Category Archives: Evangelism

Why we engage in social ministries that bless the community

Growing up, I scoffed at churches engaged in a “social gospel.” They are not “true evangelicals,” I concluded in my high-minded ways. “They have compromised the Scriptures,” I stated as I looked down my nose at them.

I have since grown up and discovered that a “social gospel” is a valid approach to ministry, provided it comes with a few caveats. (1) It is a supplement rather than substitute for the gospel. (2) It is part of a holistic approach that meets physical, spiritual, emotional, and other needs. (3) It is an entry point that demonstrates caring and earns us the right to be heard when we address spiritual issues.

Christ taught and demonstrated a balanced approach to ministry. Jesus gave us the Great Commission, to make disciples of all the nations (Matthew 28:19-20). He also said that when we give a cup of cold water to someone, we are ministering not only to the individual but to Jesus himself (Matthew 25:31-40). Jesus preached repentance and healed people of their diseases. We are to preach the word (2 Timothy 4:2) as well as live as salt and light, doing good works to glorify God (Matthew 5:13-16).

This philosophy of a multifaceted approach to ministry explains why First Central Bible Church offers a tutoring program to neighborhood children in addition to our Awana program. This approach illustrates why we preached the gospel and celebrated communion during our Good Friday service and then served coffee, snacks, and water at the City of Chicopee’s Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday and then preached about how to move from skepticism to belief during our worship service on Easter Sunday. A balance of spiritual and social is why we have Bible studies for seniors and why we pull weeds and help with gardening at the Chicopee Senior Center. Taking a holistic approach to ministry is why we sent a short-term ministry team to Ghana to do evangelism and also sent work teams to camps in Shutesbury, MA, and Warsaw, OH, to help reroof several buildings and build a deck. It is why we offer Camp KidConnect and Awana Camp in the summer and Trunk ‘R Treat in the fall.

We want to be like Abraham in Genesis 12:2, to be a blessing to the world. We seek to bless the community by preaching the gospel and making disciples. We seek to bless the community by teaching children to read and succeed in school. We seek to bless the community by helping people grow deeper in their faith. We seek to bless the community by building camps and adding beauty to senior centers.

We want to fulfill the Great Commission, to make disciples of all the nations (Matthew 28:19-20), as well as practice the Great Commandment, to love God and love people (Matthew 22:34-40).


Be the pastor of your pew

“’Pastor, there is a man sitting in my pew,” she said. “Would you please tell him to move so I can sit down?’”

“’You know,’ Jerry said to her, ‘if I were a betting man, I would bet that this man sitting in your pew is a visitor and doesn’t know…Perhaps you could let him have your pew this Sunday and sit behind him and pray for him during the service. Perhaps you could engage him in a friendly conversation after the service…Perhaps you could even ask him what brought him

“What if each Sunday every Christian chose to be pastor of his or her pew? Every week people come to church looking for something to mend the brokenness they feel inside. Often they leave and no one has spoken a word to them the entire morning. Why?”

Jerry Root & Stan Guthrie, The Sacrament of Evangelism

Good reminder, especially considering the many guests that will be present this week for Good Friday and Easter services.

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Posted by on April 12, 2017 in Church, Evangelism, Quotes


Insight on reaching the next generation

meet-generation-zBook Review: Meet Generation Z: Understanding and reaching the new post-Christian world, by James Emery White

The cultural landscape has changed dramatically. We have the rise of the “nones,” those who when asked about their religious identity respond by saying “nothing.” Now we have Generation Z, the first truly post-Christian generation, and numerically the largest.

Pastor and author James Emery White has written, Meet Generation Z: Understanding and reaching the new post-Christian world, to share insights about this new generation and how to reach them with the gospel.

If the heart of the Christian mission is to evangelize and transform culture through the centrality of the church, then understanding that culture is paramount. It is toward that end this work is offered as a hopeful complement to my earlier works: Serious Times and The Rise of the Nones.

White divides the book into two parts. Part 1 describes the challenges facing the church today. He includes the latest research on the new post-Christian realities facing the west before describing the characteristics of Generation Z. Part 2 focuses on how the church should respond to this challenge. The author presents ideas on how we can become countercultural as well as how to speak to culture in ways that are winsome and compelling. He also includes suggestions on new approaches to evangelism and apologetics. The author closes the book with three sermons preached at his church on issues relevant to our culture—gay marriage, mapping out the spiritual world, and using science as a pre-evangelism bridge.

Having read and benefited from his previous book, The Rise of the Nones, I found this one helpful as well. It provides insight on the cultural realities and gives food for thought on how the church should adapt and respond to the challenge.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

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Posted by on January 25, 2017 in Apologetics, Books, Church, Evangelism


FCBC’s Women’s Christmas Friendship Dinner

First Central Bible Church‘s Women’s Christmas Friendship Dinner is one of our more effective outreach events of the year. The women invite their friends, coworkers, and family for an elegant evening of good food, great conversation, Christmas music, and a gospel message. Thanks to all who made it a wonderful and effective evening–the women’s leadership team who planned, the men and women who decorated, the guys who cooked and served, our musicians and sound personnel, those who invited friends, and everyone who prayed..


Women’s Christmas Friendship Dinner – Decorations

Saturday was First Central Bible Church’s annual Women’s Christmas Friendship Dinner. The gym and tables were decorated as beautiful as can be.


Sprucing up the gym

This Saturday is First Central Bible Church‘s annual Women’s Christmas Friendship Dinner, one of our major outreach events of the year. Jim, Lisa, Spencer, Rachel, and others are working hard to transform the gymnasium into an elegant dining room. They are doing a beautiful job and it should be a wonderful evening. The excitement is building.


Take the risk of showing real friendship

befriendBook Review: Befriend: Create belonging in an age of judgment, isolation, and fear, by Scott Sauls

What might happen if we took seriously Christ’s command to “love one another”? What might happen if Christ followers sincerely tried to love the least and the lost? What are some practical ways that we can create real friendship with those on the fringes of society? These questions lie at the heart of pastor and author Scott Sauls’ latest offering, Befriend: Create belonging in an age of judgment, isolation.

Far too often, according to the author, we settle for “less real versions of friendship.” These might include digital friendships, transactional friendships, and one-dimensional friendships. Rather than settle for false versions of friendship, the author challenges us to pursue real friendship—“the multilayered kind that exposes us to the grit of our own and each other’s lives; the kinds that positions us to love across the lines of our differences; the kind that leads us to lay down our lives for each others’ sake.”

As the author explains, the book “is a collection of twenty essays. Each essay attempts to explore a unique picture of real friendship…. Real friendship happens when we move toward the people we are most tempted to avoid. These are the people who are best equipped to challenge our perspectives, push our buttons, and require us to put on love.” Included in his list of challenging people to love are “prodigals and Pharisees,” “the ones you can’t control,” “dysfunctional family members,” “the poor and empty-handed,” “bullies and perpetrators,” “vulnerable women and humans not yet born,” and several others.

The book is well written and will challenge your thinking. The book is biblical and practical. It includes many real life stories and examples. I found it especially timely in light of the current debate over athletes who stand/kneel during the national anthem.

My impression is that the book appears to be written to those who are already following Christ. The only negative I found in the book is that it lacks a gospel presentation. In the chapter, “Befriend the one in the mirror,” he deals with the subject of shame and says that Christ has “lifted our shame off of us, nailing it to the cross.” However, he doesn’t go further to explain how we can receive forgiveness for our shame and sin.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Tyndale Blog Network book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Posted by on September 17, 2016 in Books, Evangelism, Scripture, Theology