Opportunities to share

I am an ordained minister who has a secular job, so it is not unusual for coworkers who have spiritual questions to come to me.  But I learned years ago, long before I was a minster of the gospel, even before I considered going into the ministry, that if you are a Christian who lives out your Christianity, people will come to you with their spiritual questions. I also know that sometimes people have spiritual questions that they don’t really think are such.  Occasionally they think they are just making a joke about the afterlife or telling you about their debaucherous weekend or something like that.  However, it is necessary at all times for Christians to look for opportunities to share the gospel.  Those opportunities are more common than many people suspect, and there is nothing more important for that person than to hear the message.

Let me tell you about one of these opportunities

Recently a coworker made a joke about the weather that was much more than a joke.  His comment went something like this, “Wow it’s hot out there.  I better go to church Sunday.  If hell is supposed to be hotter than this I need to change my ways.”

For him this was a somewhat silly, throwaway comment.  He meant it as a joke - mostly.  But I know, and any believer knows, that there is more to a statement like that than pure jokiness.  It speaks to a knowledge built into all of us that we are incomplete.  A joke like this one is about much more than just the weather.  This is an opportunity to share the gospel.

I’d like for you to take a second and consider how you would have proceeded if presented with an opportunity to witness such as this.  What would you have said next?  Would you have at least recognized it as an opportunity to share the gospel?   Feel free to tell me in the comments how you would have responded.

He was literally walking out the door when he made this comment so I had no opportunity to reply, but the conversation continued with someone else.  I have another post about how this progressed planned for tomorrow.

By the way, if I had the opportunity I would have told him that I believe the Bible and that I actually do believe in hell and that it will be much more miserable than the weather right now.  I believe that this would have definitely led to an opportunity to share the gospel.

I will talk about that tomorrow.

Evangelism and Offense

This post is brought about by reading this.  This is not intended as an interaction with that post.  That post merely started the wheels turning in my mind. First, let me say that I believe the most important duty for a Christian is to evangelize, to make other Christians.  But this post is not even about that command or necessity.  This post is about answering the question, "What is the most loving thing to do?"  This answer would be the same whether you are a Christian or a Jehovah's Witness, or a Mormon or a Wiccan.

Now, to my point.

The fact is, if I deeply hold a belief that is so important as Christian faith, then I am obligated to share it with those whom I love.  I might add here that it is even more important than just life after death.  Faith in Christ and His sacrifice for my sins gives me peace and purpose in this life, as well as a certainty about my future in heaven.  If I knew where people could obtain a million dollars with no strings attached, I would certainly tell my loved ones how to do that.  Why?  Because I love them and it could make their lives better.

I don't really want to be the five millionth blog to post the Penn Jillette video, (click here to see it) but in fact Penn, an atheist, understands the necessity of evangelism better than many of the Christians I know.

Why is it that so many Christians don't share their faith?  I believe that it is a combination of things.  First, I think that many of us don't really think about the gift of salvation as we did when it was new.  Next, I think we don't live with urgency, understanding that life could be over for any of us very soon.  Finally, I think that many of us are so worldly that our thinking is warped.  Survey after survey shows that Christian church-goers deny the truths of the faith.  Not because they don't believe them, but because of the illogical notion that there is no such thing as religious truth.  This post is not about apologetics but I will say this.  If there is any such thing as truth at all, then there is religious truth.  (Everybody believes in truth and they certainly want a banker who believes in truth.)

Another symptom of this worldliness is that we are worried about offending people to whom we witness.  I understand their view, if there is no such thing as religious truth then how dare I hold my view as certain.  Again, I'll say this, if I'm not certain, then why bother?

After saying this let's look at my hypocrisy meter.  Do I get annoyed when the Mormons or Jehovah's witnesses come knocking at my door?  Sure, but I am not offended, and I always pray for them when they leave and I understand why they are there.  I believe that they have a message that is false and ultimately hopeless, but they believe it deeply and are right to share it.

Any religion worth having is worth sharing. Share Christ with someone this week.

Evangelism & Results

Note to all my non Southern Baptist readers: please don’t let all the big words in the first sentence keep you from reading further.

Three weeks ago I spent my days at an Intentionally Evangelistic Church Strategy seminar sponsored my local Baptist Association. In it, we focused on the need for our churches to be more intentionally evangelistic. In other words, we need to learn to make whatever we do as a church be focused on sharing the message of the gospel.

This seminar obviously got me thinking about my own witnessing habits and the effectiveness of my own ministry. I used to make this comment somewhat regularly:

“I always hear about all these churches that don’t baptize anybody and I can’t even imagine that. I’ve been in ministry since 1997, in nothing but small churches, and I’ve never gone a year without someone in my youth ministry being saved.”

It’s true. I have never gone a calendar year without anyone in my youth group getting saved.

So what brought about this post. No one in my youth group has come to Christ since July 2007. I have been blessed to lead two people through the sinner’s prayer in that same period, and I am thankful to God for that privilege. However, I consider it my main calling to work toward the spiritual growth of the students in my youth ministry. (There are some students who do not know Jesus there.) You can see why this is troubling for me.

I do share the gospel regularly, I do pray regularly for my students, and I understand that being faithful with the gospel is not equal to leading others to Christ. As they say we have to love fishing, not catching. I have this fear that students (not necessarily the ones in my ministry) do not think that being a believer matters, that, since it doesn’t affect the behavior of their [Christian?] friends, it’s not important to live differently from unbelievers. Therefore the message is compromised if not completely undercut. I do know this, the best thing that ever happened to me was asking Jesus to save me from my sins and be my Lord.

I’m not really sure why I wrote this post, maybe it should be a prayer request, maybe it is just me venting, or maybe it is time for some serious questioning the of way I do things. Sometimes I post things that I should probably keep to myself.

News That Bothers Me

I saw this news story today:

NASHVILLE, Tenn., 4/23/08 -- The number of people baptized in Southern Baptist churches fell for the third straight year in 2007 to the denomination’s lowest level since 1987. Although the SBC added 473 new churches and gave more than $1.3 billion to support mission activities around the world, there’s no escaping the disappointing fact that Southern Baptists are not reaching as many people for Christ as they once did, according to Thom S. Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, which gathered the information on the denomination’s behalf…Read the rest of this press release here.

I don’t know if I have anything interesting to say on this subject and I’m sure I have nothing new to say. But I do want to get some thoughts out there. And thank you for reading.

I love the Southern Baptist Convention. I love my church. And when I see news like this I want to cry.

I know that the SBC is not equal to the church. And I know that Jesus didn't say, "Upon this rock I will build my denomination." I also know that there are many good churches of other stripes, but this feels like a kick in the teeth. I’ll restate it. The churches of the SBC baptized fewer people for the third straight year.

Without getting into why I am a Southern Baptist or analyzing lots of potential problems (others will do a great job of that), here is what I see. The tragedy is that we are officially now losing the war for souls. More church members are reaching less people. Which means, simply put, more people will die and spend forever in hell.

I also know that the problem cannot be fixed on a national level or with better leaders. Nobody could do a better job calling for revival in evangelism than Frank Page or Bobby Welch. It must be fixed by individual Christians. Take this test.

  • Do I know somebody who doesn’t know Jesus?
  • Do I know somebody who doesn’t know Jesus that I haven’t witnessed to?
  • Do I love this person?

If you answered yes to these questions, you are officially part of the reason for this news story. I have been deeply convicted lately that I don’t witness enough. And I wanted to share.

BTW: If you are reading this and don’t know Jesus please read here or here

Feel free to comment.