Recommended Reading!If the Author or Publisher has an issue with this post, please let me know and I will remove it.

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I just finished Simple Church by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger and if you are looking for a book on the structure of how a church should be, this is a great book.

 

Often times, churches and ministers get caught up in the day to day ministries and in the many events that are commonly labeled as ministry. This often times leaves our church staff tired, worn out and frustrated while at the same time exhausting the church budget and volunteers. The go, go, go “ministry” of the church then transfers down to those who are not even a part of the church. Which gives the new comers an uneasy feeling.

 

Rainer & Geiger challenge the traditional thought of this go, go, go church model by examining the processes of growing and vital churches in different environments across the country. (Including Andy Stanely‘s church North Point Community Church.)
After examining the key features of these churches  and their focus on keeping their churches simple, Rainer and Geiger give practical advise on how to implement a similar strategy in your own church.

 

I personally found this book to be a wealth of wisdom. I knew some of it from business training courses and marketing courses, so some of it was refresher. But over all the book was a great read and I would encourage anyone in church leadership to read it. (This is not for pastoral staff only. If you are a Sunday School teacher or small group leader, this is a great book for you as well.)

 

Here is the Table of Contents so that you can get a feel for what all the book covers.
Ch1- The Simple Revolution Has Begun in America
Ch2- The Simple Church in Action
Ch3- Simple Church: An Extreme Makeover
Ch4- Three Simple Stories
Ch5- Clarity: Starting with a Ministry Blueprint
Ch6- Movement: Removing Congestion
Ch7- Alignment: Maximizing the Energy of Everyone
Ch8- Focus: Saying No to Almost Everything
Ch9- Becoming Simple
I am in no way affiliated with the publisher or writer of this book. But I endorse this because it impacted my life and I would like that same blessing for you. Click Here for Other Recommended Reading!If the Author or Publisher has an issue with this post, please let me know and I will remove it.

Billy Graham Preaching The Word

I have read a few blogs lately discussing the differences and preferences of pastors on topical and expository preaching styles.

As I read one blog, it claims all the benefits of topical based preaching. Starting and forming it’s argument around the ability of the topical based message to reach the ears of the audience in the life stage that they are at. While another claimed that expository preaching is the only way to go. Holding to the opinion that all teaching from the Bible must be verse-by-verse in nature.

While both blogs make very good points and I agree with the basis for both. I wonder why this has to divide us. Why can’t we do both? We are striving for the same goal, to reach people and change lives with the power of God’s Word. Correct?

To begin we must examine the basis for topical preaching and expository preaching. Topical preaching is a message centered around a central topic with sub-points of that topic supported by scripture in order to give instruction on that topic. While expository preaching seeks to expose the meaning of the Scripture through the full explanation of the Scripture within the context of the Scripture.

The whole debate between the best form a preaching derives from how the pastor is reading the Word. Whether he is taking an inductive approach to reading Scripture, forming an opinion and searching for Scripture to back it up with no regard for context. Or if he is taking a deductive approach to the Word by reading Scripture in context and deriving meaning from the Scripture as it is written.

As I am reading through all these different opinions on the topic, I find myself in the middle to an extent.
I completely understand the reasoning behind topical preaching. I see the need for people to understand fully what the Bible says about their marriages, their kids, and their finances and sometimes they don’t have the next two years to hear the full exposition of the Bible. Plus, lets face it, even the best verse-by-verse expositional pastors do some form of topical preaching at some points of their career. (Usually around the holidays like Christmas, Easter, Etc.)
While I also agree that verse-by-verse expositional preaching is very profitable. I truly believe that a congregation will grow more mature by hearing the entire Word of God and not just the mains points that the pastor wants to teach on that week.

So what do I propose? Both. Let’s take the best of both worlds and use our gifts as those called to preach to preach the Word as best as we can.
How are we going to accomplish this? With guidelines.

1- We Will Stick To The Text!
You don’t have to go verse-by-verse but do some background research on the text before you align it with your topic. In other words, take the deductive approach while reading and preaching the Word to your congregation. Stick to the Text!

2- We Will Remember Our Calling!
As pastors, we are called to give people the Word of God. Not our words or opinions. In this, we must note that God’s Word does Not change. It is everlasting, just like Him. While our opinions do. Bring God’s council, Not yours. Remember Your Calling to Preach God’s Word!

3- We Will Recognize God’s Power!
The power of God is what calls into salvation and calls us into ministry. It does not make any sense that we would we rob our people of that same power by delivering our message and not His. Plus, that is what we are doing in a weekend worship service. We are there to recognize and submit to God’s power. The audience or congregation will not see God’s power unless it is faithfully transferred through His word. Recognize God’s Power and Plead with the Congregation to Respond!

4- We Will Not Avoid the Hard Topics!

(This could actually be a sub-point to the first. But I found it important enough to be it’s own point.)

The hard topics at times are what the people need to hear in order to have a change of course in life. We must be confronted with our short comings and adjust our lives around God’s word and will. (I believe this is called repentance and sanctification. 🙂 ) If we as ministers of the Gospel avoid the reality of the hard things in scripture like sin, how will the people know and understand the power of the Gospel? Therefore, We Must Not Avoid the Hard Topics!

5- We Will Keep The Message Relevant!

Let’s face it guys, no matter how much we like to get into the Greek sentence structure of a verse or quote older theologians, most of the people in today’s society just don’t care. When we do go into those things, we bore our congregation because they cannot connect them to the application. So cut it out and give an illustration or make the application for them. Keep The Message Relevant by Relating God’s teaching on what people are working through!


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I am often asked about the books I read in seminary and although most are fascinating, I would not recommend them to most people because they can be kind of dry. However, this is a book that I believe should be essential for every Christian to read. (Along with the Bible, of course.)

In the book, Donald Whitney explains the Spiritual Disciplines in great detail. Giving you not only the Biblical reasoning but the effects of such practices and the practical know how to perform the disciplines.
Now, you maybe asking yourself “Why would I want to read anything like that? I have been a Christian for years and I have gotten along fine without it.” Well, to be honest, I would have told you the same thing before I read the book. But after I read the book, I can faithfully tell you that I learned a lot of things I didn’t know about the disciplines and that Whitney wrote in a way that made this book engaging and fun to read. So again I would encourage you to read this book for the betterment of your Christian walk.
Here is the Table of Contents so that you can get a feel for what all the book covers.
Ch 1- The Spiritual Disciplines…For the Purpose of Godliness
Ch 2- Bible Intake (Part 1)
Ch 3- Bible Intake (Part 2)
Ch 4- Prayer
Ch 5- Worship
Ch 6- Evangelism
Ch 7- Serving
Ch 8- Stewardship
Ch 9- Fasting
Ch 10- Silence and Solitude
Ch 11- Journaling
Ch 12- Learning
Ch 13- Perseverance in the Disciplines
I am in no way affiliated with the publisher or writer of this book. But I endorse this because it impacted my life and I would like that same blessing for you. Click Here for Other Recommended Reading!
If the Author or Publisher has an issue with this post, please let me know and I will remove it.

I was once asked “what is the difference between preaching and teaching?”  by a friend who was questioning the reasons I am now attending seminary. This really struck me funny, because I know there are differences but at the time I could not put my finger on exactly what all those differences were.

So after a little meditation and prayer, here is my list.

Teaching:

Definition of TEACHING (from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/teaching)

1: the act, practice, or profession of a teacher
2: something taught; especially : doctrine <the teachings of Confucius>
My definition:
Teaching is a transfer of thought or principles that are perceived as truth from one person to another for informational purposes.
Teaching can be about anything and is for equipping people to accomplish a task in the future.
Preaching:

Definition of PREACH (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/preaching)

intransitive verb
1: to deliver a sermon
2: to urge acceptance or abandonment of an idea or course of action; specifically : to exhort in an officious or tiresome manner
My Definition:
Preaching is the pleading of a preacher for the listener to repent and turn to God with the help of the Holy Spirit’s convicting and redemption.
Preaching is primarily about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the repentance of sin. Preaching is not for equipping as much as a plea for the salvation of one’s soul.
Practical Differences:
1) The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is a major component of preaching. (Making a praying pastor and praying congregation vital for the preaching to be effective.)
In teaching, the Holy Spirit may still be a component but the role is different. There is not a heart transformation in teaching, but an equipping to do the work of the Spirit.
2) The Content is different.
Again, preaching is for repentance and forgiveness through God’s grace, while teaching could be on life principles, Biblical doctrine or just about anything else. Preaching is more focused, teaching is broad.
3) The Audience is different.
The audience (meaning who the message is for, Not who is attending) is different. The audience of preaching should be the lost. While the audience of teaching should be Christians who are looking to go deeper in their relationships with God or get equipped to do His work.
4) The Responsibility is different.
The role of the Pastor is held to a higher accountability. If the Pastor is not diligent with the Word and clear in the message, people may not understand the message and continue to be lost. Therefore, he is partly responsible for those who are not reached with the message. (I am NOT saying that the pastor brings salvation. Only Jesus brings salvation with the Holy Spirit. But if the message is not clear, the Gospel will not be heard or understood.)
The role of the teacher is still a high role and one should not take it lightly. But ultimately it is a matter of equipping and not salvation.
There are many more. But before I give them all to you, ask yourself what others can you think of?

Book Review : The Prodigal God

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Just when I thought I know it all about the story of the prodigal son, Timothy Keller comes and ruins that for me. 🙂

In his book The Prodigal God, Keller outlines the parable told by Jesus in the Gospels in an engaging and informative way. This book was not a hard read but a worthwhile read for any Christian. Whether a new Christian or experienced, Keller will grab your attention and put the parable into perspective.

I would recommend this book for anyone who is searching for a deeper relationship with God or would like to know more about how their relationship with God works.

 I am in no way affiliated with the publisher or writer of this book. But I endorse this because it impacted my life and I would like that same blessing for you. Click Here for Other Recommended Reading!

If the Author or Publisher has an issue with this post, please let me know and I will remove it.

Book Review/Notes : Evangelism Handbook by Alvin Reid

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You know the books that impact your life in a good way through informing you and giving you practical application on how to get it done? Well, this was one of those books for me.

If you would like to have a run down on everything evangelism in an engaging way, then pick up this book!

I have included some notes from my reading below for your enjoyment. But I caution you, DO NOT think that my notes from reading cover even half of the contents of this book. Just think of my notes as an appetizer for what you will get in the book.

 

 

  • What is Evangelism?
    • What is Evangelism NOT? (17)
      • A Numbers Game – Adding to the church role (18)
      • A Cop Out- Just talking about evangelism doesn’t work, Evangelism doesn’t just happen (20)
      • A Professional Sport – Not done only by professional clergy (18)
      • A Mute Approach – Only spread through actions without words (17)
    • Evangelism Is…
      •  to share the good news of Christ to a lost person (6)
      • The communication of the gospel by a saved person to a lost person (21)
    • Motives For Evangelism
      • From the Perspective of God
        • God’s Character – As responsible handlers of the Truth we need to tell others about the truth. God did NOT hold out on us. (35)
        • God’s Love- God Loves All People and as imitators of God, we should Love All People (36)
      • From the Perspective of a Believer
        • Obedience – God expects us to fulfill His purposes
          • Deontological Motivation – motivation placed by duty, when rightly placed underneath the worship of God. (38)
          • Spiritual Growth
            • When we witness, we take giant steps toward spiritual maturity. Christian growth is linked to discipline and surrender. (40)
            • Evangelism is important to those of us who follow Jesus because of the critical role that obedience plays in our spiritual growth. (39)
            • Sharing Christ motivates a person to study scripture because of the issues raised by the lost.
            • Sharing Christ gives believers a burden for people blinded by the gods of this world, eliciting a desire to pray for them.
            • Eternal Rewards
              • Christians will be rewarded at judgment based on their service to God. (41) (1Cor3:11-15)
            • Evangelism and Unbelievers
              • Outside of Christ we have no hope for salvation. Certain judgment should move believers to share the Gospel that they know.
              • Are the lost valuable enough for us not to be afraid of sharing the gospel? (42)
            • Future Joy or Future Judgment
              • Only God knows the impact of our witness. (43)
              • Never underestimate the impact a person will make for Christ. Everyone was created for a purpose – a purpose that will never be realized apart from a relationship with Christ.
  • Facing our fears (248)
    • Failure
      • Fear exists when we misunderstand our task. (248)
      • God holds us accountable for our obedience. Not our perfection.
        • We must focus on telling the good news, not our success.
      • Persistence is Key! Don’t Quit!
    • Rejection
      • Rejection is inevitable. (249) we need to face it and move forward.
      • Principle of Transference – positive and negative feelings are a result of past experiences
      • The Role of Rejection (250)
        • We are never more like Christ and the Apostles than when we are being rejected.
        • A true prophet will always be rejected
      • We need to replace the fear of man with the Fear of God! (252)
        • Gain the greater reward!
  • Dealing with those who make excuses (396)
    • The reason most are not saved is because they have not taken the time to see why and how salvation can change their life.
    • Are they not accepting Christ based on a clear understanding of the gospel or are they misinformed about Christianity?
    • Do not get bogged down in the excuses.
      • Try to find the real excuse through open ended questions
      • Always direct the conversation back to the gospel
  • Personal Testimony
    • We Must believe in what we are sharing for it to become effective for those we share it with
    • Confidence in one’s conversion brings enthusiasm in evangelism
    • 8 Keys to the assurance of Salvation (183)
      • Memory of one’s conversion
      • Promises of Scripture: Acts16:31, John 3:16,18 & Romans 5:9-10
      • The Spirit’s Presence : Romans 8:9,16
      • Answered Prayers: John 5:14-15
      • God’s Discipline: Hebrews 12:8
      • Righteous Living
      • Sound Doctrine – A recognition of truth
      • Love for other Christians
    • Important of a testimony (185)
      • People are interested in learning about other people
      • You are an authority on your testimony. You know what has happened to you.
      • Your testimony gives people something they can compare their lives to and focus on the changes Christ has made
    • Guidelines for Sharing a Conversion Testimony (186)
      • Guidelines on pg 186
      • Remember to adapt your testimony to those you are speaking to
      • Do NOT add anything. God can work in the actual way it happened
    • Spiritual Autobiography (188)
      • Includes the following features
        • Exalts God above all
        • Includes intimate knowledge of God & personal religious experience
        • Can be distributed through different media
      • Should take 15-20min to share & be about 10pg written out
  • Personal Character (197)
    • Our culture is sick of phonies. The outing of ministers guilty of everything from immorality to greed has become commonplace. The world is not looking for Christians who a perfect: they are looking for Christians who are real, who demonstrate a changed life, whose lives give to honor Christ. (198)
    • Integrity (199)
      • Acts 20 – Paul’s Character
      • “Character is what you are in the dark” – DL Moody > If our motives are impure, they will eventually be discovered.
    • Humility (200)
      • Acts 20:19
      • In ministry, the greatest temptation is to desire status. It is one of the major hindrances to evangelism.
      • Humility helps us finish well
      • If you find yourself constantly talking about your achievements more than your need for Jesus, you live in great danger. Humility recognizes that we cannot live without Christ.
    • Passion (201)
      • You will never overcome the rejection that comes with evangelism apart from a passion from God.
      • We are all passionate. The question is, what are you passionate about?
        • What do you think about?
        • What makes you mad?
      • All people who are successful in ministry have and unending passion for God.
      • The main reason most Christians do not evangelize is because they have gotten over God
    • Purity (204)
      • Acts 20:26-34
      • 4 Pitfalls to Purity
        • Sex
        • Money
        • Discouragement
        • Ambition
      • You can be gifted as a preacher, organizer and leader but there is no substitute for godliness.
    • Conviction (205)
      • What is our Conviction?
        • We need to be about truth to a world hungry for truth
      • How will you Sheppard to protect those you lead from lies?
      • We must align our convictions and our lives
        • We cannot be convicted about evangelism and do nothing about it
      • Principles of conviction (206)
        • Live by principle, not feelings
        • Listen to God, not popular opinion
        • Prioritize sacrifice, not comfort
        • Consider the long term consequences of your decisions
      • Priorities (207)
        • God, Family, Ministry
        • Intentionally invest in the important things
      • Attitude (209)
        • Attitude is one of our greatest hindrances
        • Don’t be entitled to anything – We deserve Hell!
        • Be grateful for everything!
        • Things to remember about attitude
          • I am responsible for my attitude
          • My attitude affects those around me
          • I must constantly correct my attitude
          • My assumptions affect my attitude
          • My attitude affects my walk with God
  • What is the Gospel? ( 1 Cor 15:1-4)
    • Pete Schemm notes Jesus is the Gospel
      • The Gospel is Not so much an Idea or thing as much as it is a person (136)
        • Acts15:21, Col 1:28, 1Peter2:9,
      • The Gospel is the Good News (137)
      • The Gospel is a Canonical theme and not just a New Testament theme>In accordance with the scriptures
    • Ken Keathley relates the Gospel to the Kingdom of God (138)
      • The Gospel is the good news of the Kingdom
      • The Gospel is the good news of Victory
      • The Gospel is the good news of forgiveness of sins
      • The Gospel is the good news of reconciliation
    • Ericson’s Implications of the substitutionary death of Christ (139) Romans 3:21-26
      • It confirms the biblical teaching of the depravity of Humans
      • It demonstrates both the love and justice of God in perfect unity
      • Salvation comes from the pure sovereign grace of God
      • The believer can be secure in the grace of God
      • We are motivated not to neglect so great a salvation that came at such a great cost
      • The Gospel Produces Repentance of the sinner from Sin

I am in no way affiliated with the publisher or writer of this book. But I endorse this because it impacted my life and I would like that same blessing for you. Click Here for Other Recommended Reading!

If the Author or Publisher has an issue with this post, please let me know and I will remove it.