Thursday, 11 August 2016

Some Thoughts On Mission And Evangelism

Teaching Evangelism

In the preface to his book, The Evangelism of the Early Church, Michael Green states a personal reason for writing the book:
“Most evangelists are not very interested in theology: most theologians are not very interested in evangelism. I am deeply committed to both. So the study of this subject was particularly congenial to me” (p.7).
Green’s book contains a brief but helpful section on “Teaching Evangelism” (pp.204-206).
Green’s emphasis on the unbreakable connection between theology and evangelism encourages us to develop an evangelistic theology.
A theology which does not lead to evangelism remains remote from both the Gospel of God and the need of human beings.
An evangelism which shows little interest in theological reflection tends to become rather superficial, lacking the depth and range of “teaching evangelism”.

Looking up to God and looking out to our community

Here are some more thoughts from Local Church Evangelism, edited by David Wright and Alastair Gray.
Worship comes first.
“”Praise is the primary form of the communication, the sheer enjoyment of the grace of God in our lives - all other communication is an overflow of this, the spread of its scent, affirming in appropriate ways, in various situations, the content and delight of praising God” (p. 49).
Worship leads to Witness.
“the church should be united in love and purpose, wide open to the Spirit of Jesus in prayer and with the outward look of openness to others in love” (p. 28).
Come to Christ and Go for Christ.
“Jesus says both ‘I am the light of the world’ … and ‘You are the light of the world’” (p. 43).

Service, Prayer, Love and Witness

“It is the total ministry of service, prayer, love and witness, throughout the year, which is used to bring new life to the parish” (Local Church Evangelism, edited by David Wright and Alastair Gray, p. 85).
To be reminded of our calling to be faithful in service, prayer, love and witness is to be reminded of our failure.
When, however, we look beyond the inadequacies of our service, prayer, love and witness, we catch a a glimpse of the faithfulness of God - “If we are faithless, He remains faithful” (2 Timothy 2:13).
In the presence of the God of “great faithfulness”, we are reminded that we have “received this ministry by the mercy of God” (Lamentations 3:22; 2 Corinthians 4:1).
We have “received mercy” so that “we might proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9-10).
“Shine, Jesus, shine, fill this land with the Father’s glory; blaze, Spirit, blaze, set our hearts on fire … “. These are not only words to be sung. It’s a life to be lived. They are not only words for the mountain-top experience - the exuberance of praise. It’s an all-year round life, a life of service, prayer, love and witness. Let’s live the life and see the difference it makes!

Local Church Evangelism

Here are some thoughts from the “Introduction” to Local Church Evangelism, edited by David Wright and Alastair Gray.
A Definition

“Evangelism may be defined briefly as the God-given task of presenting the good news of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit in order that men and women and children may come to trust in God through him, accept him as their Saviour and serve him as their King in the fellowship of his Church in the world. It is concerned with communicating a specific message - a message that is not only about Jesus Christ but is Jesus Christ - with the aim of winning those who receive it to his allegiance” (p. 9).
A Reminder
“The congregation renewed for mission is God’s primary evangelistic agency” (p. 10).
A Question
“Are our services of worship welcoming, open in spirit and ethos to the outsider, the visitor, the wider community?” (pp. 10-11).
A Challenge
“We need to be more self-critical, not only about the ‘message’, more often implicit than explicit, that our worship conveys to the stranger and the uncommitted, but also about its impact on the congregation itself” (p. 11).

Sharing our Faith Effectively

Philemon, Verse 6 - “that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus”.
These words bring to mind several other verses of Scripture.
* “acknowledging every good thing … ” indicates that we are to share our faith in the spirit of thanksgiving, giving thanks to the Lord for all that He has done for us, all that He is doing for us and all that He will do for us.
When we find it difficult to share our faith, we must learn to stand upon God’s Word: “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).
* “every good thing in you” brings to mind the wonderfully encouraging words of 2 Timothy 1:7 - “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind”.
What a great encouragement it is to know that we can exchange our weakness - “fear” - for the Lord’s strength - “power … love … a sound mind”.
This is the fulfilment of God’s promise in Isaiah 40:31 - “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength”.
The combination of “power” and “love” is important.
We might say that it is the power of love. It is the love of God at work. It is the power of God at work.
His love motivates us to reach out for Him. His power makes our witness effective for Him.
As well as power and love, there is also the blessing of “a sound mind”.
There are times when we have the opportunity to prepare a message from God’s Word.
We use our minds to think through what the Lord is saying to us and what He wants us to say to the people.
There are other times when we must think on our feet.
We must “always be ready to give a defence to everyone who asks for a reason for a hope that is in us”. We must do this “with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).
When we have to think on our feet, we must stand upon the Lord’s Word: “do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit” (Mark 13:11).
God’s promise will be fulfilled as we learn in our study of God’s Word, to pray for “the renewal of our mind” (Romans 12:2) - “May the mind of Christ my Saviour live in me from day to day, by His love and power controlling all I do or say”.
We must never forget that the “power” and “love” come from the Lord and not from ourselves.
When there is an effective sharing of our faith, we must always remember this: “This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvellous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:23). This must be our testimony: “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your Name give glory, because of of Your mercy and Your truth” (Psalm 115:1).
* “every good thing” - Here, we are reminded of the great words of Paul in Ephesians 1:3 - “every spiritual blessing”.
Paul speaks here in a spirit of worship - “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”.
He gives thanks to the Lord who “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing”.
“Every spiritual blessing” is to be found “in Christ”.
* “in Christ Jesus” - The final words of Philemon 6 remind us that any good things “in us” have come from Christ.
Paul tells us that, in ourselves, “there is no good thing” (Romans 7:18).
The good things are “in Christ Jesus”.
He gives them to us as He gives Himself to us.
If we are to be effective witnesses for Christ, we must learn to “abide in Christ”. We must never forget this: “without Him we can do nothing”. Abiding in Christ - this is the way of “bearing much fruit” - “May the Word of God dwell richly in my heart from hour to hour, so that all may see I triumph only through His power”.
* There will be times when we must share our faith with those who are going through a time of great suffering. If our words are to be helpful to them, we must pray for the strengthening of our own faith so that we are able to share the Lord’s strength with them: “May the peace of God my Father rule my heart in everything, that I may be calm to comfort sick and sorrowing”.
* An effective sharing of our faith is a sharing of the love of Jesus. We must pray that His love will shine through as we witness for Him: “May the love of Jesus fill me, as the waters fill the sea; Him exalting, self abasing, this is victory”.
* Persevering in the way of faith is not easy. We must take care that we do not lose “our first love” (Revelation 2:4). We must keep our eyes on Jesus. He will give us the strength to continue in the way of faithful obedience: “May I run the race before me, strong and brave to face the foe, looking unto Jesus as I onward go”.

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