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Category Archives: Evangelism

Sharing Jesus is best done over food and drink

Book Review: Eats With Sinners: Loving Like Jesus, by Arron Chambers

If the gospel is shared best through relationships, how do you go about building intentional relationships with non-Christians? How can you work at understanding them? How do you avoid offending them?

Those are the questions dealt with in Arron Chambers’ latest offering, Eats With Sinners: Loving Like Jesus. The title and theme of the book is that Jesus regularly ate with sinners because he longed to eat with them in heaven. The author blends biblical teaching, motivational thoughts, encouraging stories, and practical ideas to help the reader know how to let their guard down so God’s love can flow through them to their non-Christian friends.

The author takes a somewhat different approach in addressing the topic of evangelism. This is evident in each of the chapter titles and themes.

  • Integrity – We need to make sure our hearts and lives are pure before sharing our faith.
  • Accessibility – We need to remove unnecessary barriers that keep non-Christians from hearing the message.
  • Grace – We need to live lives of grace and share the message of grace.
  • Faith – We need to trust God and believe that he can reach and save the lost.
  • Intimacy – True intimacy is developed with lost people as we share our lives over a meal.
  • Tolerance – While we should not tolerate sin in believers, we should be tolerant of sinful people.
  • Resolve – We should set goals about sharing our faith.
  • Urgency – We need a sense of urgency to reach the lost.
  • Mercy – Look for ways to meet needs and demonstrate God’s mercy.
  • Humility – Jesus demonstrated humility by going to the cross.
  • Investment – We need to invest our time, energy, and resources to reach the lost.
  • Joy – Heaven celebrates when lost people find salvation in Christ.
  • Vision – We need to see people as God sees them.

The first edition was published in 2009 and is now revised and reformatted. A helpful and encouraging book on the topic of evangelism.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Tyndale Blog Network http://tyndaleblognetwork.com/ 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 June 14, 2017 in Books, Evangelism

 

Change your mind about evangelism

Book Review: Sharing Jesus {without freaking out}: Evangelism the way you were born to do it, by Alvin L. Reid

When you mention the word “evangelism,” chances are most people think of a canned presentation like The Four Spiritual Laws, Romans Road, or Evangelism Explosion. You think about a program you have to memorize and repeat correctly. Pastor, Professor, and author Alvin Reid wants us to think about evangelism more as a conversation rather than a program.

In his book, Sharing Jesus {without freaking out}: Evangelism the way you were born to do it, Reid shares eight principles that are aimed at helping each person see

… how God wired you to be you—how to be a living, loving witness without morphing into a person you were never meant to be. You don’t have to be a superstar Christian or a clever communicator. You just need to find the intersection of your love for Jesus and your love for the other person.

Each chapter of the book explores one of his eight principles:

  • Principle 1: God created you for his glory, to advance his gospel with the gifts, talents, and opportunities he gave to you.
  • Principle 2: In order share Jesus confidently and consistently with others, first share him confidently and consistently with yourself.
  • Principle 3: Shifting from giving an evangelistic presentation to having an evangelistic conversation takes pressure off the witness and relates the gospel more clearly to an unbeliever.
  • Principle 4: God has sovereignly placed you in this world at this time with the abilities and gifts you have to bring glory to him and show the joy of the gospel to others.
  • Principle 5: Effective evangelistic conversations connect the unchanging gospel with the specific issues people face.
  • Principle 6: Expect people to be open to the gospel, and learn to share Jesus where they live.
  • Principle 7: Talk to the actual person in front of you about the Jesus inside you; let them see and hear the change Jesus makes in you.
  • Principle 8: Developing a lifestyle of sharing Jesus consistently flows out of a plan to share Jesus regularly.

The book includes an eight-week study guide for individual and small group study designed to help the reader put the principles into action. I appreciated his approach and found his stories and examples to be encouraging.

Books like this one have an inherent two-fold weakness. One is that they presuppose that one already knows how to share their faith. A person still needs to learn a basic approach to evangelism and what verses you’d use in sharing your faith. That way when it comes up in conversation you know what to say and how to shift a conversation in that direction. The second weakness is that it presupposes everyone is an extrovert like the author and naturally connects and talks easily with strangers. One has to work hard at adapting his principles to your own unique personality and style. That being said, the book is helpful and encouraging.

Disclosure: I received this book free from B&H Publishing through the B&H/Lifeway Bloggers program http://www.bhbloggers.com/. 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 May 12, 2017 in Books, Evangelism, Quotes

 

Grace can reach even those whom we think will never receive it

Ty Cobb was one of the all-time greats in the game of baseball. He had a .367 lifetime batting average, with 4,191 hits and 892 stolen bases. He won nine straight batting titles. But Ty Cobb was also the meanest man in baseball. Known for stopping at nothing to win, he would insult, humiliate, and even injure other players in his quest for victory. Even his own teammates once rooted against him when he was in a tight race one season for the batting title. He was known to make unprovoked racial slurs. He had three wives, all of whom he verbally and physically abused. He was constantly involved in fistfights, arguments, and tirades against fans and players. He once pistol-whipped a would-be mugger so badly that the face of the corpse could not be identified. Cobb was worth millions because of his early investment in Coca-Cola. When he died, he had in his possession millions in stocks, bonds, and cash because he was an early investor in Coca-Cola. And yet it would be hard to find a more apt specimen of total depravity. But the story does not end there.

Not long before he died, Cobb was visited by a Presbyterian ministry named John Richardson. Cobb curtly told the preacher to leave. Two days later he returned. This time Cobb listened as Richardson explained to him the plan of salvation. Hearing of Christ’s love for sinners and how he had come to die for the likes of Ty Cobb, the “Georgia Peach” was overcome with emotion. Richardson continued to explain the necessity of repentance toward sin and faith in Jesus as the only way of salvation. Cobb told the preacher he was ready to put his complete trust in Jesus Christ as his Savior. Two days before he died, Ty Cobb told Richardson, “I fell the strong arms of God underneath me.”

Cited in 1-3 John: Fellowship in God’s Family (Preaching the Word), David L. Allen, p.191-192

 
 

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 www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers 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..