Many Christians have not even led one soul to a Christ! Even if they have, a huge number of “new converts” abandon Christ soon after. There’s all kinds of reasons for this and I’m not going to open that can of worms. I just want to challenge you in 4 areas. We’re quick to skip these things. But that’s like building your house without a foundation.
This isn’t about techniques either. Techniques are a dime a dozen. Any old technique under the power and leading of the Holy Spirit will be successful. How many different ways did Jesus heal the sick? It seemed different all the time. Get my drift? Leave “technique” up to the Holy Spirit. In this two part series I’m going to practically and Biblically show you some grass-roots and uncomplicated principles that will get you out there. You’ll make a real impact for the Kingdom of God and put a smile on Jesus’ face.
A disciple of Jesus, makes other disciples. Its woven into the very DNA of what it means to be a disciple. To be a disciple of Jesus means you multiply. Agreed? Ok, Good.
So there you are at the doorstep of your community, neighborhood or workplace. Your call is clear: to make disciples of all nations. So where to begin? Well, before you presume to reach your community you need to examine yourself first.
Do you have a genuine love and compassion for your community, neighborhood or workplace? If you don’t I’d suggest you begin by praying for them. Ask God to be filled with his love for them. Otherwise, you’ll just be a “resounding gong.” There’s a lot of people that like play the martyr and quit when they get rejected. But the real reason they were rejected was because they didn’t really care and the people knew it. Trust me, the gospel is abrasive enough as it is to a sinner’s conscience! If your going to tell people that they’re sinners, you don’t need to be a cold hearted too! Think about it, what do you do when someone confronts you? Usually, I like to complain to my friends about “how rudely that person confronted me.” I like to avoid the fact that they actually had a valid point and dismiss the truth because of how it was dished to me. Don’t give people that excuse. Sure, love can be tough. Sure, it can be abrupt. There are times for that. But it’s still love and if you do it right, they’ll see your deep concern for them.
Too many church BBQ’s, community days, and door to door campaigns are done with a pretentious “project mentality.” Often intitiatives like these become more about “US doing something for “those people” then dusting off our hands and patting ourselves on the back for our “mission of mercy.” This is pointless, selfish and detrimental to the gospel.
Listen, most people in your community are already skeptical of the church. They are hyper-sensitive to even the slightest waft of sneaky unspoken motives.
NO bait and switch schemes…yes churches to it! It makes me sick and embarrassed, but its a classic case of cold hearted outreach. It goes like this: On a church sign: “Free draw for an iPad Mini! ! Come, to our community day.” Of course, the draw takes place at the end of the day after a nice hefty mini-sermon. It makes me feel dirty! Don’t think that people can’t smell this stuff a mile off. They don’t want Jesus, they didn’t come for a sermon! They want the iPad mini! We’re playing to their fleshly consumeristic appetites(the bait) then trying to slide Jesus in there (the switch). What schmuck! We’re supposed to be calling people to lose themselves for Christ, not gain something for themselves. God pity us.
Unless, God by his grace, works in-spite of our bungling, the lost will go away saying, “I knew those sneaky christians were up to something! They tricked me into their sales pitch!” For goodness sake be genuine! Love the people and don’t hide your concern for the their soul. At least people will respect you for it whether they reject you or not. No sneaky stuff. I mean, what if Jesus had advertised a healing meeting, got a huge crowd, preached for 3 hours and than healed one lucky raffle contestant. Yeah, not likely! Quite the opposite actually. Jesus didn’t make following him easy! Whew…sorry, little rant there.
By the way, if your church does do outreach events, be sure your people have a genuine love for their community. If they aren’t willing to invest themselves in a new relationship with someone as a result of it in then don’t bother. Its better to start something smaller with the fewer folks who truly love the people.
2. ARE YOUR MOTIVES RIGHT?
This is extremely important. It colours how you present the gospel to your community. Why do you want to reach them anyway? What do I mean? Well, let’s say you’re motivated because you don’t want to see these poor folks suffer eternally in hell after such miserable existence on earth.
If that is your main motivation, you’ve missed the mark. It’s humanism! Let me explain. Humanism says,“the all life is the happiness of man.” A humanistic christian simply modifies this philosophy by inserting it into the Gospel so that what you get is: “The purpose of Christianity is to make sure people are happy after they die.” You know what this is? Its simply using the provisions of Jesus as a selfish means to our end! As Paris Reidhead said, “Its the betrayal of the ages!”
True Christianity says ” the purpose of life is to bring glory to God.” If you share the gospel on any other premise you will raise up disciples who are all wrapped up with themselves, defeated by sin, depressed and quarrelsome. They will fight about music. They’ll leave churches because they “aren’t getting anything out of it.” They’ll get angry and offended when someone calls them out on their sin. See what I’m saying? Its not what you are going to get out of God. Its what God is going to get out of you. This is a primary reason for stagnation in churches!
Folks, this is so important! Your motive to reach your community must be to glorify God! This is the precedent and DNA that you have to bake into new disciples from the very outset. And, if you think about it, it takes a lot of weight off you. If the people reject the message that they are sinners, have offended God and need salvation, God is still glorified. You haven’t failed. Your success is not measured by the number of positive responses. Your success is measured by whether you fully obeyed and served your King: Jehovah God. This is your act of worship.
Remember Isaiah? He was told by God from the very outset that his mission would be a failure! God told him to go and preach to a people who would not listen(Isaiah 6). Isaiah didn’t say “Oh great! Thanks God!” Instead he asked God, “How long?” The answer came, “until the cities lay in ruins.” Are you ready to go until the “cities lay in ruins?” Are you ready to take it to the end game?
Your motive should be to see Christ glorified so that “he receives the reward of his suffering. “ -the Moravian missionary call.
“Does Christ not deserve those for whom he died?” –Paris Reidhead
(For more on this go to the Shattering Sermons section and listen to Paris Reidhead’s 10 Shekels and Shirt)
Are you filled with the Spirit? There is nothing more pathetic than a half-filled person straining unsuccessfully to do what a Spirit-filled person does abundantly and naturally. There is a reason that Jesus never entered public ministry until the Spirit of God came upon him. I can tell you by experience that God brings opportunities galore to those who are filled with the Spirit, but strips away opportunities left and right from those who are walking in the flesh. I’ve been on both sides of this one. It makes sense. If I find myself complaining that “I don’t seem to be having any opportunities to share Christ.” I can usually trace it to the fact that God has sidelined me on account of me walking in the flesh. If you find yourself in the same place. Take a careful look at yourself here.
Lets say you have two employees but only one is competent. You know, a real natural. The other is a bumbling idiot. Which one would you give the critical tasks to? It’s not rocket science is it? Before you ever go and visit that neighbour, or have that co-worker over for a BBQ…be sure that the Spirit of God is upon you. Insist on it.
“Be filled with the Holy Spirit” is a command not an option(Eph 2:8, Gal 5:16). If you are not filled with the Holy Spirit your are walking in disobedience. You will bungle ministry and fall into sin. The only reason God, by his grace might use your fleshly efforts, is because He has pity on the poor people you are trying to reach. In other words, God will do his work despite you getting in the way! If you need some guidance with this I’ve written a couple articles to get you going on the right track: “How to be Fill with the Spirit..” and “Imitation Oil”
4 HAVE YOU PREPARED THE GROUND?
“God doesn’t answer prayer. He answers desperate prayer.” -Leonard Ravenhill
As I mentioned at the beginning. If you’re struggling to love your community. Start praying for your community and individuals in it. As God plants love deep in your heart. Your prayers will turn to groans. Your groans will turn to tears. You will begin to take hold of God in desperation on their behalf and for His Glory. These are the prayers that God answers.
A couple years ago a friend and I were led to pray for a particular group of students at a college. We began walking around their dorm in the evenings praying for breakthrough with them. As our prayers rose, so did our passion for them. As our prayers became more desperate, God began opening incredible opportunities left and right. Opportunities “out of the blue.” So start praying now. Prepare the ground.
Rees Howells was an amazing practical example of intercession. Read about how Rees prayed a woman to Christ without ever speaking a word to her himself! Amazing stuff.
In PART 2 we’ll talk about how the rubber hits the road and how to meet and engage folks so stay tuned.