Archive for July 2011

Stop sensing you are in charge of something.

You are not responsible for making something happen. You don’t know what will happen as you obey God in the realm of evangelism. It’s up to God to produce fruit. God is the one who produces fruit forever and always. Our role is to show up in faithfulness with a smile and a bit of anticipation.

It’s not such a bad word after all

once they experience a bit of the joy of it. I use the term “Kindness outreach” instead of “Servant Evangelism” at first to woo people into the cusp of outreach, but then I don’t worry about using the “E” word. Once they experience it they are no longer fearful. As one formerly fearful guy recently asked as he beamed, “Does this ever get old?”

The senior leader is the primary mentor…

The senior leader is the primary mentor… who guides the way in all things related to evangelism. A local church will rarely grow beyond the skill and passion level of her pastor. As that person does, so does the church, for better and for worse. Most of the time, not surprisingly, the pastor of the local church is not naturally gifted at evangelism. He is usually more introverted and oriented toward speaking and teaching gifts. He would rather spend time studying than out with people trying to lead them to salvation. That’s okay. God can take a person like that and bring about exciting change. Remember this important principle: as a pastor changes so changes the local church.
To the degree the senior leader owns his responsibility in leading the way for evangelism God will be able to break through and do something significant. Until the senior leader owns this role little will happen.

Do the work

It’s all about doing the work, not talking about the work.

Leaders aren’t leaders until they lead.

Writers aren’t writers until they write.

Worship leaders are so until they bring others into worship.

Evangelists are only evangelists when they evangelize. Connect with the Lost.

Don’t just talk. Do the work. Start today.

Being Yourself or Being Outward

Like most people, I’m an introvert by nature. The ironic truth is, I struggle with the notion of doing an outreach every time it comes to going out to serve others. The consistent thought that goes through my mind is, “Isn’t there a book I need to read?” Or, “Don’t I need to study something right now?” Even though I have been doing outreach for 30 years I still go through this routine each time an outreach is scheduled. If that is the way I’m wired I suspect there is something in you that that resists reaching out. The bottom line is this – sometimes it’s best to not be ourselves.

“Evangelism” or “Missional”

I am officially skeptical of the term “missional” at this point in the game. I have heard and read a pile of material on mission this and mission that, but have seen precious few practical results. I am fairly convinced that most of those who write under the rubric “missional” are confessing that they know little of practical outreach. The word is mostly a theory in spite of its promise to stimulate an outward focus.
It can become an end in itself to study and discuss the attributes of outreach while never getting around to actual outreach. It has become faddish to talk missional but not actually do missional. On the other hand, the term “evangelism” is in your face and practical. It may be more of an old-fashioned term but everyone knows that it is activational. There is no doubt that when one uses the “E” word one is talking about actually doing something. Call me crazy, but I suggest we drop the “M” word in favor of the tried and true “E” word.

How To Be Creative

I recently saw the film Midnight In Paris, a powerful flick whose backstory is about finding a creative muse in spite of self-doubt. As one who writes on a daily basis I felt a kinship with the main character in the story, a frustrated writer with a stalled novel. Whether you are a writer or not, I believe you will enjoy this powerful film. It hits on a profound truth in the human psyche – we are created by God to do more than merely exist. We have been created to make art, that is, do things that bring meaning to us, and hopefully to others as well.

Your ability to be creative – to make art – is your greatest distinctive in life. In order to live a fulfilled life you need to express that creativity in meaningful ways. Here are some approaches to making that happen that have shaped my life.

Make friends with creative types. Often the most important factor in stirring up creativity is watching the company you keep. In some cases, you need to add new friendships that can bring zest and spark. As you pray for them they tend to appear; if they don’t, start a reading group! On the other hand, perhaps you need to extricate yourself from banal, nagging types who only bring you down.

Pay attention to your input. What you take into your heart and mind will stimulate you in one direction or the other. Pay attention to what other creative types are reading, watching, listening to and mimic them. By the way, don’t buy into the notion that TV is a waste of time. People who say that are the boring types who are stuck in old paradigms that are out of touch with our current culture. It is impossible to live in the 21st Century and not look through a screen that takes in the virtual world on a daily basis. Be wise about your watching habits of course, but realize you can’t possibly be tied into this ever-changing culture without being connected to the tube.

Don’t take yourself all that seriously. It takes multiples attempts before something great comes about. In writing, for example, it takes about 7 attempts until something worthwhile comes together. When I first started writing I grew impatient when my first pass didn’t read well. One well-known writer famously says his first pass at something is always complete s#*t. After writing many books now and countless articles I couldn’t agree more. A word to the wise is to persevere in getting started and not grow weary in well doing as Paul admonishes.

Extending Your Half-Life In The Community

The term Half-life refers to how long something continues to have an influence on a system. For example, how long does a medication remain active in your body? A long half-life drug will influence you for weeks after you stop taking it. What is the half-life of a book on the market? On the mainstream market it is usually true that most of its sales will take place its first six months. My book, The Day I Died, has followed an opposite pattern in that it has sold its best in its fifth year of circulation. I suspect that staying power reflects the public’s increased interest in NDEs (near death experiences).

What is the current half-life of your evangelism efforts? Are you committing yourself to actions that will pay off over the long haul – doing what is memorable in order to cause your community to emotionally connect with what you are about? Memorable actions bring definition.

Few churches have any clear definition in their surrounding community. The church I lead in Oregon has existed for over 100 years, yet few in the surrounding area have a clear concept of what it stands for. That’s all changing. We are now making hundreds of one-on-one contacts with people each week. On a recent hamburger outreach (we are going door to door giving out freshly grilled burgers) one lady commented, “I know you guys – you’re the ones who washed cars then gave them a dollar bill afterwards!” That’s the beginning of a long half-life.

Buying Into Your Preferred Future

No matter who you are, no matter what you do, today you are moving toward your future at a rapid pace. There’s just one question you face – Is this the future you most highly prize? If you are like most, an accurate answer is probably, “Some days it’s a yes, other days I’m far from it.”

What is standing in the way of you consistently living out your preferred future? Here are some elements that come to me.

Clarity. First, what precisely are you shooting for? The clearer you can nail this the more likely you will be able to hit your target. Don’t be ADD about it. Focus on what is important – the singular big deal God has put on your heart to pursue.
Carry through. Second, I’m talking about stick-to-itive-ness. Can you connect for the long haul? Most can buy into the game for the short run, but how about the duration. Don’t panic if this doesn’t reflect your current experience. Then again, don’t baby yourself. As much as anything it’s a matter of will power.
Commitment. Finally, are you willing to buy in come what may? Amazing results come to us as we join our willingness to the profound will of God. The very power of God is released as we say yes to greater things than we’ve done in the past.

Make your future a focus instead of a happenstance. You will be able to do work that matters. God will intervene.

Talk Up The Gospel

There are a couple of caveats regarding the new openness isolation has created to conversation.

  1. A.As you approach people rely on the Holy Spirit for success. Without him we will not succeed in evangelism. We need his insights as we share, but at the same time realize we already know it’s his will that everyone know Christ including the next person you connect with.
  2. B.Be enthusiastic above all. You don’t need to use goofy cliques to succeed. Express your unique yourself as you connect and God will shine through, but if you aren’t enthusiastic you are sunk before you start. No one will want to be a part of what you have unless you shine with the love and presence of God.
  3. C.Find an approach for sharing the Gospel that consistently syncs well with you. Approaches are tools in your toolkit that will come in handy as you bring the gospel. One tool I’ve recently become aware of is Rice Broocks’ “God Test” booklet. It’s a brilliant tool for engaging others in conversation that leads them to the point of realizing their need to respond to Christ. Try it on for size by ordering a few dozen copies (RiceBroocks.com).