Saturday, 23 June 2012

Do you like change?

There is a joke that I sometimes quote to make a point about how Christians often resist change. It goes like this. Question: How many church members does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: Change?

I am all for change and we need to make use of out of the box thinking in order to come up with new ideas on how to reach people with the most important message in the world. We should make use of all new mediums of communication like the internet and other technology. My concern is that in our modern seeker sensitive, politically correct world many Christians are abandoning the proven traditional methods that still work to replace them with ones that are less about one to one witnessing for Christ.

By that I mean that we should be talking directly to people, asking them questions about their deepest beliefs, discovering how these beliefs effect the way that they live their lives, leading on to presenting the truth of the Gospel of salvation. Sometimes it will be gently and on other occasions confrontationally, but it must always be done in love, out of having a heart for the lost.

There are three important scriptures that come to mind that we should never forget when it comes to evangelism and witnessing.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Mark 16: 15

Then the master told his servant, 'Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full’ Luke 14: 23

"If you love me, you will obey what I command” John 14: 15

These scriptures I believe tell us that we must go. Yes, we can still make use of new ideas and methods to share Jesus. But we must be careful that we don't throw the baby out with the bath water in favour of more modern approaches.

Jesus knew what He was saying when he spoke those words. He knew about the radio, TV and internet revolution that was to come. He knew that through technology we would be able to reach millions. It really in incredible when you consider what we can do today. Jesus even said himself:

“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” John 14: 12

The point that I am making is that we still need to pray for opportunities to share the Gospel one to one, to speak to people and engage them in conversation, letting the way that we live our lives be a witness for Jesus.

Key Point: Leaflets, notices, internet campaigns are all good, but at some point witnessing will involve conversation and sharing the Gospel if you have a desire to win souls

For me to see the truth I needed someone to actually talk to me about Jesus. They pointed out that there was only one way to heaven which is through the Son. At first when I heard the “Good News” I thought it was rubbish, nonsense and baloney. But over a period of time I was won to Christ through them  building a relationship one on one. The people who shared Jesus with me let their lights shine,  as well as through being salt and by demonstrating the love of Jesus through kindness and compassion as well showing their belief in Christ in both word and deed. Through all of this, and much more my eyes were eventually opened to the truth that Jesus died for me.

I want to challenge you as a Christian to obey the commands of Jesus by being a ready and active witness for Him. It may be difficult at times, but when you consider what He did for us at Calvary there is no comparison.

If you know that you are not witnessing enough personally for Christ, make a plan to do the following:

  • Pray daily for opportunities to witness
  • Ask God so send people to you who are ready for the message
  • Pray specifically for people you are trying to reach personally

  • Get into the word of God
  • Set aside time to read scriptures that relate to witnessing
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth of His word to your heart

  • Prepare your testimony so that it lasts from a couple of minutes and another for 5 or ten minutes.
  • Try to keep to this formula, cover 30% before being saved, 40% how you were saved, 30% on what has happened since being saved 
  • Learn answers to common questions that the unsaved have
  • Listen to evangelistic messages 
  • Learn how to lead someone to Christ

  • Spend time with people who are effective witnesses
  • Ask questions and find out what they do
  • Mirror these people and opportunities will come

If being a witness was easy, everyone would be doing it. The truth is that it will mean operating in faith and believing that the Holy Spirit will back you up.

The Good News is that when you do, He will.

Friday, 1 June 2012

How about treasure hunting evangelism?

People have come up with new ways to reach those people who don’t know Christ for many years. Some of these methods are seeker sensitive, which I believe is fine as long as you don’t change the message so that God becomes more acceptable, while others are much more direct in their approach. 

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” Hebrews 11: 6

There is one method that is being spoken of quite a lot at the moment. It involves what is known as “Treasure hunting evangelism”. I have met people who are who speak highly of the endeavour as well as those who are very much against it.

I believe that it started at Bill Johnson's church in the USA a few years ago and that it has proved to be very successful. If you have never come across this before, here is a simple explanation of what is actually involved.

It is quite different, but simply put 'Treasure Hunts' are a form of prophetic evangelism. A group of Christians will get together and take time to pray and listen for revelation from the Holy Spirit about individuals that God wants the group to find.

It is in essence a form of personal evangelism which some would say is a game of searching for 'God's Treasures', which are of course people who are away from God. The group typically receives revelation, or "clues", consisting of places, clothing, hairstyle, or situations which will help them to identify the "treasure".

After receiving revelations from the Holy Spirit, the group will go out to ‘hunt’ for the people identified. Often as a result they are able to share the love of God as well as being able to explain the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people that they come into contact with. This can also provide opportunities for the treasure hunters to pray for the sick.

With this type of evangelism and witnessing the idea is to let people know that they really are valuable in Gods eyes and that He has guided the 'Hunter" to search for them as His treasure.

The approach that people use would be something like, “Hello, I’m searching for treasure, and I believe that it’s you”. This very often opens the door for a ‘hunter’ to witness of Gods grace and also it often provides an opportunity to pray for the person they are in conversation with. 

There are many testimonies of people coming to Christ, receiving healing, asking for personal prayer, engaging in deep spiritual conversations and accepting invitations to come to church or Alpha / look and see courses.

This will be a controversial method of evangelism for some. Because, there is no doubt that on occasion some over enthusiastic people have gone off believing that they have heard from the Lord, when in fact what they did hear was just a notion that popped into their head. All I would say is that before carrying out this method of witnessing it would require much prayer. Groups should also be led by a team leader who is experienced in hearing the voice of the Spirit of God. This  leader would then be able to listen to the revelations that the groups have received. They would the be able to offer help and encouragement to team members who are starting out in this form of witness.

Well, that is the reservations that I have over, so let’s look at some of the positives.

It is an excellent conversation opener:  In my experience there is nothing more likely to bring a very quick end to a conversation than asking someone a question like, “Hi there, I am from the local church, tell me, have you heard about Jesus?”

The actual idea of a “treasure hunt” is a way to break the ice with strangers, allowing a conversation to naturally move on to important spiritual matters.

Key Point: This type of witnessing will build up your reliance of the Holy Spirit

It builds a reliance on the Holy Spirit’s guidance: Praying to God to divinely lead you to those people who the Holy Spirit may already have been working on builds trust in God to direct and guide. It also develops faith in Him to give you the right words to say in order to be an effective witness. I have said before, that if you earnestly pray to God for opportunities to share the good news, He will bring the right people to you. This is just another way of doing the same thing.

It requires a believer to put faith into action:  As we have read, scripture says that we cannot please God without faith.  When we do something in faith to share Jesus, the Holy Spirit backs you up. He guides, He leads, He helps, He empowers. He is just amazing!!

That is why prayer is so important. It is a must, that you believe that you have heard from God before going onto someone. God will speak to you in both words to your heart as well as by giving you pictures that will be very clear.

I know that God moves in this way through my own experiences over the years. Once I was praying for God to reveal to me people who needed prayer for healing while on an outreach on a tent mission. Whilst in prayer I was given a clear picture of young lady with a significant back problem that caused her to limp and lean out sideways. Within a couple of minutes she was standing right in front of me. God is good.

Does this method excite you or put you off? Let me know.