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Archive for the tag “evangelism”

Evangelism in the Dominican Republic: Day 3

The last night of day 2 and today we had some down time. We were originally supposed to meet with the superintendent for the Assemblies of God for the several countries, but that fell through at the last minute.

We started by going to get our COVID test to determine if we would even be able to come home or if we would have to book a few extra days here. Thankfully, all of us tested negative. A little side note. DR has a very high rate of COVID. In many of the Caribbean and Central American countries, people are dying at an alarming rate. We had the regional admin for Latin America for Oasis with us. She lives in El Salvador. She said that almost every week another one of her pastors is dying of COVID. Frankly, I don’t care where anyone falls on the political spectrum. But it is important to know that when we begin to meet people who have lost many friends or family to COVID, we can’t look at that as a political issue. We need to look at those people in the same way Jesus does, with tears for their pain. If we politicize other people’s pain, then we are no better than the politicians we are trying to speak against. Remember…

Ephesians 6:12 – For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Our battle is against our spiritual enemy and his demons. That includes those aspects that rule us, such as our pride, arrogance, and bitterness against authority that leads us to sin. As Christians, we need to learn to control our own selves instead of seeking to control others or governments or even other denominations. Something about taking the log out of our own eye first.

Matthew 7:5 – You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

One final note about this. Health care in other countries is not as strong as it is in America. If we think, with our American eyes, that simply telling everyone around the world to live healthier lives, take supplements, and just be smart about how we interact with others, then we are more focused on our nationality as an American than we are in seeing those around the world as brothers and sisters in Christ or even as seeing them as those who are made in God’s image. Other countries don’t have the comforts of our rich lives that we do. Even here in Dominican Republic, where it is a fairly rich country, there is a wide chasm between what “rich” would look like in America and what it looks like in the DR.

Something I preached on yesterday continues to ring true to me. I preached through 1 Thessalonians 3:1-8 yesterday as we ended our gathering. I was speaking on how we can improve our ability to show compassion to others as we evangelize. And this led me to share with everyone that the people who are most open to truly receiving the Gospel are those who realize that they are missing something in their life. Yes, they could be poor or sick or lonely and that becomes the impetus for opening a pathway to God. But, just as much, they could be rich and just as lonely. They could be rich and just as sick. They could realize that even while they have more wealth than they need, they still have a God-shaped hole in their heart. Trials happen to both the rich and the poor.

And when it comes to trials, one of the major truths I learned is that, especially for Christians, God doesn’t care about the trial as much as He does about how we respond to it. If we spend all our energy focused on the trial itself, then we risk responding to the trial in way that is not pleasing to God or bringing Him glory. How will you respond in trial? Will it be with faith or unbelief? Humility or arrogance? Forgiveness or anger? Hope or despair? Remember the words of James 1:2 when we are faced with trials:

James 1:2 – Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds

And don’t forget Romans 5:

Romans 5:3-4 – Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope

So, regardless of the trial, for the unbeliever it is an avenue to leading to faith. For the believer, it is process of refining our faith.

Job 23:10 – But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.

Ok. Enough preaching.

We had a chance to go throughout the historic city and I want you to know that I want to come back to the Dominican Republic with Mimi just to walk through the historic city! So much to take in! Enjoy the pictures for the rest of this post and thanks for following along in this journey.

Evangelism in Dominican Republic – Day 2

Romans 10:10-11 – For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Today we started the day with a review of day 1. Yesterday we had close to 200 pastors there and today another 50 or so came and joined the group.

After the review, we teamed up again, this time with different people than the previous day, and went out and hit the streets. Today, in about an hour, another 130 people gave their lives to Christ!

I want to preface something here, though. I went out both days with someone in our group who spoke some English so he could help me translate into Spanish. The first day, I failed miserably at leading people to Christ, and even talking to them at all. It is a very different thing when you are evangelizing in a country that you don’t know and don’t speak the language. Today, I was able to lead 3 people to Christ. I don’t say that to boast or to say “hey, look at what I did.” I say that because it isn’t easy. One of the big excuses I hear about why people don’t evangelize is because they don’t feel equipped to do so. The first day, I definitely felt that way. I had the tools. I had the desire. But I didn’t have enough compassion on the people who are made in God’s image to break through my comfort zone and give them Christ.

Today, however, I was told God I was available for Him to use me no matter what. Then I spent time in prayer before we left, asking God to give me the power of the Holy Spirit and compassion of Christ. You see, you don’t need fancy tools or seminary education to lead people to Christ. You simply need to be available and accept the power of the Holy Spirit and desire to have a heart like Christ’s.

I am nobody special. I am simply a guy who say “Yes, Lord” when asked to step outside my comfort zone and who wants to grow to be more like Christ daily.  If God can use me, He can certainly use you!

Acts 1:8 – But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

We had another visit with denominational leaders, presidents and superintendents and, beginning next Saturday, ALL of the churches, regardless of denomination, beliefs about end times, beliefs about women in ministry, or beliefs about Arminianism or Calvinism are unifying together to evangelize the surrounding 25-30 miles of Santo Domingo. That will be almost 6 million people reached with the Gospel of Christ! And every single one of them are using a testimonial way to reach the lost.

You see, there are really 2 ways to lead people to Christ:

  • Doctrinal

I am going to walk you through Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, 1 Corinthians 5:15, Roman 10:9-11, and Romans 3:20. I will ask you what those verses mean to you and then I will ask you if you believe what you just read and then bring you to a decision.

There are so many reasons to use this method and they are all good. They get you comfortable with leading people through the Bible. They get the evangelized used to reading the Bible. And this method uses the truth of God through His Word to reach the lost.

  • Testimonial

This is basically my story and how it relates to coming to Christ. This is the method we used in Dominican Republic. A lot of people, and I used to be one of them, knock this kind of evangelism because, on the outside, it seems like it isn’t really biblical. You aren’t using the Bible to lead the person to Christ, you are using your story of coming to Christ to lead them and only giving them the Bible if they want to hear more.

But let’s take a look at an example of this in the Bible. Look at Mark 5. I am not going to post it all here, so I am going to trust that you will stop reading here and turn to Mark 5 and read it yourself. Focus on the story of the demon-possessed man in verses 1-20.

Mark 5:19 – Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.

Jesus removes Legion from the man. Afterward, the man asks Jesus if he can join His team. Jesus tells him no. But he also tells him to go back to Decapolis (the 10 cities or towns around where this man lived) and “tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.”

This is testimonial evangelism. Jesus didn’t tell him to go back and walk people through God’s Word. He told him to return and tell his story.

If that style of evangelism is good enough for Christ, it is good enough for me!

So here is how we evangelized. If you are near Friendship Community Baptist at the end of this month, I will be teaching about testimonial evangelism during the 9 and 10:30 services. It would be awesome to have a lot of people come and learn.

  1. Permission

May I have permission to ask you a question. Start with “I am working on an assignment…” You are, right? God has given you the Great Commission, an assignment for all believers!

Then, when they say yes, ask them, “What was the greatest thing that ever happened to you?”

Most people will say their family, their job, or their success financially.

Make small talk with them a little about that and be encouraging of their blessing.

Then ask them, “May I share with you what the best thing was that ever happened to me?”

  • Before Christ

You aren’t going to mention the name of Christ just yet. This is going to be an introduction to your story. Say something like, “Once in my life, I was broken, hurting, and lonely.” Choose 3 adjectives that described your life before Christ.

This whole section should take all of about 10 seconds!

  • Turning Point

This is where you will introduce Christ to them.

Here is mine version of this, “One day, I had some friends come to my door and say to me, ‘we are here to build you up.’ I listened to them and they told me about someone who could take my loneliness and pain away. Eventually I wanted to know about the One who could do that. And when I realized that Jesus Christ died for my sin and rose again, I asked him to heal my heart so that I could experience it.”

Start with “One day….” And tell what happened. Then explain to the person what happened when you realized that Jesus died and rose again for your sin. What did you do at that point?

This whole section should take about 20 seconds.

  • After Christ

In this section, you will show how Christ reversed all of the adjectives you listed in section 2. So, again, here is mine. “After I accepted Christ in my life, He took my loneliness away from me. The pain from my past is gone and I was able to forgive again.”

This section takes only about 10 seconds.

  • If I never met Christ…

In this final section, you explain what your life could look like if you had never made the decision to follow Christ. Here is mine. “Without Christ, I would have been drifting from place to place, getting caught up with the wrong people. Seeking fulfillment in women. But I thank God that He took that empty life away from me and gave me purpose and peace.”

Another 10 seconds.

This is where “reading the room” is very important. If the person doesn’t seem interested in what you are saying, end it. Do it this way: Thank you for listening to my story, I just want you to know that this Jesus Christ loves you very, very much.”

But if they are looking for more or asking questions, this opens up the opportunity to go deeper with them. Say something like, “May I show you how the Bible says you can be sure you’re going to be saved?”

And follow you’re ABCs.

  • A – Admit

I have done wrong and my sin separates me from a holy God (Romans 3:23)

  • B – Believe

Jesus Christ died to forgive me and rose again, proving He is the One True God. (Romans 10:9-10)

  • C – Confess

Confess I have sinned and ask Jesus to save me and be the leader of my life.

If they understand those ABCs, then ask them “What would stop you from totally surrendering your life to Christ today?”

Then, when they say yes to that, pray with them. Pray the ABCs with them and have them repeat it. Many people call this the sinner’s prayer. And it is controversial. A lot of people like it. A lot of people hate it. It is biblical. But please note, the prayer is an open communication with God, but the prayer cannot be the end of the conversation. Once they have prayed, give them your email and phone number and get theirs. It is up to you to be the Paul to their Timothy. Get them connected to a growth group or small group in the area. Help them find a church. Immediately direct them to John 3:16-17 and ask them to start reading the Bible in the book of John. One chapter a day for 21 days.

You can do this! If I can, you can! The important thing is the compassion. If you look at them simply as lost, you won’t have the compassion. But if you see each person made in God’s image and as sheep without a shepherd, then, perhaps, like Christ, you will be moved “to your bowels” as the original language says, to seek out the lost everywhere you go.

Proverbs 11:30 – The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and whoever captures souls is wise.

Evangelism in the Dominican Republic – Day 1

Matthew 9:35-38 – And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

It has been exactly 1 year since I last blogged about anything. It isn’t that I ran out of things to say, just ask my wife or anyone that I work with and they will tell you that I always can find something to say about anything (FYI…not always a good skill to have).

But I felt I needed to get back into the blogging scene when I decided to take a mission journey to the Dominican Republic. Let me back-peddle a little.

A while back I virtually met this guy Tom. Tom is looking to expand his non-profit, Oasis World Ministries. The organization does to big programs: water wells around the world and evangelism training for pastors. This intrigued me and I wanted to go on a mission journey with him.

Originally, this was planned for November. We would be going to Nepal, Pakistan, Vietnam, and South Korea. It was to be 12 days long and we would get a few days in each area. Then Tom went and blew his Achille’s. That ended that trip and postponed it into 2022. The next trip would be in January, but I was already planning on a vacation with the family. So that left February.

The plan was to go to Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. Well, COVID had other plans. Both Jamaica and Puerto Rico wouldn’t allow large groups to gather. This effectively ended the evangelism training we were going to be doing, so those countries were removed. Then Haiti continues to descend into more and more danger if you are a visitor. We were asked not to come because of the danger by the Haitian government.

That left the Dominican Republic. Our trip went from 10-12 days to a long weekend. I would leave on 2/10 and return on 2/14.

So, on 2/10, I boarded a Delta flight for ATL where I would officially meet Tom, and then we both went off to the DR together. When we arrived, we were met by 2 men, Javier and Pedro. Javier is a pastor and the country manager for Oasis World Ministries. He doesn’t speak any English, so that is why Pedro was accompanying him. Pedro speaks English, French, and Spanish.

We headed to the hotel and met up with CiCi. She is the country manager (along with her husband) for El Salvador and the Latin America administrator for Oasis World Ministries. She works directly with all the country managers to make sure that all their paperwork is in on time.

As you can gather, Oasis is pretty big. While they have a skeleton staff that works in Minnesota, they are currently in 51 different countries and have country managers in most of them as well as administrative assistant in many of them.

Once at the hotel and checked in, we had a pretty awesome dinner at the hotel and then Tom, CiCi, and I gathered together for a couple hours more to discuss the weekend as well as an idea for large-scale summits in Asia, Latin America and Africa throughout 2022.

Friday morning came way too quickly and we were off to the church to spend the day teaching. We were going through the program called 5-Star Evangelism and the tool, One Minute Witness.

The 5 stars of evangelism are:

  • Compassion
  • Equipping
  • Application
  • Discipleship
  • Multiplication

The entire day was spent explaining each point and how important they are.

  • Compassion
    • This is the fuel for the tank of evangelism. Without compassion, you can never lead the lost to Christ.
    • You can’t have compassion if you don’t have tears for the lost.

Psalm 126:5-6 – Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

  • The best way to have tears for them is to befriend the lost.

Luke 5:32 – I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.

  • Equipping
    • Most Christians don’t feel equipped to share their faith. This provides a simple, replicable tool.
  • Application
    • Once they know the tool, it is time to use it.
    • This is where the One Minute Witness comes in.
      • May I have permission to ask you a question?
      • What was the best thing that ever happened to you?
      • May I tell you what the best thing to ever happen to me was?
        • There was a time I was (pick 3 adjectives to describe your life before Christ)
        • But (what happened to turn your life to Christ)
        • When I learned that Jesus died and rose again for my sin, I (did you commit your life to Christ, etc….)
        • Since coming to know Christ, my life has changed (3 ways that your life has changed)
        • If I never would have come to Christ (what would have happened?)
    • The entire One Minute Witness is meant to direct people to Christ in 1 minute.
    • Once you do that, then if they seem like they are tracking with you, ask them “If you were to die tonight, where do you think you would go?
  • Discipleship
    • Be someone who is trained to train others on sharing their faith.
    • This is simply building the skills necessary to share your faith. Practicing over and over again.
    • Your mission field is wherever you are at that time.
  • Multiplication
    • Once others are sharing, the Gospel math is about multiplication, not addition.
    • The 2 parts to multiplication are:
  • Be filled with the Holy Spirit

Ephesians 5:18 – And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit

  • Go. Remember, your mission field is wherever you are.

Mark 16:15 – And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

Once we walked people through the One Minute Witness, we went out into the streets to try it for real. In that hour, 48 people came to Christ! Many more were prayed over for their hurts, hang-ups and trials.

We ended day 1 with a meeting with leadership from 12 different church networks or denominations representing thousands of churches throughout the Dominican Republic.  By the end of the meeting, several of these bishops, presidents or superintendents committed to training people to use this tool to reach the lost.

Many people are opposed to systematizing the Gospel. I used to be one of them. But the older I get, the less I remember, so it makes it easy on me if I only need to remember the highlights of my story that brought me to Christ. Plus, most people will only give you a minute or two to share your faith anyway. Having a tool that can help you get the Gospel in a person’s ears quickly is beneficial.

Tomorrow, we go back to the same group. We complete the day with more detailed training for them, more on-the-street practice, and I will be sharing a message that targets the compassion aspect of the 5-Star evangelism.

Looking forward to seeing how many people God brings into His kingdom tomorrow!

As American as Apple Pie, Baseball, and….Mormonism?!?!

Mark 16:15 – And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

A few days ago, my girlfriend got us tickets to go see the Minnesota Twins play the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. She and her boys are big baseball fans so we headed out for a night on the town. Now I am not a baseball fan. I like futbol and football, in that order. Columbus Crew in the USA and Argentina internationally for soccer and the Pittsburgh Steelers for football are my faves. If they are on, especially if the Crew is playing DC United or the Steelers are playing the Ravens, you better believe I will be enjoying the game somehow. But this was neither soccer nor football. It was baseball, much longer than either of those other two sports. Strangely enough, it was on the 98th anniversary of the fastest baseball game ever played. And the Twins even played in that game, the Winston-Salem Twins. That game was 31 minutes long for 9 innings. Ah whatever happened to the good ole days.

But I digress.

As we were walking into the stadium there was a single man on the street corner giving a fire and brimstone sermon. Clearly Christian, this man was yelling Bible verses AT people. Everyone, including myself, gave a second glance thinking this guy was crazy. I felt bad for thinking that and went on into the stadium to watch the game.

Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes

Part of the way through the game we saw a couple young men, no older than say 25, walking up one of the aisles wearing black dress pants, a white shirt, and a name tag. My first inclination was, “There are some Mormons at the baseball game!” I never expected to see a couple Mormons in uniform at a baseball game, but I figured, “Heck, they need to get out and have fun just like the rest of us, right?”

They were clearly enjoying the game, but I don’t think that is why they were there.

Later, as we were leaving we saw a LOT more.   It seemed as if they had enough Mormon men there to place teams of 2 in a majority of the bleacher sections. As we walked through the stadium to the exit, there were groups of people taking pictures with the Mormons and speaking with them.

Then at a red light near the stadium, they were talking to people in general conversation. I overheard very little of it, but what I did hear was talking about Mormonism.

One man even walked a family to their car! He shook hands with the family and I saw them talking about something for a little while before we drove off.

Now, Christian, I am first going to say that Mormonism is a cult. I posted about that here. But quickly, here are a lot of things where Mormonism runs counter to Christianity:

  • God used to be a man on another planet (Mormon Doctrine, p. 321)
  • God resides at a star called Kolob (Mormon Doctrine, p. 428)
  • After you become a good Mormon, you have the potential to become a god (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345-347)
  • There is a Mother God (Articles of Faith, p. 443)
  • God is married to his goddess wife and has spirit children (Mormon Doctrine, p. 516)
  • The Trinity is composed of three separate gods (Articles of Faith, p. 35)

Those are just a few of the ways Mormonism differs from Christianity.

1 John 4:1 – Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

But one thing is very similar in both: Evangelism is the key to spreading the message.

So which do you think is more effective?

Standing on the street corner blasting through a very loud P.A. system that Jesus is the only way to save you from hell….

or…

Spending time getting to know the people at the stadium, walk with them to their cars, and help them as they spend time with their families at the baseball game.

One of the rare times that we saw Jesus lose His temper was directed only to the religious elite. Every time He spent time with the sinners, He was filled with grace and compassion.

And that is precisely what the Mormons were doing at the baseball game. They were showing grace, compassion, and genuine love for their fellow humans.

James 2:26 – For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

I hate to say it, Christians, but Mormons got us beat in the evangelism arena. We have a lot of catching up to do. It is as if we know we have the right answer (which we do) and yet we lord it over people rather than love them into the community.

I’ve heard it said before (on a DC Talk album) that the “greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who proclaim Him with their lips and deny Him with their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

Christians, it is time for us to evangelize. Yes, we need to use words. But even more so, we need to use actions. Faith without works is dead. When the people see the man on the street corner yelling the Bible at them, they do not see the man who would potentially walk beside them in the tough times. They just know this guy is yelling at them.

When they see the Mormons talk about their faith as they are walking a family late at night to their car, then they gain instant credibility because they are acting out that faith.

We need to act out the faith we proclaim. We need to break down the defenses of the world around peoples’ hearts before they will listen to the words we speak to them. If we simply go AT them with the Bible instead of going TO them and walking with them as they struggle, they will shut us out.

So let’s take a lesson from the Mormons. No, I don’t mean listening to any of the heresy they proclaim. But I do mean evangelizing like a Mormon. It will add credibility to your message that you are trying to preach.

James 2:18 – But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

The Church has Left the Building

Acts 1:8 –  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

A few days ago, I was driving in MD when I saw this van.

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THAT IS WHAT THE CHURCH IS SUPPOSED TO BE!

I got so excited.  I looked at my son and said, “take a picture.”  When God eventually allows me to plant a church, THAT is what I want the church to be about!

How many churches are focused on making bigger or better interiors which are more comfortable for people to come to while the world is still a cold, uncomfortable place for the Christian?  It is our job as the leadership in a church to equip our members to go out and bring more people “in.”  I put quotes around the word “in” because while we want these new converts to come to our church, we should just want them to go to any Bible-believing church.  It isn’t about our numbers.  It is about heaven’s numbers.

Acts 2:47 – Praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

It is no secret that a church needs to make its numbers.  It needs to bring in tithes in order to support the paid members of the staff.  This is precisely why it is imperative for Christians to support your local church.  God expects us to give our 10% to the local church.  The expectation of God is to support our local ministry.  It is up to the local ministry to manage that tithe to support the local community.

In return the local ministry provides much more than a weekly pep talk on Sundays.  Your tithe goes to missions work.  That missions work can be international or local.  For example, my church supports ministries in India, Dubai, Peru, Brazil, Honduras, and many other countries.  Beyond that, we support local organizations such as a local elementary school, a food pantry, and multiple outreach missions.

Your tithe goes to support those organizations.

Malachi 3:10 – Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.

But then your tithe goes to supporting discipleship training.  When I tell someone on the street that I am a disciple, they get this look on their face that makes me think I have a snot ball hanging from my nose.  Discipleship training is simply teaching someone how to live a life like Jesus.  Yes, we will never be perfect at it.  But there is no arguing that Jesus led a life that no one can claim was corrupted.  If we strive to live like Him, then we will find that we, too, will live a life that is moral.

Your tithe also goes to supporting programs that will improve the church so that the next generation can be served.  My parents loved the church I grew up in.  They would take me and go every week.  I thought it was THE most boring place on earth.  They didn’t allow the kind of music I liked (of course, I don’t know of too many churches that play “Rock All Night” by KISS).  I thought the pastor was focused only on the old people with the style of preaching he did.

Our churches are no different.  Our kids want to go to a kids program that is relevant.  Don’t roll out a kids program unless it is age specific.  First graders should not be combined with fifth graders.  Yes, they are both elementary students, but both learn very differently.  Our middle schoolers and high schoolers should begin having their own Bible studies.  But those studies should be targeted to what THEY are going through.  Sending an 8th grader to a book study on Song of Solomon is not quite what an 8th grader needs.  Perhaps something more on an 8th grader’s life, such as peer pressure, lying to your parents, or working hard need to be the focus of the study.  Young adults need a different way to learn as well.  Those young professionals enjoy going out in large groups, maybe to a sporting event.  Their discipleship needs to happen while life is being experienced.  It is how they learn.  Crusty, old guys like me enjoy one on one discipleship.  We like to remember our past and share it with others.  Us old folk like to relive our past, while the young adults like to experience the future.

So your tithe goes to supporting various programs to multiple different demo- and psycho-graphics.

Other than 7-11, how many companies that we spend much more than 10% of our income on are targeting every type of person out there?  Shouldn’t we be supporting a church that is working to not just give Jesus to people (that itself is enough to want to support a church) but also striving to improve the lives of every person who sets foot in the building.

To do that, the church needs to have the equipment necessary to reach every person.  To do that, the church needs to be able to seat all the people, create opportunities of fellowship for the people, and create some amenities for enjoyment for the attenders.

It is difficult to support ancillary programs in a church.  The programs may seem like luxuries.  But without some of those items that we may consider luxuries, the next generation will be stuck in a building that will become a burden for them to visit.  The next generation will have no desire to go outside the building and bring others into the building.  The church will die.

Ephesians 4:11-12 – So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up

If you truly want your church to leave the building, then you need to get it ready to equip them before they leave and make it a place that they want others to come.

Reaching the City for Christ

I’ve been reading the books for my upcoming classes in seminary next year.   I’ll be taking a class on world missions and a class on strategies for church growth.  I started reading the books for the church growth class and am learning SO much.  I feel like the spiritual equivalent of a kid in a candy store when I read some of this stuff because there are so many amazing ideas that people have put into place, so many awesome movements that have resulted in not just church growth, but in souls being won for Christ, and so many people from which I can learn.

In a few of my books throughout my seminary career, I have had the opportunity to read about city-reaching churches.  These are single or multiple churches whose goal and mission to make sure that every person in a given city hears the gospel of Christ.  There is one story that has seriously impacted me and given me a fire to coordinate a similar program in Annapolis, MD.

I read the story of Ed Silvoso.  Born in Argentina, he worked to soften the ground and make the way ready for some of the larger evangelists of our age such as Billy Graham.  Eventually, illness took its toll on his professional Christian media career, but that didn’t stop him.  After a short time battling spiritual warfare, God gave him the vision of a 4-star general, the urgency of a drill sergeant, and the spiritual attack strength of a battalion of soldiers.

When he was asked to help set up a visit from a Korean pastor, he went into the town of Resistencia.  With a population of 400,000, this town is on the border of northern Argentina.  Silvoso created his “Plan Resistencia” to take back that entire city in the name of Christ.

Silvoso began his journey by sharing with all of the pastors in the area his plan to create 500 neighborhood prayer cells to go into every neighborhood in the city and intercede for the Christian church universal.  He approached all pastors to gain unity among the Christians who had been losing ground to Satan while they battled themselves for the same churchgoers.  The pastors began praying regularly for this dream to take hold and for all Christians to come together in unity to take back the streets.  It ended with pastors preaching in each other’s churches, sharing the sacraments and ordinances together, and sharing their offerings among the most-needy churches in the region.

Once the unity started, Silvoso created “lighthouses,” 635 neighborhood prayer cell that involved at least 2 people apiece who were responsible for a section of the city.  Those 635 cells were then tasked for prayer-walking around their assigned blocks every day for 3 months.  After 3 months, the walkers went up to every door in their neighborhood, knocked, and asked each and every person, “how may we pray for you?”  Writing down in their notebooks the requests of the inhabitants, every single prayer request was prayed over fervently by the cell.  The only request that the cell had for the inhabitants? “When God answers your prayer, make sure you come and tell us at the church so that we may rejoice together.”

This follows a true Christian model of evangelizing!  In the past, an evangelist would go into a city and preach about sin, making everyone feel guilty of their sin, in hopes that they will repent.  Silvoso followed Romans 2:4 in blessing the unsaved so “that they would know the reason God is good to them is because He wants them to turn to Him.”

After 6 months, the churches in the city had seen a 201% INCREASE!!!  Silvoso likens city-reaching to a military campaign and provides a 6-step plan.

1)       Look for and find people with whom you can create a “faithful remnant” of believers and make sure they understand that they are God’s representatives in Satan’s dominion.

2)      Secure the perimeter of the city.  Recognize that Satan has infiltrated the city and sin has established anxiety throughout it.  Christians are to begin praying to “destroy arguments and every bit of pride that keeps anyone from knowing God.” (see 2 Corinthians 10:4-5)  Churches need to practice unity.

3)      Expand God’s perimeters in the city.  Christians prayer-walk around their neighborhoods, praying for every home and launching a spiritual attack on the forces of darkness in the city.

4)      Infiltrate Satan’s perimeter by going “behind enemy lines” through a massive “air assault” of specific prayer requests and secure a strong base of operations.  Establish hundreds of prayer cells acorss the city in order to weaken Satan’s control.

5)      Attack and destroy Satan’s perimeters.  The church begins to “take over the city by confronting, binding, and casting down spiritual powers that rule the region.”  Proclaim the message of the Gospel to every person in the city and believers get discipled through their prayer cell “lighthouses.”

6)      Establish God’s new perimeter where Satan once existed.  Silvoso calls this “looting the enemy’s camp,” I call this “plunder hell and populate heaven.”  Christians completely take away Satan’s claim on the souls of people.  Silvoso said, “unless spiritual warfare results in solid, tangible conversions which are incorporated into a growing number of churches, nothing consequential has happened.” (Silvoso 1977)

We can do this, church!  It is our calling in the Great Commission to go out and make disciples!  I’ve said this before. We are not called to make church attenders.  We are not called to make friends.  We are called to make disciples.

Reaching the city for Christ is not a new idea.  It was started in the earliest of evangelism missions of the Christian church.  Look at Acts 1:8, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  The Lord is emphasizing cities.  He first commanded them to go to Jerusalem, their city.  (Towns, Stetzer and Bird 2007)

Paul started churches in major cities in each region.  The city church could influence the region for Christ.  Once established, then that church would influence the more rural areas.

And how does the Bible end?  IN A CITY!  Revelation 21:2, “I, John, saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven.”

So, church, I will ask you.  Have you reached your city for Christ?  Are you doing everything you possibly can to get outside your four walls, impact your community, praying and interceding for those who won’t come to you?  Or are you waiting for them to come?

About 4 years ago, I was teaching a Bible study at a small church.  During the seventh week of the study, we had “bring a friend to church” week.  When Sunday came, I looked around at the congregation and only one person brought a friend to church.  I called an emergency meeting of my group of 20 in the study for right after church.  Once we were assembled, I asked the simple question, “Where are your friends?”  The pastor of the church, a member of the group I was running, looked me straight in the eye and said, “They know where we are.  If they need us, they will find us.”

Church, are we so prideful and arrogant that we think that we hold the greatest gift but are unwilling to give it to others?  Are we so blind that we think that our church is made up of perfect Christians and if we add any sinner that the balance will be thrown off?  Are we so cold to love that we don’t know how to be on fire for Christ?  What has happened to Romans 1:16?  What has happened to Matthew 28:19?  Are those just verses in the Bible that only hold meaning for some?

Church, wake up! Your cities are dying!  And your communities are blaming Christ because Christians are standing around watching it die!  Let’s get on fire, church!  Let’s go outside and meet new people!  Let’s bring EVERYONE into our church so that NO ONE will perish!

I would love to hear from you.  Tell me what your churches are doing to reach the communities that they are in.  Are there any organizations in your area that are already city-reaching?  If so, reach out and ask them what their plan for reaching the city is.

And prayerfully consider reaching your city for Christ.

Bibliography

Silvoso, Ed. That None Should Perish. Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1977.

Towns, Elmer, Ed Stetzer, and Warren Bird. 11 Innovations in the Local Church. Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2007.

 

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