Friday, August 04, 2006

Up All Night Thinking About Evangelism

It's nearly 2:30am. I've had a long nap today, and so I'm not exactly sleepy. My wife is sleeping soundly on the couch before me, and some couple on HGTV is about to pay waayyy too much for an old house in a coveted neighborhood. I need sorbet.

But amidst all the available distractions, my mind keeps coming back to this theme: evangelism. More specifically, I'm pondering why it is I don't share the gospel more often. Why don't I share it every chance I get? Why don't I create opportunities for sharing more consistently? What else have I got to talk about?

My wife and I once owned a direct sales business with a multi-level marketing component. Yeah... I know. But at least it wasn't Amway and we did learn a great deal. One thing we learned was to step out of our proverbial comfort zone and tell people about the business, to invite them to consider the business opportunity for themselves. We did that rather well for a while. And in an interesting sort of way, we're sure the Lord used that experience to teach us to "step out" and share the gospel, to overcome our fear of man.

But, I can't say I'm all that thrilled about my current efforts. And as I look to the coming life as a senior pastor, my concern is that I'll actually have fewer opportunities to interact significantly with non-Christians. I assume that my main evangelistic activity will largely occur through preaching, but I don't want to be satisfied with that. I want and need a good plan.

But there's still the "why" of my evangelistic duldrums. Why am I not doing more already?

I think I need to deepen my love for the Savior and the Good News of the Savior. I think I need to contemplate more deeply the majesty, person, and work of our Lord. I also need to think more deeply and pray more fervently about the perishing souls that surround me. I can't say I consistently view people the way Jesus views them. My valuation of their souls is too low. I think I lack urgency. I think I "trust in God's sovereignty" in the wrong way at times. I need to repent.

Two hours later, here's my initial plan:
  • Meet the neighbors and schedule dinner with them in the first 30 days.
  • Pray for opportunities and a ready mind.
  • Find a new barber (a bro. needs a cut), preferrably one with decent skills but not a Christian.
  • Phone the brother of a friend who lives on the island and is not a believer. Do lunch.
  • Pray that the Lord would send laborers into the harvest and for friends on the field.
  • Think through an initial strategy for training and encouraging others in evangelism.
  • Adjust my reading plan to focus more intently on the Savior and the gospel (I'd welcome recommendations).
  • Pick up those two biographies I've been neglecting (The Life and Diary of David Brainerd and To the Golden Shore).
  • Pray, pray, pray for a fervent spirit and abiding love for the lost.

What am I missing?

The Lord has seen fit to give us the great privilege of proclaiming the Good News to those who are perishing. What a humbling and weigthy privilege it is! It's good and right that I'm up tonight unable to sleep in view of those who for eternity will suffer an eternal agony.

I want FBC to take this island with the gospel. I'm praying the Lord would be pleased to use us not only on the island but in the wider Caribbean and to advance His kingdom worldwide. I feel my poverty and my need for His divine aid.

It's 3:00am. I'm gonna try to sleep now.


K. Elijah Layfield said...

Thanks for your honesty. I feel the same way.

blam said...

hey brother. so glad that you're blogging so much already, so that we can still keep tabs on you and the fam, and benefit from what god's teaching you, even at a distance. have also been convicted about my great reluctance to share "good news" with my employer. hoping that the spirit will bring fruit from that conviction. was telling angie that i'm glad that we're at a church where our duty as christians to evangelize is highlighted at least every sunday night. thanks for your thoughts and example.

Unknown said...

The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey helped this Reformed brother in the journey to know Jesus. Also, the Cross of Christ by Stott is a must-read.

I feel you, man!

Orangette said...

I appreciate the post and feel the same way. My wife and I are working a plan to do a few of those same things, so that's encouraging to see you write them out. We must not count our lives as of any value except that we finish the course and the ministry the Lord Jesus has given us - to testify solemnly to the Gospel of the grace of God.

praying for you, brother,

doug said...

"Hell's Best Kept Secret" by Ray Comfort.

Anonymous said...

I can relate to your statements in the paragraph just above your initial plan.

I would encourage you to continue to challenge yourself after you become the senior pastor. You are right that it will become harder for you to be in contact with the unsaved and unchurched.

Another source to consider is BECOMING A CONTAGIOUS CHRISTIAN by Bill Hybels. It is a very good tool for motivating and equipping people in the church to do "friendship evangelism" (what you have described). When I used the teaching kit a few years ago, my biggest critiqe was the lack of diversity in the people used in the video. I don't know if this has changed.

Anonymous said...

Thabiti: What I have learned to become is intentional, very intentional about what I actually say, which ends up leading to opportunities to talk about Jesus. For example, in response to the common greeting "Hi, how are you?" I just to say "Fine" even when things were not going well, but I learned that honesty isn't always the best avenue when others are only trying to be polite and they don't want to hear about all of the problems in your life, because they can hardly deal with the problems in their own lives. So, I reconsidered and realized that regardless of whether things are going swimmingly or painfully, I am blessed by God for much better than I deserve. Now my response to the greeting "How are you?" is to say "I'm blessed, thank you for asking." Amazingly, this small change has for me opened doors to encourage closet-Christians; to pray with others who express a need; and to not interfere with people who time God has not yet prepared for a deeper spiritual discussion.

Then, in the next step the Holy Spirit convicted me of, I learned to git rid of the word "luck" from my vocabulary. It is too easy to say "good luck" in so many circumstances when as a born-again believer I know better that nothing happens by divine accident, everything is pre-ordained by God. So, now, instead I will offer "best wishes" or "God's blessings" or anything except "luck".

Now I am working on eliminating the word "pride", "proud" and variations of the same from my vocabulary, which is much tougher than I thought it would be. Our society and even most Christians use these words to decribe the feelings we often have, but from all that I have seen in the Bible, those terms are never spoken of favorably in scripture. When one of my children now does something really wonderful, special, beyond himself/herself, I tell them of my happiness for them, my joy in what God accomplishes through them, and how I would encourage them to greater things beyond themselves, but it is difficult for me to find adequate replacements for those words.

I am rambling again, but I try to keep my spiritual eyes open in typical everyday conversations to see opportunities where the Holy Spirit would open doors. You are familiar with the common "initial introduction" question: "What do you do?" which is a blank check to say anything from "I am a [counselor, teacher, pastor, etc.]" to the more esoteric "I use my God-given talents and abilities to glorify God the best that I can." As a matter of fact I have taught middle schoolers in sunday school telling them that if I had several million dollars and I were to donate it to a hospital who used the money to build a new wing and a research center that discovered a cure for cancer, the hospital likely would name the wing in my name, but God wouldn't be getting the glory. Jesus would say "I tell you, he has already received his reward." So each opportunity to bring recognition of God into a conversation is a crack in the door for the Holy Spirit to put His feet inside the conversation and into a life. The opportunites are there, it is a matter for following the Holy Spirit's lead. Your brother in Christ Jesus, Steve