Thursday…4?

I have been on the road a lot this week. Planes, cars and about to be on the road again for some  actual family time rather than work time. This has limited my ability to write this week. Since I won’t be able to write a “Friday 5” tomorrow, I did have 4 thoughts for the week to help sharpen our focus, so we’ll just call them the “Thursday 4”.

Here we go…

I think we’ve under sold our women.

I pride myself on being a good public communicator. However, recently, my wife Jennifer and I spoke at a partner church in town on the assigned topic of “Racism”. Since we have an mixed family we’ve had a few experiences. Nothing of our experience matches an African American family at all, but having an African American child has has a few challenges, so we were invited to speak. Afterward, it was my wife that was invited to speak at an MLK event. I have always known Jennifer to be a solid public communicator, but she’s just good. She needs more opportunities to teach.

I’ve also noted that usually our men are not first to volunteer for much. It’s usually women. Also, I’ve noted that women do a better job than most men. More detailed and nicer. Women will think through details and implications.

There is more brewing here in my soul, but that’s enough for now.

The world is open to domain leaders and domain engagers who are serious about being more than an employee who takes home a check…not preachers. 

The world is not opposed to Christian business men and women, doctors, attorneys etc. The world is wide open to those who take domain engagement seriously. What if God is inviting us through the front door but it does not look like that last season of success?

The modern missions movement was highly successful. It set the stage for today, but today’s world is not that world. We are truly in a “flat world” scenario in which the nations are fluidly available anywhere anytime. That is a game changing reality.

Bible degree guys can’t get in nor are equipped to work around the world. Business people are. Electricians are. What if we trained our people in all things gospel then released them to the nations? What if the next generation of pastors were domain engagers who then received bible training or walked by the empowering Spirit?

I’m so thankful for Bob Roberts Jr. who is my spiritual father and takes me under his wing to teach how to be in the public square, how to meet with other faiths and be friends yet never compromise the gospel and even invite people to know Jesus. Paul did that. That was his mode. Paul operated in Public. Yes it got him in trouble, but it put him in front of kings and leaders and opened the world to him. We’ve got to figure that out.

Our little bit of success in our part of the world has been due to perserverance through hardship but God is opening global doors that defies the old school methods. It’s blowing my mind and defying my chosen strategies. It may be time for my strategies to line up with what the Spirit is doing.

I’m not saying bible training is not important. I am saying that the world is NOT open to people whose only training is bible.

What if the whole church was the missionary? Does that quesiton sound familiar? Yes! You hear it all the time from me. It’s time for us to work those implications out.

We have to learn to be friends with people we disagree with. 

We are far too tribal. If someone disagrees with us we want to fight, argue or even not be friends with them. We can’t do this. Gathering into tribes of people who only agree with us keeps us from engaging people with the gospel long-term, it tends to reinforce false ideas that we could use some help straightening out (same propagates same and when we are wrong then same wrong propagates same wrong).

It’s good to have friends who will challenge you politically, spiritually and physically.

We are just tribal and develop tribal language. Break tribes. Be friends with people you don’t agree with, and if someone disagrees with you, don’t take offense.

We are by nature idolators, constructing images of truth shaped by our own desires. – Leslie Newbigin

That line is by Leslie Newbigin (go look him up). Or as my friend Ross Patterson recently said in response to a post I made, “Behavior driven beliefs versus belief driven behavior.”

I’ve found that much of the Christian sub-culture in the post-Christian south is formed around “images of truth shaped by our own desires.”

People will find bible verses to justify their hobby-horse for the season like a bird can find a worm (does that image work?)

For some reason we can major on things that are frankly irrelevant and make them centerpieces to our lives while ignoring justice, righteousness and truth as defined by God in the right reading of his word.

Truth is not what we perceive something to mean. Truth is reality from God’s perspective. In other words, when we come to the bible, we are not looking for verses to justify what I’m passionate about at the moment, but we are captivated by God’s word, hungry for God and are shaped by what he says as we know it from his point of view. That creates prophets. The former creates slaves of cultural fads. 

I hope these thoughts set you to thinking and searching God’s word. His Manual is true without any mixture of error, so measure up to it…don’t make it measure up to us.

 

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Evangelism

I’ve been learning from some of my “Release” brothers and I had a conversation with one of our long time TRC members the other night at our men’s event and came away thinking we may need to do some formal training on the practice of evangelism. All this came together yesterday and this morning to put on “paper” my personal practice. So, I’m going to share this with you this morning.

We have preached a series on “evangelism” a couple of years ago and believed that covered it, but perhaps this is a terrible oversight or over assumption on the part of your pastors that we are all able to go and do effective evangelism. Regardless, I’m going work on putting together some formal training for our church. So, if you don’t know how or are afraid or just need a process, I’m going to share here and work into a formal format what I have done and what I do.

I could give you a “canned” process, but what I’ve found is that every process has to change based on who, where and which particular variables present themselves with the person and context you are in. So, what I’ve done is try to mimic what Jesus did, what the apostles did and what the church did in the bible and adapt it to my context. This is what I do. I invite you to take this and use it for yourself, you R-Life group and your other Christian friends.

So, here we go.

Start by making sure you know and have believed the gospel.

If we are unsure about the gospel message we would attempt, even in context ignorance, tell someone we have to question whether we’ve believed the gospel. We can’t believe something we don’t know.

Be sure you can articulate the gospel message. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ (Romans 10:17). 

Here are some examples:

We’ve given you the framework of: Creation / Fall / Redemption / Restoration in which to frame this message. Use that framework and learn to articulate the message.

Make sure you are practicing 5-Fold, as we’ve instructed during preaching, in your R-Life group.

Why? Because the Spirit gifts the community with “evangelists” and “evangelism”. Jesus builds his church with evangelism and evangelism is a way we grow up into Christ. See Ephesians 4.

We really need to do some more training here. So, expect that to be available coming up.

Also, please don’t make a habit of missing the gathering of the church. Much good is shared and much instruction provided, and if you miss, you miss the instruction. Please make gathering with the church a priority (Hebrews 10:25). It’s commanded in Scripture.

Make a list of 5 people you know who need to believe. Begin praying for those people. 

Invite your non-Christians friends from your list of 5 to your R-Life group who need to believe, need to experience Spirit power and who need to get to know more Christians. 

Have an intentional gospel conversation with your friends in your top 5 who need to believe.

You can’t get around this. You have to talk to someone about Jesus and their need to repent and believe. This has to become a discipline. Don’t tell me about all our social exploits that we can’t tell someone about Jesus and the need to repent and believe.

Invite your friends to believe in Jesus through repentance and faith.

Trust the Holy Spirit to navigate you, your friend and the entire process.

To practice evangelism is to practice walking in a magical world of amazingness. It will grow your faith. It will make you more bold. It’s quite addictive.

If they say “yes”, then begin teaching your friend, get them a bible, bring them to the gathered community of the kingdom (church) and just do Matthew 28:16-20…teach them to observe everything Jesus has taught us.

If they say “no”, then still be their friend, continue praying for them and keep praying for them.

If they say “maybe/not yet”, then keep praying…pray more, keep talking about their questions and always use the bible.

Repeat.

Really, we have no excuse. Worse case scenario we just tell folks the message the way we heard it. Here’s the deal, our new friends in India heard, then they go tell someone else they know and invite them to follow Jesus too…and they’ve had no class, nor formal training, read no book other than some verses from the bible and they are effective evangelists. It’s really not a method or training we need. We just need to obey Jesus’ command to make disciples. 

I love you TRC. I’m proud of you. I love all those we serve around the world. I’m proud of you all too. We can do this and do it well. Let’s get after it!