Friday, June 03, 2016

Discussion Starters: Evangelism involves

The evangelism involves discussion starters can be used as a bulletin or newsletter insert, discussion starter for meetings, life groups or other gatherings.

Evangelism – What the unchurched say about the church.
1. Most of the unchurched prefer to attend church on Sunday morning if they attend.
2. Most of the unchurched feel guilty about not attending church.
3. Ninety-six percent of the unchurched are at least somewhat likely to attend church if they are invited.
4. Very few of the unchurched had someone share with them how to become a Christian.
5. Most of the unchurched have a positive view of pastors, ministers and the church.
6. Many of the unchurched have a church background.
7. Some types of “cold calls” are effective; many are not.
8. The unchurched would like to develop a real and sincere relationship with a Christian.
9. The attitudes of the unchurched are not related to where they live, their ethnic or racial background, or gender differences.
10. Many of the unchurched are far more concerned about the spiritual well-being of their children than themselves.
From Surprising insights into the unchurched and proven ways to reach them…Thom Rainer

Evangelism – why it is essential
1. The gospel is God’s chief instrument for saving people (Rom. 10:14; 1 Cor. 1:21–24.
2. It is an issue of obedience to Christ (Luke 24:47). We have the privilege to stand in God’s stead and urge people to be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:18–20).
3. Those who are not in a relationship with Jesus are considered lost and are in critical and urgent danger.
4. Speaking to people about Jesus and His Good News helps people see that they have a crisis and encourages them to take action. When we speak to people about Jesus and the Good News of the Bible, an atmosphere exists in which the Holy Spirit will be at work, affecting people.
5. People, including you get to see the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit through changed lives.
6. Evangelism energizes the church and the community.

7. Evangelism not only affects those being evangelised it also affects those evangelising. They get to review the keys to faith, encourage others and are reminded that God is still active.

Evangelism – requires regularly taking notice of God’s presence
For us to be effective in evangelism we need to rely on God’s presence…as evangelism involves reflecting who God is to others….
And the truth is, if we believe scripture, God is present all the time and everywhere (remember Jesus saying I am with you always, even to the end of the age Matthew 28:20).
So our problem is not that God is only present some of the time…our problem is we don’t always recognise and take notice of God’s presence. There are many things in our life trying to grab our attention, some are definitely from God, others we are not quite sure about and some are definitely trying to distract us from taking notice of God and how He is calling us to live, see the world and act.
This means every day and every week we need to be intentional in recognising that God is present. The clearest ways to do this is when we engage in activities that involve us connecting with scripture and us hearing how God is calling us to live lives of loving him and loving others in the world God has placed us in.
Take some time to think about how you are recognising God’s presence in your life…..and as you live in God’s presence…what is God revealing about himself to you….

Evangelism – at some point sin needs to be raised
Very few people like mentioning the S word…..sin. Often we skirt around the issue so we don’t put people off or offend people. But the reality is for any of us to grasp the depth and importance of what Jesus offers and has done for us….sin needs to be brought into our discussions as we evangelise. Listen to 1 John 1:5-10
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
But raising the issue of sin can be challenging…
One way to raise it is to begin with your own story of where you have fallen short of God’s glory, and despite this (Romans 5:1-11). Then ask is there anything they believe God wouldn’t be happy about that is part of your life…and then explore with that person if that is a sin or nor…
Another way to approach the issue is to talk about the Ten Commandments using Luther’s Small Catechism and Jesus’ Greatest Commandment (see Matthew 22:36-40) and ask which of these areas do you struggle with….Some people say, imagine if God had a full feature length movie of every second of your entire life…which parts would you want edited out…
It is important to remember that raising the sin issue, is not about shaming or embarrassing people….but about helping people recognise not only that they need Jesus but helping them see how much they need Jesus…

Evangelism – happens when we are thankful to God
When we struggle to evangelise or be generous, God through St Paul encourages us to remember how much He has done for us, and that what God has done for us is not the result of some form of karma or the result of Him repaying us for our actions…but as we discover in Romans 5:8 ‘But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ Every day of your life take time to remember and reflect that your place in God’s family and what you have are true gifts from God. Then responding by being thankful to God by being generous to others. Why is this important, well God writing through St Paul in writing to the church in Corinth says:
This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. (2 Co 9:12–13)
We are encouraged to express our thankfulness to God by being generous with others, as this helps them see, experience and understand the love of God.

Evangelism – evangelising to people in need
As Christians we have a couple of significant callings….one is to preach the Gospel to all nations (Matthew 28:19-20) and the other is to love and care for people (see Galatians 6:2 and Proverbs 21:13). But a question is often asked, can the two work together or do they have to be separate, i.e. when we care for people we should not be evangelising or when we are evangelising we should not be physically caring for others. Unfortunately, some Christians have adopted a modern secular approach to this issue and they completely separate the two. This does not appear to biblical or healthy….for instance Jesus says Others will know you are my disciples if you love one another. Also remember not just our words, but also our actions communicate God’s love, and back up what we share through our mouth. This is what God says through the Epistle of James, What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? James 2:14-16
So evangelising to people in need involves both sharing God’s Good News verbally and helping them physically (which is showing God’s love)….and we should remember that it is our job to be faithful in doing both…and leave God to use what we do and what others have said and done to change and convert hearts.

Evangelism – evangelising to atheists and agnostics.
It is likely that you know an atheist or agnostic or two. An atheist is convinced there is no god of any description, whilst an agnostic is at best uncertain whether a god exists and believes it is impossible to know whether God exists or not. For many years’ atheists and agnostics hid their ‘beliefs’ or position, however recently it has become trendy for people to acknowledge they are either an atheist or an agnostic. When it comes to a census, particularly in Western Countries, the fastest growing category is no religion. To understand how to evangelise to atheists and agnostics it is important to remember the following:
Each person who claims to be an atheist or agnostic has a story to tell, and remember their stories will be different. Some have come to their position as a result of experiences with the church or particular people, some through their reading of the bible, some through studies of other atheists, some through their desires to impress particular people, some because they see religion and being intelligent as incompatible, some as a result of bad experiences…..and the list continues.
It is essential to listen, then listen again to their stories….to have a better chance in sharing God’s good news….
As you listen, look for opportunities to bring God’s real perspective, the Gospel, into their stories…. remembering the words of 1 Peter 3:15, Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
Two common understandings (but not always the case) is that many atheists and agnostics:
1.   have a very negative view of God. They see Him as dictator, the God of rules and one who is not about love but war and fighting, the one who punishes, etc.
2.  they primarily see God as failing humans on this earth, in that he allows or even causes suffering and problems.
What is often missing from their stories is the Gospel, they have often overlooked God’s love that is shown through Jesus Christ. So a good starting point in evangelising is to share and highlight some of the love statements and stories of Jesus.

Evangelism – involves you becoming Christ like.
One of the themes of scriptures is that we are called to become like Christ;
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Philippians 2:5
Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. 1 John 2:6
For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 2 Corinthians 2:15
And to become Christ like we need to allow the stories to resonate in our life.
Take time to read the stories of Jesus, as you do think about what is the attitude of Jesus and what does he does?
Then think about
How do you match up to Jesus?
What in your life needs to change?

Evangelism – REACH…a way to evangelise
R = Relating to others in Love
Remember the Gospel is personal, look at those you are already relating to, practice unconditional love in your current relationships and use your unique personality
E = Exploring the Spiritual Journey
The Gospel requires you to talk, but not just tell also ask questions and then listen to discover where people are on their Spiritual journey. As you listen to people, look for opportunities to share God’s Good News.
A = Asking People to the Party
Be invitational, ask people to come and see. Invite them to your small group or life group (if you are not part of one, join one as small groups have proven to have a big impact). Then look at connecting the people you invite to others.
C = Communicating the Positive
Be interested in other people’s worldviews and also express your own worldview (it matters). Communicate clearly that no matter what happens that you have a bright future. Be positive and real in your discussions with others, by connecting the dots of faith.
H = Helping in Tangible Ways
Foundational to faith is that Jesus modelled service. He had compassion on people, even people who got themselves into their own mess. Serve people in meaningful ways and as you serve people develop relationships with them.

Evangelism – is about a change of direction
Has there ever been a point or event in your life that has been so significant it has changed the course of your life? Maybe the day you first met your spouse? Perhaps it was the meeting of someone else, that lead you on a different path in life. It could have been a specific event. Maybe it was a sermon or devotion that started to change your thinking. Perhaps it was hearing the story of someone that impacted you.
As Christians we have all been impacted by the events of Easter….Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection. The Easter events have a very significant meaning for us…they change our lives….The most important change that occurs are because of the actions of Jesus at Easter…..
no longer does our life stop at death….but we have new life with God forever….
no longer are we defined by our sins….but even these are part of our life…..God doesn’t see us as sinners but as His children who are forgiven…..
no longer are we destined for a life of eternal hell or life away from God…but for eternal life with God and a life of enjoying heaven.
As part of a disciple who evangelises our calling is to help people know about this new direction that God has created….

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