How does a church grow Biblically? As we take a look at this “popular” subject, we have to remember that, as Christians, we must start and stand on God's Word (The Bible) for all of our views. This is no different, although you might get confused while walking around a "Christian" bookstore. You will see all kinds of strategies and different “ways” to manipulate people into coming through your doors. One of the things that you have to remember is that it is not your doors. The doors (as well as the rest of the church) belong to Christ. He gave you the lamp stand. If He chooses to grow the body of believers in your church, that's His prerogative to do so.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
A good friend of mine asked me a “simple” question: what do I like best about street preaching and evangelism. I have to admit I had a really hard time answering this question because there is a lot I like about the topic. If it wasn’t for me meeting a street preacher witnessing in NYC I might be still stuck in a heretical church. It was through this preacher and his friendship thereafter that God used and is using to make and help me grow in my Christian walk.
After months of procrastination, I finally committed to go downtown (Cleveland, OH) to witness with Jonathan Eckel and some of his regulars one night. Upon arriving, I was given a stack of tracts and was asked to simply hand them out and try to engage people. Hey, I thought, I've listened to enough of Wretched Radio's Witness Wednesdays. I could do this.
Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Kentucky Derby Outreach through Sports Fan Outreach International (SFOI), and it was an amazing experience. The outreach team consisted of a group of 25 people from various different states and all with their own unique testimonies. All of us were united for one goal, to glorify and proclaim the salvation of God through Jesus Christ to these lost masses (at least 160,000). I had heard stories about how rowdy the crowds get there from my good friend, Ricky Gantz, who was on his 4th Derby outreach. I was nervous and really didn't know what all to expect. We were to be at Churchill Downs for twelve hours on Friday and twelve hours Saturday. I was used to the normal 3-4 hour outreaches at home.
This list should look familiar to you - it is the top 10 New Years’ resolutions most commonly made in America. I'm not sure what yours were, but, if you notice, there aren't any resolutions here involving faith or religion. Most people (63%) who make New Years’ resolutions break them within a month. Does this list match up with yours?
More than that, most people make "deals" with God, and they break their promise all the time. Think about it: How many times have you said, "God if you help me here, or if you help me out of this, I will..."? Far too many times people view God as a genie instead of the God of the universe!
In this blog post, we will be dealing with heavy theory and working in a theological playground. You may first be asking, "Where in the world is he going with this?"
Many people say that there are a number of ways into Heaven - different religions, multiple “saviors”, several “prophets”, etc. The reality is that all religions on the earth can be placed into 2 categories: works-based and grace-based. Every religion on the planet, other than Biblical Christianity, is works-based. It is what you do to earn, aka bribe, your way into Heaven. We are going to establish here that this is wrong: there is no amount of good works that you can do to outweigh the bad. Biblical Christianity, on the other hand, is based on the Doctrines of Grace. It is by the grace of God, through Faith in Jesus Christ alone that gets us into Heaven. Why is that?
Over the second half of last year I was spending a lot of time doing saturation reading where I would pick a book from God's Word and read it over as many times as I could over a few weeks sometimes a month. Typically once a day, sometimes twice. During this time many things stood out to me but one became so very clear to me as I read over and over many of Paul's letters including but not limited to: Ephesians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians and 1 and 2 Timothy among other books throughout God's Word. We are to strive to live differently, to grow in our walk with the Lord. In a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called. As we are growing closer to God, as we are being sanctified. We should be growing in how we interact with those who don't know the Lord. That is what has been on my heart and what has really stood out to me over these months.
I recently attended a gathering of ministries in Dallas, Texas where we discussed utilizing digital channels effectively for the Kingdom. Part of our time was spent listening to Bob Lepine share from the scriptures. In one of these sessions he shared five essential components of the Gospel from a John Piper message at 'Together for the Gospel' in 2006. This particular sermon from Piper is quite good in its entirety, but what really stands out is his detailed explanation of the Gospel towards the end. In particular, his last statement includes a question everyone who calls themselves a Christian should ask of themselves and to those they communicate with concerning Christ.
I would like to start off with a simple question:
Dear Christian. What do you do with your in-between moments? Not just the ones you have between the next two meetings, or the ones you have between your meals. I'm talking about all of them. Every moment from when you leave church one Sunday and then arrive on Sunday the following week. How do you live your life on a regular basis between the Sundays?
Imagine this scenario:
You are sitting at the top of the Grand Canyon, overlooking the beauty of God’s creation – His awesome handiwork! While marveling at the enormity of the canyon, the brilliant colors, and other amazing features, you witness people of all ages walking towards the edge of it. They are obviously trying to “work” their way closer to what you already see and know. Yet, you realize that if they continue “blindly” on their journey – thinking that they are walking towards the beauty without understanding where their steps are leading - they will be marching to their death over the cliff. Married couples, children, friends, and the single sojourners- all of them not realizing the impending danger ahead. Some are closer to the edge than others, but the result is the same. Death.