Tag Archives: Evangelism

Book Review | Our Last Great Hope

Summary

I’ve been reading Our Last Great Hope: Awakening the Great Commission by Ronnie Floyd. The author was given the task of leading the task force for the Southern Baptist Convention to revitalize and re-imagine the evangelistic efforts of the Convention. The book chronicles Floyd’s own journey of discovery as he thought deeply and more intentionally on the last thing that Jesus left for the church to do.  As Dr. Floyd led the Great Commission Resurgence movement within the Southern Baptist Convention he discovered that he, nor his denomination, had thought deeply enough about the Great Commission even though they were known for their evangelism efforts.

The book is a wonderful reminder that our passion and desire to be a part of God’s work can never be too much. Our love of Jesus and his love for us should provide us who follow him with only motivation we could ever need.

My Thoughts

The book has many ideas that are not new. But, from the outset the way that Floyd framed the motivation that we should all have for evangelism and the Great Commission in particular was thought provoking. The author said that there are three tough questions that we all should be asking ourselves.

  1. Do I know Jesus Intimately?
  2. Do I love Jesus Passionately?
  3. Do I share Jesus Constantly?

Each one of these questions caused me to think more intentionally about my own faith journey. It is not enough to just show up and think that that will be enough. We have to realize that what God is calling us to is far more than many of us is really ready to give. The last word of each question is where the “rubber meets the road.” It’s not just do I know, love and share Jesus. It HOW do I do these things? What Jesus is asking of us is total obedience and surrender.

I found this book to be both enlightening and simple to follow. I found myself agreeing with Floyd’s insistence that the great commission must be the center of our understanding of life and faith. If you are looking for another perspective, another way of looking at what it means to live out the great commission.

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Growing Pains, Pt. 6 | “Evangelism”

Give What Has Been Given

If there is one characteristic that embodies the essence of Christianity it is selflessness. Another word for this humility. Rick Warren wrote in The Purpose Driven Life that humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less. I could stop right there, but that would only be part of the picture. If we are going to be the people that God would have us to be, then we must be willing and able to share the Good News of Jesus to all who are around us. There is a phrase that has stuck in my mind over the last several years. It is borrowed, but it says, “God will not send a blessing to you, if He knows He can’t get it through you.” God’s hand and activity in your life is not about you, and it surely is not only for you.

Christianity is a religion of return. No one comes to faith in isolation. Faith requires a body of faith to give it to others. If you had never seen a church, a Christian or a bible you never would have known about Jesus. You may have thought about God, for Paul said that the world testifies of God, but what we need can only come through revelation and that gift and responsibility has been given to the Church of Jesus. If there has been any benefit or change in our lives, then we are charged with a great responsibility, to give what has been given to us.

Many Ways To Share

Far too many Christians have been turned off to evangelism because they think that to spread the word is to get on a soapbox or hand out tracks or to be able to quote scripture to someone who is not a Christian. Evangelism is more than what you know or do not know about the church, the bible or the doctrines of scripture. What has Jesus done for you today? If you can think of one thing, then share that. It should not be that complicated.

Bible thumping is not the best or only way to do what Jesus did. Can you take a warm meal to a family in mourning? This is evangelism. Can you tell someone of a prayer that God has answered? Can you show grace where once there would have been anger? Can you look past the sin and love the sinner? This is evangelism. There are some that may feel comfortable with the confrontational method. There are some that need this kind of straight forward talk, but there are others that could use a gentle hug of comfort or a kind word of hope. The Gospel is supposed to be a balm, a medicine that we apply to the pains and hurts of someone’s life. If this is true, then it should not feel like alcohol on an open wound.

Like A Vitamin

Sharing your faith with someone else is like taking a vitamin. The more and the longer you share your faith the better you feel and the stronger your faith will become. I share my faith by showing that it is possible to have fun, to have a full and vibrant life and not compromise your values and convictions. There was a time when men and women knew that they needed God in their lives. There are so many distractions and diversions today, God has been relegated to an “as needed” remedy.

So many people feel that with a good job and good pay they can get everything that they need. The form of evangelism must change, not its substance. Try to find some way to share what you believe. Remember; you may not change anyone, but you will change the way they look at you. And that is evangelism at its heart.

Book Review | Jesus Loves You This I Know

 Summary

Sometimes you just need a reminder.

Gross and Harper provide an insightful, touching and sometimes raw reality for the reader to consider. There are some people, maybe even a lot of people, who do not know this simple truth. Craig Gross is the pastor of Strip Church and leader of XXXchurch.com, a ministry that reaches out to those engaged in the pornography industry. Jason Harper is the founder of The Extra Mile a non-profit organization.

The book provides various accounts of individuals that both Gross and Harper have interacted with in their ministries. The people range from those who were in church, to those who have left the church hurt or angry, to a prominent porn star, to those who think that they should not even be doing this kind of ministry. The exchanges are as varied as the personalities. The book is a series of narratives chronicling the history and effects of the relationships. Jesus Loves You This I Know is a quick read, but provides various opportunities to stop and consider your own engagement of the world “out there.”

My Thoughts

This book was a clear reminder that there are many more opportunities to reach outside of my comfort zone. And, I think that this is part of the problem. When did a person, someone created in the image of God, become another “opportunity” for evangelism? Relationships are at the heart of what it means to be a community on mission and a family of faith. This is the reason that Jesus Loves You This I Know is powerful. Gross and Harper remind us that God sent Jesus for people, for individuals, and not institutions. It does take a shift in thinking to see this. There are several examples of this throughout the book, but the one that stands out in my mind is the following one.

God loves and accepts people where they are, not where we think they should be. [135]

Many of us might read that and think that they are watering down the message, or that they are too open, or that they are not faithfully preaching what the Bible says. But, I have to ask, why do we tend to respond in this way to what is said here. Could it be that we would really like for God to agree with us about where such and such a person should be? That may be more the truth than many of us would care to admit.

Here is another example of what is wrong, or maybe, has been forgotten by those within the church. Look at this very perceptive comment.

Now the concept of living a sacrificial life that is attractive to the broken has largely been replaced with a religious exclusivity that has made people broken. [16, emphasis in original]

Think about that. What has been replaced? Is it not a clear and simple presentation of Jesus’ love for people who truly need it? The very thing that should be drawing others toward Jesus has become the reason that they are running from. Jesus loves you… but they do not know.

Jesus Loves You This I Know does not really offer a way for fixing what is wrong with the way the church may have gotten off track. It simply and poignantly paints a picture of what could be, of what should be.

I had a lot to think about after I read this book. I think you may as well.

Book Review | The Messenger: A Parable

Summary

The Messenger: A Parable by Joseph F. Girzone chronicles some of the exploits of a priest named Francis in a modern context. Girzone is a retired Roman Catholic priest and many of these theological threads are found throughout the book. At just over one hundred pages it reads rather quickly and provides an interesting Catholic perspective to the state of the Roman church.

While always maintaining a strong affection for the Church, Girzone, is no always happy with the decisions that are made by those in power. This book is as much a critique of what is wrong with the ecclesiastical structures of the Roman Catholic church as it is a clarion call to seek reform, or better yet, a return to what, I would guess, is a more true Catholic identity.

The leadership of the church is predominantly portrayed as weak, selfish, uncaring and conniving, with some exceptions. The primary concern in the book seems to be the loss of focus on the churches mission. A mission that is supposed to be upheld and protected by the bishops because of their role as successors to the Apostles. But, Francis, bemoans the fact that this task has fallen to him, a simple priest. Francis, is not comfortable with this role. His struggles and desire, hopes and dreams, are chronicled through various experiences throughout the book.

My Thoughts

I found the book interesting on a couple of levels. The first level was that of Francis’s perspective and analysis of what was missing from the church. There was not a strong sense that the Protestants were the cause of problems within the Catholic church. The books from very introspective about a Roman Catholic’s view of purpose and mission. The need for unity and understanding among those that loved Jesus was emphasized and highlighted in the story. Francis is not interested in getting everybody to “come back home.” What is at the center of Francis’s thinking and what motivates him to act is the need for Jesus to be more than the symbol of faith, or worse yet, a symbol of faith. This is not a sufficient view of Him. Jesus must become everything because he is everything. This was a refreshing note in the text.

The second level had to do with the way that a Roman Catholic perspective interprets the role of the Bible and its authority. The theology of the authority of the church is not found in the Bible according to the book, but in the ones who wrote the bible. And connected to this is the idea that this same authority to lead and guide the church was vested, in a very literal way, to the succession of leaders since the Twelve Apostles. I had never encountered this theological understanding in this way before, but I will investigate this further. Because of this understanding of authority, it becomes easier to see how the Roman Catholic church is organized and how it practically works out its theology. This understanding also explains why the dogma of apostolic succession is pivotal and protected within Roman Catholic theology.

The book was interesting to read. It was much more “evangelical” than I would have expected, and yet it was inspiring to think that there are those within Catholicism’s ranks who are concerned with the promotion and propagation of the Gospel of Jesus (even we do not agree on some points of theology!). Over all I enjoyed it.