After listening to Chuck Swindoll on the radio, 8-year-old Debbie asked 6-year-old brother David, “Do you know about Jesus?” Expecting a new slant on the old gospel story, David replied, “No.” Big sister continued: “Sit still, ’cause this is real scary.” After explaining the gospel as only an 8-year-old could, she popped the question: “Now David, when you die, do you want to go to heaven to be with Jesus, God, your mommy and daddy and big sister, or do you want to go to the lake of fire to be with the Devil and bank robbers?” David thought a moment, then replied, “I want to stay right here.”
A passenger jet was suffering through a severe thunderstorm. As the passengers were being bounced around by the turbulence, a young woman turned to a minister sitting next to her and with a nervous laugh asked, “Reverend, you’re a man of God, can’t you do something about this storm?” He looked at her and replied, “Sorry lady, I’m in sales, not management.”
Charles Malik, Lebanese ambassador to the United Nations, asked in a speech: “What has been the greatest American contribution to the rest of the world? Has it been money? Has it been food? Has it been medical skill? Has it been military might? Has it been industrial know-how?” Then he answers: “The greatest thing to come out of America has been the American missionary effort: the quiet, selfless men and women who have left the comfort and security of their homeland to bring the gospel of Christianity to less favored nations.”
Not the Bible thumping preacher that goes in because everyone else is wrong and to only save the lost from hell. But the missionary that has something to give to the community. Medical care. A better way to have water and food. Better education. To find peace and justice. Because the lost are won by the gracious acts of life skills.
The church is like manure. Pile it up, and it stinks up the neighborhood; spread it out, and it enriches the world. The great task of the church is to get sinners into heaven and saints out of bed! An Amish man was asked if he had accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. The wise gentleman responded, “Why do you ask me such a thing? I could tell you anything. Here is the name of my banker, my grocer, and my farm hands. Ask them if I am saved.” True character is revealed in our treatment of others.
When Jesus gave us the Great Commission, exactly what was he telling us to do? At first glance, “going,” “baptizing,” and “teaching” all look like verbs, and we think, “Oh, I get it-Jesus told us to go, baptize, and teach!” Close but not quite right. Those are nice things to do, but Jesus actually and grammatically commanded us to “make disciples.” The “going, baptizing, teaching” tell us how we do it. Making disciples is the end, the focus, the command. Going, baptizing, and teaching are the means, the method, the activity.
The most effective means of getting people to experience what a church has to offer is having someone they know who belongs to the church simply invite them to try it. Call it whatever you wish–word of mouth, personal invitation, friendship evangelism–this is indisputably the most effective means of increasing the church rolls. Why? Because it builds upon an established relationship, which means that the recommendation or invitation springs from a credible source. More often than not, if the person being invited has any interest in the church, the mere fact that the church has the endorsement of a trusted friend or associate is sufficient to cause “product trial.”
Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law….”Come and see,” said Philip. When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
It sounds easy, but the tough part is to instill in the members your vision of church growth and help them see they are the actual marketers of the church. The lay members possess the ability to make the church grow. They must understand it is up to each of them to invite people to visit the church. This means that the church leadership has a challenge before it: –to make sure people feel so satisfied with the church that members would feel comfortable recommending it to their friends; –to communicate the importance of members inviting friends; –to encourage members to invite their friends, preparing the laity for such boldness; –to prepare the church for how to treat visitors once they grace the church with their presence.
Statistics show that out of every six times the gospel is presented, one person will receive Christ.
When Honorius was Emperor of Rome, about the year 400 A.D., the great Coliseum of Rome was often filled to overflowing with spectators who had come from far and near to view the state games. Part of the sport consisted in watching as human beings battled with wild beasts or against one another until one or the other was killed. The assembled multitude made Roman holiday of such sport and found its highest delight in the death of a human being. It was on such a day when the vast crowd was watching the contest that a Syrian monk by the name of Telemachus stood up in the vast arena. Telemachus was torn by the utter disregard for the value of human life and so he leaped into the arena in the midst of the gladiatorial show and cried out, “This thing is not right! This thing must stop!” Because he was interfering with their pleasure, the authorities gave the command for Telemachus to be run through with a sword, which was done. Thus he died, but he kindled a flame in the hearts and consciences of thinking persons. History records that because of this within a few months the gladiatorial combats began to decline and very shortly they passed from history. Why? Because one man dared to speak out for what he felt was right.
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matt 5:14)
A church on the move must confront reality and meet people where they are.
Separation is not isolation-it is contact without contamination. Jesus was the friend of tax collectors and sinners. Many church members don’t have any unsaved friends, or if they do, they keep them at a distance. Jesus was crucified outside Jerusalem, where the crowd was so cosmopolitan that the inscription on his cross had to be written in three languages. Many churches today have abandoned the marketplace and spend their time reminding one another of the gospel.
I’m thankful for a church that remembers that we exist primarily for those who aren’t here yet.