Category: Evangelism

Witness Well

Start spiritual conversations by sticking to the basics

“It’s best to remain silent and be thought of a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.” 

“Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.” (Proverbs 17:28)

If silence is golden and a silver tongue commands respect, then why do I tend to open my mouth and remove all doubt about being a fool?

Perhaps that is why evangelism is so dangerous.

A life in Christ is a no-win conundrum.

Proclaiming the wisdom of the gospel is considered foolish by the world.

Holding our tongue and refraining from giving reasons for the hope a believer has in Christ can cause unbelievers to earmark Christians as fools.

Or worse, by remaining silent, the world can assume that professing Christians don’t really care about the spiritual welfare of those who don’t care about God.

A badge of faith in today’s climate casts judgments that are not based on what a person believes but on what is assumed they believe.

Due to historically high levels of biblical illiteracy, growing political division, and a promoted cultural ideology that elevates the progression of human wisdom over God, the fields are being filled with suffocating thorns and weeds.

By remaining silent, unbelieving neighbors and acquaintances may assume that Christian believers are out-of-touch, uncaring, and intolerant.

Instead of the Word being the double-edged sword that separates, silent believers are allowing untruths and hyperbole do the separating for them.  

How can Christians start to engage the world around us and have spiritual conversations?

How can Christians begin to communicate the most important message a lost soul will ever hear?

A way to start spiritual conversations is by sticking to the basics.

Witnessing does not need to step on cultural landmines (homosexuality, immigration issues, #metoo movement) that destroy well-meaning opportunities. We keep doors open to share the gospel by being steadfastly concerned about winning souls through the power of the Word rather than defending a political stance.

Cultures change. They shift like sand in the wind. But God is unchangeable. His Word is the same. His Word still works.

When starting a conversation with a person who does not know Christ, always bring conversations back to Christ and what he has done.

This is the strategy that was employed by a monk five hundred years ago who tackled the culture and the teachings of the church.

Widespread religious lunacy punctuated by the selling of indulgences dominated the culture of the early 16th century. Uplifting man’s ability to save themselves and their loved ones from hell through the purchasing of indulgences was a church-sponsored way to raise money. The possibility that the forgiveness of sins was attainable outside of God’s grace cloaked the world with spiritual darkness until God raised up a monk to confront it. Martin Luther boldly declared “Sola Scriptura” – God’s Word alone – as being the only way and truth to receive righteousness from God. Faith alone saves sinful men and women. Faith alone through the power of the Word declares that all people are justified by faith.

Even before the Reformation, the church fathers provided a plum line for Truth. The Apostles Creed serves as a basis for confession and the proclamation of the orthodox Christian faith by teaching:

Christ really died.
Christ really rose from the dead.
God the Father has really accepted his Son’s work on our behalf.
Our sins are really atoned for in full.
A real heaven awaits those who trust in God’s promises.

This is the core message of the gospel – the essential doctrine of the Christian faith. The creed is a simple explanation of who Jesus is and why.

Spiritual conversations are risky, but I don’t believe a discerning tongue in today’s climate can remain silent. People don’t know that they don’t know. They need the Truth.

It’s worth remaining a fool to remove all doubt that Jesus lives. Eternity in heaven is dependent on receiving this message.

APOSTLES’ CREED

I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

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Starting spiritual conversations

Most people consider themselves spiritual. There is a desire for inner peace, harmony with body and soul, or a reconnection with a higher power. While many spiritual paths are offered, few provided satisfying solutions. And sadly, there is a growing reluctance to seek out a Christian church to find answers.

We seem to be arriving at a time to employ evangelism strategies that emphasizes individual believers to go and get the Word out rather that inviting people to come and hear the Word.

How can we start spiritual conversations with people who don’t know Christ?

If you feel like a novice in the area of personal evangelism, may I offer three suggestions to help get started:

Be willing

Be adventurous

Be okay

These suggestions may appear simple but are profound in helping believers step out of their comfort zones and into the world to proclaim the gospel.

Be willing

What is the favorite word of a two-year-old child?

No!

It takes faith and spiritual maturity to say yes to God.

A faith rooted in Christ declares, “I am willing to serve God instead of myself.”

A mature faith responds by praying, “Lord, you have always kept your promises before and I trust that you will do the same when I carry out what you desire me to do – share my faith with others.”

God not only graciously gives us the gospel but entrusts believers with it. The gospel is meant to be shared.

Witnessing will not change a believer’s status before God. Faith alone seals a believer’s adoption as a redeemed child of God.

Secure in his grace, believers are willing to be changed and set apart to be who God created them to be.

Preserved in his Word, believers readily confess their fears, laziness, and self-absorption so that they may be willing messengers for the sake of the gospel.

Be adventurous

I recently attempted to install a timer switch for the outdoor lights at my house. After investing several days of flailed attempts and trips to the hardware store, my emotional energy was exhausted. Frustrated and defeated, the decision was made to call an electrician for help.

When he arrived at our house, I soon discovered that he had an adventurous spirit.

When I offered to go to our fuse box to turn off the power, he turned to me with a sly smile on his face and said, “Where’s the fun in that?”

Ten minutes later our timer was installed.

Was he foolish working with the power on? Was he over-confident in his abilities? Perhaps. But he knew what he was doing, accepted the risks, and seamlessly carried out the task.

I started thinking that evangelism is the same way.

Proclaiming the gospel is not easy, nor is it safe. There are risks involved.

Jesus gave us an example of a man with an adventurous spirit.

In the parable of the God Samaritan, several notable men – who probably ought to have known better — passed by an injured man on the side of the road. A Samaritan came by and made himself available. He went beyond what was expected by extending grace, time, and resources. He didn’t expect anything in return, nor did he stick around to receive complements or rewards. He just did it.

The desire to share our faith is a natural outpouring of faith. It’s like a fruit tree bearing good fruit or a grape vine producing grapes. By being connected to the root, fruit happens.

Believers with an adventurous spirit rooted in Christ are gospel intentional in their daily lives. Opportunities emerge like a wounded victim alongside a road who desperately needs spiritual help. Time and resources are spent for that person to deliver a message of eternal salvation. God’s grace is extended like low-hanging fruit. It just happens.

Evangelism is not easy, nor safe. It’s risky. It may seem like installing a light with the electricity on. How foolish!

An adventurous spirit secure in Christ will say, “But where’s the fun in that!”

And their life will never be the same.

Be okay

My electrician understands fragile male egos.

He allowed me to be an observer and ask questions while he installed our timer. When he showed me the correct way to connect the neutral wires, I pretended like I fully understood my mistake.

He graciously told me, “That’s okay. It’s a very common thing to miss. You almost got it!”

Yea, right.

Experience matters.

Experience recognizes that you are going to screw up 90% of the time when you are a novice. But that’s how you get better.

Experience doesn’t compare yourself against the professionals who know what they are doing, but desires to learn.

Experience understands that it takes a great deal of effort to stand up, dust yourself off, and be willing to try again.

It requires an emotional investment. It means being okay with enduring setbacks.

Experience matters with personal evangelism.

It means being okay with the feeling that you will probably screw up.

It means being okay with feeling like a failure after you tried to proclaim the gospel.

Be encouraged that feelings of failure will dissolve when confronted with biblical truth.

In Christ, you are an expert in witnessing.

In Christ, you are a light — even when you don’t feel like it.

In Christ, you are salt — even when you feel that witnessing is tasteless.

People notice a life in Christ. Unbelievers concerned about their spiritual welfare are just as afraid to ask about our faith as we are afraid to tell them.

God isn’t asking believers to go out into the world and win debates.

He is asking believers to be a messenger so that the power of his Word can be unleashed.

And it’s going to be okay.

A delighted life in Christ proclaims the life of Christ.

An invitation to come to church doesn’t seem to be enough these days, because people are asking themselves, “Why in the world should I accept your invitation? Give me a reason why I should come?”

We already know the answer. The resurrected Christ who lived and died in our place is the object of our faith, the source of our peace, and the answer to every question.  We convey to others what we already know to be true.

Evangelism means living a gospel-intentional life that breaks us out of the pattern of living for our self.

It means to be willing, adventurous and okay to give reasons for the hope we have in Christ to anybody who asks.

That’s how we can begin to have spiritual conversations in this world.

Witnessing Christ during Christmas

Christmas is the best time of the year.

It’s the season with the greatest opportunities to proclaim the message of Good News to ears that are more willing than usual to listen.

The statistics prove it.

Some tag along with family members.

The most visitors a congregation receives is on Christmas Eve.

Others are inspired by the Christmas spirit and feel that attending worship is something they ought to do.

And there are a few who come because they are struggling to find peace and joy in a world that broadcasts fear and uncertainty.

Its appealing to consider singing “Silent Night” in the glow of the candlelight and be caught up in the warmth of a decorated church.

They are looking for some good news.

It is true that there is a growing number of people who are becoming more unlikely to visit an established church on a Sunday morning, but not on Christmas Eve. This is different.

Great opportunities abound during Christmas to declare that God became flesh so that he may finish the redemptive work on our behalf.

Mission-minded congregations are strategic on how they can reach those who don’t know Christ during Christmas. They don’t necessarily celebrate the number of visitors who attend church on Christmas Eve, but celebrate the connections that are made. As unbelievers turn their attention and thoughts to Jesus and church at this time, it can become the beginning of a faith journey. Mission minded churches consider it a joy and privilege to be granted an opportunity to have ongoing spiritual conversations that will require investments of time, commitment and persistence.

While congregations prepare for Christmas Eve, members can also prepare hearts and minds to be gospel intentional in getting the Word out beyond the church doors.

What can a Christian believer say when they invite an unchurched friend or neighbor to come to church on Christmas Eve and provide a short gospel message?

May I suggest the following:

“Hi [name]. Merry Christmas! I love this time of year. We have a very nice Christmas Eve service at my church and I would like to extend an invitation for you and your family to join us. We sing familiar Christmas carols, plus our pastor gives a short message about the love of God and what he has already done for us through Christ. Then we conclude by lighting candles and singing “Silent Night.” In those words, I find true peace during these uncertain times that only comes from trusting God’s promises that my sins are fully forgiven right now. The greatest promise ever kept is what we celebrate at Christmas. Our service starts at 6 p.m. Let me know if you can join us and we’ll meet you there.”

Christians are often surprised when people politely and respectfully receive invitations to come to Christmas Eve worship services. They are willing to listen to the reasons for the hope we have in Christ.

We can pray,

“Lord, thank you for fulfilling your promises in Christ. May our hearts be filled with joy and peace this Christmas season as we reflect on your message. Prompt our spirit to share this message with others and unleash its power. Open our eyes to opportunities you provide to invite people to hear the Good News on Christmas Eve. Thank you for the privilege to be your heralds in this dark world. In your name we pray, Amen.

A Way to Start a Spiritual Conversation

Words matter.

With eyes of wonder, believers in Christ grasp on to the words of grace, redemption, and justification. These words define the Christian faith.

The meaning behind these words appear obvious to the faithful but may have an entirely different connotation to an unbelieving world.

And this chasm of misunderstanding is growing wider.

It’s becoming more challenging to verbally express the hope believers have in Christ when they rely on meaningful Christian terminology to express their faith.

To proclaim Christ in today’s world, it may be helpful to bring a dictionary.

Slingshots or Silence

God works through his Word to create faith in the hearts of unbelievers.

His Word is like a weapon used in warfare. It cuts like a double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12) and explodes like dynamite (Romans 1:16).

One of the greatest weapons ever used in the Bible is a profound example for believers who unleash the power of his Word by proclaiming it to others.

A slingshot.

Reasons for Witnessing Reluctance

Spiritual conversations are becoming increasingly rare in today’s world.

Verbally proclaiming the gospel to a lost soul is becoming a lost art and a daunting prospect.

Many Christians believers are reluctant to talk about their faith with others and a recent study has proven this to be true.

Praise and Proclaim launches outreach initiative in Yakima WA

Evangelism is far more about trusting God’s promises and assurances than it is about ourselves. Believers trust that God’s Word works, even though we may not see the visible results of our efforts. Immediately following the Praise and Proclaim outreach initiative at Redeemer Lutheran Church (Yakima, WA), Rev. Isaac Cherney posed the following question during his sermon on Sunday morning,

“Is the Holy Spirit in charge of the results or not?”

Mission-minded congregations embrace the joy and privilege of being God’s messengers. They are far more concerned about bringing as many people as possible to heaven through the power of God’s Word than finding new members for their church. God is in control of the results. His children are in control of getting the Word out and unleashing its power.

It is God’s wisdom that he has chosen human messengers to be his representatives or ambassadors for the purpose of driving his message out. It is God’s responsibility to convert people by filling them with his Holy Spirit. It is only through the Spirit that lost souls hear, see, and believe his Truth and are set free.

A core group of faithful members from Redeemer Lutheran Church in Yakima WA embraced this truth, received evangelism training, and went out into their community to unleash the power of God’s Word.

Praise and Proclaim launches outreach initiative in Little Rock AR

“Those are two nice ladies. You must have a great church.”

A gentleman working in his yard had just met two members from King of Kings Lutheran Church in Little Rock, AR. They had just come by his house to introduce their church, proclaim a short gospel message, and personally invite him to their Fall Festival. He was impressed. Several minutes after they left, he told us that he would consider coming to church even though he belonged to another.

He was not alone. Others were also impressed that members of a nearby church were out meeting their neighbors and were interested to learn more about the small WELS church in Little Rock that has a big heart for Jesus.