Monday, May 24, 2010

What is your church doing to reach the lost?

As an evangelist, I have two roles. My first role is to tell people about Jesus, to preach the Gospel, to be a soul winner. But my second role as an evangelist is just as important.

In addition to evangelizing the lost, I am also called to equip believers for evangelism. According to Ephesians 4:11, the five-fold ministry gifts are given for “the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry.” In my blog today I want to give you an idea on how your local church members can be involved in reaching out to your community.

This past Saturday I participated in a local church outreach in Glenpool, OK with First Grace Church. The church is small, about one hundred members. Glenpool is a city of 12,000 people so the church feels it does not have the resources to do an outreach to the entire city, but they chose a particular neighborhood of about 150 home to focus on.

The church rented Jupiter Jumps and a popcorn machine, someone donated hotdogs, they invited a clown to make balloons, and they did face painting. They also did a drawing for a $300 pre-paid visa card in order to attract adults. The church members spread out into the community and invited people to come for a free hotdog. Of the 70 people who came around 25 people got saved! On Sunday morning, 8 people from the community came to church. At least two new families will start attending the church. For a church of this size, this was a very successful evangelistic outreach.

Below you can watch a video to see what happened.

Every church should give their congregation opportunities to reach out to those who are lost. Not every member of your church is called to be an evangelist, but every member of your church can be involved in evangelism. By scheduling regular outreaches your church members can have an outlet for their ministry gifts. Whether they participate by cooking hotdogs, knocking on doors, playing music, or just hugging people, every person in the church, from the young to the old, can help win the lost to Christ.

I want to hear from you. What is your church doing to reach out to the lost? What methods have you found to be effective for evangelism? Is there a needy community near your church that you could adopt?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Turn Your Swords into Plowshares

How are you using your words? Are you using your words to attack people or to build God’s kingdom. Words are important because they can be used for either good or for harm.

I am harvest focused. My passion is for souls. But recently, I was attacked on the blog of a self-appointed church watchdog. With his words, the blogger assailed me. He tore my ministry down. He questioned my integrity, my motives, my theology. The worst part of the assault was his misuse of Scripture to beat me up.

He used his words and God’s word as a sharp sword to cut me to pieces. After I finished reading his four thousand-word diatribe, I felt like a flayed fish, cut to pieces and laid out on a sizzling frying pan to cook. I am a big boy, I can handle the criticism, but my story illustrates an important point.

All too often, some people in the church use their words to cut others down, to attack, to injure, to hurt, to curse their brothers and sisters. In a misguided passion for truth, they even use God’s Word as a dangerous weapon to put down other believers.

The Word of God is like a sword. But it is designed to be used to attack Satan, not your brothers. Christians need to stop stabbing other Christians in the back and use their weapon for its proper purpose.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter took out his sword and cut off the ear of Malchus, the servant of the high priest. Jesus bent down into the dirt, picked the ear up, and miraculously reattached it. All too often, preachers have wounded and maimed people with their insensitive, sword-wielding way of preaching of the word of God. When preachers use their words as swords, they metaphorically cut off the ears of the people they are attacking. With their spiritual ears cut off, these people become unable to hear what the Spirit is saying.

This is what happened to the religious leaders in Jerusalem. Right before he was stoned, Stephen accused them of being stubborn and uncircumcised in both heart and ears (Acts 7:51). The Pharisees and Sadducees had so much political infighting that their spiritual ears were deafened and they failed to recognize the Messiah they were waiting for.

While churches are busy attacking other churches and denominations, there is a world full of people who are going to hell. Dying humanity is crying out for help. Will the church hear their plea?

The prophet Micah prophesized that in the last days nations would beat their swords into plowshares (Micah 4:3). What was once used for war would be turned into a tool for bringing in the harvest. It is time to beat our swords into plowshares. Rather then using God’s word as a weapon for attacking others, we should use our words to encourage others to go after the harvest.

Jesus is coming soon. We need to make every second count for God. I believe the greatest harvest of souls in history will happen in the next few years. More people will be saved in the next decade then were saved in the first two thousand years of church history.

But, in order for this great harvest of souls to take place, we must stop using our words to attack each other. Instead, we must use our words to encourage one another to go after the harvest. Our words can be used either as a weapon of war or as a tool for bringing in a harvest of souls.

How will you use your words?