Sunday, April 30, 2006

Telling the good story . . . Kingdom evangelism 101

As I was preparing a final project for one of my classes last week, I reviewed some notes I had taken from lectures by Todd Hunter. I don't want to quote or paraphrase here, lest I misquote or poorly phrase what he said, but just in quickly reading through that stuff, I got all worked up and excited about the grand story that we're a part of. Unfortunately, it's a story that doesn't go back far enough for so many of us. We talk about the good news of Jesus as though the reason that it's good is that we've been redeemed from sin and get to live life eternal. Yep, that's pretty good . . . but not good enough. WhachutalkinboutWillis?

You see, the better version of the good story we live is that God (being eternal and all) predated this thing we call sin. He predated the need for redemption. And life was good back then - like really really good. That part of the story is where the Kingdom stuff comes in and makes all the rest of the story make sense. If we are captivated by that, then our restoration to the Kingdom life becomes more than simply "all the crap that Jesus fixed when he died for our sins." God's intentionality from the beginning of time is what got worked out in the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ . . . this story of ours didn't start with the Fall. As we recalibrate life around that eternal kind of story, it necessarily changes our view of evangelism and discipleship as separate things. When you marry those things together, your goal becomes life transformation into Christ-likeness, and not simply getting into heaven after you die.

Allow that richness to penetrate and enliven you this day.

Peace friends.

posted by Steve at 5:19 AM
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2 Comments:

Blogger Petey commented at 3:56 PM~  

nice work stephen. we've got to allow "the story," the real story - to be the life we live. It permeates through our inner and outer lives, lives that are only different in our human minds.

Blogger Pastor Troy D. Bohn commented at 10:16 PM~  

GOSPEL BEGINS WITH "GO"

It was three years ago when the Lord Jesus spoke to Melanie and I and said, “Go to New Orleans.” We had labored there in Amarillo, Texas for thirteen years; pastoring the church that we had planted, reaching the lost, feeding the hungry and equipping the saints for the work of the ministry.

Our families were there. Our closest friends were there. Our fondest memories were there. The only thing that was not there was God’s will for what He desired us to do next. In just three months time from announcing to the church that we were leaving, we had loaded all of our earthly possessions in a school bus and began ministering full time in the streets of New Orleans.


I have discovered that each step and each place that God takes us is typically a wonderful learning experience and time of preparation for the next step in which He will have us take.

Many in the Body of Christ though grow too comfortable “camped out” in the experience and never truly get to experience the true realization of God’s destiny for their lives. We experience a tremendous move of God in our midst and instead of taking what He has taught us through that experience and using it to reach a lost and dying world, we instead “build a memorial” to the experience and spend the next 25 years trying to remind ourselves of what once was.

Across this nation there is a trend towards the Mega-Church (churches with membership over 1,000). There are even churches in the US that boast membership at 30,000 or more! With that many Mega-Churches being pastored by Mega-Ministers one would think that the Mega-Problems in our cities would be quickly solved by a mobilized army of high-powered, Holy Ghost filled disciples being churned out in these faith factories!

But therein lies the problem: Churches, or more accurately “leaders of churches” are no longer “equipping the saints for the work of the ministry”, but have instead adopted a “come and watch me minister” mentality.

On the basketball court it is referred to as being a “ball hog.” There is one person taking (or calling) all the shots and getting all the points on his personal stat sheet, but the team is suffering through yet another losing season. Friends, the time is too short for the Body of Christ to suffer through another losing season! We have got to start functioning like the CHURCH was meant to function.

SAVED
SANCTIFIED
SENT

Pastors, ministers, elders, leaders (or whatever is in vogue this week in regards to titles) have got to get back to the true work of the ministry!

Ephesians 4:11-12 “It was He (Jesus) who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.”

Instead of spending multi-millions on state of the art, multi-media comfort centers for the spiritually impotent—why not use the resources to reach the lost, equip them (discipleship) for the ministry, and then send them out to win more people to Jesus before they get too comfortable and too convinced that the GOSPEL message is somebody else’s responsibility to share with the world!

Last year in the NBA (National Basketball Association) a young player for the Phoenix Suns won the award as the leagues Most Valuable Player.

The player, Steve Nash, was the teams point guard. He was the one who called the plays on the court, he was the one who the ball came to first, and he was the leader of the team. Yet, if you looked at Nash’s statistics you would see that there were other players in the league who had better numbers in one area or another.
Nash did not lead the league in scoring or in rebounding—but he did what an MVP should do, he made everyone around him better! The one area that Nash was the very best in the league was that of assists. For those unfamiliar with that term, it means the number of times he passed to others so that they could score instead of him taking the shot!

For the season Nash had 861 total assists. The second best in the league had 668. That is 193 more than his closest competitor! The true MVP’s (most valuable preachers) in the Church today are those who make others better. Nash did such a great job that there were other members of his team that some thought might eventually be league MVPs themselves. He ELEVATED the play of his team mates.

Philippians 2:3-5 says “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”

Rarely, if ever, in professional basketball has the team with the leagues highest scorer ever won the championship. While the individual may boast great accomplishments on his own—he is not able to win the whole thing by himself.

This is the picture of the church of today. There is very little if any genuine equipping the saints for the Gospel Ministry. I qualify that by inserting the word Gospel, because there is much going on in the Church-but very little of it results in people taking the Gospel to a lost and dying world.




While there are many activities filling the schedules of a great many in the Christian Church of today; meetings, conferences, retreats, and even a great many Bible studies and prayer gatherings—how is it that with all of these activities being done in the Name of Jesus that so few people are out doing the actual work of Jesus?

“The Son of Man (Jesus) came for only one reason, and that was to seek out and to save lost people.” Matthew 19:10

That sounds pretty clear to me!

Some of the greatest coaches in any sport will often say, “We have got to work on the fundamentals. The game is won or lost based upon the fundamentals.” This is the same with the Gospel. It all will really come down to whether or not we are raising up people (a team) that is solid in the fundamentals. The fundamentals are pretty simple:


Love God with all your heart and life.
Then tell as many people about Him as you possibly can.


If I, as a minister, do not lead the league in assists, then I am really not my teams MVP. The church, and especially those in leadership have got to get back to the basics (fundamentals) of equipping the saints for the work of the ministry of reaching people for HIS KINGDOM and not just establishing another flesh-based, low-impact, man-centered program that might make the “spiritual highlight reel,” but will never make the type of eternal impact that HEAVEN DEMANDS.

“Ball-Hog” Christianity may fill up stadiums (or sanctuaries) but it will NEVER win the ultimate prize: “Well done My good and faithful servant.”

Jesus raised up (12) and then told them, “You will do even greater things than I have done.” That was His goal– to teach them how to take it to the next level. Yet, a “have your best life now” mentality has slipped into the church under the guise of positive Christianity that has been the death knell to global evangelization. Instead of raising up a generation of blood bought, word taught, Holy Spirit filled warriors of the Cross– the church at large has cloned a brood of spineless, powerless pew-sitters with no urgency for those outside of the walls who have not had the opportunity to hear the Gospel themselves!

2 Cor 4:3-5 “But if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord;

Bigger buildings, more luxurious surroundings, a more relevant approach and a more welcome atmosphere seem to be the mantras being chimed by today’s diminished standards.

Jesus said the “fields are white and ready to be harvested”, yet the “fields” that He spoke of where the harvest fields of souls filling street corners and the market places of this world-that demand that we GO and take His message to the masses.

Today the “harvest field” has instead become the proverbial “field of dreams” and the empty promise is “if you build it...they will come.” Buildings, programs, pizza parties, lattes, and grinning greeters will never draw a person into His presence. These things are things that man has power over! These things are man-made and man-centered.

Romans 1:21-23 “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man…”.

The GOSPEL demands GOING. The GOSPEL demands DYING to SELF and LIVING for JESUS. This is rarely a comfortable situation! Can you imagine these book titles in your local Christian Bookstore:

“Go through hell NOW so that you can experience heaven LATER.”
(Rom 5:3, Rom 8:18, Phil 1:21, Phil 3:10-11)
Or perhaps this one
“How To Be Hated”
(Matt 10:22, James 4:4, John 17:14)

These titles would obviously have a more scriptural foundation! Now am I saying that living the Christian life is just some hard, negative, drudgery? Not in the slightest way! It is the GREATEST LIFE that one could ever know and experience-but with it there are GREAT DEMANDS and great CONSEQUENCES involved.

To see someone’s heart miraculously changed and transformed by the Holy Spirit upon hearing and receiving the Word of God is indescribable!

Watching an alcoholic pour out the drink he just paid for in the street and then kneel down in front of thousands weeping before Jesus defies description.

Suddenly seeing a light come on in the darkened soul of a young man set free from years of homosexuality is the most amazing thing!

All THESE things require GOING out where the broken and bruised are. If your Gospel doesn’t REQUIRE you to GO, then it is not GO-SPEL, but just a SPELL!

Galatians 3:1 “Oh, foolish Galatians! What magician has cast an evil spell on you? For you used to see the meaning of Jesus Christ's death as clearly as though I had shown you a signboard with a picture of Christ dying on the cross.” NLT

It is time to break free from the spell and then GO do that which God has repeatedly commanded in His Word.

Most Christians would readily agree that “this world is not our home” and that we are all just “strangers and pilgrims” in this place—–yet why is it that the core of our time and investments are made in those things that are so temporary and this-worldly? I lay it squarely upon the shoulders of pastors and teachers who have failed to equip, empower and release His people into their God-given and God-required mandates to reach people for HIS KINGDOM.

As long as winning the lost (with the Gospel—not a bounce house, hot dog or cappuccino machine) remains on the backburner of Christendom and not our primary purpose in this life, then the church will remain a place of “ball hogs” and “bloated statistics” with no true victories.
If we genuinely believe that our stay is temporary, then why not “pass the ball” and get other people involved in the game rather than building more coliseums to showcase our religious superstars.

Church buildings, gymnasiums, air conditioning—there is nothing inherently wrong with those things—but once THEY become the focus, THEY become the idols that testify against us and set us in difference toward the TRUE Gospel of GO.

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spirit farmer data

I'm Steve Lewis. This used to be my blogging home. My online home is now at SpiritFarmer.com. When this blog was my active online home, I lived in Seattle. Now I live in London, UK. I follow Jesus (poorly most of the time), worship simply, read a lot, watch culture, go to school, listen to music, write, enjoy art, and drink a lot of coffee.
e-mail me: spiritfarmer@gmail.com
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seattle spots

victrola coffee
zoka coffee
university of washington
church of the apostles
quest church
sanctuary church
shoreline vineyard


sites i visit

off the map
theooze
next-wave
metacritic
nt wright



a few of the blogs in the feedreader

tallskinnykiwi
jason evans
joe boyd
kevin rains
alan creech
chris marshall
bill bean
eugene cho
jordon cooper
dwight friesen
john chandler
amy palmer
ryan bolger
rudy carrasco
ryan sharp
sings in the sunshine
rick bennett
scot mcknight
karen ward
alan hirsch
dan kimball
petey crowder



i'm reading it

colossians remixed
africa unchained



i finished reading it - 2007

generation me
jesus and the restoration of israel
god's continent
glocalization
globalizing theology
gustavo gutierrez: essential writings
jesus and the eyewitnesses
garlands of grace
twenty poems to nourish your soul
the black swan
dancing in the streets
made to stick
signs in contemporary culture
hit the bullseye
revolution
the politics of jesus
readings in christian ethics
toward old testament ethics
the kite runner
principles of conduct
velvet elvis
the irresistable revolution
they like jesus, but not the church
the great omission
ishmael
charisma: the gift of grace, and how it has been taken from us
the starfish and the spider
a perfect mess
the world cafe
the new faces of christianity
leaving church
journeying in faith
the creed
creators
transforming mission
metaphors we live by
foolishness to the greeks
personal knowledge



states i've spent time: 2007

washington
texas
british columbia
oregon
california
georgia
oh yeah, denmark, too



i wrote it

managing conflict in the 'new world'
music review: over the rhine
film review: bonhoeffer
music review: fighting jacks
film review: the passion of the christ
how reality tv changes lives
the best tv article you've ever read
corks & caps: a wine lover's story of change
america's idols
random, disorganized thoughts about life after the katrina disaster
missional . . . plain and simple
on becoming post-gnostic



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