Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor of Renovation Church
Good to be back. Thanks to Ross for filling in. Had a great baptism this week! Baptized 9 people!
Starting new series: “Evangelism is not a Swear Word”
If you’re not familiar with the word evangelism: Def. “Talking about God with other people”
So why call this, “Evangelism is not a Swear Word”
Why not… “Everyone loves evangelism?” OR “Talking about Jesus is Fun!” OR “5 steps to talking about God that all start with R and end with the suffix ‘ability’”
Well, because for most people, the topic of evangelism brings up some negative emotions.
Emotions like fear, shame, embarrassment, anxiety
It tends to brings up these sort of emotions no matter what end of the spectrum you’re one
Perhaps you’ve been a Christian for a long time
The majority of Christians don’t share or talk about their faith very often, so when we say we’re going to talk about the subject, people get nervous or feel guilty
Or maybe you’re new to Christianity or just checking this thing out…for a lot of people when you mention a word like evangelism they picture people yelling with a megaphone or someone with a “THE END IS NEAR” sign
So to a lot of people, this topic is connected to a lot of negative emotions.
Maybe you’re disappointed this morning. Maybe you were wishing that we were starting an easier series or a series on how to better love puppies and rainbows
This is foundational stuff, and we want to be able to paint evangelism in such a way that is 1) more appealing to you 2) easier to do and 3) something you can get excited about
So, we’re just doing a short 3 week series on this
Today, I’m going to talk a little bit more big picture. Try and bust apart maybe some of the misconceptions you might have on evangelism
And then next week, we’ll get into more of how your lifestyle matters, and how your actions matter, and how and who you spend your time with matters
And the third week, we’re going to give you a lot of help and suggestions on not only what to say, but different ways you can do it.
So, it’s going to be good. Lots of practical stuff.
WHAT LIFE IS ABOUT
But the reason we do it, doesn’t start in the practical, it starts with a spiritual reality.
That reality is this: 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ died on a cross.
And he did so because each one of us falls short of God’s holy standard: Perfection.
And our sins against him are worthy of justice being done. Punishment.
Yet, God is not only Just (he has to be), but he is incredibly full of MERCY and LOVE…so he sent his very own Son to take our place on the cross.
And Jesus’ death is an offer to wipe away all of our sins we’ve ever done, if we would accept his forgiveness and start a relationship with Him
That is the offer that sits on the table for each one of us to decide to open or not.
And if what I just said is true, that should change EVERYTHING about our lives.
Because that is now what life is about.
That may seem like a radical statement, but think about it this way
If there is such a thing as eternity, such a thing as hell and heaven…then this life is just a blink
If I were to draw a line across this entire room and that represented your life in eternity (with an arrow on the end), a hair off my head would be representative of our time here on earth
Just a blip.
And IF THAT’S TRUE, then how we respond to that invitation to eternity from Jesus has unfathomable worth
It is the KEY question of life.
And it is the only KEY question.
If there was some other way to get into heaven…like if I could somehow just be good enough on my own, it makes what Jesus did on the cross worthless.
God can’t create another way…
He can’t say, I sacrificed my son’s life by letting him be brutally murdered on the cross, but, hey, looks like you lived a pretty good life, why don’t you sneak in the back door.
NO, life is about the offer of forgiveness that is presented before us
But it’s not just our life. It’s not just for us. It’s for others.
Jesus offers every single person a choice…
We saw this when we studied the end of the sermon on the mount. Narrow road OR wide road. Good tree or bad tree. Foundation on the Rock or foundation on the Sand. Who will you choose???
And who you choose matters.
PEOPLE NEED TO HEAR SOME NEWS
Which means, if this offer is the key question of life, we’ve got some news to share!
And it’s incredible news
Sometimes we call this “concept” of Jesus forgiving our sins “The Gospel”
Christians throw it around all the time, “Brother you sharing the Gospel.” “Doing it for the Gospel” “We have to share the gospel!”
I remember thinking “What the heck’s the Gospel??”
Gospel is a word that sort of hung around from Old English and it simply means “Good News.”
Because this offer from Jesus IS Good news. Don’t doubt for a second that it’s not.
I mean think about it… Because Jesus Christ died on the cross for us, the Bible says that IF you accept that gift:
That everything you’ve ever done, is wiped clean.
That he removes your sin, even the worst of the worst, as far as the east is from the West
When this blink of a life is over, he looks at you and says, Not Guilty
Come and spend eternity in heaven, in paradise with Me
That the God of the Universe, can’t stop thinking about you, He’s so in love with you
That the God of the Universe loves you so much, and wants to rescue you AND your friends AND your family because he wants to bring them to Himself…He’ll do anything for you…even send his own Son to die.
He’s unbelievably, unabashedly, and unashamedly in love with U!
THAT’S GOOD NEWS!!
But all too often, our lives our like this:
Imagine you were trapped in a mine with 5 other people, and you all agreed to split up and find a way out
If after hours of searching, You were the one who found a way out, you wouldn’t get out celebrate, and enjoy the fruits of being up in the light (enjoy sun, hang out w/ friends)…
No, the first thing you would do, is go back to the other 5 and say…I’ve got incredible news!
But too often, in Christianity, we find the surface, and we do love it, we do enjoy it, but then we live our lives like there was never anyone down in the mine with us or like there was never anyone down there in the first place
It’s good news worth sharing, but unlike running back to anyone in the mine, it’s sometimes really hard to find right way to do it or say it…
Which is what we will really get into in the coming weeks.
REACHING PEOPLE AS A CORE VALUE
But the big picture is…we do have to share it.
If Jesus Christ seriously died for you and forgave everything you ever did, and wants to do that for other people, WE HAVE TO SHARE THAT!
It’s our calling as followers of Christ
(Romans 10:13-14) – NIV
13for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." 14How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
We have to tell. It’s too good to hold inside.
Some of Jesus’ last words before he rose into heaven were about this.
(Matthew 28:19) – NIV
19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
One of the most foundational responsibilities we have as believers is to reach other people
As a Church we have THREE core values, or you could even call them Core Distinctives.
Three things that we are incredibly passionate about:
One: Encountering God (explain)
Two: Community (explain)
Three: Reaching People.
We are passionate about reaching people with the good news of Jesus.
And if we’re not, what are we doing here? Why even start this church 10 months ago?
There are already too many other church “clubs” around where Christians can come to church and do churchy things together like Christian Scrapbooking (faithbooking) and so on and so forth.
But that’s not why Jesus put us on the earth to be the church.
We’re not here just so we can start our own exclusive groups and enjoy each other in seclusion.
We are on this earth to help save other people, to bring them out of the mine, to show them the light, and that is your mission.
The Bible says it’s our mission
(Luke 19:10) - NIV
10For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."
And our mission is just like that of Jesus’. We are also here to seek and save the lost.
That is ultimately the deepest mission you have.
And we HAVE to be committed to that as a church.
In the first 10 months of this church, God has blessed us with INCREDIBLE community. INCREDIBLE.
Our House Groups have brought a deep level of church community that many of you have never even experienced before.
But it doesn’t stop there. It CAN’T stop there.
I mention often, and I believe this is maybe one of the most important stats you have to know as an attender here: On an average Sunday in Blaine, 15% are in church. 15%.
God has given us a large and incredible opportunity. We HAVE to invite people into the community that He’s given us. It’s our mission.
And I believe that we are actually at an advantage here.
Most churches don’t have much “community” or “fellowship” to speak of. They have a nice Sunday service, but that’s it.
So it’s hard to really connect people who are seeking God or just finding Him
But God has given us something great here at this Church. We already have incredible community. So as we grow in our passion for reaching people, we have something to bring them into
Because remember Jesus’ words in Mt. 28, what’s often called the Great Commision, we’re not only called to reach people, but to disciple them as well.
And I believe God has set us up to do well. And I’m praying he would put a passion in our hearts for it.
But, yet, even though you may agree with me in your heart on this… For many of us, when we actually think about doing something about it, we think, “But can’t someone else do it?” Can’t my pastor do it? Can’t my crazy Christian friend do it? Is it really my responsibility to talk about faith to anyone?
And if it is somehow our responsibility to share, with who?
And I think this is area where most develop negative feelings toward evangelism
In part, this an unfortunately outcome of the great movements like Campus Crusade and others in the middle to late part of the last century, many people now equate evangelism with stranger evangelism.
They are the same thing in many people’s minds.
When I say evangelism you picture yourself at the mall, in the city, on a bus, on a plane, in a restaurant.
You feel like if you’re in a restaurant, you better leave a massive tip because they saw you praying, and you also better find some awkward way to work in God
“This food is great! Thank you. You know who also is great? God! Do you know Him!”
Or, ever ridden on an airplane?
You know you’re not a good Christian right if you don’t convert the person next to you on your flight to Kentucky or wherever you’re flying
But seriously, we feel this pressure that good Christians stranger evangelize! That’s what evangelism is after all, right?????
No, it’s not. It’s definitely a part of what evangelism. Definitely is. But it’s just a fraction.
For majority in room, God is NOT calling you to share faith w/ strangers
Let’s be honest, how effective is walking up to a stranger who’s hurriedly walking along and saying, “Hey, um can I talk to you about your soul?”
My first year as a Youth pastor, it was on the schedule for me to take some of our students to a week long retreat put on by another org.
At the end of the week, all the students were put on a bus, and brought to the mall of America. Each student was given a survey to ask people.
And they would go up and say, “Hey. Can I ask you a few questions for my survey. What’s your favorite movie? What’s your favorite radio station? Do you think you’re going to heaven or hell?”
Let me ask you… “How would you feel???” Imagine you’re not a very spiritual person, and someone comes up to you and starts asking you questions about hell?
Maybe you’re nicer than me, but I think most of us would be like, “Get out of my face.”
Now, I will say though, I’ve seen this strategy of stranger evangelism work quite well in other places, like Mexico.
But in the United States of America, we don’t take too kindly to random people we don’t know asking personal questions.
And yet, somehow for the last 50 years in the church, that’s still been the dominant paradigm for evangelism.
“Well, Maude, let’s get some of the folks on the church bus and bring downtown to start sharing the word with some people we’ve never met!”
And even if God would move through that, which he very well can
(even that day when we went to Mall of America, although I think we made a negative impact on most people, there were a few that generally came closer to God) God can work through anything
But, even if God does move through it, then what? What happens if they accept Christ? Where’s their community? What do you say?
“Well, I hope you can find a good church in your hometown? Where do you live again? Oh, Rosemount…um, well, uh, good luck!”
The reality is, some people are incredibly gifted for this, and most aren’t.
(Ephesians 4:11) - NIV
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,
Some are gifted!
Some of you in this church have this gift.
And Sometimes there are special occasions where God can work through any of us.
A lot are NOT gifted.
Here’s the deal. We get this in almost every other area of ministry except evangelism. Because of the paradigm that has overtaken us in the U.S.
What if I told you this, speaking/preaching is a gift often talked about in the Bible, so everyone should do it.
And we’re going to start with the 5 shyest people in the room will be speaking the next 5 weeks at Renovation Ch.
You would say, “David that is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. If we let the 5 shyest people speak here, it wouldn’t be effective.”
So then, why do so many people think it’s effective for just anyone to do “extreme evangelism” and talk to strangers on the street?
It’s not. It’s not a wise form Christianity.
And I think it’s been an unfortunately wrong-turn for the church as a whole in America.
Now before you think, “I’m off the hook!” We’re not.
The paradigm of evangelism is just different.
Just because it’s not a strong sp. gift for you, doesn’t excuse U from doing it.
I don’t have a strong gift of giving...
I just don’t. I’m probably too selfish. And I’m certainly not one of those people who’s just constantly giving money to other people to help them w/ other things
I can do the giving thing because I’m disciplined. But it’s not a strong gift.
But just because I don’t have the strong gift of giving, doesn’t excuse me from giving
Same for evangelism, you might not have that gift of just going up to strangers and talk about God, but just because you don’t have that gift, doesn’t excuse you from sharing your faith with the people God has put around you.
Because the truth is, God has put people around you (friends, family, co-workers) that don’t know Him.
And unlike a random person on an airplane, you have the ability to talk with these people.
And Jesus Christ has put each and every one of these very people in your life for a reason.
And in the coming weeks, we are really going to take a look at how we should share about God with the people God has put around us.
What do we do? What do we say? When do we say it? How do we say it?
But for now, let’s start praying together that God would ignite our hearts with a passion for reaching the lost in this church.
God has already done some incredible things in 10 months, and I firmly believe he can use us to do even more incredible things in the year to come.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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