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When they laugh at your faith

Christians believe something very deeply… we’ve entrusted our lives, careers, money, opportunities, everything over to Jesus. We’re depending on Jesus’ grace to get us through death. These are all serious things!

So it makes it really hard when our non-Christian friends or family poke fun at our faith. When they joke about going to church, or even mention “hell” like its a place they’ll get to party. So, apart from letting it pass most of the time, in the odd times you can address it, what might we say?

  • “Just a second… I’d really like you to think about what you said just then.”
  • “Hey, I’m not sure you realise how important this is to me personally. Can I explain?”
  • “I know you think it’s kinda funny, but I really care what you think about this stuff.”

It may not get somewhere, but it might help them realise that you really do take it seriously… and maybe they should too.

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Paul, the Areopagus & the Why of evangelism

We all find evangelism hard. Admitting that is the first step to dealing with it. But what’s the second step? What gets in the way of people taking the next step with their acquaintances, friends and family?

Our Mission Pastor, Sam Hilton recently gave an excellent talk from Acts 17 that highlighted 3 big reasons. I’d recommend you listen to it. If you’re training an MTSer, it would be a great resource to listen and review together.

  1. We don’t understand the non-Christian world-view enough
  2. We don’t get distressed about people’s idolatry enough
  3. We get caught in the same idolatry, and don’t long for God’s glory enough

Have a listen here.

 

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Repost: An american perspective on evangelism

One of the american uni students I got to meet told me about how different it was over here in Australia. They couldn’t believe the number of non-Christians.

So I asked, “Aren’t there many non-Christians back home where you live?”

She answered — I kid you not — “Well, I only know of two in the town I’m from.” (Apparently it was a small American town, so it only had about 300,000 people in it.)

This girl had met more non-Christians in one day in Australia, than she had met in her ENTIRE LIFE. Now, I’m going to go out on a sceptical limb and say that not all of those “Christians” she met were actually Christian. In fact, she said herself that being in Australia had helped her see that many of her friends back home probably weren’t Christians – they just went to church.

Apart from being amazed, I couldn’t help thinking what happens in that town when the pastor preaches on “Evangelism”…

Bob and Terry get phone calls, letters, bibles, prayers, etc… from 299,998 people!?!

Repost: Before you answer, ask if they care

It’s nice when people ask questions; whether they are atheists or mature Christians. We all like the feeling of being asked, or the opportunity to “give an answer for the hope we have”.

But, before you answer, just ponder whether they are asking to understand or just asking to make a point.

It could be as simple as saying, “Yeah, that’s something I’ve put some thought into. If I tell you what I think, is there really much chance it will change your mind?”

This is particularly true when chatting to non-Christians. They may have many presenting questions… But they aren’t real questions; they’re just gap fillers, questions to ask to appear didactic. If you said to them, “if I answer that question adequately, will it really make a difference to you?” And if they say “no” (as many I’ve spoken to have), then all of a sudden the conversation had shifted from abstract hypothetical barriers to the gospel, to real personal barriers to the gospel. You can ask, “ok, then what is your real question? What would it take for you to really consider Jesus’ claims?”

Satan loves it when we keep the conversation abstract and impersonal, so don’t go there unless its really the issue they’re dealing with.

#Nexus2015 – Cross Shaped Ministry – What was missing…

(The recent Nexus2015 Conference “A cross shaped ministry” thought through the implications the cross has on how we think about gospel work in our churches. These are some of my personal reflections – see the previous 4 reflections here.)

I do feel there was an significant theme missing from the conference, and while I understand it’s a day conference and you can’t touch on everything, I think this is important. In fact, when I asked our staff team what ministry implications they think spring from the cross, they answered this one first… evangelism.

5. The cross defines the importance of gospel ministry

If God didn’t spare his only Son… if, when His eternal Son begged him for another way, He answered, “No – There is no other way”… then woe be to those who now suggest there is anything greater than declaring the work of His Son. As there is no other name compares to Jesus’ name to be saved, so there is no other work that compares to Jesus’ work of bringing all things together under himself. And we get to be part of that work!

Or put another way; The cross of Christ is the very heart of God’s message to the world! It’s not a message to the disciples, or to the Jews… its God’s message to the world. God does not put an enormous flaming message in the sky saying “I’m sorry” (as in Douglas Adam’s galaxy). Rather he puts His Son on a cross and says, “It’s done”.

6. The cross defines the extent of gospel ministry

At the cross, Jesus purchased men for God (Rev 5:9), he was the Sovereign Lord who bought people (2Pet 2:1), he reconciled all things in heaven and earth visible and invisible to God (Col 1:20), he was a ransom (Mark 10:45).

Everyone in the world, because of the cross, belongs to Jesus. He bought them. They are his. This means that evangelism is not simply inviting people to consider Jesus (though we rightly want people to do this), rather our driving motivation is the knowledge and conviction that Jesus is already their Lord. We are pleading for people to “Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” (Psalm 2).

They are His. We are right to covet what rightly belongs to our Lord. The extent of the cross should make us want more and more and more and more people to bow the knee. The cross should cause in us a holy-discontent with the size of our churches.

7. The cross AND RESURRECTION provides the hope of gospel ministry

I know this might be a fudge, as the focus was really only meant to be on the cross, but when it comes to gospel ministry, the resurrection and the cross need to be held together don’t they?

The resurrected Christ now pours out his Spirit – and that spirit is the ONLY hope we have in gospel ministry. Without the resurrected Christ’s Spirit at work in us and those we serve there is no gospel ministry to speak of.

What’s more, Jesus promises to save people! The resurrected and ascended Christ should give us great hope and enduring confidence to keep praying for more, keep speaking to more, keep running events and courses and calling people to invite their friends… We should be courageous, risky, bold… not in our own strength, but because we believe that Jesus died to save and rose to reign.

The resurrected Christ should keep us from being disheartened, and keep us zealous in prayer and evangelism.

Gospel Hurdles: People don’t know what a “King” is

There’re many hurdles to people accepting and believing in Jesus, but one of the commonly ignored hurdles is the concept of even having a “lord” or a “King”. People just don’t get what that means. 

And this is probably a fairly recent thing… Up until the 1940s-50s nations would still go to war “for King and country”, Kings still held complete sovereign power is certain nations. Whereas today, the only all-powerful Kings are despots and military coups. 

It’s no wonder that non-Christians hear us talking about Jesus as a king and then find the idea of repentance so strange. Why would you change your life for someone like Queen Elizabeth?!

The real idea behind Jesus’ kingship is his Lordship; He’s the Master and we are his slaves. And he has become like us to die for us and take us from slaves to sons (Col 1).

Have you got any Essential Jesus books going to waste in your church?

Over 4 years ago, our church was generously given about 8000 Essential Jesus books. They were left over from other churches mission events and plans.

After 4 years and by the grace of God, we’ve been able to give almost all 8000 away to people who don’t know Jesus. In fact, I gave one to a guy travelling up to Port Macquarie today – he told me he’d read it with an open mind.

So, if you’ve got any “Essential Jesus – Gospel of Luke” books sitting around your church gathering dust, either give’m away to people to read them, or… could we get them off you and give them to people we meet?

Let me know if you have any and we’ll send someone down to pick them up from you!