Category Archives: Evangelism

10 Things Christians Must Do Now

Do we want to be taken seriously?  Do we want to overcome misconceptions about our faith and practice? Do we hope to ever fulfill our mission and make an impact on our culture?  Then here (in no particular order) are a few things I believe we must do:

  1. Refuse to let public lies (false teachings) stand publically unopposed.  When someone lies publically, someone needs to publically expose and oppose that lie and tell the truth no matter what it costs.  That is part of our job as the called-out of Christ.
  2. Refuse to be lulled into the toleration and acceptance of immorality.  Think about what we tolerate which would never have been accepted twenty years ago.  If it was truly wrong then, it is truly wrong today.  If it was ever a sin, it is a sin now.
  3. Ignore those who equate Christianity with established religious groups…no matter how ancient.  Foolish and ignorant critics will blame Christ-followers for the excesses of those who, over the centuries, falsely labeled themselves “Christians.”  True followers of Christ were never involved in the exploitation, suppression, torture and/or death of any person or group.
  4. Rise above the prevailing gloom and hopelessness of today’s culture.  We enjoy and offer the world a way of hope, abundant life, joy (not the same as “happiness”) and an eternal end of suffering.  We are “light-bringers.”
  5. Renounce materialism and greed.  We must recognize the love of money and “stuff” for what it is – the source of evil.  Christians must learn to be content with what is needed for life.  Food, clothing, shelter, healthcare and transportation are all we need.  The overflow needs to be shared.
  6. Combine good deeds with good news in holy symbiosis.  One without the other will not accomplish our mission.  Very few will be persuaded by a failure to combine these initiatives.  This is what Jesus did…this is what we must do.
  7. Renounce citizenship of a country in favor of citizenship in God’s kingdom.  Jesus’s kingdom is not of this world.  Political parties and their candidates have serious flaws and faults; the Kingdom is perfect and flawless.  We are not mere Americans, Germans, Poles, Russians, Australians, etc.  We are citizens of a nation with no boundaries, no racial, linguistic barriers.  Thy kingdom come!
  8. Get out of our meeting places and into the streets.  Quit expecting people to come to us and do what Jesus did: go to the people.  Do good deeds!  Proclaim Christ!
  9. Quit “going to church.”  Restore the true purpose of assemblies.  Assemblies are a means to an end, not an end.  “Faithfulness” is far more than attendance.  Assemblies are for edification and encouragement.  If they fail in that regard, they are useless.
  10. Think and act as the counter-culture we were meant to be.

“The saving of our world from pending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority.” (Martin Luther King Jr.)

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Without Apology

“So, you believe that only Christians are going to heaven?”  It’s a question that has caused more than one person to squirm uncomfortably.  It is especially uncomfortable if the question is asked in a public forum (radio or television interview) in a challenging way by someone who (1) isn’t a person of faith or, (2) an adherent of a non-Christian religion.  In reality, any answer will offend someone, somehow.  One response will offend one group, the alternative will offend the other.  No answer at all will offend whoever’s left.

If you are a Christian and you believe the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) to be accurate accounts of the words and actions of Christ, only one answer is possible.  It is the answer Jesus gave to a disciple named Thomas.  Here it is:

Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6).

It is also the answer that, after the death of Christ, Peter gave to the rulers, elders and scribes in Jerusalem.

And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12)

Jesus and Peter said it, I didn’t.  So, you can get mad at me for believing it, but you can’t blame me for saying it.  I don’t have to apologize for their answers.  No uncomfortable squirming here.

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Filed under Atheism/Theism, Eternal Life, Evangelism, Faith, Jesus Christ, Judgmental, Quotations, Salvation

Osama bin Laden 1957-2011

I confess, I rejoiced to hear of the death of Osama bin Laden. I felt like “high-fiving” anyone within reach.  Then I began reading blogs from my fellow disciples and kinda feeling guilty, especially when they quoted Ezekiel 18:23[i] and 33:11[ii]. Then I started reading those passages in context and realized that the Holy Spirit was saying that the real pleasure would have resulted from his turning back from his evil ways and his death to the old man of sin.

I felt a little better when I read Psalm 58:10, 11 The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance; / He will wash his feet in the blood of the wicked. / And men will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; / Surely there is a God who judges on earth!”

There is no doubt Osama had to die.  He relinquished his right to life by taking the lives of thousands of innocents. But O how I wish we could have sought his heart as doggedly as we sought his head!  How wonderful to have given him life before his death! What a day of rejoicing that would have been! But like so many depraved murderers before him, he remained unrepentant for his heinous crimes. I’m glad he’s gone.

Congratulations to the incredibly brave team that took him out. I understand that many months of careful, exacting planning and training preceded the mission. That provoked the inevitable missionary reaction: Doesn’t it stand to reason that no less is required of us in the Kingdom as we seek the souls of the Islamic world? Where are our well-trained, equipped and courageous teams? Where is our strategy? Where is our passionate and urgent sense of cause?

The Muslims of the Middle East have long memories of so-called “Christian” violence and oppression. Hatred from those memories spawned Osama and his ilk. Many will willingly fill the vacuum of his leadership fueled by the same hatred.  The only way to stop the process is to permeate their culture with bombs of love and missiles of peace. Fortunately we serve a God defined by love who gave Himself as the Prince of Peace.

At long last, let’s give our Muslim friends reasons to love us instead of loathe us.


[i] Ezekiel 18:23“Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord GOD, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?”

[ii] Ezekiel 33:11 “Say to them, ‘ As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’”

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Filed under Attributes of God, Christlikeness, Culture Wars, Current Events, Evangelism, Good & Evil, Holy Spirit, Islam, Jesus Christ, Judge, Kingdom Growth, Love, Middle East, Missions/Evangelism, Peace

The Answers for Everything

Two questions: Why did the number of disciples explode in the first three centuries after the establishment of the church on that wondrous Day of Pentecost? And, why isn’t similar growth occurring now? Once we have answered these questions, we will have the answers for everything. So what are the differences between then and now and us and them?  I can think of a few:

1.      They were Holy Spirit motivated and driven. Too many of us are ignorant of the Spirit’s provision, power and His primary legacy: inspired Scripture. It is within these God-breathed words we will find the answers we seek, not in some book on church growth.

2.      They were not building-oriented. We are. We spend millions on structures we mistakenly call “churches” with a “sanctuary” and classrooms. Try finding that in Scripture!  What a classic misappropriation of time, energy and money!

3.      They did not have a “professional class” or clergy. We do. We spend millions on their salaries and benefits. Then we work the hound out of them. This too is alien to Scripture. As Lisa Sells has written,

…the pastor (“preacher” for us restorationists-DW) is expected to both nurture the mature and win the lost through a one-way monologue (i.e., the weekly sermon-DW).  Then through the week the pastor is expected to satisfy member needs for personal love and concern.

“The result is often a membership that watches the pastor try to do all the ministry as well as a pastor that is overextended and skating on the edge of burnout. (Lisa Sells, “Avery Willis’ Last Dream,” Mission Frontiers, USCWM, 1605 E. Elizabeth St., Pasadena, CA 91104, 626-7971111, www.missionfrontiers.org. January-February 2011, p. 9)

4.      They were not assembly-oriented. We are. Assembly has been called, “The Sunday Morning Show.” It has replaced The Great Commission as the focus of our resources and energies.  Assembly an essential part of our Christian walk but it must not become our major focus.  As Steve Smith wrote,

The Great Commission says we are to go, not invite people to come to us.  We must go to where the lost are, and train the new believers to also go to the lost, into factories, homes, shops and neighborhoods (Steve Smith, “Training for Trainers Process,” Mission Frontiers, January-February 2011, p. 11)

5.      They understood what “making disciples” was and how to do it.  We don’t.  They proclaimed the word, lived the gospel, baptized those who came to belief and taught them to observe all that Jesus commanded.  Those disciples made more disciples who could make disciples and multi-level discipling was born.

6.      They knew that their mission was to follow Christ.  We know it too, but we get distracted by stuff that has nothing to do with our primary mission. They didn’t get involved in peripheral diversions.  Since Jesus came to seek, serve and save the lost, they knew that was their job too.  It’s all right there in the Gospels and the Letters.

It is time to dump the ineffective inventions, innovations, diversions and distractions that have gummed up the simple process of seeking, saving and discipling the lost. It is time to stop wringing our hands in despair and to fill those hands with a copy of Scripture.  It is time to quit looking around wondering what to do and to fill our eyes, mind and heart with the teachings and examples of Jesus and the apostles. There we will find what to do. There we will find the answers to everything.

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FAILURE TO PROCLAIM

What a tragedy if we should ever lose the freedom to speak freely!  One of the great things about America and some other Western cultures is the “market place of ideas.”  No matter how weird or wonderful, if you have some concept, some idea, some philosophy…you can talk about it freely.  And, you can freely pursue your philosophy provided it does not intrude upon or injure your fellow-citizen.  It seems that no matter how strange, one can persuade a few others to join in one’s weirdness.

Of course, the results of such freedom are not always comfortable or pretty.  It provides forums for televangelist money-grubbers, cultists, communists, socialists, atheists, republicans, tea-party persons, liberals and anyone else with something to say, advocate, enjoin, advise, recommend or decry, expose, denigrate, criticize, denounce…whatever.

The Tragedy of Silence

But the real tragedy is when Christians fail to take advantage of these freedoms and remain silent.  What if we were as determined to proclaim Christ as Julian Assange is to spill the state beans?  Not even jail could bar us from speaking about Christ.  Gag orders would not gag us.  No magistrate could muzzle us.  We would not be reticent in the face of ridicule.  To all this, we must give the ancient answer: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19,20).

We have, after all, been saved to save others.  We have been liberated to liberate.  We believe, therefor we speak (2 Corinthians 4:13).  We have been made complete in Christ to see every person complete in Him (Colossians 1:28).  We have been chosen to proclaim (1 Peter 2:9).  Silence is not an option.

Find Your Marketplace

It is time for Christians to find their marketplaces and forums and speak of Christ and The Way.  What is your forum brother?  Where is your marketplace sister?  Maybe it is the dinner table, coffee klatch, sewing circle, barbershop, pulpit, blog, letter to the editor, call-in talk show, golf course, coffee shop, ad infinitum.  Maybe it is a neighborhood Bible study.  You say, “No one will listen”?  Then follow Jesus and, while you proclaim, heal, comfort, ease, assist, support, aid, encourage, give and befriend.  Then they will listen.  They listened to Jesus.

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Out of the Ghetto…into the Real World

In his book, The Cultural Church, (20th Century Christian, Nashville, 1992) F. LaGard Smith writes:

The world around us today is not interested in what rituals of worship may or may not be authorized by Scripture.  Most modern Americans have no intention of worshipping God either one way or another.  Nor do they perceive any need for a Savior, because with every advance in moral relativism, they experience even less and less moral guilt.  Many (if not most) do not even understand that they have a soul which is accountable to God.  If they have no soul and commit no sin, what need do they have of a Savior?

If the above is true, what makes us think that we can reach out through more appealing worship rituals? Will people come to realize their need for a Savior because we tell them they need one? Will people become aware of an eternal soul just because we tell them they have one? Not very likely!  And yet, this seems to be our strategy for reaching the lost.  Do you think maybe its time to wake up and smell the coffee?  Hello?  Anybody home?

We can preach, teach, sing, pray and plead until our throat caves in and never touch one with a locked-up heart.  Many people heard Jesus preach but only the ones who had “ears to hear” responded.  Even miracles (I mean the real ones…not the fakery of today) cannot pry open the oyster of self-satisfied or self-righteous hearts.  So where does this leave us?  Only with the example of Jesus.

Jesus did not travel about slapping up tents, doing some advertising, and holding gospel meetings.  His insights on worship had to do with attitude not magnitude. Jesus entered people’s lives. He ate dinner with them.  He partied with them.  He met them on the streets.  He spoke their lingo and used stories they understood.  But, most of all, he loved them and they knew it.  When they heard it in his words and saw it in his deeds, they opened up their hearts to him.  If we will become Jesus to our world, the same thing will happen again.

The day we finally decide to do things Jesus’ way instead of “the way we’ve always done it,” will be the day the true Restoration Movement begins.

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The O’Malley Method

“But Mr. O’Malley, you already drilled five wells on your property and they’ve all been dry.  Why do you keep drilling?”

“I keep drilling, hoping for different results.”

“But isn’t that a waste of money and time?”

“Not if I strike water.”

“But how will that ever happen if you keep doing it the same way?”

“Maybe if I use a different method, drill deeper, use better equipment…maybe then I’ll strike water.”

“Have you thought that all that money and time could be spent on piping water from another well or, maybe, a good rainwater harvesting system?”

“I don’t recall asking for your opinion,” said O’Malley.

So many churches use the “O’Malley Method.”  Just keep doing the same things over and over, hoping for different results.  Our “drilling” is our assembly or, as it is mistakenly called, “The Worship Service.”  It is the method of choice for outreach.  “How do we get them to ‘come to church?’  Oh, I know, let’s make assembly better!  Better singing, exciting sermons, the latest presentation technology, nicer buildings.  Everyone should invite someone to church (assembly).  Okay, I know, it hasn’t worked so far, but maybe we should just try something new…something different.  Let’s have a worship team leading the singing.  Let’s try some dramatic lighting.  Maybe we should get rid of the pulpit and let the preacher wander around.  Maybe he should dress in jeans and polo shirt.

Somehow we have been deceived into thinking that the most important part of Christianity is the assembly.  We focus on what happens when we come together.  It becomes the major event…the “be all and end all.”  Churches fuss about what can and cannot be done in them.  It’s how we judge other churches.  It’s what we divide over.  We measure success by warm bodies in attendance and how much they give in “the offering.”

Here’s the irony: we claim to follow a man who never spoke of an assembly and spent precious little time in them.  Aside from some work in a synagogue or two, he did all his work outside, among the people.  It was not easy or comfortable but it was what he came to do.  He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19) not merely preach to the saved.

If we don’t change our focus from assemblies to following Christ, we are in danger of fading into obscurity.  The church in Australia, America or anywhere else, cannot survive by doing the same ineffective things the same ineffective way and expect effectiveness to magically result.

No one asked for my opinion, but Mr. O’Malley had better change his focus or he will remain dry.  We had better change ours or we will dry up and blow away.

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