Nearly ten years ago my cousin Vinnie (I love typing that) told me I should start an online church for people who were open to Christianity but wouldn’t actually go on Sunday mornings. This was long before live-streaming was accessible and few churches had an “online campus.” Now it is fairly common for churches to offer live-streaming of their services today. Recently, Judah Smith’s The City Church has caused a buzz by announcing the launch of a new church: “the phone in the palm of your hand.” Watch their announcement about ChurchHome below.
There are generally two type of responses to creative initiatives like this. Some will call it heresy and will shout, “That’s not church!” Others will hail it as a creative and relevant effort to reach unbelievers with the gospel. Instead of neatly fitting into either category, I want to walk through a few ways both groups might have a good point. Continue reading
Evangelism has always been difficult. Gone are the days when even nonChristians generally understood what Christianity taught. Nowadays, even many professing-Christians struggle to articulate the essentials of Christian theology. Because we can no longer assume a general awareness of Christian thinking, evangelism will continue to require us to teach basic theological truths before we can be assured that people know enough to truly become Christians.
Here are three truths every Christian should know and be able to clearly explain to others.
Christians overwhelmingly agree they have a personal responsibility to evangelize: to announce the good news that sinners can be forgiven and adopted as children of God because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. LifeWay Research conducted a study regarding evangelism and reported,
“The study conducted by LifeWay Research found 80 percent of those who attend church one or more times a month, believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith, but 61 percent have not told another person about how to become a Christian in the previous six months.”
This got me to ask the question: “Whynot? What is it that keeps us from sharing the gospel with nonChristians?” I could’ve come up with my own reasons, but I wondered if they would match up with the reasons your typical church-going Christian would give. So I asked my Facebook friends for their input and discovered some really great insights that I wouldn’t have considered on my own.
Here are a few of the general themes that emerged from their responses:
A gospel-centered testimony can be a powerful way to share the good news of Jesus Christ with your nonChristians friends (or with complete strangers, as opportunity arises). Over the last decade I’ve heard some people talk about testimony-sharing as “the key” to good evangelism while others decry testimonies as man-centered rather than God-centered.
What is a Testimony?
Your testimony isn’t your autobiography. It isn’t your life-story or an opportunity to talk about the details of your sinful life before Jesus in order to gain “street cred” with nonChristians.
The word “testimony” comes from the same root word as “martyr.” To be a martyr is to testify and tell about what God has done through Jesus Christ. It isn’t first about you, it is about God. When you share your testimony, you are talking about what God has done and what God has done for you. It is both objective (who God is and what He’s done) and subjective/personal (what he’s done for you). Unfortunately, I’ve heard many testimonies that only emphasize the subjective (what God has done for them).
A testimony that isn’t about Jesus, the cross, the resurrection, and the freedom that comes through confession of sin and repentance isn’t a gospel-centered testimony.
How to Share Your Testimony
Here are a few things I have noticed about gospel-centered testimonies that put God front-and-center. Continue reading
Imagine a man who gets married but continues to live with bachelor-priorities. He may be in love, but he’s not ready to become a husband. Marriage requires a change in priorities and in lifestyle for both husband and wife. Decisions will be made differently, money will be shared, and each person’s actions affects the other.
In the same way, no one becomes a Christian without repentance. It is not enough to hear the gospel and intellectually believe it. Faith in Christ leads to confession of sin and repentance. Sin must be confessed and repented of, or Christ will merely be viewed as the safety net to protect us from hell.
The gospel is the greatest news and it is the Christian’s honor to announce it to all people everywhere… if only it was that easy. So often, we simply don’t know how to “bring it up” or deal with the rejection.
As we read through the book of Acts, we see how the apostles preached and applied the gospel in their ministries and there’s much to learn. I am particularly fond of Paul’s example in Acts 17 where he’s in Athens, the academic and philosophical center of the Roman Empire.
Christians today can learn from Paul’s example, discerning which “Gospel Motif” connects with the people to whom he is ministering, and then using that motif to lead them towards the gospel.
I want God to use me. I want to make an impact in some way on the world and in those who know me. I know I’m not alone. You probably want the same thing.
As we pursue our callings in this world, it’s wise to remember that God is actively at work in the life of the normal Christian in ways that far surpasses what we read about in the Old Testament.
That’s a bold statement, and while it’s a very broad and general one, I think it’s accurate because the Holy Spirit did not live in anyone before Pentecost. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit “came upon” people and empowered them to do certain things, but Pentecost brings a significant change in the work of the Holy Spirit.
This is an important question, because it directly affects how you present the Gospel to an unbeliever.
Minimalist & Heavy-Handed Examples
For instance, if you take a minimalist approach then you’ll probably share the “Gospel” like this:
God loves you and wants more for you than you’re experiencing. You need to receive his love and choose to love him back!
But where’s the actual Gospel in there? There’s no Jesus, no cross, no resurrection, and no confession of sin or repentance. There’s very little “knowledge” in there, and I’m afraid that many Christians today share the Gospel far more like the above example than they realize. Continue reading