Archive for the ‘Books’ category

I-5 Evangelism

January 21, 2013

In Any-3: Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime, Mike Shipman shares five insights into the character of Jesus’ evangelistic ministry. These insights, drawn from Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:7-38), will serve us well as we seek to obey the Great Commission to share the Gospel and make disciples of all the “nations”, beginning in our Jerusalems.

The first characteristic of Jesus’ evangelistic ministry that Shipman points out is intentionality. Jesus was Intentional about Woman at the Well 1886everything that He did during the course of His life and ministry, including His evangelism. Mike writes that …

“The witness who understands the gospel and is willing and prepared to share it will have opportunities to do so. God will connect such a witness with people who need to hear the gospel, many of whom He has already prepared to receive it.”

“Christians who plan to share the gospel do so much more often than those who passively ‘wait for the Spirit to lead them.'”

“Prepare to share the gospel. And then make a plan to spend time where lost people are with the intention of sharing the gospel with them.” 

 Jesus was very Informal when engaging people evangelistically.

“Most of Jesus’ witnessing experiences occurred in the course of everyday life. Rather than waiting for a formal religious setting, Jesus witnessed informally.”

“The best place to witness is wherever you meet people.”

” … if anyone, anywhere in the world invites you to sit down and talk, what they are usually saying is, ‘Share the gospel with me.'”

Mike writes that “Jesus never acted condescending or condemning” when ministering evangelistically. “Instead, he was Interactive and engaging.”

Discussing this third characteristic of Jesus’ evangelistic approach to ministry, Shipman notes that Jesus spoke seven times and the woman spoke six times during their conversation at the well. He did not dominate the conversation; His style was interactive. It is also noted that the early tone of Jesus was gentle and relaxed when He began His conversation with the woman, but the tone of the conversation did became tense when the woman came under conviction because of her sin. When tension does enter the evangelistic exchange,

“Let the Holy Spirit do the work of conviction, while the witness helps to guide the person to the truth.”

“People are rarely won to Christ through arguments no matter how persuasive they may be. Instead, focus of giving a simple, loving presentation of the gospel.”

 Initiative characterized Jesus’ approach to evangelism. Mike shows us that Jesus not only initiated the conversation with the Samaritan woman, He guided the conversation to its intended goal. That goal was her decision to receive Christ as her Savior and transformer of her life.

The fifth and final characteristic of Jesus’ evangelism method that Mike Shipman observes in Any-3 Jesus’ encounter with the Woman at the Well is that Jesus Introduces people to the Messiah.

“Sharing biblical truths is good, but if we fail to introduce the Messiah, we have missed the heart of the gospel.”

” … the gospel has the power to save. For this reason, the gospel should be the primary message the witness shares.”

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If the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ truly is good news, those of us who are believers in Him should be eager to share the message of God’s love and forgiveness in our Savior with those who need to know Him personally. While many studies, programs, and courses have been written and designed to train and equip us for evangelism, there is no better preparation and equipping for the work than to study and follow the life, example, and teaching of Jesus Christ.

He was Intentional about the sharing of the Gospel. He was Informal, or relational. He Interacted and had exchanges with people. He took the Initiative in connecting with people and sharing the Good  News. And, He Introduced people to the Messiah and called them to make a personal decision to accept His as their Savior.

May we live an evangelistic life-style and may it be characterized by the evangelistic traits of Jesus.

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The painting above: Christ and the Samaritan Woman at the Well by Henryk Sieiradzki, 1886.

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“Any 3 – Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime”

January 16, 2013

Evangelism is the sharing of the “Good News” of God and His love, grace, and forgiveness for sinful mankind. This love and forgiveness of sin is made available by God’s grace and is secured through simple faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God Who gave His life on the Cross to purchase our salvation.

The Bible teaches us that we are to share the Gospel. Courses have been taught on how to evangelize people. Gospel pamphlets Any 3 have  been  published for distribution during house-to-house neighborhood canvassing or while standing on city street corners. And, books have been written on various topics related to evangelism: the biblical basis for and theology of evangelism, our motivation for sharing the Gospel, and different methods for communicating the Gospel to those who need Christ as Savior, to name just three.

My favorite book on the subject has always been The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman (1963). This is not only a classic on the subject of evangelism, it is a tremendous book on the subjects of discipleship and small groups.

I have just finished reading a recently published book about evangelism that is quickly becoming a favorite text on the subject. It is entitled Any-3: Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime. Lead Muslims to Christ Now!  Any-3 was written by Mike Shipman, a Church Planting Movement training specialist, and is published by WIGTake. While Mike specifically addresses the evangelization of people who adhere to Islam, the teaching that Mike shares can be applied to our witness to people of any faith or no faith at all.

Mike says that …

“Any-3 implements the simple, natural way Jesus witnessed to the woman at the well in John 4. In so doing, it recaptures foundational elements of the first-century evangelism that Jesus modeled for His disciples. It worked then, and it works now.”

“Any-3 combines bridging, gospel presentation and drawing the net into one seamless approach.”

“Any-3 allows you to share the gospel in a natural and relational manner. It is persuasive, but never combative.”

Mike goes on to say that because Any-3 “feels spontaneous and free,” it helps believers “live an evangelizing lifestyle, rather than try in vain to do lifestyle evangelism.”

The Any-3 approach to evangelism employs a five-step approach to sharing the Gospel of Christ. The steps and transitions between them are:

Step One: Get Connected

When speaking with someone, ask “connecting questions,” some relationship-building questions, such as: “How are you?” “Where are you from?” “Do you live in this neighborhood?”

Then ask the transition question: “Are you Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, or Christian?’ This question moves us to the second step.

Step Two: Get to God

In this step we engage the person in a discussion of God by asking one question and making one observation. “Most religions are alike aren’t they?” and “We are all trying to please God so that we can go to heaven one day, and we are all trying to pay off our sin debt. We all sin, don’t we. Even good people sin. Sinning is easy, but paying off our sin debt to God is much more difficult, isn’t it?”

Our transition question that will lead to the third step is: “In your religion, what are you doing to get your sins forgiven?”

Step Three: Get to Lostness

Let the individual share some of the things that they are doing, according to their religion in an effort to please God and pay off their sin debt. The ask them three questions: “Are your sin debts paid off yet?” “When do you think your sin debts will be paid off?” “On Judgment Day, do you know that your sin debt will be paid off?”

At this time, the believer will begin a transition to the Gospel by saying, “What I believe is different; I know that my sins are forgiven. It is not because I am a good person, although I do try. I know that my sins are forgiven, because God himself has made a way for our sins to be forgiven.”

Step Four: Get to the Gospel

In Step Four we share the Gospel message, the message of God’s love for sinful man and the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ, for the purchase of our salvation and the forgiveness of sin.

After the Gospel has been shared, we say, “According to the Bible, if we surrender our life to Jesus as Lord and believe that He has paid for our sines through His sacrifice and that God has raised him from the dead, our sins will be forgiven.”

This statement transitions our conversation to Step Five.

Step Five: Get to a Decision

After progressing through the first four steps of the Any-3 and sharing the Gospel of Christ, we want to the bring the person to a decision about Christ. It is not enough to just share the Good News of Christ with people, we must invite them to accept the Christ of the message.

We ask them, with respect to the message of the sacrifice of Christ for our sins: “That makes sense doesn’t it?” and “Do you believe what I have told you: that Jesus died for our sins and was raised again?”

After sharing the essence  of the five steps of  the Any-3 approach to evangelism, Mike Shipman goes on to elaborate on each step, share ways to adapt the presentation depending on the religion of the person being spoken to, and what to do and say when a person either accpets Christ as Savior, rejects Him, or desires to continue the conversation at a later time. Mike also share insights into the evangelistic ministry of Jesus taken from His encounter with the Woman at the Well.

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I enjoyed reading and have benefitted greatly from the reading of Any-3: Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime by Mike Shipman. It has encouraged me to be much more alert to the Holy Spirit’s leading and prompting to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with those around me.

In fact, several weeks ago I had taken one of my sons to the barber shop to get his hair cut. While he was in the chair getting his hair trimmed, I sat in the waiting area and was reading Any-3. A man walked into the shop, sat in a chair across the room from me, and watched me as I read.

The man then asked me, “What book are you reading?” As I looked up, somewhat surprised that he would disturb me while I was concentrating on my book, I said, “It’s a book about evangelism.”

The Holy Spirit then spoke to me and asked, “You’re reading about the sharing of the Gospel in a natural and informal way. What are you going to do now that I have opened a door for you?”

The gentleman and I then entered into a discussion about evangelism. I was able to “guide” the conversation through the five steps, and was able to determine and rejoice with the man that he was a follower of Christ.

 

A New Court Erected

November 9, 2012

What is there to know, and how much can be known, about the throne of grace?

Robert Traill, Scot preacher and reformer (1642-1716), helps us explore these questions in his thirteen-sermon series, The Throne of Grace. These messages were published in the book, A Stedfast Adherence to the Profession of Faith, in 1718, two years after Traill’sthroneo;p death.

The messages in this series are based on Hebrews 4:16.

“Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.”

In the introduction to Sermon I, Traill informs us that he is going to address “four weighty questions, which should be in the hearts of all worshippers of God.” These questions are: “Where may I find God?”; “How should we come to God on this throne?”; “What ground hath a sinner for this boldness?”; and “What shall we get, and for what may we come to this throne of grace?”

Under the first “Head,” “Where is God to be found?”, Traill writes that God is found on the throne of grace.  He preaches that the mostArk of the Covenant3 sacred object in Old Testament worship, the mercy seat, is what the writer of Hebrews calls the “throne of grace.” This teaches us that

” …whatever of divine grace was revealed and tendered to, or perceived and received by the faith of the Old Testament  believers, in their right use of these sacred old institutions of God to his church, the same, with great advantage, believers under the New Testament have in Jesus Christ, the body, the antitype, and substance of them.”

Three advantages had at the mercy seat, and in Christ, are noted by Traill.  They are a solemn approach made to God, atonement for sins, and a Word from God.

Traill then distinguishes the throne of grace from other “thrones” found in Scripture. The other thrones are:

  • the throne of glory, a throne of the essential, incomprehensible glory of God that no man can approach (I Timothy 6:16)
  • the throne of government where “God sits, and rules all things in his pleasure, and in infinite wisdom.” (Psalm 9:4,7)
  • the throne of God’s justice from where men will be judged according to the law and their works (Psalm 143:2), from which “nothing but condemnation can justly be pronounced on sinners.”

And, then there is the throne of grace, the central subject of this sermon series. The preacher defines this throne as

“… God in Christ dealing with men according to the grace of the gospel. It is God in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not imputing to them their trespasses (2 Cor.5:19). It is Christ set forth by God to be a propitiation (Rom. 3:25). This is the new court or throne erected by God, and declared in the gospel, to which sinful man is invited to come.”

In I Corinthians 1:18, the Apostle Paul says that the word of this Cross is to those who are perishing, foolishness. But to those of us who are being saved, it is the power of God.

Robert Traill then asks and answers the question, “Why is it called a throne and a throne of grace?”

He answers this in four parts.

“1. It is called a throne, because of the glory and majesty of God manifested there.”

“The Lord on this throne of grace, dispenseth all acts of grace with great majesty, and a king; but not as a King Judge, and Ruler, but as a King Benefactor, and Giver. This royalty of grace shines, i. In the greatness of the gifts, grace, and mercy; vastly above all that the creation can give.”

ii. In the manner of giving; free, sovereignly free. Grace and mercy is his own, and he doth with them as he will.”

“Approaches to God on the throne of grace, should be made with the deepest reverence and humility.”

“O that captives to Satan, and slaves to sin and the law, would long to be under the reign of this stately power, the grace of God! and that believers themselves would give themselves a more free and large subjection to it”

 “2. It is called a throne of grace, 1st, Because grace entered and reared it up.”

“Till men get a sight of God in Christ, they cannot tell what the grace of God is. Search heaven and earth, you can never get a view of God’s grace, till ye come to this throne. You may see God’s infinite power, and wisdom, and goodness, written in great characters, in the great volume  of creation and providence; but till ye come to know God in Christ on this throne, you can never see that divine dainty, and saving blessing, the free grace of God; grace, as an everlasting fountain in the heart of God, pouring down, streaming forth eternal salvation on ruined unworthy sinners.”

“3dly, It is called a throne of grace, because all the acts and sentences passed at this new court, are all acts of grace. All the blessings given from this throne, are all mere grace. Nothing is here but grace (John 1:17).”

“We are chosen by grace; we are given to Christ by grace; redeemed by him by grace; by grace we are justified through that redemption; by the same grace we are adopted; by the same grace we are saved, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; and by grace we shall be glorified.”

 “4thly, It is called a throne of grace, because the glory of grace is the last and highest end of the building of this throne, and of all the acts of grace dispensed at it, and from it.”

“We read in the word of none of the counsels of God before the creation of all things, but of his purpose of saving a company of poor sinful men by Jesus Christ; and of no other design in this purpose, but to magnify his grace in saving of them this way. So much of the significance of this word, a throne of grace.”

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Thus far in the first half of Robert Traill’s first sermon on the Throne of Grace, he has shown us that the throne of grace in the New Testament is the mercy seat of the Old Testament. Traill defines the throne of grace and then explains, in rich and reverent tones, why it is the throne of God’s grace.  It is to this throne that we must go for mercy and grace to help in time of our every need.

In the second half of this first sermon, Traill will address the question, “What is it to come unto this throne of grace?” This will be the subject of my second post on Sermon1 on the Throne of Grace.

Grace Is The Theme

October 27, 2012

In Stedfast Adherence to the Professions of the Faith (1718), we find a tremendous collection of sermons preached by Robert Traill (1642-1716), a Scottish Presbyterian pastor and reformer. Among the many sermons included in this volume are thirteen preached on Hebrews 4:16. These sermons from Hebrews are simply entitled Thirteen Sermons on the Throne of Grace.

Traill wrote the preface to Stedfast Adherence. In it are words that reveal the spiritual character and heart of this great preacher. They are as stirring and motivating as any found in the sermons themselves.

“I know of no true religion but Christianity; no true Christianity but the doctrine of Christ; of his divine person, (the image of the invisible God, Colossians 1:15); of his divine office, (the Mediator betwixt God and men, I Timothy 2:5); of his divine righteousness, (he is the Lord our Righteousness, Jeremiah 23:6; which name is also called upon his church, chapter 33:16); and of his divine Spirit, (which all that are his receive, Romans 8:9). I know no true ministers of Christ, but such as make it their business, in their calling, to commend Jesus Christ, in his saving fulness of grace and glory, to the faith and love of men; no true Christian, but one united to Christ by faith, and abiding in him by faith and love, unto the glorifying of the name of Jesus Christ, in the beauties of gospel-holiness.”

When speaking of the theme of the messages from Hebrews 4:16, Traill states that it  …

“… is concerning the throne of God’s saving grace, reared up in Christ, and revealed  unto men in the gospel; with the application all should make to that throne, the great blessings to be reaped by that application, and men’s great need of those blessings.”

As Traill concludes the preface to Stedfast Adherence to the Professions of the Faith, he prays this prayer for the readers of his messages,

“May the Lord of the harvest, who ministered this seed to the sower, make it bread to the eater, and accompany it with his blessing on some that are called to inherit a blessing, and I have my end and desire; the reader shall have the benefit; and the Lord the glory; for of him, and through him, and to him, are all things; to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”

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I would invite you join me as I post through Robert Traill’s Thirteen Sermons on The Throne of God. I believe the Lord will use them to feed and enrich our souls and draw us closer to Him in fellowship and worship.

You can find the Throne of Grace messages here.

WIGTake?

May 30, 2012

WIGTake (What’s It Going to Take) to move us from “the present reality of (spiritual) darkness” that pervades our community to the fulfillment of “the vision that all have the opportunity to be saved”?

A change in motivation for daily living, from self-serving to Kingdom-focused? Sacrifices in our lives and adjustments in our calendars that reflect Kingdom priorities? Changes in the way we think of, understand, and “do” church?

What’s It Going to Take?

(WIGTake publishing publishes Church Planting Movements: How God Is Redeeming a Lost World by David Garrison and T4T – A Discipleship Re-Revolution by Steve Smith and Ying Kai.)

David Garrison On Church Planting Movements

May 2, 2012

If you have visited my blog in the past, you have probably read posts about church planting and Church Planting Movements (CPM). In them, you have heard me make reference to David Garrison and his book, Church Planting Movements – How God Is Redeeming A Lost World. Even if you have never read my blog but are interested in CPMs, you certainly know about the book.

Garrison is an International Mission Board (Southern Baptist Convention) missionary and Church Planting Movements researcher. His book, published in 2003, defines CPM, identifies characteristics found in most CPM, and reports on CPM occurring in the world at the time of the writing of the book. Garrison is perhaps the foremost “authorities on CPM today.

Below is a short video of David speaking at the VERGE conference. I hope you will enjoy it.

You can read the Church Planting Movements – How God Is Redeeming A Lost World booklet here.

Roland Allen: Round Two: Spontaneous Expansion

March 9, 2012

Missionary Methods: St Paul’s Or Ours?, by Roland Allen, was written and published in 1912. In this book, a missions classic, Allen addresses missiological principles found in the life and ministry of the Apostle Paul that are worthy of application in our 21st Century efforts to reach the “nations” of the world for Christ.

In 1927, Allen wrote and published The Spontaneous Expansion Of The Church And The Causes Which Hinder It. Spontaneous Expansion is essentially a follow-up to Missionary Methods in which the missiologist and practitioner further explores the subject of the planting and expansion of indigenous churches in cross-cultural contexts. As he does, Allen addresses issues that have the potential of greatly hindering the start and multiplication of churches, issues such as modern movements towards liberty, the fear for fidelity to doctrine, biblical standard of morals, and missionary and ecclesiastical organization.

As we seek to effectively minister and start churches and church planting movements cross-culturally today, we find that we are still dealing with the same kind of issues that Allen addressed in Spontaneous Expansion, albeit in their 21st Century contexts, shapes, and forms. That is why SP, 85 years after its publication, is such an important book for us to read and consider. It provides us with missionary principles and insights into missionary practice that, when contextualized and applied to our work today, will go a long way in helping us confront and remove, by God’s grace, the hindrances that so easily impede the start and multiplication of indigenous churches that reach people for Christ.

And so, I embark on another blog series on Roland Allen. Over the course of the next several weeks I will be writing and posting articles on The Spontaneous Expansion Of The Church And The Causes That Hinder It. These posts, like those of the series on Missionary Methods, will be composed of quotes, opinions, and commentary.

As I post and share my thoughts, I invite you to comment and share yours.

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In the introduction to the 1927 edition of Spontaneous Expansion, Allen informs the reader of the “plan of this book.”

“I begin by trying to set forth the nature of the force which issues in spontaneous expansion and the dangers of checking it.”

One of the dangers that threatens spontaneous expansion of the church, according to Allen, is control. Allen is referring to control exercised by foreign missionary agencies, in and through their missiology, ecclesiology, and missionaries.

On this he writes …

“Spontaneous expansion must be free: it cannot be under our control; and consequently it is utterly vain to say, as I constantly hear men say, that we desire to see spontaneous expansion, and yet must maintain our control. If we want to see spontaneous expansion we must establish native churches free from our control.”

“I speak of churches … of local churches, like those founded by St. Paul, churches fully established ….”

The second chapter of the book, “The Nature and Character of Spontaneous Expansion,” has so many great quotes (some of them quite lengthy) on the spontaneous expansion of the church that you will have to bear with me as I include them all in this post. I share these with you not only because I think they are exciting, I believe they help us, in some way, better understand the definition and meaning of “church planting movements”.

“This then is what I mean by spontaneous expansion. I mean the expansion which follows the unexhorted and unorganized activity of individual members of the Church explaining to others the Gospel which they have found for themselves; I mean the expansion which follows the irresistible attraction of the Christian Church for men who see its ordered life, and are drawn to it by desire to discover the secret of a life which they instinctively desire to share; I mean also the expansion of the Church by the addition of new churches.”

I would note that today we would speak of “the expansion of the Church” by the multiplication of disciples and churches rather than addition. We also speak in terms of church planting movements.

Allen goes on to express himself when he says,

” … to me this unexhorted, unorganized, spontaneous expansion has a charm far beyond that of our modern highly organized missions.”

“I suspect, however, that I am not alone in this strange preference, and that many others read their Bibles and find there with relief a welcome escape from our material appeals for funds, and from our methods of moving heaven and earth to make a proselyte.”

Allen attributes the rapid expansion of the church to the “instinctive force” of a new faith (in Christ) that seizes and drives men to impart to others a new-found joy.

“The Spirit of Christ is a Spirit who longs for, and strives after, the salvation of the souls of men, and that Spirit dwells in them. The Spirit converts the natural instinct into a longing for the conversion of others which is indeed divine in its source and character.”

“Where this instinct for expression, this divine desire for the salvation of others has free course, there it exercises a most extraordinary power.”

” … many of our missionaries welcome spontaneous zeal, provided there is not much of it for their restrictions, just as an engineer laying out the course of a river is glad of some water to fill his channels, but does not want a flood which may sweep away his embankments. Such missionaries pray for the wind of the Spirit but not for a mighty rushing wind. I am writing because I believe in a rushing mighty wind, and desire its presence at all costs to our restrictions.”

“Spontaneous expansion could fill the continents with the knowledge of Christ: our control cannot reach as far as that. We constantly bewail our limitations: opened doors unentered; doors closed to us as missionaries: fields white to the harvest which we cannot rap. Spontaneous expansion could enter doors, forced closed ones, and reap those white fields. Our control cannot: it can only appeal pitifully for more men to maintain control.”

” … in relation to spontaneous expansion of the Church, we are seized with terror, terror lest spontaneous expansion should lead to disorder. We are quite ready to talk of self-supporting, self-extending, and self-governing churches in the abstract as ideals; but the moment that we think of ourselves as establishing self-supporting, self-governing churches in the Biblical sense we are met with this fear, a terrible, deadly fear. Suppose they really were self-supporting, and depended no longer on our support, where should we be? Suppose self-extension were really self-extension, and we could not control it, what would happen? Suppose they were really self-governing we accept the risks in giving free play, how wold they govern? We instinctively think of something which we cannot control as tending to disorder.”

And, finally,

“We are in far greater danger of serious disorder when, in fear of the expression of self-will, we restrain a God-given instinct, that when we give it free play.”

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In the second chapter of Spontaneous Expansion, Roland Allen has given us a definition of “spontaneous expansion” as it pertains to the work of the Holy Spirit as it, the work, is manifested in evangelism and the starting of indigenous churches. Allen has written that it is vain of men and missions agencies to think that they/we can control the work of the Holy Spirit and that attempts to do so can hinder the work of the Holy Spirit.

May we never be accused or found guilty of hindering the work of the Holy Spirit or the work that He intends to accomplish in and through us, done His way, for His glory.