We are in week 2 of Preparation Series this week as we talk about the spiritual preparation we need to do before we move into our building next year.
We don’t know exactly when that will be, but we know we need to prepare, and I mean, prepare spiritually.
Last week we talked about how we need to prepare in prayer.
We are currently in a season of 40 days of prayer and fasting.
And there are 5 ways you can join us in prayer over these 40 days.
40 Days of Prayer
#1: Come to Our Sunday Prayer Meetings
#2: Pray every day at lunch
#3: Pray at your house group
#4: Pray with us at noon on Fridays
#5: Fast with us
You can come to our Sunday prayer meetings…20 minutes before each service in the Yellow Pod in the children’s area
Pray quickly every day at lunch
Pray at your House Group
We’re praying every Friday at noon LIVE on Facebook
And you can sign-up to fast with us…we sent the link out via email or you can find that link in our app…
We’re asking everyone to pick a day to fast, so we can have continual fasting over this 40 day period
We already have close to 100 people signed up to fast and pray over our building.
That’s amazing! Thank you!
But today, I want to talk about another way we need to prepare.
We need to prepare our hearts for an incredible season of evangelism…which is a fancy word for telling people about Jesus.
If we’re going to see hundreds of people come to Christ…someone needs to tell them about Jesus.
As the Apostle Paul says in Romans 10
(Romans 10:14) – NIV
14 How, 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 a lot of people to tell about Jesus.
And there are plenty of ways to do that…
One of the best ways is to personally share the Gospel, how to be saved, with someone you know.
But there is also the approach of inviting someone to church to hear about Jesus.
Now, I’m going to say something that might really surprise you.
That method is going to be less and less effective as time goes on in our culture.
And that’s because less and less people in our area are going to be familiar with church.
Less people will have grown up in church, and thus they won’t be as interested or comfortable with coming to church.
Churches won’t be able to put up huge banners that say, “Try church again!” because no one will have tried it in the first place.
But, there are seasons in which this method of invitational evangelism can be very effective.
We’ve seen it with our events…
I mean, think about it, we had 2,500 people here at Easter in 2019.
1,500 for Family Fun Day.
It’s obviously working.
MANY of you were saved at those events.
And one of the places we know this invitational method of evangelism will work is with the new building.
People are very curious to come and see it and are intrigued by it.
That won’t last forever….
But it’ll be a pretty unique season for our church for the next year or two.
And thus, I would say, that an invitational method of evangelism is actually quite wise in this season of our church’s life.
And I believe that so many unbelievers will be coming into our new church in this next season, that I have to tell you what God has told me.
I don’t usually use such confident language when speaking about what God has said (you might have even never heard me say that before)…
BUT…I am as sure of this, as almost anything I’ve ever been sure about God saying to me in my 20 years of following Him.
Over and over and over again, over the past few months…through circumstances, through prayer…and through the relentless badgering of my thoughts…
I believe the Lord has told me that I need to give the Gospel…an invitation to accept Christ…every single week once we move into that building.
Because, I believe, we are going to see people, sometimes a lot of people, accept Christ almost every single week.
And I don’t know how long the Lord wants me to do it for yet.
I just know that He’s told me it is going to be for a “season.”
It may be 6 months, maybe 9 months, maybe even a year.
I assure you my preaching will not change.
We will still unashamedly teach the Bible.
We’re not turning into a watered-down, seeker sensitive church all of a sudden.
Our teaching will still be challenging and practical.
But every week, sometimes even quite briefly, I’m going to explain how to follow Christ and give people a chance to do so.
And in light of that, I think this invitation method of evangelism is going to be critical for us to use in this next season of our church life.
So much so, that I want to look at an important example of that in the Bible.
We’re going to be in John chapter 4 where Jesus is talking with a Samaritan woman by a well.
This woman has led quite a messy life.
She’s already been divorced 5 times, and the Bible tells us she’s now living with yet another man who’s not her husband.
And yet, we find this woman absolutely in awe of Jesus.
Jesus recognizes that she has been looking to fill her soul all this time, and so He tells her that He can give her living water
And if she drinks from His water, she’ll never go thirsty again.
And then, He tells her that He is the messiah, the Christ, the Savior.
COME WITH ME!
Let’s join the passage shortly after Jesus tells her that:
(John 4:28-29) – NIV
28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”
We’re first told that she leaves her water jar at the well…before running off.
Every word in the Bible is inspired, so every word matters.
This woman wants to stay and talk with Jesus.
She wants to be in His presence…learn from Him and experience His love.
But she knows she cannot keep that to herself.
So she leaves her water jar…
She’s coming back…being with Jesus is her first priority
But she has something else incredibly important too!
She can’t keep this good news to herself!
She can’t just sit at Jesus’ feet when there are other people who need this news.
And yet how often do we do that???
And this is one of the most serious failings of churches…all throughout history.
Churches forget their MISSION.
The Great CO-MISSION
We are to GO (not sit, GO!) and make disciples…tell the world about Jesus.
The mission of the church is not to be busy…it’s not to have great kids’ programs…it’s not to have the best Bible studies or softball teams…
The church is not a club…it’s a mission.
The truth is there are well over 50,000 people just in Blaine that most likely don’t have a saving relationship with Jesus.
I can think of nothing worse (I really can’t) than a bunch of Christians gathering together, doing club-like, social activities, and not telling their neighbors about Christ…
Can you think of anything worse than 500 people who know how to be saved, and KNOW that their neighbors on are a path to spending eternity suffering in hell, and not telling them?
We have an incredibly important mission!
And sometimes living out that mission is as easy as just saying, “COME AND SEE” like the woman at the well.
That’s pretty simple.
That’s pretty much all she said.
She was incredibly enthusiastic about it.
You could probably see her faith as she spoke.
She didn’t say, “You must believe what I say!”
She wants people to come and experience this amazing Jesus for themselves…she just knows that then they’ll believe!
She didn’t even say, “Go and see!”
She says, “Come with me…and see”
LOOK AT JESUS…NOT ME
And who does she point them to?
Look at verse 29 again:
(John 4:29) – NIV
29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”
She points the people to Jesus…not herself.
This is perhaps, the biggest mistake of how we try and do evangelism in the 21st century.
The American Church’s evangelistic efforts in the 21st century have largely been a failure…
Let me tell you what happened…
The church in the 21st century overreacted to the evangelistic methods of the 20th century.
We said, “I think those methods of handing out tracts or talking through the 4 spiritual laws are all a bit too salesy and could put people off, and so it’s really important that we work on relational and friendship evangelism instead”
Which, yes, if it works, yes! (Any method that works, YES!)
BUT, unfortunately, our style of evangelism in the 21st century became…something like this:
Step 1: Impress everyone at work by showing them how kind you are (because you’re a Christian)…so, buy donuts every Friday and always take out the trash
Step 2: Invite people over to your house…
Step 3: Become friends with them
And then, Step 4, once they see how nice you are, “They will ask you, ‘What’s different about you?”
And then BAM, you tell them about Jesus!
Except the problem is, they never seem to ask that. .
Or worse yet, we give them the wrong impression of what a Christian really is.
Let me tell you a haunting true story
A number of years ago there was a businessman who came forward one night at a Billy Graham crusade to receive Christ as his Savior.
The next Sunday he went to church as a brand-new believer.
After the service, he walked up to one of the leading elders in this church and said, "I was at the Billy Graham meeting last week out at the stadium.
I went forward and received Christ."
"Oh, I heard about that," the elder replied, "and I am delighted."
Then the brand-new Christian said, "How long have you and I been associated in business?"
"About 23 years, I think," the elder answered.
"Have you known Christ as your Savior all that time?" the new Christian asked.
"Yes, I have," he answered.
The new Christian then said this: "Well, I don't remember you ever speaking to me about Christ during those years," the businessman said.
"I’ve always thought highly of you.”
“In fact, I literally thought so highly of you that I felt if anyone could be as good of a man as you and not be a Christian (because I didn’t think you were), then I didn't have to be a Christian either."
Think about this: He literally thought his friend (the elder) was not a Christian, and was using that as an excuse for how he could be a good person without being a Christian!.
I’ve heard other new believers at our church say that before they were Christians they used to be so confused by their Christian friends, because their Christian friends never explained the Gospel.
Their Christian friends only showed them how good and nice of a person they were…
so the unbeliever thought to become a Christian you just have to become a better person!
Which is the exact opposite of the Gospel!!!
Our generation has failed at evangelism. Failed.
Let’s just admit it and start over.
I literally could tell you the names of person after person after person in my parents and grandparents generation who got saved and came to Christ at a Billy Graham outreach, or from a stranger from campus crusade witnessing to them, or from the Navigators, or a tent revival…
But I seriously don’t think I can name a single person who came to Christ because their coworker bought them donuts and was really nice.
I’m not saying it can’t happen that way, and that we can’t pursue it that way…
But the answer is to share the Gospel…not to make sure everyone sees we’re really great first.
Because the truth is, you’re not great!
He is great!
They don’t need to look at us…they need to look at Him!
“Come and See a man who!”
It’s not, “Look at me,” it’s “Come and see”
That’s what we need to do!
HE KNEW EVERYTHING ABOUT ME
Come and see a man who…what?
“Knew everything about me” she says..
She doesn’t spend time trying to reform their habits right then and there.
She sent them to One who could set them right.
To the One who knows everything about them…and has seen everything they’ve done…
And yet can still love them and forgive them and change their life.
Think about this…
Jesus so impressed this woman… even though He still confronted her with her sin (all the things she had ever done)
He displayed such love for her…that she felt safe and loved by Him even when her sin was exposed.
That’s how people ought to feel around us
Let me tell you something: When you realize the great depth of your sin…and that Jesus loves you anyway…you won’t be pointing at yourself…you’ll point to Him.
And His forgiveness!
And we’ll say to our friends, our neighbors, our coworkers, our family members,
Come and see!
I am a mess, and yet Jesus loved me and is changing me!
Come and see!
DON’T WRITE YOURSELF OFF
And please, don’t write yourself off here!
Don’t say, “Well, I’m not very good at this inviting or evangelism stuff”
“I’m not very good with words…I’m kind of shy…my life is rather messy”
Look at what God does with this woman!
(John 4:39-41) – NIV
39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.
A whole number of people believe and have their lives changed forever.
Because of the woman!
And what’s compelling about her?
In fact, she’s a mess.
She’s had 5 husbands already.
She’s the talk of the town and not in a good way.
And yet she’s the one bringing revival to this town!
A whole crowd follows out after her…
And they tell their friends who tell their friends and pretty soon the whole town is listening to Jesus.
I’m telling you, if you had interviewed this whole town 2 weeks before this happened, and then God told you, “One of these people will start a revival by telling everyone about me”
There’s no way you’d pick this woman!
But she let God get a hold of her, and he did tremendous things.
He did tremendous things with just, “Come and see this incredible man. Could this be the Messiah?”
And I believe in 2021, God is going to use our church in a similar way.
The harvest is ripe, and people will come if you ask them.
Certainly not everyone, but many will.
Encourage them to come and see!
We’re expecting to see many, many people saved.
We’re expecting to use that baptismal in the stage A LOT.
We’re expecting to disciple a lot of people to FOLLOW Jesus
We’ll be rolling out plans here in the next month or so where we will be helping YOU to be a disciple who makes disciples who makes disciples
Because we’re taking this church back to where the church in America needs to go.
Not to laser lights and entertainment and cushy sermons with practical tips…
Not to progressive new ideas that leave the Bible behind…
But to live out of God’s word.
Back to prayer, back to evangelism…back to discipleship.
The pillars on which the church was built 2,000 years ago.
The pillars on which the church reached to the ends of the earth.
And I think you’re going to see incredible things next year.
Let’s keep preparing.
Let me pray