Archives For Evangelism

Is conversion easy to experience, or difficult? If you can’t remember your conversion experience, is it likely you are not saved? Do all people come to faith the same way? Does conversion always bring assurance of salvation? Is conversion seen in a decision that is made, or in a process that is experienced?

Turning to God

Turning to God, by David Wells, documents how the doctrine of conversion has been withering away for centuries. Written in 1989, then updated and re-released in 2012, the book catalogs various attacks against a Christian understanding of conversion, and it contains Wells’ call for evangelicals to cultivate a robust understanding of how we entered the Christian life. He shows how the questions asked above illustrate the difficulty inherent in any effort to understand conversion.   Continue Reading…

As a former youth pastor, I was asked regularly why so many of young people eventually leave the church. Why is it that so many of the teenagers who came to sunday school and youth group, who professed to know Christ, would abandon the faith when they went off to college? Why is it that so many young people who would come to a youth camp and make a decision around a campfire would not be serving Jesus Christ years down the road? Furthermore, why is it that this “falling away” (see Matt 13:20-21) is not limited to youth but extends to many who profess to have made a response at a jail ministry, nursing home outreach or other evangelistic encounter?

easy

The unfortunate answer is that they were never born again (cf. 1 Jn 2:4-6). Folks proclaim regularly in their testimony of conversion that “I asked Jesus into my heart in grade school, but never got serious about Christianity until twenty years later when I dedicated my life to Him after a serious issue in life.”

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The Mont-Joux pass is the erstwhile name of a particularly treacherous mountain pass in the Alps straddling Switzerland and Italy. For centuries thousands of lost sojourners perished trying to cross it in the biting winter. When a snowstorm unpredictably arose, there would be a whiteout, and with no way to stay on course travelers would get disoriented, distressed, irrevocably lost, and slowly freeze to death.Rescue dogs

But, suddenly, in the 1700s the death rate declined drastically. The reason was not due to any serendipitous technological advances. The climate hadn’t changed. The reason the increased survival rate was due to a dog; or to be more accurate, a breed of dogs. This uncanny canine breed possessed a prodigious aptitude for navigation in the blinding fog, a preternatural stamina in below freezing temperatures, and an almost mystical ability to locate lost people in a blizzard.

By this stage in history the pass had been named for the monastery founded by St Bernard of Mont-Joux, so naturally the dogs were also canonized, as St Bernards.

During the 200 or so years that the faithful saints served on the St Bernard Pass, over 2,000 lost souls were rescued from the frost-bitten clutches of an icy death. When the “saint” found a lost soul, they would rescue the iced travelers with a simple but effective, methodical process: first, they located them in the snow with their super-sniffer abilities, then they would deliver a life-saving supply of whiskey and bread in quaint oaken barrels strapped around their necks, and finally they would lead the revived popsicle back to the monastery at a blood-stirring pace by borrowing a pathway with its broad chest at a determined gait.

The rescue dog breed is an apt metaphor for the intrepid sub-species of Christian, the full time missionary. This is a breed of believer that exhibits extraordinary stamina and perseverance, and the exceptional abilities to sniff out local spiritual and physical needs, and lead disciples by example, into the soul-saving truth. Missionaries  also admit that they are impotent to help the lost soul, except for delivering the life-giving elixir they carry with them, namely the gospel message.

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 Last week I wrote about how Christians can cultivate a love for evangelism. This post picks up on that same theme, but aims it a pastors. It is adopted from A Guide to Evangelism, written by the faculty at Southern Seminary.

centrifuge

centrifuge

Is your church a centrifuge for gospel ministry? Are believers compelled out from the safe harbor of Christian fellowship to engage our unbelieving world?

Many churches can become evangelistic cul-de-sacs. Lots of believers go in, but very little gospel going back out. Instead of evangelistic DNA, it’s become an appendage expressed primarily in programs and events.

Instead, Christians must cultivate evangelistic instincts that a humble tenacity to engage in conversations that go beyond the point of least resistance and move toward the gospel. Last week, I wrote about how Christians can develop these evangelistic instincts. This week I want to pick up that same theme and ask how pastors can help their churches a church cultivate evangelistic living in the congregation.

Here are a few ideas for church leaders to help raise the voice for Christ exalting, gospel proclaiming evangelism in the local church:   Continue Reading…

ive got a messageEvangelizing unbelievers can be difficult for the same reason criminals struggle to find policemen…most are not looking for one. Instead of pursuing others with the gospel, we are cocooned with those who already know it.  A vortex pulls us into Christian activities and lulls us toward indifference to those yet to repent.

Genuinely drawing near to Christ will rightly submerse us in believer’s fellowship, but it will simultaneously thrust us toward others in gospel ministry.  Heavily evangelistic churches become that way as individual believers are passionate and proactive in daily life. They implement the faithful exposition of Scripture and are propelled out to reach sinners for Christ.

The Great Commission is an individual commission and it is not fulfilled in silence. but in conversations that confront ungodliness and unrighteousness with the kindness of God that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). Day by day, we look for points of intersection, where the “salt and light” will collide with decay and darkness.  Transforming hearts forge evangelistic instincts, and here are four ways to  prepare those instincts:   Continue Reading…

george-beverly-shea

George Beverly Shea

I have decided to follow Jesus” is a polarizing hymn. Made popular by the Billy Graham crusades, it is inseparable from the concept of altar calls and emotional pleading. For some, it stands as a sort of Arminian anthem—a testimony to the power of human volition and an example of all that is wrong with modern Christian lyrics. For others, it is a song celebrating the simplicity of conversion–simple and sincere.

But when you know the story behind the song, you realize that it is not a statement about free will, nor about the ease of placing your faith in Christ. It actually stands as a monument to the international nature of the gospel, as well as a radical call to suffer and die with Jesus.

The late 1800’s saw an evangelistic explosion in India. Entire provinces formally closed to the gospel were swept up a missionary movement perhaps unparalleled in history. Wales in particular sent hundreds of missionaries to Northern India, and they were joined by Indian evangelists, as well as missionaries from England, Australia, and the United States. This movement was remarkable for two reasons; first, it was led mostly by Indians themselves, and those men became national figures.  Second, this missionary endeavor was focused on Northern India, which was firmly in the grips of the most oppressive forms of Hinduism. It was a place where the caste system was entrenched, and where headhunters ruled.    Continue Reading…