Enclosed is my most current paper.
Please feel free to share your feedback and any ideas/suggestions/corrections (from a biblical point of view) that you may notice. I understand some come from various denominational beliefs. If you are such, please phrase the beliefs of your particular denomination as an alternate opinion. Debating and arguing denominational differences as an absolute is not what Im looking for.
Techniques of Biblical Evangelism Techniques in a Modern World.
A few weeks ago, I was talking to a church member who mentioned someone suggested using modern sales techniques to build the church, but the church decided against it because they wanted to rely on following the gospel. While I applauded their decision to be true to the Word of God, it got me thinking, "what are appropriate evangelistic strategies?" It is true that there are many techniques the world uses that are not appropriate for the Kingdom of God. However, there are God given methods of sharing the good news that the world has noticed, perhaps more so than Christians, which we perhaps can learn from and apply to our lives and testimony. How sad it is to see many good churches with solid biblical messages floundering in an era of hedonism while some churches have compromised God's standards in order to grow. How much I wish all churches were filled with a generation of saints who are making a positive influence in the world. And while many churches primarily have an older population the church this position can go two ways. One direction is we can have is a retired group of people with the wisdom of the ages. A group who grew up in a more moral godly world, with the knowledge and relationship of God, who already completed raising their earthly family and career, finally having the free time of retirement to end their final days bringing the kingdom of God to the younger generation. Or it could go the other direction, where we enjoy a life of leisure, forsaking the things of God and then the message not be shared and others perish and churches close.
Hopefully the result is the former, but in order for God to use us, we need to be vessels available for Him to fill with His true message and do His work wise as serpents but harmless as doves.
Many have the right heart yet are not sure how to go forward and some also need to be encouraged.
Therefore, in this paper, my goal is to share some thoughts on techniques which are appropriate for a church to use and are Biblically sound, And also share what techniques are not. It will compare and contrast techniques of sharing the gospel in the Holy Word to techniques used by the world to get their message across.
1 The Lust of the Flesh.
"For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." (1 John 2:16)
One of the things I’ve noticed is many modern marketers appeal to the flesh. In the past, it may have been the good looking model on top of a car. Today, it’s much more explicit. Much more brazen. The world strives to awaken the flesh because it’s a cheap way to manipulate and build business. If one turns on the TV, more often than not, the pleasures of the flesh, pride, selfishness, being better than others, and being in charge, are tools used by the world. Sadly, it's not responsible and it reinforces fleshly thoughts in people and drives them further away from the truth. Some churches feel they have to compete with the world. They feel they need to have fun times. No longer worship but celebrating. They use Bible translations that are more modern rather than more accurate. No longer a heart of giving but receiving. No longer serious respectful music, but a band with a lustful beat copying the style of the world with the words of a Jesus that is giving us whatever we want. Yes, Jesus did feed the 5,000 who were hungry and it is good to meet the needs of others, but at the same time, He spoke against the riotous living of the sinful. Many advertisers and businesses use this strategy because it works and people follow it because it appeals to the flesh, but it doesn’t create the new life in Christ.
Paul says, "When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God." (Gal 5:19-21 - NLT)
I am not saying it is wrong to make things enjoyable. But the key is our message truly must be the appealing to the things of God rather than the things of man. The spinach is harder to sell a child than the ice cream, but a mother who truly cares about a child understands the long term benefits of the straight and narrow and will guide their children that direction. A parent that doesn’t take the time to teach the child will lead to a time bomb of disappointment.
Fortunately there is the true joy and contentment in Christ. And there is nothing wrong with sharing joy with others and also meeting their earthly needs. But our message is not to awaken the lusts of the flesh but rather introduce them to the Spirit of God.
"But without faith it is impossible to please him" (Heb 11:6)
Now that we discussed what not to do, we can discuss some strategies that are Biblical that do work.
Paul to the Romans said, we are "Justified by faith" (Rom 5:1). Matthew reveals to us, "And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief." (Matt 13:58). In Hebrews, Paul says, "without faith it is impossible to please God." (Heb 11:6)
What a person believes is very powerful and forms who they are. Jesus knew this very well. They say in sales, a person is more successful if they believe in a product. If someone falls in love with someone, they believe them to the most beautiful person on the face of the earth, and their actions will be toward that direction. However, if they found that spouse is living a double life and has been lying to them and cheating on them, and mocking them behind their back, their whole world view of that person will change and it will have an effect on how they behave toward that person.
The question, is what do we believe? Do we believe that Jesus is one of many paths and it’s the path that we chose and that others are fine if they decide to go differently? Or do we truly believe that these people need Jesus to save Him and without Him there is no hope and they are on the way to eternal suffering? Jesus said, "no man cometh unto the father but by me".
Do we really believe that the heavenly world is extremely more significant than the things of this earth that wither and decay? If we do, how does that affect our actions? Do we believe that we that we should accept sinning every day or do we believe that through Christ we should live a holy and righteous life? Do we believe Him? If we truly believe, if we have the saving faith that changes our whole life, then will our actions change?
James knew this very well as he said, “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:20)
There is a story once said about a tightrope walker who asked his audience if they believed he could walk across the rope with a wheelbarrow. The audience cheered. Then he asked, "how many are willing to get in it?" Its one thing to talk the talk, but someone who truly believes, will walk the walk because of their belief.
Everything about our relationship with Christ is based on what we believe. Who do we trust? Do we create a God in our own minds where we accept the pieces that we like or have we accepted Him as the final authority?
The first step to becoming effective to be a light to others, is by examining ourselves. Let us examine our beliefs to discover if the world has influenced them or if they are in line with the Word of God. And then, hopefully, let us not let the ease and pleasures of this world distract us from what we know is most important. For if our beliefs are wrong, we will be very poor witnesses of Him and our lives will be a disgrace to His name rather than a light to Him.
3. Love Others.
“He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. ”(1 John 2:9)
Love is paramount to God's message. In John 3:16 we read, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son".
When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment, He responded, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."(Matt 22:37-39).
How wonderful is the Love of God and how wonderful it is when he puts His love within us for others. People say that if one truly cares about others, then people will notice that and be more appreciated. The older I get, the more I realize that more valuable than any of the earth's passing possessions that wither and decay is love and those who truly love us. We, through Christ, can give what is most valuable, but how many people in churches really care about others? What happened to the old fashion moms who would be weeping to God on their hands and knees that their child is outside of the will of God, knowing they will go to Hell unless they turn to Him? How many really love their neighbor as their self and burdened. Let us truthfully examine our heart and see if our affections are pointed the right direction. Do we truly love God and our neighbor or is our heart centered on the pleasures of the world?
When people truly care about others, they see it. They know it and the actions follow. Let us all search our heart that we really have the heart of God within us, because if we really don’t care, who do we have to blame if others are not reached. If we really care, the actions will follow. We will approach people. We will be concerned with evangelism rather than the latest entertainment and we will care to fine tune our efforts so the lost lamb will return to the fold.
4. Tell Everyone.
"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Mark 16:15.
Some call this the great commission. Some feel it's fulfilled by putting a dollar in the plate at missions time. But is this commandment just for missionaries or for all of us? In business, they teach the more people you approach, the more results you have. Yes, we wish to work smartly, but at the same time, we have to be about the master's business. There is nothing wrong with using printed documents or technology to share the gospel. While the world is using the radio, television, and the internet to spread their message of sin to the masses, it can also be used to spread the gospel also. But even if one is a small person or church who cannot afford those things, we can still tell people one by one. If everyone just talked to 25 people a day with the true faith in the message of God and a true love for the person they are speaking to, can you imagine the results that could be obtained? Not everyone is going to be saved. Jesus tells us broad is the way of destruction and narrow is the way of salvation, so do not be disappointed if most aren’t receptive. But keep in mind that if we fulfill this commission, then the results will follow. This isn’t just the pastor's job. This isn't just the missionary’s job. This is His job for all of us. We don’t have to perfect speakers. We don’t have to be skilled pastors. But as we draw closer to Him and do His work, He will teach us all things.
Sometimes, those who are closest to us will be more receptive. Other times, it will be those who we won’t know who are looking for answers. The key isn’t that we, individually, have to go to other lands. The key is that we have to share the message of salvation with others, with fervent belief and love to those in our path.
5 No ONE-itis
One-itis is focusing solely on one person and forgetting others.
Sometimes people in business get too focused on the results of one person and are shattered when it falls through. Yes, there are people in our family that we really love and we wish to be saved and I agree that we should never give up on them desiring them to be saved. Yet, we also have to realize that not all will be saved. Some will regrettably resist God and go the wrong direction. While our heart weeps for them, we cannot forget about the others. There other sheep that are not our biological blood, or a close friend, yet need God and there is a massive impact we can make on their life as we share His wonderful way with them.
Remember that Jesus said, "For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?" (Matt 5:46-47).
When Jesus was asked who his family was, he didn’t think earthly but rather, "For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother." (Mark 3:35).
Yes there are those close to us on this earth that we love very passionately, but let us not let that blind us to others that we have not met, that God is waiting for us to talk to about His love so that we can work in their life. How sad it would be if on the day of judgment we realize that there were others who went to eternal suffering because we didn’t notice to the opportunity He put in our path instead just selfishly thinking of ourselves.
6. Children can be reached.
"But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven." (Matt 19:14)
“D. L. Moody once said that at a certain meeting two and a half people were converted to Christ. A friend asked if he meant two adults and a child. The facts were just the opposite - two children and an adult. When a child is led to Christ, a whole life is saved!” (http://dailychristianquote.com/dcqmoody.html)
The Bible teaches, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Prov 22:6).
Have you noticed how much advertising is marketed toward children? How the media constantly become more youth focused rather than the mature? Advertisers know that if they approach older adults who have their buying habits set for life, it's harder to influence them than the younger. They realize that children are more open and teachable. If they reach them for the god of this world and the false message of the devil that happiness is found in the things of this world, so that they can manipulate them, then they have done serious damage to the future of our world. On the other hand, if the church can reach those of the next generation for Christ, then the results will be amazing.
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin once said, “Give me just one generation of youth, and I'll transform the whole world.” (http://www.thequotefactory.com/quote-by/vladimir-ilyich-lenin/give-me-just-one-generation-of/24521)
Someone said to me recently that education has turned them from God. My response was, education that was teaching a secular humanist mindset can turn people away from God, but a godly education can bring the truth that sets one free.
Some churches believe to reach youth, we have to utilize worldly music and the world's culture. But children today are born with the same ability to be holy as children hundreds of years ago. Do we not do them a disservice by not giving them a holy alternative instead of teaching them the culture of the world?
Sadly, our society has trained children to revere their peers and the media and mistrust the caring adults. I understand that when dealing with children we must witness in the right way where we are beyond reproach to minimize being falsely accused. Also teachers in the classroom have understanding of the laws of our society and what is allowed. But let us go forward in a way where our ethics cannot be questioned. As we are doing things the right way, let us care about not giving one more generation to the god of secular humanism and hedonism but may we do what we can to reach the next generation of youth with the Gospel.
7. Help Those Who Are Open.
"When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (Mark 2:17)
Do all need the gospel? Of course they do. Paul states, "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:23).
Also, John states, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:8-9)
We understand there are those who really believe they are ok as they are and don’t need a Savior. But a good businessman knows that in order for someone to do business, they have to recognize a need. If someone is resistant to seeing the need, then things can’t go farther.
As we learn in the parable of the sower, some seed will fall on the good ground and some will not. If this ground isn’t the right ground, do not cast your pearls before swine. There are millions of others in this world who the truth can be shared with. Do not think there is a shortage of people to approach. There is a surplus. As Jesus said, “The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few” (Luke 10:2)
8. Dont Forget the Poor.
"The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised" (Luke 4:18)
Sometimes, in business, people go for simply the wealthy, but that is not God's way. We are not seeking money, but souls.
Jesus said, "And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." (Matt 19:24)
When the disciples responded, "who then can be saved?", Simply "But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible." (Matt 19:26)
When we examine ourselves, do we not have riches that people dreamed about hundreds of years ago? Yet Jesus is saying having riches that can take one's heart away from God is not a benefit while man tends to be attracted to those who are rich in this world.
Over time, I have found people who were poor because they didn’t want to do what it took to be successful. However, one of the miracles of the gospel is that God can and does use the weak things of this world to confound the wise and that God can change the life of a drug addicted homeless man on the way to hell to a new life where he is a respected educated member of society through God's help. As we come across the poor who are serious about the answers that only can come through the Lord, let us be there for these our earthly brothers, where we would be, but by the grace of God.
9. A Constant Communication with God.
"For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist."(Luke 21:15)
While we may use the right techniques, it is important to realize that it is not our words, but His that bring the harvest. He it is who saves others. How can we be a light to others if we are not in the light ourselves? It is important to experience the blessings of His new life in our life first before we can guide others. It's important to spend time daily reading the word and allowing Him to teach us through it. It is important to spend time in prayer, not just sharing the burden of our hearts for the unsaved, but also listening to His still small voice where He can show us what is lacking in our life. Also it is important to confess our sins and be of a pure conscience.
The Psalmist says, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me" Ps 66:18.
Let us examine our hearts, confess and turn from any sins and be receptive to His Spirit, His love being spread in us toward others, and His teaching. May we have a heart of constant fellowship with Him always so we are noticing His presence.
Albert Gray once said, "the secret of success of every man who has ever been successful lies in the fact that he formed the habit of doing things that failures don't like to do.” (http://www.amnesta.net/mba/thecommondenominatorofsuccess-albertengray.pdf)
What are your thoughts about your witness? Are you willing to make the changes of life so that God can use you? Keep in mind that He gave all for you. Jesus even died on the cross for you. Are you willing to give your life totally to Him? What are you willing to do for Him?
To close, please remember what Jesus said to the church of Laodicea.
"I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." (Rev 3:15-16)
What are we going do with Jesus? Do we care enough about the change that he is willing to make in our lives and to have the saving faith that will love others and be passionate for their salvation that we will do what God desires? Or will we simply relax in our riches and life of ease.
I pray that our hearts will be on fire for God where we will not be spewn out of His mouth but rather the result is, "Well done though good and faithful servant"(Matt 25:21)
May God have mercy on all of us.