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...

Remember to Make Room

You have probably noticed that Christmas is hurtling towards us. I’m probably safe in assuming that you feel it coming in the level of your busyness and the feeling that there is “so much left to do.” Shopping needs to be finished. Parties need to be attended. Cooking needs to be done. All the while, you still have to do you normal work. If you are one of the church leaders who read this, your stress is augmented by the preparation for the loads of extra people you expect at church. (Or maybe you are depressed because the crowds no longer come.) In all of this remember on thing. It is THE one thing. Remember to make room for Jesus. Maybe you need to – right now – close your eyes and take five minutes of quiet to listen for God’s voice in your chaos. (Don’t worry, you CAN afford five minutes.) Maybe you need to read a passage of the Bible independent of preparations for a message or study. Maybe you need to gather your family or friends together to read the Christmas story and express thanks. Make space for Him. Don’t stumble over the trappings of the holiday. Think about the Christmas story in Luke. Jesus was born into a world that struggled to make space for Him. Those who had eyes to see dropped everything. My prayer for you in the next week is that you will be one of those. How much space are you making for Christ in the midst of your holiday preparations? What one change will you commit to making right now?...

Creating a Mindset of Gratitude

It is December. It is the Christmas season. As the song says, it is the most wonderful time of the year! But, it is also the busiest. It can be the most stressful. The most expensive. And the most disappointing. If this is indeed the most wonderful time of the year, should we be feeling more gratitude? At Christmas we celebrate the Gift that God gave to the world. Out of His love, God gave everything He had. That seems to be cause for thankfulness. Busyness, debt,  disappointment, and much of our stress comes from trying to gain a sense of worth from things apart from God: Saying yes to all the commitments. Buying impressive presents. Portraying the happy image. (For the church leader, having more people at this year’s church service than last year’s.) Gratitude takes discipline. One of the ways our brains have be designed to function is the more you look for something, the more you will find it. For example, if you believe people will ultimately disappoint you, then you will process everything though that lens. Another example, if you perceive that people disrespect you, then you will see your interactions through that lens. Thus, the more your mind is set on being grateful, the more things to be grateful for you will see. Growing in your identity in Christ enables more gratitude. When you are not dependent upon roles, relationships, or results for a sense of self, you can be grateful for what God has placed in your life – not what you feel is missing. When your lens is no longer clouded by...

Why Big Things?

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ – Matthew 25:21 All of us have a desire for significance. It has been implanted within us by the God who created us. In our lives, problems result when we seek that significance apart from our Creator. One of the ways that we attempt to prove our worth is by doing big things; having a big impact. The larger the impact, the thinking goes, the better our work for God. We want results to prove our closeness to God. But the verse above from Matthew says that our faithfulness is actually demonstrated in the little things. If we can stay rooted in Christ and believe the truth of who we are in the circumstances that seem insignificant to us, then we can be trusted with much. There is a temptation in the big things: we will look to them for our significance instead of God. So the pastor only feels effective if church attendance it big. An author only feels successful if they sell a lot of books. A parent determines their effectiveness by the career path of their child. A business owner gains significance from making more money. The list can go on and on. The false self seeks big things for a sense of value. God gives big things when we are secure and rooted in Him. Today at the Igniting Souls Conference that I am attending, I was reminded that impact is magnified when someone I...

Thinking Good Thoughts

Not too long ago, I was watching my daughter play in a volleyball tournament. Her team is fairly capable and manage to stay competitive in most matches. During their matches, I noticed an interesting phenomena that was true of all the teams I watched. There was a time when one bad shot led to another. As a couple lost points were strung together, heads started to go down and shoulders slumped forward. Regardless of record or score, it would become contagious. It is so easy to dwell on the negative. Mistakes are easier to keep in the front of our minds than successes. In volleyball, this caused the players to lose energy and have trouble moving forward. And I thought that this is so true in our spiritual lives as well. It is so easy to get captured by our lies. When we make a mistake or do not meet an expectation or experience a failure then what were once distant echos can become louder. I am a failure. I am ugly. I am a disappointment. I am unforgivable. I am unwanted. And the list of the limiting beliefs and false narratives that we believe about our selves could go on and on. Ultimately, these lies are the result of your focus not being on the source of your true self, the identity you have in Christ. The apostle Paul wrote to the Philippian believers and told them: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8...

How Are You Addressing Your Root?

“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. – Luke 13:8 All of us tend to classify people into categories. Good or bad. Saved or lost. Successful or lazy. Jesus was talking to a group of people that had assumed they were better, or more righteous, because something bad had not happened to them. In reply, Jesus confronted this belief by asking if the people who had died suddenly were more guilty or bigger sinners than others living in the same place. Then Jesus went on with a parable about a tree that was not producing any fruit. When the man who owned the vineyard asked that the tree be cut down, the caretaker made the reply that is quoted above. “I’ll dig around it and fertilize it.” Notice what the first impulse was – to address the root of the tree. In response to the lack of fruit, the caretaker did not look to the branches and leaves. The same principle can be repeated for unhealthy fruit. A problem with the fruit is the result of a problem with the root. Repentance requires that we address our root. Becoming more aware that we realize the depth to which we look to the world for significance. Authentic fruit is the result of being rooted in Christ. Having an identity that is defined by God’s love for you is an intentional process of knowing your lies and when you are prone to shame and applying truth. What areas are you tempted to root your identity apart from God? In...

Gain Perspective. Live Well.

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