Witnessing in Church (Buildings)

DSC01700RSeveral years ago I was at church (not my current assembly) and I began to take note of the many new people. I had long since given up on trying to meet and really know all the new people, since this church was growing so fast. But I was concerned for the spiritual condition of the newcomers. Speaking to each one separately, I soon discovered an amazing set of similarities among these new regular attenders. They all had been coming for several months; some for a year, and none of them could articulate to me at all anything that would indicate that they were actually in Christ. And none of them had any idea what the Gospel was. The Lord gave blessed opportunity to share the Gospel with these folks- inside “the four walls”.

I asked them why they were coming to this church, and they all said ‘because it makes me happy’ ,or ‘it makes me feel good’, or ‘it gives me some inspiration and helps me get though the week’. Another answer had to do with having “a community”.

Yes it’s true: these ‘seekers’ were coming to church and they never heard the Gospel in the service. This church was working hard to become a successful church through the addition of numbers of people, via Willowcreek’s ‘Vision 2010’ program of church growth. “Outreach” services addressed people’s felt needs and issues of Psychology and Sociology, but nothing of the Gospel was mentioned. I remember the announcement man saying (with a laugh) from the pulpit something about how “we” (the church) did not want to be controversial or make people uncomfortable. As far as I could tell, the plan was to bring in as many people as possible, mix together the Christians and the seekers (unbelievers), “plug them in” and hopefully they would eventually become Christians. Let me repeat: these church attenders I spoke to had no idea what the Gospel was.DSC01701R

We attended a Christmas Eve service at a mega church in another state. After more than two hours of jovial entertainment and glorification of men, there was still not one word of Gospel Truth spoken to the two thousand people gathered. (And there was no worship.)

About a year ago I went to a memorial service for a little boy who died in an accident. The church building was packed with hundreds of people from all over the community. There was not one word of Hope or Redemption through Jesus Christ in the whole service. The liberal minister’s word of consolation to the grieving was to find comfort from the community. These hundreds of people never heard the Gospel in that place at all.

At our Biblical church where Jesus is central and the Gospel is heard from the pulpit, there are visitors and relatives who occasionally are in attendance. This give us opportunity to also share the Gospel with them also, as the Lord leads, since this is not just the job of the pastor, but all believers are called by the Lord to be His witnesses.

Consider the spiritual needs of those visitors who come to your church; perhaps they have never heard the Gospel. And if you are looking for a mission field, consider the ‘unreached people groups’ found inside America’s Liberal and Modern Mega Evangelical church buildings.

Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day. Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples. Ps.96:2-3

God’s Power vs. Man’s Decision

Here’s more excellent teaching on the subject of biblical evangelism. Paul Washer at the DEEPER conference 2008 on “Regeneration vs. Decisionism”

Washer goes over modern evangelism standards such as ‘pray The Prayer’, ‘accept Christ’, ‘ask Jesus into your heart’, ‘make a decision for Christ’, and ‘raise your hand’, etc., and exhorts us to continue to faithfully preach the gospel, trusting in the power of God alone to save the lost.

Need encouragement for witnessing today? Then you must listen to this Christ exalting message about the POWER OF GOD in the gospel.

Deceiving the Church

This issue is not going away; we will all eventually have to deal with it. One reason this is important is that deception in the church changes and eliminates the gospel.

There are many new gospel messages emerging; among them, the New Spirituality/One World gospel (we are god, we are all one), and the “Save the Earth” gospel (the planet is god/we must all unite/we can create Utopia on Earth). It is the popular thing in many churches now to be transformed (changed), to agree with these new ways of thinking and believing.

I agree with this statement that contending for truth and defending the faith will cost you something. There is a price to pay. Unity with, and acceptance by the world will not be yours. Unity with, and acceptance by people in the visible church who are emerging into the New Paradigms (ultimately joining the world), will not be yours. But you are not alone.

Here are excerpts from an article by Jan Markell:

Biblical truth will continue to be scorned by those who consider themselves to be intellectual (I Cor. 1:20), and it will likely be rejected by those who seek the praise of man over the praise of God (John 12:42,43). But the Spirit of God is always at work in the hearts of men, giving life to human spirits by the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead (Ephesians 1:19).

Will you contend for the faith today as we are asked to do in Jude 3? It will cost you something. You will lose loved ones. You will be tempted to cave in and keep quiet. You will feel very alone. I know these things because endless e-mails from the four corners of the earth come into our office stating this is the case.

Read the article here at Understanding the Times

Related post: Change Agents in Your Church?

Let’s Remember Our Message

There are many messages being proclaimed by churches and people professing to represent Jesus, but they are not the message of the gospel. There is the ‘health and wealth’ message, the ‘best life now’ message, the ‘Kingdom now’ message, the ‘listen to the angels’ message, the ‘Psychology’ message, the ‘be successful & get results’ message, and the ‘join with other religions to work for world peace’ message. The false gospel situation is only going to escalate within Popular Christianity, therefore let us commit to faithfully proclaim the true gospel message, and leave the results of that, up to God.

For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men…..1Cor.1:18-25.

Article: Let’s Remember Our Message, by Paul Lewis

A Biblical Youth Group (wow!)

“So, honey, what did they teach about tonight?”, I asked my Jr. Hi age daughter as we drove home from our local youth group of choice. Her answer was music to my ears.

No, it wasn’t “Belong to the group” (psychology +Church Growth Movement), “Take back the city from the principalities of darkness and claim the territory for God” (Kingdom Now/Dominionist movement), or “God spoke to me and said you are the end time army of God to be the new authoritative apostles and prophets” (New Apostolic Reformation movement).

They didn’t play Halo, shock-value unsanitary “gross games” or worship unbiblicaly with candle & incense burning, altar decorating, stations of the cross, chanting or labyrinth walking (Emergent/return to Rome movement).

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for fun and being social. They do play games, eat pizza and go on fun summer and winter trips. But the focus is discipling young Christians in God’s Word.

So what did she learn? “God is Sovereign”. That’s right; they are teaching the youth the attributes of God. How refreshing!

I’m so, so thankful for this youth group, and youth pastor. This is God’s faithful provision. The pastor desires to teach young people Biblical Christian doctrine, theology and some apologetics. He has a heart to pass on the faith and disciple youth in the Word of God. He desires to prepare kids to hold fast to Biblical Truth, as they come of age in a world of apostasy in the church, and increasing hatred of the things of God out in the world. He wants to prepare them for a life of service to God, as ambassadors of the gospel, and to stand strong in faith in Jesus.

Encouragement for Evangelism

“We wouldn’t want to go out on the streets or knock on doors or anything! Nooooooo! Hahaha!”

Hundreds of people laughed nervously back in response to this, and in apparent agreement to what was just said. The announcement man continued, “We want to grow to 5000, as part of our ‘Vision 2010’. We want you bring in as many people as possible. Even through the back door if necessary.”

Sitting there, with everyone laughing at the unacceptable behavior witnessing “out on the street”, I felt so embarrassed and ashamed. I felt like a freak. Witnessing publicly to family, neighbors, and people I met in the community was a normal part of my life. Not just a habit. A longing, a desire, a burden. Now this church leader was shaming such “embarrassing” behavior, in favor of the marketing formula for church growth success.

Going out into all the world with the gospel is how the church has grown for 2000 years. That’s what Jesus had His disciples do. That’s what the church did in the book of Acts. And that’s what missions is all about.

When the announcement for Vision 2010 was first given, it was declared that part of the plan would be that by 2010, our church would start a new church somewhere on the Peninsula. I was so excited! I couldn’t wait to participate! That meant that the people would be trained in evangelism, we would pray to the Lord of the Harvest to fill us with His Spirit and give us boldness and compassion for the lost, and we would all be sent out into our community to bring the gospel to those who have not heard it….. right? And then we would gather the new believers into a new body, appoint pastor and elders, then disciple and teach the new believers everything that God has commanded in His Word….. right? Wrong.

When it came time to start the new church, the church leaders would go to a “how to start a church” seminar where they would learn how to start a church via experts in the church growth movement. They would be implementing corporate/business marketing and management methods. So the plan was to build the church themselves, by the wisdom and power of man. I kept thinking, “But Jesus said, ‘I will build My church.'”

This ordinary laborer was very discouraged by all this. Was I a freak? Was I alone? Was I completely un-hip to modern Evangelical trends? (No, no, and yes.) What about all those Bible verses about us going with the gospel to the lost and dying world? The Lord kindly provided a handful of dear saints for encouragement. Over time, I’ve met many evangelists and gospel laborers in who have a biblical view of the command to go out into the world with the gospel.

I’d like to feature here a few other evangelism sites which have witnessing stories, biblical training, encouragement and fellowship. This is just a sampling of the many brothers and sisters who want to encourage you in witnessing out in your world. Know that you are not a freak, you are not alone, and that biblical evangelism is nothing to be ashamed of.

SOS Ministries. Larry, Eric, Loi, May and Big Larry, along with other Christians from around the Bay, go out almost every Friday night and Saturday to San Francisco and Berkeley to openly share the gospel using literature distribution, music, one on one conversations, testimonies, and open air preaching. Each summer they host a week long outreach to the people of San Francisco, especially tourists. You are invited to join them!

Way of the Master Radio. Ray, Todd and Kirk, along with many friends and staff members, go out on the streets of SoCal to open air and have one on one conversations. Many of these conversations are live on the air via phone and broadcast on the WOTM Radio show program. Learn by listening. Check them out!

The Word on the Streets. Richard teaches about evangelism and posts his witnessing stories where he brings the gospel to people out on the streets in Oregon. Read his accounts for encouragement!

Street Fishing. Robert lives in Arizona and wants to equip and encourage you for reaching those around you, effectively and biblically. He’s got witnessing stories, photos, video, and audios. “Adventures in urban evangelism”. Check him out!

Lighting the Way. Dwayna and friends are full time ministering down in SoCal (and New York) focusing on reaching everyone possible, especially those involved in the New Age/occult. They provide the gospel and apologetic answers through books and conversations. Get ideas!

Evangelism Action. Daniel in Australia wants to train and inspire you to be a laborer in the harvest, sharing the biblical gospel. Get it out there!

Fish with Trish. I just found this one recently. Trish works with Way of the Master and spends time out on the streets, presenting the gospel to just about anyone!

The Reformed Evangelist. Paul and Jeff have a fantastic site where they post theological articles, witnessing encounters, and matters of practical evangelism. They blog to attest that those with the Reformed view of salvation not only do evangelism, but make good evangelists. They have a new BlogTalkRadio podcast, with seven episodes so far. Highly recommended! Great stuff, check them out!