Christmas is almost upon us, but too often, we celebrate God becoming flesh by leaving the malls’ and radios’ music to tell people about Jesus. Yet just today, I heard about a child who doesn’t even know that Christmas has something to do with a baby …Continue reading →
It’s no secret that we live in a world of pain and suffering. And when we’re suffering the most and really need someone to talk to, it seems we find ourselves alone. When friends go through major crises like divorce or the death of a child, we tend to…Continue reading →
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As part of my personal devotions, I listen to other pastors’ sermons, since listening to my own seems a bit redundant. Yesterday, I was listening to a brilliant sermon by Pastor Joe Burnham of Denver, and I’d like to share some of his insights on evangelism.
He separates people into two categories, those with a church background and those without. Using the illustration of a Dot-to-Dot activity, those who have spent some time in a Christian church have the dots, the basics of the faith, but if they don’t understand the Gospel, they need us to help them connect the dots. Usually, they have the dots of the Law, but without connecting them to see that Jesus has fulfilled the Law on our behalf, they can’t see the actual picture God has given us.
Others, like the men in Acts 17:16-34, have little or no experience or education in the Christian faith, so they need us to start with the very basics and actually draw the dots before we connect them. But first, we need to be on the same page, and this is done by finding a point of commonality. What do we have in common with that person, and more specifically, like Paul’s “Unknown God” example, what do our beliefs have in common with theirs? Once we have some common ground, we have a place to start.
Think about your friends who are not connected with a church community regularly. Do they have the dots that just need to be connected? If not, what common beliefs do you share? How can you start there to help them understand the truth God has revealed to us?
Since Pastor Joe explains it so much better than I do, I invite you to listen to his entire sermon for a more detailed explanation. He has given me permission to include it with this post.
We have two forbidden topics in our culture: religion and politics. But somewhere along the line, people started talking about politics. Maybe somewhere along the line, we figured out how to discuss our views like reasonable adults without attacking each other to improve understanding of each other and relate better to one another–that, or we just don’t keep our opinions and beliefs to ourselves very well.
That being the case, since our entire worldview revolves around our understanding of Who God is and how He relates to us, it makes sense that we should be able to discuss our understanding of our place in the universe with each other, but we can’t expect to just walk up to a random person on the street or in the office and have that deep of a conversation. So here are some tips to that end:
- Don’t treat people like merit badges. You don’t earn points with God for sharing the Gospel (you don’t need to–Jesus already earned everything for you), so don’t accumulate “targets” the way businesses try to accumulate customers.
- Love people, and don’t just love them so you can share the Gospel with them. Love them as Christ loved them by being a good friend.
- Instead of going out and looking for “targets,” look at the friends you have now. How can you be a better friend, and how can you develop deeper relationships with those friends? (Hint: Think about the people everyone likes because of their generosity, the “would give you the shirt off his back” kinds of people) Follow that example with your friends.
- Be real with people. Listen to them, and when you can offer comfort in bad times, remember that there’s no better comfort than the promise of the resurrection and eternal life. Let your friends know that it really is going to be OK.
But what if that opportunity doesn’t come? You don’t want to wish for something bad to happen to someone so you can provide comfort in the Gospel! Here are some hot current topics, though, that have a spiritual element, and if one fo these topics surface, don’t be afraid to offer some Godly wisdom into the conversation:
- Gay marriage: it’s not what God wants, because He wants so much more for us, to know the love He’s shown us in Christ.
- Health Care: the Bible doesn’t give direction as to how the government should proceed, but since God loves us, how can we help people on a local level while we wait for the government to figure out which direction it’ll go?
- War in the Middle East: discuss the importance of praying for both our troops and our enemies, that God would thwart evil plans and bring peace and healing
- The economy: share your assurance that, even without employment, God will take care of you, and that our problems are nothing compared to His problems
If you’re interested, let me suggest an activity for your family: as you watch the news together, discuss each story with each other and how we as Christians can respond. How does our assurance of God’s love and the promise of the resurrection affect the way we understand that story. A DVR (like a TiVo or similar devices) comes in handy for this, but otherwise, use mute buttons during the commercial breaks for these conversation opportunities. Parents, this is a great and simple way for you to pass on your values in a very practical way to your children.
What other topics or tips do you have? I welcome your comments.
Today is Talk Like a Pirate Day, and the more I think about it, as despicable as most pirates may be, perhaps we can learn something from them.
Since I’ve been here, I’ve heard a lot of comments that people hope my presence here will somehow bring people back who’ve somehow slipped through the cracks, especially the younger (under 40) generations whom statistically we see less of at any given …Continue reading →
Small Catechism.pdb: The Small Catechism as flashcards for the Palm. Requires the freeware Learn?! application. 59905-FIELDATTACHEDFILE: Constructing a Church Year Calendar. Beginning with Easter, the student is moved forward and backward, constructing the Church Year calendar in the same way that the church constructed its … Continue reading →
Concordia Publishing House has a new downloadable resource called Jesus’ Place in MySpace. And while MySpace has been replaced among the under 30 set by Facebook, the principles remain the same, and while I haven’t read the ebook (It likely wouldn’t be anything new for me.), it ties in with a ministry opportunity that entered my inbox a couple weeks ago. read more »Continue reading →
CrossFeed Religious News: The Podcast Jump to Archive CrossFeed Religious News discusses the news from the former religious news community by the same name. Go post links to interesting news stories, vote on the ones you find interesting and not so … Continue reading →