One of my favorite things to do on a day off is to play in my garden. I’m not a “green thumb” but something about being out in the yard with my hands in the soil is very relaxing. God often speaks to me about spiritual things while I am gardening. As I fertilize, weed, and water, my mind drifts to my passion to see disciples multiply among unreached peoples. One key principle stands out. If we want to reap a great harvest, we must sow many seeds of the gospel. We need to practice what is called “abundant gospel sowing.”
It’s Love Not Performance
Evangelism starts with love. Allow God to continually fill you with His heart for lost people. If we are doing evangelism out of a sense of duty, obligation, or an “I should”, we will not be effective. Nor will our efforts bring pleasure to God. He wants us to have His heart. Is this still your primary motivation for sharing His story? God’s aching heart for the lost?
Our tendency toward performance orientation can affect us. We may develop an underlying sense that we must do evangelism to win (or keep) God’s love. It is a lie. But it can still impact us. Instead of sharing good news from a heart of love, we start to share it out of duty. We begin to do it because we should. We need to return again and again to our loving Father. Let Him fill us once more with His heart, with His love- for us and for others.
Love Is Always More Important Than Methods
It is helpful as we train people to have them learn a method of evangelism. We teach them how to share their testimony and the Jesus story. It builds confidence and competency. This is important. But in training, always start with the trainee’s heart. Evangelism starts there. People sense whether you love them. They know if you are sharing the gospel to “convert” them, or because you genuinely care about them.
Ask God For A Luke 15 Heart
My “go to” chapter when love for the lost is getting a bit cool is Luke 15. There are three stories in a row about God’s heart for the lost; the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. Take a few minutes to read and meditate on this chapter sometime this week.
1 Cor 13:1 “If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”- NIV
Are we “gongs and cymbals”?
5 Signs You’re Loving The Lost
Sign 1- If I love the lost, I sincerely and specifically pray for lost people.
In Luke 15, we find three very similar stories; the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Lost Son. Each of these stories ends with a description of what happens in Heaven when even one person repents. Can you imagine the party in heaven if 50 people repented? What if it was a hundred? Or 500? That would be a pretty big angelic celebration! I can imagine Jesus joining right in the dance! Woohoo! My beloved ones have come home!
I’m thinking that what really makes a party a party for Him is when there are lots of new names written in the Book of Life He keeps.
This Christmas, what if instead of focusing on our having a great party on earth, we focused on what would give Him a fun party in Heaven? It is His birthday after all!
Many of our Christmas traditions, feasts, songs, dances and programs are geared to help Christians enjoy themselves. We might even invite people who aren’t yet believers and include a little message at the end, especially for them. This year I’ve been asking though, what could we do differently to see more lost people get introduced to Jesus- the One who the Big Celebration is all about. What if we did something different and the people we invite, not only met Him casually (prayed some kind of prayer of response) but what if they actually made a decision to repent, follow Him and become a disciple? What if what we did at Christmas actually resulted in new groups of disciples meeting together regularly to learn His ways and obey His commands?
I think that would make a pretty awesome Jesus present!
Seriously… as disciple makers, let’s re-evaluate what we have done in the past at Christmas. How fruitful was it, in light of the goal of making disciples who make disciples? What could we do differently this year to see a different result?
I’ve talked recently with a few people about this. Plans are being made to include more one on one sharing of testimonies. Plans are forming to prioritize follow-up immediately after the “program” on Christmas day, to immediately invite the seekers or new believers into groups where they can learn what it means to be a disciple. Church members are being challenged and trained to share the good news of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection more this month than normal- believing for many new disciples to be made in December.
Jesus is going to have an incredible Christmas Birthday party! What gift will you bring Him this year?
This is not unusual to hear from the church planters I am coaching. What can we do to increase boldness and help the disciples we work with to overcome their fears?
3 Things That Increase Bold Evangelism
1. Receiving the Holy Spirit
The classic biblical example is Peter in Acts Chapter 2. When Jesus was being tried, three times he denied even knowing Him. He certainly wasn’t witnessing at that point! But after he received the power of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, he stood in front of thousands and boldly proclaimed the gospel with authority and conviction. If your church members aren’t witnessing, pray for them to receive the power of the Holy Spirit. It will make a world of difference.
Many people lack confidence to witness. They are embarrassed when they stumble over their words or don’t know what to say, how to answer questions, etc. After teaching them how to share their testimony, make sure to take time practicing it in a safe environment with other believers. Let them share it several times and get feedback. Do the same when training people to share a Creation to Christ story. Practice builds confidence and helps them to overcome fear of failure.
3. Making a List
Ying Kai of T4T says that people don’t share because they don’t know who to share with. He encourages people to make a two column Lost and Saved list. Pray daily for the people on that list. The lost side of the list are those in your friend and family circle (oikos) who don’t yet believe in Christ. The saved side of the list are those you are discipling. Regularly pray for them too!
After making a list, you can choose a few people each week and make plans to share your testimony with them. Being specific and accountable about plans to share the gospel helps us move forward. If you are training others, be sure to affirm and encourage a lot. Do this even if their efforts don’t yield success in the beginning.
It goes without saying that we as trainers also need to really pray for believers in this area. Model bold evangelism in your own life too! If we are demonstrating a lifestyle of evangelism and courageous witness, they will see it is possible and that they too can do the same.
Bold evangelism is a major characteristic of growing DMMs. Believe God to help you increase the believer’s boldness!
Which of the “3 Things” will you start to work on this week? Mention it in the comments and we will pray with you as you work on this!
Gospel Sharing- Some Big Concerns
I’ve been concerned as we have been training in various locations. How do we approach gospel sharing and evangelism? We have been training people in how to share the Jesus story, Creation to Christ stories, and the basic gospel message. I’m quite shocked at the number of pastors, church planters, elders and local believers who seem to have little understanding of what the gospel is. Many cannot easily and clearly share a simple gospel story. Some of those unable to do this went through credible Christian training and discipleship programs. This is worrying.
Many things contribute to this problem. The main root of this problem is the model these dear ones have seen. The gospel they have heard, the style of evangelism they have seen modeled, is one where people are told that if they become Christians, God will bless them. God will heal them. God will help them.
It Is An Incomplete Gospel
Forgive me if I am stating the obvious, but this is a very incomplete gospel. If this is the foundation of the gospel on which we try to make disciples, we can only expect weak and conditional faith. This kind of gospel sharing fails to call people to discipleship.
As a result, we can expect to be accused by opponents of Christianity. They will say we try to convert the simple-minded with enticements and manipulative methods. What they say, if this is all the gospel we share, will indeed have some truth to it. This situation is cause for grave concern and serious efforts to bring about change.
In 1 Corinthians 1:23, Paul says, “we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews, and foolishness to Gentiles…”(NIV). If our gospel presentations do not include Jesus crucified, risen and coming again, we are not sharing the gospel. The message we communicate must be about Jesus; why He came, why He died, how He rose and what it means for us today. We must speak about sin and repentance. Our gospel must include how Christ’s death on the cross paid the price for restoration in our relationship with God. We must share about how His sacrifice made a way for us to know God, have our sins forgiven, and become spiritual children of God. It’s vital to include a call to follow the way of Jesus.
This seems obvious, yet in many, many places, this is not the gospel message preached, nor do ordinary believers in the churches we have planted know how to share it simply and effectively. Gospel sharing must include a call to discipleship.
Our Gospel Sharing Must Include The Cross
God’s love and goodness, His power to heal, deliver, provide, free, protect …this is all part of the good news. I’m not saying leave those out, they are definitely part of the message! We can not, however, give in to the temptation to leave out the vital message of why Jesus had to die in order for us to be saved. Yes, it’s hard to communicate about sacrificial death to a high caste Hindu or a Buddhist. It may take time for them to understand it. This was true for the Gentiles of Paul’s time as well. For the post-modern American, it may come across as cruel and they may question why a good Father would ever dream of asking His son to die such a terrible death. But, it’s still the message we must share.
We can not…we must not..remove the cross from our message.