Cookie Cutters Work on Dough, not People

After all the ingredients have been measured correctly and blended together, and the dough is rolled out evenly, a cookie cutter becomes the natural tool to employ.   But the spiritual journey of a friend can’t be shaped like cookie dough or cut into cute shapes.  We’re too different for that.

Frank Viola, in his post, Rethinking How We Present the Gospel, shares at length how we can still be effective in God’s ‘kitchen’ by recognizing the differences in the people he brings into our lives.  After you’ve had a chance to read it, come back and share which of the five points near the end of the article was most impactful to you.

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Good Ol’ Joe’s – Don’t Blame Me

In a very real way, we are blameless before God because of Christ’s work on the cross and our faith in his death on our behalf.  But in a day to day practical way, “blamelessness is a verdict reached by those who observe a life and compare it to a standard.  Such a person or group has credibility, the first essential for effective evangelism.  We must be good news before we share it.” (Joe Aldrich, Lifestyle Evangelism)

Of course the standard we live by must be worthy of the God we serve, but when it is, we become, as Joe Aldrich says so well, good news.

We’re not blameless though in our daily lives; at least I’m not.  And we shouldn’t try and make people think we’re something we aren’t.  They’ll know anyway and then they can add hypocrite to our other failures.

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Catch a Fever

Sick ChildWe usually think of having a fever as a bad thing, but when it comes to loving our neighbor by sharing our faith, we don’t want the ‘fever’ to subside.

Ways to Catch a Fever

According to Lee Strobel in his book, Inside the Mind of Unchurched Harry and Mary, “…I take some time to review in depth what my life was like before I met Jesus.  Though I was undeserving, He rescued me from a life of irrelevancy and an eternity of despair.”

Thinking of how gracious God has been helps Lee renew his desire to see friends and family come to faith in Christ.  How about you?  What will you review about God’s grace in your life if your enthusiasm toward evangelism ever starts to wane?

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Right Tools for the Task – Part 3

We've Got the Power

We’ve Got the Power

Some say the best tools are power driven and I think that’s true with evangelism. We have the gospel, which is God’s power for the salvation of everyone who believes (Romans 1:16), and we have have the power God granted us when he saved us, which is the same power “as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead…” (Ephesians 1:19-20)

Another great power source is wisdom.  You don’t have learn how to evangelize the hard way by making all the mistakes.  You can gather information from people and organizations that God is using to equip his people to share their faith.  You’ve learned about some of those ‘partners’ by reading our posts and we’d like to share another one with you.

Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

They have developed tons of resources such as, the gospel onlinearticles about sharing your faith, and even a music video painting the gospel in graffiti.   Check out their other resources or let us know what ‘power’ God has given you to share the gospel, but don’t venture into sharing land without God’s power close at hand.

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Everyday Eisenman’s – Common Situations

Everyday EvangelismWhat would happen if you and I were living like Christ in today’s culture?  “Hundreds, even thousands of Christians take defective merchandise back to stores every day.  What would happen if in each case the store clerks and managers were treated with extraordinary kindness and understanding?  And this is just one small example of how Christians might take advantage of a common situation in contemporary culture to step into the lives of others with the love of Christ.” (Tom L. Eisenman, Everyday Evangelism)

You know, we’re not obligated to be angry when we return a product to the store or  show our frustration and be abusive to the person waiting on us.  But it’s more than that, according to Tom Eisenman.  It’s about being loving and full of grace, and if you’re like me, there are times when I can’t even readily identify what an act of grace would look like it these types of encounters.

With the number of interactions we each have in a world that needs to see Christ’s love, it’s pretty obvious that we have many opportunities to be salt and light and love to a needy world.  Are we?

What types of situations can you think of where Christians could be extraordinarily kind and understanding?  Did you interact with the someone in the world recently who could have benefited by you having that attitude?

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Do You Know Where They Live

“It may seem obvious, but even a great messenger can deliver mail only if he or she as an address that clearly identifies where the intended recipient lives.  So the challenge that precedes all effective evangelism is identifying the ‘spiritual addresses’ of the people we want to reach.” (Irresistible Evangelism; Steve Sjogren, Dave Ping, and Doug Pollock)

One common way to get someone’s address is to ASK them.  As you reach out in love to people, don’t you want to find out as much as you can about them?  What do they do for fun?  How did they happen to move to the home their in?  What are their hopes?  Do they have any spiritual interests?

Watch, listen, ask questions, listen some more…all traits of a loving, caring person.  That’s you and me, right?

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Little’s Bits – Heart-to-Heart Communications

“…it is our own personal involvement with others as individuals that deepens our understanding of them most significantly.  As we direct our witnessing to a person who we are learning to know and “feel for,” a mere presentation of head knowledge will be transformed into heart-to-heart communication.” (Paul Little, How to Give Away Your Faith)

Drop a hand grenade of knowledge at someone or reach out a hand of love and meet their need…which will show off Christ best?

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Share Some, Learn Lots

With the title, “How to Talk about Jesus without Freaking Out”, you’d expect a book to be about evangelism, and you’d be right.  Jim & Karen Covell and Victorya Michaels Rogers wrote this encouraging book and many of the things they said grabbed me.  Here’s one…

“One little verse in the Bible has changed our whole perspective on how to live out our Christian faith as effective messengers of truth.

I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ (Philemon 6 NIV)

How do we experience all the good things that the Lord has to offer and live a life that bears ripe fruit?  We talk about Jesus!”

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Boldly Barna – Our Role in Evangelism

Listen and listen closely…this has meant as much to me as nearly any other teaching on evangelism.

“The evangelizer plays a role in the conversion process but will not be held accountable for the choice made by those who hear the gospel.”

So says George Barna (Evangelism that Works) and some would say so what?  Here’s what struck me about that idea when I first encountered it.

My faith in Christ’s death on the cross has saved me and I will be with him forever when I die.  That’s something I want to tell my friends about.  But if I knew that the eternal destiny of someone depended on the quality of my evangelism, I’m afraid I would remain silent.  That type of failure is not something I could deal with.

But that’s not the situation at all.  It’s God’s responsibility to bring them to faith; our only task is to tell the story in love and make sure we explained it clearly.  Now that’s a task I can get excited about.

What about you?

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The Core of Evangelism

It helps to be reminded that evangelism is not so much about us, but about God working in and through us to reach those he wants to rescue.  As John Bowen so succinctly say in Evangelism for “Normal” People, “Evangelism at its core is God coming after us, even at our very worst, to invite us to come home.”

If that encourages you, would you share it with a friend?

 

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