Archive for the Christian relationships Category

Forfeiting Evangelism

Posted in Christian relationships with tags , , , , , , on February 7, 2009 by gospel2live

The following is a quote from Mark Dever’s message on Evangelism and the Church for the 2009 Desiring God Conference for Pastors:

We want to lead our congregations to evangelize congregationally.  What I’m saying is, the corporate witness of our churches, will make our evangelism either easier or harder — depending on whether that witness is a help, or a hindrance.  If your church, is all about making sure everybody who was ever a member is still a member, keeping this group together at all costs, then you are forfeiting your witness to the Gospel in the community.  If your church is all about glorifying Christ, seeing his Spirit work and mold and break and convict and edify and change us, as individuals and as a community, friends, then Satan’s knees are shaking!  That’s exactly what God built the church to do.

This particular comment struck me hard.  It seems that many of our churches fall prey to this temptation to keep peace at any and all costs.  We handle sin with kid gloves and maintain facades as we interact with others from the church.  Often, this may lead to double lives.  We put on our happy face and act real holy at church, but our lives away from church reflect all the values of the world and are barren and dry spiritually.

While I have seen this condition in churches before, I am not sure I had thought about it as a forfeit of our Gospel witness.  However, it makes perfect sense.  Unity at all costs will inevitably lead to hypocrisy and hypocrisy is the bane of evangelism.  Our unbelieving friends and family see through the happy-face charades that we play, and it sickens them — as it should sicken us!  When we pretend to be holy on Sunday, but our lives are not transparent, authentic, and transformed daily, we fail to show the power of the Gospel and make evangelism difficult, if not impossible.

On the other hand, if we are willing to live humbly, confessing our own sin, earnestly pursuing the glory of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, then our lives will be a fragrant aroma to those whom God is calling to salvation.  While self-righteous, religious pride is toxic to evangelism, authentic and honest relationships that are causing us to sharpen one another and grow in our conformity to Jesus will be strangely attractive to unbelievers.  As a result, our attempts to proclaim the Gospel will have a much more powerful effect.

However, authentic and honest relationships will ultimately lead to a certain amount of conflict.  As a result, people who LIKE their religious pride and sense of superiority will not react well to even the most loving confrontation  over their sin.  As a result, people who are not serious about having their own sin dealt with will often be driven away — much like the rich young ruler.  When Jesus forced him to choose between becoming a disciple and his material possessions, we found out that he really worshipped his stuff, not Jesus.

In response, ask yourself the following questions:

Do you really know and believe the Gospel?  

Is the Gospel something you know in your head, but do not rejoice over in your heart?

Does your church value the glory of Christ and his cross more than it values peace among the membership?  

I would challenge you to think this through prayerfully, asking the Spirit to reveal His truth to you, and to discern whether your practice is consistent with your theology.  If there is a gap in your practice, either individually or corporately, repent and turn to Jesus.  Cultivate an environment where the glory of Christ is more important than your own comfort, and you may find that your church will begin to be competitive for lost souls, instead of forfeiting them to the enemy.

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Leaders in the Making

Posted in Christian relationships with tags , , , on February 3, 2009 by gospel2live

It is a great privilege to be attending the Desiring God Conference for Pastors in Minneapolis.  This year, in addition to the blessing of attending the conference, I have the double blessing of attending with a couple of emerging lay leaders from my home church.  The conference topic is on evangelism and the role of the pastor and church in reaching those who are perishing.

Attending a conference like this with lay men who desire to grow in God is a tremendous opportunity.  It has given us an opportunity to spend time listening to very challenging speakers, but even more importantly, time to digest and discuss what we are learning throughout the day.  Some pastors simply need to get away and be minstered to.  However, for those who have the opportunity to bring key current and future leaders with to such an event, they will find a level of life on life discipleship that is very hard to duplicate.   I am very grateful to the men who came along that they were willing to take the time and make the commitment to attend.

I would encourage pastors and church leaders to multiply the impact of conferences by attending them as teams and taking the time to work through the implications of the teaching for your particular local church!

Friendly Versus Intimate.

Posted in accountability, Christian relationships, holiness on October 22, 2008 by gospel2live

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. James 2:1
The official word is that Chisholm Baptist is a friendly church.  I frequently hear people from the church talking about what a wonderful, friendly place this church is.  There is no doubt that the people I hear this from are sincere and really love this church – as they should!  

However there are other voices that I hear from time to time.  These voices share another message.  These are the voices of people who feel lonely and isolated.  They are voices of people who are never included in the private parties, or invited to dinner.  These are people who are new, or poor, or single, or in some way don’t “fit the mold.”  These voices talk about a Chisholm Baptist Church that seems cliquish and sometimes shallow in our relationships.  

It isn’t that people are necessarily mean or unkind.  It’s just that most of us do not get beyond a smile and light chatter on Sunday morning in the hallway.  Most of us, frankly, like it that way.  Do we really want to know about someone else’s pain or trials?  Do we really want to put up with stories from people who seem “weird” to us?  Are we content to remain blind to any problems that aren’t far away and disconnected from our day to day lives?  

This becomes even more evident as we get closer to issues of sin in people’s lives.  Do we ask each other tough questions to hold one another accountable?  Do we confront people who offend us, or do we hold grudges and talk behind their backs?  Do we ignore sinful patterns of behavior in other people instead of lovingly and humbly encouraging them to repent?  Have we quietly embraced the modern notion of tolerance when we let people continue uninterrupted in their involvement with church activities despite their blatant and unrepentant sinning?  1 John 1:6 says “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”  

While Chisholm Baptist may be a friendly church, it is not always an intimate church.  All of us need to examine our hearts, our attitudes, and our actions to see if we are making efforts to love and serve other people in our midst.  We need to reach out to others in the church who are hurting, lonely, struggling with sin, or just a little different than us to be able to serve them in their walk with Christ.  We must love people enough to correct them in patterns of sin in their lives – not because we have reached a level of perfection and can sit in judgment – but because we need them to be there to do the same for us in turn.  If we fail to cultivate deep and intimate relationships with one another that are centered around Jesus, we will end up as hearers of the Word, but not doers of the Word.

Even if you feel that you are rich in intimate relationships here at church, ask yourself these questions.  When was the last time someone loved me enough to confront me on sin in my life?  When was the last time I felt the need to confront someone else and actually did it?  When was the last time I invited someone over for dinner for the first time?  When was the last time I prayed to ask God to guide me to a person who needed me to serve them?  What is the biggest struggle with sin for each of my three closest friends at CBC?  What am I doing to help them overcome that sin in their lives?  When was the last time I confessed my sin to someone else?  All of us MUST fight against our sinful tendency to be selfish and our desire to be served, and seek, by God’s grace, to become servants to others around us.  Only then will Chisholm Baptist be not just a friendly church, but an intimate one as well.