Worship or Evangelism?

Pew

One of the key shifts in worship over the last 75 years has been the move to make worship services primarily about evangelism. For most of church history worship was an offering to God by Christians and a place where the faithful were taught by God through the Word, prayer, and fellowship. It was about Christians and getting those Christians to grow. Evangelism was something different. Evangelism was telling the lost the good news that Christ came, died, rose again, and ascended into heaven to save us from our sins. Evangelism aimed at the non-believer. Worship aimed at God and the believer. With the advent of tent meetings, the seeker sensitive movement, church as therapy, and other aspects of the church growth movement worship services became more and more evangelistic.  Continue reading

Pursuing Hospitality: What About Non-Christians?

Christians & Muslims.png

One of the great difficulties for many of us is that we have friends or family members that are non-Christians. How do we practice hospitality towards those who are not believers? Each situation is different and will require wisdom, but here are some basic guidelines. If you have questions about a specific situation then talk to your elders.

First, showing hospitality to non-believers can be a good way to evangelize. There is no better picture of the gospel than eating and drinking with sinners, showing them kindness, and being friends with them. But do not use the meal as a way to spring the gospel on them. If you invite them over for a meal, invite them over for a meal. Don’t tell them it is a meal and the try to slide the gospel in the backdoor. That way they know what they are getting into and don’t feel duped. Of course, if the opportunity arises to talk about Christ take it. Just don’t force it.

One of the best ways to show people Christ is by inviting them into your home and letting them see your daily living. This would include prayer before meals, family worship, discipline of the children, love for your wife, etc. In other words, if someone comes in to your home for an evening they should see Christ preached through the way you live. You should pray that this would eventually open a door for you to preach Christ with your words.

Second, normally you should not invite someone into your home who claims to be a Christian, but is living in open unrepentant sin. Do not sit down at a table, pretending the person is a brother or sister in Christ, while they are engaged in high handed rebellion against God. I Corinthians 5:9-11 makes this clear. It can be difficult to determine how to apply these verses in specific situations. If you have questions talk to your elders or church leaders.

Third, you should not invite over non-Christians who are promoting their non-Christian views and lifestyles, especially if you have young children. I would invite over a sexually immoral non-Christian. However, I would not invite over a sexually immoral non-Christian who wanted me to join them in their sexual immorality or was interested in getting my children to see things their way. If they are pushing their sin or their false views I would avoid inviting them, unless it is for a debate. Usually, this is not the case. Most non-Christians you invite into your home will know you are a Christian and will respect that. However, as our society becomes more anti-Christian do not be surprised if non-Christians try to persuade your children or you on your own turf. If the person is recruiting for the world, you should be cautious in inviting them in.

Fourth, you should be cautious about going and eating dinner with non-Christians in their home. When you go into someone’s house you are subject to their rules. There are occasions where this is okay. But I would exercise caution, especially if you have young children.

Finally, the priority in your hospitality should be Christians (John 13:35 and Galatians 6:10). These verses are not excuses to ignore the unbelieving world. If you can minister to non-believers you should. But if you have to make a choice, and some of us do, then invite over Christians. As John 13:35 points out, this is evangelism.

Pursuing Hospitality: Introduction

welcome-mat

Hospitality is a lost art in Christian circles. Despite the priority it has in the Scriptures and the wonderful picture we paint of God as we do it, hospitality is largely ignored by the people of God. Yet it is one of the great privileges, obligations, and joys of every Christian. Christ has invited us to be guests at his table. The Lord, who made heaven and earth, is an excellent host who feeds and cares for this world (See Psalm 104). As disciples of Christ and subjects of the Kingdom of God we are to imitate Christ by doing the same. Our tables are to be surrounded by guests. We are to wash the feet of the saints, which is a picture of hospitality. We are to entertain strangers. Paul says we are to be given to hospitality (Romans 12:13). The word “given” means to pursue with all our heart. Hospitality is an essential part of our love for Christ and His church and our witness to the world. I want to take this week after Christmas to encourage you to practice hospitality.  Below are a few verses, which provide the Scriptural foundation for hospitality.  We begin with what God has done for us in Christ and then move on the specific commands of Scripture.  Later in the week I will post some principles of hospitality.  Continue reading

2016.Episode 13 Evangelism 101

Philip-and-Eunuch

A couple of weeks ago our church discussed Acts 1:6-8 in our evening service. We looked at what it means to be witnesses to the risen Christ.  This podcast is a follow up to that laying out some basic principles which should govern evangelism in the church. I do not give specifics on how to share Christ with individuals because there is no specific method. It varies from person to person. Instead I give some broader guidelines that will help a church and congregation be faithful in evangelism.

Browser or Seeker?

Browsers

Os Guinness in his book Fool’s Talk makes a helpful clarification when talking about non-Christians.  There is a difference between a seeker and what he calls a “browser.” A browser is someone leisurely shopping for something they might enjoy. They are channel surfing. They are not seriously looking for truth, religion, or God. A browser has not reached a crisis point in their life. They are not concerned about the direction they are going. Their soul is not stirred up. Often we use the term “seeker” when we are really describing a browser.

A seeker is someone who is pursuing truth. For some reason, they are dissatisfied with their life. They want change. They are usually thinking about big issues, such as death, their soul, what is truth, morality, etc. This person, a seeker, will be open to discussion, looking at the facts, examining different issues, changing their course, and hopefully trusting upon Jesus Christ.

But a browser is not like this. They are bored. They don’t know what they want. These people are usually not open to change. They are not motivated by some perceived deficit, as a seeker is. They are motivated by what makes them happy at that point in time. They are not thinking about major issues, such as death and truth. They are thinking about ease and comfort.

For example, a non-Christian looking for truth because a friend has died, they lost their job, or their husband just left them is in a different state of mind than someone who is a non-Christian by default and spends their days pursuing pleasure in whatever form it comes. A Muslim who is questioning the Koran is different from a  nominal Muslim student who is primarily interested in getting a degree and assumes the Koran is correct.

Of course, , there is a lot of variety. Some are close to seeking, but still browsing.  Some seekers are not intensely seeking, but looking for the truth now and then. There is no one size fits all. But this difference is helpful when you are talking to non-Christians.

When you are telling others about Christ ask yourself whether the person is a browser or a seeker.  If the person is a seeker then you can feel freer to discuss things with them, ask more questions of them, dig a little deeper, and be patient as they think things through. They understand their need. With a browser you will want to handle things differently. The goal is to move a browser to a seeker. This comes primarily through prayer, as you ask the Lord to open their eyes to their need. But it also comes through gently exposing their sin and bringing up the great truths with them. Most browsers do not see themselves as sinners and are not interested in death, morality, meaning, and God. They don’t need anything. Their contentedness must be broken. For a seeker the goal is to guide them rightly by answering their questions and telling them about Christ. For a browser the goal is to show them they lost.

Book Review: He Is There and He Is Not Silent

He Is There and He Is Not SilentHe Is There and He Is Not Silent by Francis A. Schaeffer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For a long time I have felt that presuppositional apologetics and classic apologetics, when done and held rightly, can be mutually supporting. Presuppositions feed facts. But facts, the way the world is, feed our presuppositions as well. While Schaeffer does not use this exact terminology that is part of the lesson I learned from this book.

I found this book more difficult than Escape from Reason and for some reason I skipped The God Who is There, which I will have to pick up. Schaeffer outlines how the failure to have an infinite personal God who speaks leads inevitably to meaninglessness. But more than that he shows how an infinite personal God who created this world and who speaks is the only option that matches the facts of how the world actually is. The key fits the lock and only this key fits the lock.

A couple of other thoughts. Schaeffer writes with a high level of empathy for the modern man in the book. Modern man is alienated, living in a meaningless world with no way of knowing what is true and what is false, what is good and what is evil, what is real and what is imaginary. Schaeffer had an answer for this lostness. But he does not just have an answer he truly loves those he speaks to.

Second, Schaeffer (along with Os Guinness) has made less afraid of questions. Schaeffer noted that at L’Abri no question was off limits. Anything could be asked and there was answer for it from the Bible and the Christian worldview. A lot of times men steeped in presuppositional apologetics, like myself, simply say to objections, “Well you just need to believe.” Yes they do, but they also need answers. And Christianity has those answers.

View all my reviews

Ten Quotes: Fool’s Talk by Os Guinness

Here are ten of my favorite quotes from Os Guinness’ excellent book on apologetics Fool’s Talk:

Almost all our witnessing and Christian communication assumes that people are open to what we have to say, or at least are interested, if not in need of what we are saying. Yet most people quite simply are not open, not interested and not needy, and in much of the advanced modern world fewer people are open today than even a generation ago. Indeed, many are more hostile, and their hostility is greater than the Western church has faced for centuries. 

As with almost everything worthwhile in life, there is rarely just one day to do it. The same is true of persuasion. There is no single right way it should be done. There is no one-size-fits-all approach that will work with everyone. To be sure, there are some ways that are not Christian and some that not effective, but there is no single way that alone is Christian. 

Sin must always end in justifying itself by framing God. God is in the dock [the one who stands accused]. To excuse ourselves, we have to accuse him. In short, sin frames God falsely.

In strong contrast to secularism, the Christian view is both this-worldly and other-worldly. It has a healthy appreciation of this world, but sees it always within an equally strong appreciation of another world that throws this present world into a different light, redeeming its worst features and confirming forever its highlights. And in strong contrast to the Eastern views, the Christian view has a solid appreciation of the created reality that we know and we may trust-even though there is another world that is needed to make this world what it should be.

Because of the cross and the resurrection there is always a way out.

Unbelief manufactures not only idols but illusions.

Only humans it seems, have the capacity to live as something other than what they are. [Guinness quoting N.T. Wright]

When it comes to belief and unbelief, we need to remember that, while no thoughts are unthinkable and no argument is unarguable, some thoughts can be thought but not lived…When we are talking of unbelief, there will always be unintended consequences. Unbelieving beliefs will be truly adequate because unbelieving knowledge is never fully adequate and not finally true. 

The gospel makes better sense of what simply is because the way God sees reality is the truth of what is. 

 Indeed, it is now difficult to think of what might actually constitute a crisis of faith for the Christians revisionists [liberal Christians]. Revisionist faith has so lost its authority that it has become compatible with anything and everything, and so means nothing.

And one:

Questions and needs do not create faith. No one believes because of questions and needs. Rather, the effect of questions and needs is to make people disbelieve. They no longer believe whatever it was that they believed before, because what they used to believe no longer answered their questions. 

Quotes From Other Books
The New Pastor’s Handbook by Jason Helopoulos
On Being a Pastor by Derek Prime and Alistair Begg
How to Exasperate Your Wife by Douglas Wilson
The Things of Earth by Joe Rigney
A Son for Glory by Toby Sumpter 
Escape from Reason by Francis Schaeffer
Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung
Making Gay Okay by Robert Reilly 
Christ Crucified by Donald Macleod
Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God by John Calvin