Archive | January, 2012

It’s Not Just About the Message

27 Jan

Before we hit the streets and begin telling everyone we meet about the good things that God has done for us, I’d like to offer a word to the wise: Evangelism isn’t like telemarketing. This isn’t about adding notches to the handle of your revolver and you don’t make a commission based on how much merchandise you sell during the dinner hour.  In fact, if you approach evangelism with this mentality, you’re probably going to make more enemies than friends.  People aren’t stupid: they can tell the difference between when you’re sharing with them because you genuinely care about them and their eternal destiny and when you’re just trying to win another heavenly merit badge.  Effective evangelism isn’t just about the message; It’s about the way that message is delivered.  Our choice of words, the tone of our voice, and even our body language can convey ideas… and not always the right ones!

This really hit home for me when I was hired to sign people up for a loyalty club at a local store.  I expected to receive some rejections, but after a while, I started to get irritated with being told no… even when I was told so politely.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that my feelings had nothing to do with what my potential customers were saying, but with what they were doing.  As they said, “No, thank you”, some of them would hold out their hand towards me, palm first.  Mentally, I was reading this as, “Shut up!  You bug me!”

We often send similar messages when we evangelize.  Our words may be carefully chosen to reflect the admonition of 1 Peter 3:15 to,  “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”, but our actions may be conveying just the opposite.  And we may not even realize it!

This week, recruit a good friend to help you identify where your delivery could use some improvement.  Role play a scenario with them and have them identify words, tones, and actions that make them feel uncomfortable, belittled, or as though you just aren’t interested in what they have to say.  Then take the advice to heart.  The more distractions we eliminate, the easier it will be to focus both our attention and the attention of others on the message that really matters!

What Is Evangelism?

20 Jan

Quite simply, Evangelism is sharing the Good News that after we blew it, God still loves us and wants us as a part of His family.  It’s the message that He heals broken hearts and fixes messed up lives.

Obviously, like any good news, the person best equipped to share it is the one immediately affected.  No one can share the joy of making the football team, being elected class president, or finally getting an A in math like the person who received it.  In the same way, you will be able to share God’s message best if you’ve experienced His Saving Grace for yourself.So here’s the Good News…

First, we’ve all blown it.  God laid down the Laws and, since the dawn of mankind, we’ve been breaking them.  He says do and we don’t;  He says don’t and we do.  Scripture says that we’ve all done it.

“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  (Romans 3:23)

What makes this situation worse is that, just as in any earthly system, restitution must be made for the damage done when we violated the Law.  If you steal something, you have to give it back and pay the owner for the inconvenience of not having the item available when he needed it.  If you damage someone’s property you have to repair it.  And if you break the speed limit, there is a fine to pay.  We call this “justice” and we’re all pretty keen on getting it for ourselves, but not always so thrilled when we have to render it to others.  The just penalty for violating God’s Law is death.

“For the wages (payment) of sin is death…”  (Romans 6:23a)

Scripture tells us that this death isn’t just physical.  If it were, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal – we could break any Law we wanted to and, at the end of life, we would just cease to exist.  In a sense, death wouldn’t be a penalty for our sin as much as a “get out of jail free” card.

Instead, the death that results from our sin is eternal, conscious separation from God.  Keep in mind that all of the nice, good things on earth, including the ability to experience pleasure, friendship, and happiness will only be available in God’s eternal presence because every good thing comes from God to begin with… and Hell is where God is not.  (James 1:17)  Even if every one of your friends is there, you can guarantee that you won’t be having a party.

“And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.  Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.”  (Revelation 20:12,15)

If you’re feeling a bit gloomy about now, don’t!  This is where the Good News comes in!  God wants us to be with Him and, since we can’t satisfy His demands for perfection or make restitution for our wrongs, He has provided someone else to do that for us: Jesus Christ.

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

(2 Corinthians 5:21)

With justice satisfied and our debt paid, we can now spend all of eternity doing what we really wanted to do in the first place: experiencing joy.  And that really is Good News!  There is only one more catch.  Salvation is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8,9) and, like any other gift, we have to receive it in order to make it ours.

“They said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…'”  (Acts 16:31a)

Think of it this way: you get a letter in the mail telling you that you just won a brand new car, but that you have to come in to the dealer to claim it.  Obviously, you aren’t going to just sit on your couch and do nothing!  After you get through screaming and dancing around, you’re going to head right down there and pick up your keys.  That’s Salvation: a free gift of eternal life in the presence of a God who loves you and wants you to experience real joy.  All you have to do is “pick up your keys” and trust that Christ has taken care of all of the rest.

And once you do?  Well, who wins a new car and doesn’t want to share the good news with everyone they meet?  Once you’ve experienced God’s Grace for yourself, it’s hard not to let others know.  And that is evangelism!

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