Why Evangelism Doesn’t Work

Week after week, study after study, sermon after sermon; “Be better witnesses. Tell your friends about Jesus. Be an evangelist.”

Here’s why it won’t work.

It won’t work until we are captivated by what God has done for us in Christ.

People will not talk about what they do not love.

Psalm 105:1–6 (ESV) — 1 Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! 2 Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! 3 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice! 4 Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! 5 Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered, 6 O offspring of Abraham, his servant, children of Jacob, his chosen ones!

What follows is an incredible role-call of God’s wondrous acts:

  • He is the LORD our God
  • He remembers
  • He confirmed
  • He allowed
  • He summoned
  • He sent
  • He made
  • He turned
  • He sent
  • He turned
  • He spoke
  • He gave
  • He struck
  • He spoke
  • He struck
  • He brought
  • He spread
  • He opened
  • He remembered
  • He brought
  • He gave

Fill your heart with the glory of what God has done. Fill your people’s hearts with the glory of what God has done.

Keep filling hearts until “Praise the LORD!” flows out. Then with it will come this:

Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!

To the praise of His glory!

Monday Throwback

I have seen men such as these.

Faithful farmers who have tilled the soil for little fruit.

So in honour of those men and women who have gone before, I wrote a short reflection:

There Once Was A Farmer

God-centered Preaching

I was reading through an extended interview between Trevin Wax and David Platt over at The Gospel Coalition website this afternoon. Among the many great insights, the following caught my attention.

Trevin Wax: How does God-centered preaching lead to passion for evangelism?

David Platt: The gospel begins and ends with God. He is the holy, just, and gracious Creator of the universe who has sent His Son, God in the flesh, to bear His wrath against sin on the cross and to show His power over sin in the resurrection so that everyone who believes in Christ will be reconciled to God forever. And this is the gospel that we proclaim in evangelism.

So how do we best lead and shepherd God’s people to evangelize? By giving them a grand understanding of God. In preaching, we unfold the character of God: His holiness, His justice, His grace, and all of His other breath-taking attributes. As we magnify His Word, people behold His glory. And they believe, deep within their minds and their hearts, that God is great and greatly to be praised. In the process, this becomes the ultimate motivation for evangelism. The more the people I pastor see God’s worth, the more they want to make His worth known in the world.

So week after week after week, as I stand before them with God’s Word, I want to show them God’s worth. As they hear His Word and they see His worth, they will lay down their lives to make the good news of God’s grace and glory known to the people around them and people groups around the world. God-centered, gospel-saturated preaching is great fuel for Christ-honoring, world-embracing evangelism.

“Lord, raise up God-centered, gospel-saturated preachers like this, so that we may have a renewed wave of Christ-honouring, world-embracing evangelism.”

It’s ‘church-planting’, Jim, but not as we know it…

The sudden proliferation of church plant books, church plant media sites, church plant resource outlets, and church planting conferences, should all alert us to a simple fact.

Church planting has hit the trend list.

The danger is thinking that church planting is somehow some new phenomenon; a sudden epiphany made by hipster, 30 something Pastors.

But its not.

Your church was planted.

And the church that planted it was planted as well.

In fact, if we would take the time, and have the information available to us, we would each be able to trace our planting history back to Jerusalem, 2000+ years ago.

The divine seed died, fell into the ground, and was raised again to life bearing life to the church.

Modern church planting based on slick marketing strategy and winsome ‘front’ men is a poor substitute for the back breaking, sweat producing, heart wrenching work of the Gospel in new ground.

Before church planting was trending, Gospel labourers were busily spending their life for the sake of new works springing up in hard ground.

Don’t be sold on the glossy invitation and incentives. Nor throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Don’t hedge the Gospel in – let it out.

Take it to the places where it hasn’t found root.

Till the soil.

Prepare the ground.

Plant the seed.

Then stand back and watch the Giver of Life make it grow.

Church Planting. Real church planting – don’t let it end in our generation.

Faithfulness vs. Fruitfulness?

Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

[1] That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. [2] And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. [3] And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. [4] And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. [5] Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, [6] but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. [7] Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. [8] Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. [9] He who has ears, let him hear.”

[18] “Hear then the parable of the sower: [19] When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. [20] As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, [21] yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. [22] As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. [23] As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

One of my many privileges in ministry is to sit with people over a meal and listen. To hear and speak the Gospel in all it’s wonder and seek to align our lives to the mystery that is Christ in us, the hope of glory.

This morning was one such moment.

I sat with a fellow Elder as he prepared for his day at work, sharing a simple meal and a coffee. In our conversation, it soon became apparent that each of us battles with the continual tension that seems to exist between ‘faithfulness’ in the Gospel and ‘fruitfulness’ in the Gospel. A tangibly real tension often exists in the daily work of the Gospel; sowing and reaping seem poles apart in our everyday existence, yet we want to enjoy both.

After praying together and going our separate ways, it occurred to me to return once again to something I was taught in Sunday School as a child. The parable of the Sower.

The Sower sowed because he expected a harvest. We always work with some hope for experiencing the fruit of our labour. Fruitfulness is a good thing. I think the problem exists when we expect to always see the fruit. And I purposefully use the word ‘see’, because we are prone to measure fruitfulness by what we see or experience personally. But seeing the fruit may not be a good criteria to use when we consider ‘successful’ or fruitful ministry.

Jesus taught his disciples around a well in Samaria that, I sent you to reap that for which you did not labour. Others have laboured, and you have entered into their labour.” Imagine now for a moment those ‘others’ that Jesus mentioned here, ‘others’ who could have given up in their labour because they had not seen the fruit. But the fruit came. Likewise, Paul exhorts the Corinthian church:

1 Corinthians 3:5-9

[5] What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. [6] I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. [7] So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. [8] He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. [9] For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

So ‘faithfulness’ and ‘fruitfulness’ are directly linked, but not always in one experience or one lifetime. We should never give up on one to achieve the other.

Sow faithfully with the hope of fruit, even if that fruit is the joy of another.

Reap with the joy that in your reaping you have been divinely joined with the faithful labour of another.

For more on this, read There once was a farmer, or this recent report here.

To the praise of His glory.

There’s No Plan B

You’ve probably heard it said.

Maybe you’ve said it yourself.

I know I have.

When it comes to evangelism and the church – there’s no plan B!

Here’s why I’m rethinking this statement… Continue reading

There Once Was A Farmer

There once was a young farmer who found great pleasure in working the soil.

And though his pleasure was great as he tilled the soil, his pleasure was rooted in the harvest he saw in his mind.

So he watered the ground with his sweat until the skin peeled from his bleeding hands.

It did not matter that this small farm did not belong to him.

It was his Masters. Continue reading

Life In 6 Words…the G.O.S.P.E.L.

I’m a big fan of Propaganda’s work, and I love for those of who have an ear not quite tuned for this style of art, that Jerome has taken the time to sort the lyrics for us. Thanks mate.

bro. jerome

 

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How to preach

Ephesians 4:11 (ESV)
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers.

I’ve often wondered why there is such a variety of preaching styles when only one gift, the shepherd-teacher, is given by God.

Why is it that if I have the gift of teaching, and so do you, that our teaching styles will be so dramatically different?

As I’ve developed as a preacher of God’s Word over the last 18 years, understandably, my style has changed; hopefully matured. And as a third generation preacher in my family, I think I’ve grown comfortable in my own shoes.

Here’s what I’ve found to be significant markers in my own preaching ministry. These ‘markers’ aren’t meant to provide a point of difference in comparison to others, just my observations about what has grown most important in my ministry over the last few years. Continue reading

When Nothing Became Everything

During the late 1800’s, Baptist minister Robert Lowry penned these words in reflection of the wonder of Easter.

Low in the grave he lay, Jesus my Saviour
Waiting a coming day, Jesus my Lord
Up from the grave He arose
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes
He arose a victor from the dark domain
And He lives forever with His saints to reign
He arose, He arose
Hallelujah, Christ arose.

For 2000 years, Christians have gathered together, whether in freedom like we do, or under intense persecution, to remind each other of this profound moment in history; Easter. For centuries we have celebrated ‘The Empty Gift’ – when nothing became everything.

From the moment we are old enough to rip paper, we are conditioned to expect a gift to contain something; not always something good, but nevertheless, something. To carefully wrap an empty box, tie it with a pretty bow, label it with a name-tag and then carefully arrange it on a gift table would be considered heartless and cruel.

Yet on Easter Sunday, an empty gift is exactly what, and why, we celebrate. Continue reading