A Helpful but Humbling Idea

The little blue box immediately caught my attention  For starters, it was laying on top of my stack of mail (an observant lad am I).  🙂  Secondly, it was from a publisher I recognized.  Beyond that, however, was the title on the side of the box that was somewhat catchy:  “#Who’sYour1?”  In less than 2 seconds or so, I knew what it was, who sent it, and why they had done so.  Our Southern Baptist Convention had sent out something to help spur evangelism in our churches in North America.  Not bad for 2 measly seconds!  🙂  After I took a quick breath, I had to gather my thoughts in a pastoral way.  Was I about to look at a kit that “promised” souls going to heaven?  Was I about to look at another approach that seemed to have a magical missing element that has evaded Christendom for centuries?  Had someone somehow captured spiritual “lightning in a bottle?” Over the years, countless books, boxes, and various CDs of software have all but offered money back guarantees in the soul-winning realm if I would participate and follow the included instructions.  To be totally honest, after you have been a pastor for a while, you cannot help but be a little skeptical when something new comes and it seems to be the “rage” of the day.  Modern church history has seen several programs come and go that initially seemed eternal in scope…but lost momentum as time progressed.

Perhaps this is the perfect time to address the elephant in the room as far as I’m concerned.  Since when did the church need programs to tell the world about Jesus?  The Bible presents evangelism as part of the blood flow for those who have been born again.  In short, it should be as natural as breathing.  Disciples of Jesus follow and listen to Jesus.  The Great Commission was not given to a handful of Super-Saints…but to all of Christ’s disciples.  As American churches took shape over the years, programs for just about every area of church life were developed.  In time we all became those who needed a program to tell us what to do.  Sadly, evangelism began to “need” a program to make it go.  Soon, churches began “shopping” for just the right program to help them be more evangelistic.  When visible results began to appear, it was the program that got all the press.  Pastors and church members would talk about how “it” worked.  And if you were not knee deep in the latest program…then something was wrong with you…or so it sounded.  Pastors and church leaders began to look like walking billboards for these for the latest program  Hard to imagine how salvation and evangelism could even be discussed apart from the work of God in Christ.  Many lost sight of the grand gift of God’s grace as found in the atoning work of Jesus Christ dying on a cross and then raised to life.  Everything seemed to suggest that just the right program could win the lost, grow the church, and turn the tide of American Christianity.

Of course, this whole discussion has a weight to it that is painfully real.  According to available statistics, an unhealthy percentage of American churches have either plateaued in attendance or are in decline.  Pastors and most church members are more than acquainted with the marching orders Jesus left for the church.  Jesus said that His disciples (then and now) are to go into all the world and make disciples.  In addition, He promised that He would always be with us as we did so.  This was Jesus’ way of encouraging us to do what He has asked us to do.  Yet despite such a memorable promise from Jesus, evangelism in the modern church is a struggle…especially in light of America’s past history.  Over the years I have seen and read countless takes on the many professing Christians who will never…not even once…share their faith with another person.  It would seem the call to evangelize must be for the zealous few and not for the run-of-the-mill everyday believer…but that runs counter to Scripture…so keep reading.

Back to the little blue box for a minute…I was extremely surprised and grateful when I began sifting through the enclosed material.  This was not a program at all.  The box was not stuffed with facts concerning the pitiful spiritual state of lost people in America.  Nor did it contain promises of return in percentage points…and there was no money-back guarantee.  In fact, the box/kit was free…totally.  The safest thing to call it would be a helpful, yet humbling idea.  A flash drive with 5 sermons covering the basics of our faith, a prayer guide, and an encouraging approach reminding us of the calling on our lives to be disciples was all the box contained. The gist is simple:  Every Christian is to think of one person in his or her life who is not a Christian and/or unchurched.  As you begin to pray for this person, you are also to ask God to give you strength and courage as you INTENTIONALLY try to witness to the “One” that’s on your heart.  In short, you focus…you get back to the core of being a disciple…a follower of Christ.  The material is humbling in that it’s a tremendous wake-up call to something so straightforward in Scripture.  The material is also helpful in that it reminds us all of the calling on our lives to be “disciples”…and not merely “Christians” who ignore some of the most basic instructions from Jesus.

Over the past 5 weeks, I have preached at least parts of the sermons sent to help me and other pastors as we go back to the basics of telling the world about Jesus.  We all know people who are not Christians and/or not in church.  Start with one…a family member, a friend, a co-worker, a neighbor…care for this one…think about eternity…and what’s at stake.  Ask God for courage to be His disciple.  By God’s grace, I have “two” on my heart that I am intentionally trying to reach outside the doors of our church.  May God help us to be faithful to the task at hand.  A Christian who is not concerned about lost people might just not be a Christian at all.

In light of this blessed week…I close with a hearty and sincere “Happy Thanksgiving.”  Oh…and I also have a question for you…

WHO’S YOUR ONE?

Blessings to all!  Thank You Monticello!!  🙂

 

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