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Circle of Influence
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given
to Me in heaven and on earth.  "Go therefore and make disciples of
all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit,  "teaching them to observe all things that
I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of
the age." Amen. (NKJV)
The Healthy Church Group of the California Southern Baptist Convention
works with our churches who call them for consultations. They help
churches discover and maintain balance in the five purposes of the church.
Randy McWhorter, who heads the group said, "In almost every situation we've
assessed, the two greatest issues are evangelism and discipleship.
This is partly because worship, ministry, and fellowship are more natural
and come a little easier. Evangelism ranks low on church strength lists,
I believe, for three reasons: first, evangelism is at the forefront of
spiritual warfare; second, leaders are too often program-driven rather
than strategy-driven; and third, our churches, beginning with their leaders,
need a deep-down, gut-level, heart-wrenching passion for the lost." http://www.calmissions.com/HealthyChurch/-1999935104/-1999324626.htm
Are you willing to be on the frontlines of spiritual warfare?
Are you willing to move from the safety of stained glass rooms to the dangers
of evangelism in the trenches? This work is not for the faint of
heart, rather it is for those who are willing to go “to the end of the
age” and who will take God at His word the He will be with them always.
I believe that McWhorter is right, not everyone is willing to
live life on the edge and face the risk of having to defend their faith
or have their faith tested. But I also know that there are some among
us who feel secure placing their lives in God’s hands.
McWhorter also said that we are often “program-driven rather than
strategy-driven.” Often time we are more concerned with fielding
the right brand of program and never take time to develop a strategy.
I’ve asked Jeff Cunningham to take a few minutes this morning
to talk about a strategy for Evangelism that we will be studying for the
next eight weeks during Encounter.
Some of you may recall that in the last newsletter, I wrote that
“We are the “they” in Evangelism.” There are no “them.” And I said,
if we say we have a relationship with Jesus Christ and we are a Christian
in the biblical sense of the word, then we have a responsibility to share
Christ’s love and message to the world. This is apparent when
we examine scripture, especially passages like the Great Commission as
referenced earlier in Matthew.
Well, over the past several months, I have prayed about, thought about,
and examined the mission strategy outlined by the authors of a book called
Insider. The pastor and several other members have read their
mission strategy and we agree that their message is well founded in scripture.
The undeniably Biblical message is one that our local church body should,
in the very least, take time to consider given our evangelical commitment
The authors of The
Insider write: “As a citizen of God’s kingdom, you are already
uniquely positioned to live out your kingdom citizenship among the people
you relate to every day. God has called you to be an “insider” to
your family, neighborhood, and workplace. As you adopt the winsome
patterns of a kingdom lifestyle, people in your life will see that there
is, indeed a better way to live.”
I believe that we all could learn to adopt lifestyle habits and patterns
that enable us to live a kingdom lifestyle, a lifestyle that promotes loving
all of the folks in our lives just as Christ has shown us love. As this
slide illustrates we all have relationships with people, whether they be
coworkers, family or neighbors. If these folks do not know Christ,
we have the responsibility to share the love of Christ with them.
Don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that the first words
out of our mouths should be a sales pitch for Jesus. We are not his
little salesmen. God doesn’t need salesmen. He wants people,
who have been given His ultimate mercy, grace and forgiveness, to provide
the same thing to those who do not know Him. God has called us to
something much greater than isolation.
He wants us to cultivate healthy relationships that demonstrate His
Paul is an example of how to live out our faith. Let’s read Philippians
1:12-13, “Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have
turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment
in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian
guard and to everyone else…” Paul was chained to his guards.
He could have complained and been a horrible prisoner. But we don’t
see that. Through his imprisonment Paul demonstrated the love of
Christ and communicated the message of salvation to the guards who in turn
shared the message of the gospel to others! The gospel spreading
in this manner only happens when we have the boldness to converse our faith
and the patience to develop a rapport to share our faith. Paul was
in a trying situation, but he unabashedly brought the kingdom of God to
his community. It is imperative that we as believers do the same,
all the more so because are not in chains or imprisoned. Yet while
our situation is so different from Paul’s it is also like his situation.
Symbolically, we are locked to those around us, by the mere fact that our
employers tell us who we must work with and by the fact that we must live
in a community that we can afford. Whatever our situation we must
not isolate ourselves from the world. We are to be the light in the
dark places and the salt in a world without salt.
Beginning this Wednesday we will learn how to cultivate relationships
with our neighbors, coworkers, family and friends in such a way that we
serve them and ultimately bring the Kingdom of God into their lives!
And please if you already do this well, come and share your insights with
the rest of us. I believe that this time will beneficial for everyone.
Our two part strategy will consist of an Equipping Stage and Sending
Stage. During the equipping stage we will learn together how to make
lifestyle changes in order to better bring the Kingdom of God to our communities.
The equipping stage begins this Wednesday and runs for eight weeks.
As we end the equipping period we will commission a few who want to step
out in faith to establish local footholds in their communities and bring
the Gospel to those who do not know Christ as their Savior. We will
begin praying for these missionaries and their ministries this Wednesday
and throughout their ministries. If you are not being called to be
a mid-week missionary, we will also need folks here at the church praying
for them. We will need members who are willing to provide hospitality
for them like making cookies, but not teach. As a whole church we
need to support our members as they seek to glorify God in their homes
and neighborhoods. I would argue that we shouldn’t limit this to
homes, however. For those of you living in dorms or other living
situations, you are missionaries in those settings as well. I can
personally testify to the effectiveness of dorm ministries from when I
was a cadet at a military academy.
So…by committing to changing our lifestyles we will ultimately change
the world for Christ, one community…one state…one country at a time.
Thank you Pastor.
Some of you might be willing to adopt this strategy of being "Mid-week"
missionaries and develop relationships with non-believers that can lead
to establishing an outreach bible study or personal evangelism opportunity.
If you do, our mid-week ministry will help undergird you.
One of the perpetual problems of small group ministry is child care.
We can provide that at the church if the Bible study leaders choose to
have their studies on Wednesday. We can also provide onsite prayer
support for the groups, remembering them during our prayer time.
Those who do not feel called to this ministry can help support the ministry
by doing traditional "church work" on site.
After we are willing to be involved in front-line ministry and
adopt a strategy to reach out in the name of Jesus, we still need what
McWhorter calls a “deep-down, gut-level, heart-wrenching passion for the
lost.” Do you have that? Does the thought of your neighbor
or friend going to hell without ever hearing the gospel message keep you
awake at night? Do you have the missionary spirit that drives
you to do whatever it takes to proclaim the gospel to a lost and dying
world? Pause with me for a minute to reflect upon the great missionary
God may or not be calling you to go to the “ends of the earth”
with the gospel message, but I am confident that He is calling you to be
active sharing your faith in your own circle of influence. Will you
take the challenge?
For more information on The Insider, go to http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1576833380/freshministry