Four Ways to Start Applying Innovation to Communicate the Gospel
I love innovation. I love discovering innovative ways to proclaim the gospel. How can congregations respond in this rapidly changing world to communicate what Christ has already done for us?
Church Culture and Evangelism
The Bible tells Christians to be salt and light – influencers in a dark world. When it comes to evangelism it seems that the influence of culture is overshadowing the biblical commission. It’s important for Christians to identify that because it may be coming from an unexpected source… their church.
Praise and Proclaim Ministries launches outreach initiative in Goodyear, AZ
Phoenix in February is a nice place to visit especially when you come from parts of the country where winter means ice, snow, and frigid air.
Going door-to-door to proclaim the gospel dressed in a short-sleeved shirt is a nice treat when the temperatures are in the low 70’s.
Praise and Proclaim Ministries received the blessing of launching an outreach initiative at River of Life Lutheran Church in Goodyear, Arizona (azriveroflife.com) – a suburban area west of Phoenix. And the Lord blessed this wonderful effort.
The Word made flesh entrusts believers with the gospel
Before time began… was the Word.
The Word became the Light… and made his dwelling among us.
The Word remains today… so that all people may believe in him.
It is the Word we celebrate every Christmas – he is there, wrapped in cloths, and lying in the manger.
The Word made flesh entrusts believers with the gospel for the purpose of preserving and proclaiming it to the world.
God’s commission for evangelism is sandwiched between a reminder and a promise
When God calls His people to action, he typically begins and ends with a promise. He provides words of assurance that God is God and we are not. He provides words of comfort to calm our fears. He promises His presence to let us know that we are not alone.
When it comes to God’s commission for all believers to proclaim the message of the gospel – perhaps the most fearful, intimidating, and difficult task given to all believers – the words of exhortation are sandwiched between a reminder and a promise.
- He reminds us that He has been given all authority that He is passing on to His disciples, and,
- He promises all believers that when they step out in faith to share their faith — they will not be alone.
Comforted by His Word – emboldened by His promises – believers embrace the commission to share the message of what Christ has already accomplished for us on the cross.
Nobody likes to hear that they are going to hell. When anger is used to pronounce this eternal reality, I don’t believe it is an appropriate response.
God’s wrath falls down on souls who reject the invitation to receive Jesus Christ as their Savior. Out of perfect love, it’s a final judgment against sin, but accompanied with profound sadness for the soul. During a time of grace on earth, God’s anger is typically reserved for his chosen people, not towards people who do not yet know Him.
Prophets of the Old Testament did pronounce angry judgment against the Israelite people. They had forgotten and abandoned God — the same God who had faithfully loved, cared, and provided for them. Like an abandoned spouse, the Israelites chose to divorce themselves from the one true God and fall for more appealing gods that satisfied their temporal and lustful needs. And God was having none of it.
God used these prophets to deliver messages, but they are not necessarily role models on how to share God’s Word with others.
When Jesus entered the temple courts, he certainly expressed anger. It was directed towards the outwardly religious who confessed a faith in God, but were disgracing His name and His house. Jesus even used some very colorful, unflattering names to describe their spiritual condition.
Sometimes Christians need a kick in the pants to let them know that God is aware of their actions and He is not impressed.
The reason is that God takes sin seriously. The light of the gospel is needed in a dark world. Salt is needed to express it. However, when salt loses it’s saltiness, it is to be thrown away. It’s good for nothing. Christians can easily get entangled in the weeds of life causing their fruit to dry up. The branch can eventually die causing it to be cut off and thrown into the fire. For those who confess a faith and not live it, anger is appropriate means to deliver a loving message of warning.
Note that we don’t see harshness when Jesus confronts people who don’t know or are ignorant of the truth. He tells Zacheas to get down from the tree and invites himself over to his house. He gently rebukes the Samaritan woman at the well and tells the woman caught in adultery to leave her life of sin. Jesus is more prone to engage sinners in need of the gospel versus saints who think they are spiritually healthy.
Anger doesn’t engage, but love draws people out.
When sharing God’s Word with others who do not know Christ, it’s important to build a bridge of trust and understanding. Loving and sincere words of concern can effectively share the consequences of sin to those who may be ignorant of the true message of salvation. For those who stubbornly persist in rejecting God’s message of grace, they already pronounce judgment on themselves. With a measure of sadness, we walk away shaking the dust off our feet.
Anger really doesn’t have a place to those who don’t know Christ. It seems that anger is only appropriate for those who confess Christ, but make life choices that gives evidence that they have turned their back on Him.
A person can feel so isolated and alone when they are encounter suffering in this life.
An extended hand of warmth and compassion touches the soul during times of grief. Well-timed words of comfort can be absorbed like drops of rain during a time of drought. The thought that somebody cares brings welcome relief to those who feel they are marooned on a deserted island. The chances of healing may seem as remote as the island itself.
When healing does occur it seems as if it were a miracle.
When Jesus Christ encountered those who suffered from physical ailments or possessed by demons, he extended compassion by healing them. They were miracles performed, but for a very distinct purpose.
Jesus told his disciples after healing a blind man, “This happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” (John 9:3)
Sometimes bad things happen to people or continue to happen so that the work of God may be displayed in their life. A miraculous healing can bring praise. Continued affliction or no healing at all can bring forth a display of hope and trust. If not this mortal life, believes the afflicted, than in heaven I will be made whole. That is faith — a miracle in of itself.
In the case of the blind man who was healed by Christ, he did not truly know who the Healer was until later. All he knew was that once he was blind from birth and now he can see.
Upon learning of this miracle, the Pharisees interrogated the man. They inquired how a sinner who was blind from birth because of his parent’s sin be healed by a man who sinned by healing on the Sabbath? “It wasn’t me,” the healed man confessed, “It was all the work of Jesus.”
The healed man simply confessed to the Pharisees what he knew to be true. In doing so, we discover that the Pharisees were the ones who were truly blind. God used the healing of the blind man to confess the work of Christ.
Is this not the same thing when Christians share God’s Word with others. We share what our heart sees. We confess to what we trust to be true. The Lord then uses our unique set of circumstances to present opportunities to display the work of Christ.
We were blind, but now we see. We were lost, but now we are found. All because of what Christ already accomplished for us on the cross.
And it seems that the Lord gathers an audience when he allows difficult circumstances in our life. Connections are made. A bridge is crossed. And we are asked how can we receive such confidence in Christ our Redeemer.
Those who share God’s Word are miracle workers like the disciples. Perhaps we can’t heal the sick, or cast our evil spirits, but through the power of God’s Word we can be used by the Lord to bring life to those who are spiritually dead.
Isn’t that the greatest miracle of all?
On a hot summer afternoon, the missionaries returned to our car after several hours of knocking on doors in Salt Lake City. Tired and discouraged from people not being at home, not choosing to answer their door, or conveying little interest in what we had to say, I searched for words to offer hope and consolation.
Words that came out of my lips were like drops of water on hot pavement. They evaporated quickly. Feeling inadequate, I asked myself, “What would Jesus say?”
I was driven to the gospels and red-letter words of Christ. There, I found the encouragement and inspiration we needed.
In Matthew 10:5-20, Jesus was offering instructions to his twelve disciples. From these instructions, there were nuggets of gold that missionaries could take to heart.
- When sharing the message of salvation from God’s Word, it’s not about us.
It’s not our responsibility on how a person responds to the gospel message. That’s the business of the Holy Spirit.
- Not only do we share the message given to us by Christ, but we understand our role in being just His messengers.
Jesus tell us to proclaim a simple message, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” In fact, the kingdom of heaven has arrived at a person’s doorstep. Believe in His message and you will draw near to His kingdom. That’s the invitation we bring.
- Not only do we share the message given to us through God’s Word, but we bring a pronouncement of judgment.
When the door chooses to be opened or remain closed, it’s about the message and not us. When received with warmth and openness, we readily transmit the message of peace. If you are not welcomed or listened to, Jesus tell us that we simply leave and “shake the dust off our feet” in judgment.
A missionary can’t help but feel sad for those who reject the true message of grace. Over a series of rejections, a messenger can easily get discouraged, because he loves the One giving the message so much. It is during these times where we need to remind ourselves that it’s not about us. If a person closes the door to their heart and to their home, we allow them the freedom to do so. Not only does Jesus tell us to do that, but it’s also the loving thing to do.
- Not only do we share the love of Christ through God’s Word, but we bring His presence as well.
Jesus tells us in the Great Commission that he will always be with us to the very end of the age. That promise is coupled with the fact that whenever we are placed in a position to be his witnesses and words do not form on our lips, then he will give us the words to say (v. 20). It will not be you speaking, but the Holy Spirit speaking through you.
With these promises, we can be assured that there is power in the invitation to hear God’s Word, but there is also power in His presence through us.
Perhaps there is more than we thought whenever Christians are given the opportunity to share God’s Word.
No wonder we are truly blessed with the experience of being used by God to be his messengers.