An Idea About Evangelism Training

I went to a Friday night race in Daytona with my dad a couple weeks ago. We had a great time together experiencing the atmosphere and the sounds, smells, and power of the trucks on the track. As we entered the speedway grounds, there were three men at the entrance gate. One had a bullhorn and was reading a Bible passages about the judgment of God. The two others had signs with similar messages about perishing and hell and stood with their free arms outstretched holding tracts. While I am giving them credit for being well-meaning, there efforts were ignored by the large crowd walking past them. These men were doing evangelism. In our Christian terminology, evangelism is what you are trained for; having gone through a program, and been trained in the right steps in presenting the gospel to others. This type of training takes a variety of forms, but the commonality is that evangelism is seen as a separate discipline for the follower of Christ. Think of the fear response that is so common when people are told we are going to talk about or teach ‘evangelism’. Evangelism is presented as a discipleship elective and in practice comes off feeling forced and unnatural. What if we simply taught people to love others? That the people around them and that come into our churches are more than a statistic or a project. They are people who are struggling with their place in the world. What if we simply taught people to listen to others? Rather than giving enough attention to throw in the appropriate Bible verse, this would take compassion...

Seeing Jesus

It is election season. From things I’ve read, if Jesus were alive today, He would support every political candidate. Or at least that is the case people make. There is a proliferation of bumper stickers saying that “Jesus is an environmentalist” or “Jesus is a capitalist” or some other such identification. Many churches teach their opinions as if they were doctrines of Jesus. Things like kids must be home-schooled or that some standards of discipleship are old-fashioned. Here is the truth: we view Jesus through the lens of what builds up our false sense of self. We want Jesus to affirm the things from which we are seeking value. Thus, we don’t see Jesus as He actually is, we see a Jesus created in our own image. Jesus did not come to affirm our broken philosophies, He came to show the world the love of the Father. When we make Jesus in our image, that leads to division rather than unity, condemnation rather than acceptance, and judgment rather than forgiveness. Jesus was concerned that we do two things: love God and love people. Loving God is about rooting our full sense of identity in Him. Loving people is a fruit of the freedom that source of identity provides. Where loving God and people conflicts with our desires we are to abandon our self. In what ways does Jesus look more like you rather than you looking more like Jesus? ————————————————— I work with followers of Christ to energize discipleship, improve relationships, decrease anxiety and facilitate leadership development. I am a certified coach specializing in pastoral leadership, relationships, discipleship, life transitions, and...

Keeping Christ in Christmas

I have to confess to you that I have a little pet peeve regarding the “Keep Christ in Christmas” bumper stickers, church signs, and car magnets that seem to pop up this time of year. Of course, they are a reaction to our culture’s growing tendency to refer to this as the holiday season. Boldly I say, count me as one follower of Christ who fully supports this cultural trend. First, it IS the season of holidays. There’s Thanksgiving. And Hanukkah. Ramadan. Kwanzaa, the New Year. Probably others of which I’m not aware. It seems the height of Christian arrogance to make everyone use our name for a certain time of the year. It dismisses others’ points of view. Whether or not we agree with their belief system, diminishing their traditions does not put us in their good graces to have an open discussion about Christ. It creates defensiveness; an us-against-them which closes people off. More importantly (in my estimation), do we really want the name Christmas associated with the consumerism and commercialism that runs rampant in our culture and amps up at this time of the year? Short answer: No. No, I don’t. So if Wal-mart wants to call it a “Holiday Sale”, Starbucks wants to put coffee in plain red cups, Best Buy wants to have a giant “Happy Holidays” sign on the front of the store, or the mall wants to promote “Winter Savings”, they can do it with my blessing. I am totally on board with that. In fact, I view it as a favor. One less battle I have to fight with those who argue Christmas is nothing more than...

‘Tis the Season to Be Busy

With one of my clients, the subject of coaching has turned to discipleship. A one size model does not fit all, that is one major structural hurdle. Another hurdle is the obstacle of busyness. What does it mean to be a disciple in a busy culture? People are too busy to attend a group or a workshop. Perception is that there is not enough time to read the Bible, or slow down to pray, or to be still and listen for the voice of the Father. What is true for those we observe is also true for us. We all live in a culture that demands busyness. To be still is not just counter-cultural, it is cause to be labeled lazy or unproductive. This view pervades the workplace, at home, on vacation, and – very sadly – this perception is common in our churches. Now we are entering the season where demands upon our time amp up even more. Being busy, having a never ending to-do list, saying yes-yes-yes, is a product of identity. It is an attempt to cover feelings of worthlessness with productivity and affirmation. The decisions we make are based on what we value. Our values are a function of where our identity is rooted. If you are empty before the Christmas season, then the coming weeks will present many opportunities to perform or accumulate or generate affirmation. It is hard (or impossible) for an identity apart from God to say no to new possibilities. For the church leader, this season is a minefield of comparison and expectations. Services to reach the lost and programs for the devout on...

Healthy Things Grow

In a recent conversation with a leader, I used the expression “healthy things grow”to talk about hoped for results in an area of coaching. It is a good principle. Healthy kids grow. Healthy plants grow. If there is health, there is growth. Yet, we encounter some problems with this principle. All things do not grow the same way. All churches do not grow in the same way. All ministries do not grow in the same way. All relationships do not grow the same way. All disciples do not grow the same way. In church leadership, the tendency is to equate growth with numeric growth. More people means there is health. That is a lie, and a trap. A church can grow by telling people what they want to hear. There are plenty of those out there. Pointing to numeric growth as a sign of healthy things, the tendency is to become driven to experience growth. But healthy things are not the only things that grow. Cancer grows. Weeds grow. Beer bellies grow. It is also a way to dismiss other avenues of growth. Are people developing perseverance? Experiencing Christ more fully in their daily lives? Demonstrating compassion to others? Becoming light where they are? Are they transforming workplaces, sports teams, schools, and communities by their presence. The Gospel is not an individual church growth strategy, it is a Kingdom growth strategy. And the Kingdom can easily be growing around a healthy church whose numbers are constant. What possible ways are there to grow in your ministry context? Focusing our efforts on the numeric growth is a way to build our own sense...

An Unfortunately True Story

A recent conversation with a hurting pastor prompts me to share this story from my experience… Almost a decade ago, I was an associate pastor with a lot of responsibility at a large and very fast growing church, and at the same time my marriage was in a bad place. For my part, I was trying squeeze out of my marital relationship a sense of affirmation and worth. For my wife’s part, she was struggling with issues of trust, responding to masculinity, and a general apathy to the idea of being married. Due to my need to prove my worth, I was working very hard to right the course of the relationship. The lie that I was believing was that if I just tried harder, the results would be different. So I set up opportunities to pray, do Bible studies, go to a conference, and offered to see a counselor. All with no response. I was frustrated, angry, miserable, and feeling rejected. My wife, too, was not in a good place through all this. It is in this context that I reached out to one of the elders at the church in which I served. Because of my people pleaser tendencies, this was a level of vulnerability that was unusual for me. I was desperate. This man was someone I considered a friend, so I told him some of what was going on, how I needed help as a husband, and I also asked if his wife would consider being more intentional in her relationship with my wife to help her process what was going on in her personal...

Gain Perspective. Live Well.

Close
loading...