Why the gospel is relevant in today’s age?—Christian life stands out as so different!

I have never seen a time like this, where people all over the world are getting sick, anxious, confused, filled with uncertainties, and the economic growth is declining as the effect of the pandemic. As COVID-19 escalates around the globe, fear lingers even quicker than the virus itself! Empty shelves and crowded checkouts in grocery stores provide visual representations of the panic surrounding the spread of COVID 19..Social media photos of empty streets, shuttered shops and restaurants, reduced public transit service, closed borders and issuance of “stay-at-home” order to control the outbreak are the government officials’ response to address this public health emergency.

 

Why the Gospel is relevant today?

 

The Gospel is relevant because Christian life stands out as so different!

 

While my newsfeed and group chats are full of real-time panic-inducing news articles and updates about Corona Virus, you can easily spot on Christians, who view things differently. I know someone who is currently busy acquiring some supplies from other compassionate people and delivering them personally to disadvantaged people. You will see her optimism and how she responds in love about every given situation. You would always see her pointing people to the unshakeable hope we have in Christ. My colleague mentioned a senior band who call themselves, Ambassadors for Christ. They usually perform in daycare and age care, but since the outbreak, they started to spread the message of hope by singing in their garage.

 

As God’s people, our hope is not in anything that belongs to this world or even in our physical health, because we are looking from our lens of faith knowing who God is and who we are in him. Our confidence lies not on our own situation, but in the nearness of Christ. His perfect peace dwells in our hearts as we TRULY trust in him. We are called to be like a “lighthouse in the darkness” and, “a city set on a hill” that “cannot be hidden.” How does that practically look like? As it says in “Galatians 5:6b, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love”. REAL FAITH LOOKS LIKE LOVE—BEING GRATEFUL AND GENEROUS amid everything that is happening. We are grateful that even the fear of death cannot separate us from his great love (Romans 8:35-39), and we are generous, because we genuinely care for others. We recognise that even difficult circumstances such as this are opportunities to be a witness for Jesus!

 

As Wayne Alcorn, National President of Australian Christian Churches said, “God’s plan for the planet is the church. His caring force in the earth are people like you and me…Maybe this is the time, in the midst of all these darkness and fear and terror, for you and I, to do what scriptures tells us to do, rise and shine. There’s a wonderful verse, it says, “Rise and shine for your light has come.” (Isaiah 60:1a) Perhaps, this is the greatest moment for the church, despite the terrible times we are in. Just because people are socially isolated, it doesn’t mean that they have to be lonely. Maybe you and I can pick up a phone, maybe we could facetime somebody, maybe there’s a neighbor that needs their lawn mowed, maybe there’s somebody that needs you and I to go and get some groceries or help them with some of the basic needs of life, you probably know a friend whose lost their job, maybe there’s some practical, simple way that you can show tangible expression of the love of God. This really is, a very difficult time for humanity, but in the midst of it, God’s got people like you, He’s got people like me, let’s rise and shine and let’s show the world, that in all of these, God is still real, God is still love, and he will show them his love through people like us.”

The message of Good Friday

If there is one symbol that people associate with Christianity what would it be?

 

Wouldn’t you agree that it would be the cross – It sits proud above church buildings, it is the backdrop of many pulpits, it is impressed on the front cover of Christian bibles and it is worn as a jewelry pendant all over the world.

 

And yet, the message of the cross is misunderstood by so many. So, what is the message of the cross? Why is it so important? and what does it mean for you and me?

 

I love the way the Apostle Paul explains it in 2 Corinthians 5:21

 

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (ESV)

 

“For our sake”… If you ever doubt Gods love for you just look at the cross. The reason our heavenly Father sent Jesus into the world was for our sake, the reason Jesus endured the horror of the cross was for our sake, for our benefit, because we are in need of him. Doesn’t this tell you God loves you? “For our sake…”

 

he made him… God had a purpose in Jesus coming to earth. Jesus was sent on a mission, for a specific purpose. Gods purpose was for Jesus to endure the cross and become something that he never was. “For our sake he made him…”

 

to be sin… At the cross the sin of you and me, and all mankind of all time was poured into Jesus. Everything we have ever done to dishonour God or our fellow man, every thought, every spoken word, every action, every evil intent of our heart, body and mind was poured into Jesus at the cross. In taking on our sin upon himself he also took on the punishment our sin deserves. “For our sake he made him to be sin…”

 

who knew no sin… Unlike the rest of us, Jesus lived in complete obedience to his heavenly Father here on earth. He did face temptation and trials; however, when tempted he chose obedience. While Jesus didn’t deserve to die, he chose to die. Not only that, but he was also the only acceptable substitute to take our punishment upon himself on our behalf. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin…”

 

So that… Why would Jesus do that? “So that…”

 

In him… In the person of Jesus Christ, not in our own efforts, not in our own reputation or by our own intellect or skill, but in Jesus Christ. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him…”

 

we might become… You and I and all of humanity, we might become something we will never be without Jesus Christ. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become…”

 

the righteousness of God… Free from the punishment of our sin, at peace with God our heavenly father and made right in our relationship with him.

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

 

So, does this mean that everyone is forgiven and made right in their relationship with God?

 

As we say in Australia – “Yeah… Nah…”

 

God has made a way for mankind to be at peace with him, but he will not force us to accept his gift of love towards us. We all make a choice.

 

All who choose to turn from living sinful lives and surrender their life in obedience to Jesus will “In him… become the righteousness of God.”

 

All who choose not to turn from their sinful lives and continue living life their own way are not in Christ and therefore remain separated from God. They have not received forgiveness and do not have peace with him.

 

The good news is that God wants all mankind to be in right relationship with him, that’s why he went to such great lengths: for our sake!

 

Today, if you want to explore more about the message of the cross and the Christian faith please contact us at [email protected]. We would love to journey with you.

 

 

 

When to talk to someone about God?—when you sense their deep feeling of inadequacy, brokenness or isolation

 “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.” Colossians 4:3-4

 

We can’t have a witnessing lifestyle without a praying lifestyle. We should pray to God to create witnessing opportunities for us. While we are persistently praying for open doors, we should also be praying for spiritual discernment to know when the door has opened.

 

But what do these open doors look like?

 

Today’s answer to the question, “When should I talk to someone about God?” is…

 

…when you sense their deep feeling of inadequacy, brokenness or isolation

 

I met Ria in a local playground. She was looking after her 2-year-old son at that time. She looked sober and lonely when I approached her to kick off a conversation. After our discussion moved past the surface to a personal level, I discovered that she just recently migrated to Australia. Her stories and body language conveyed her deep sorrow because it was her first time to be away from her parents, friends, and home country while she worked on adjusting to her new environment. Right at that moment, I felt the searching heart of a person who is ready to hear God’s transforming hope and grace.

 

I shared with her how I also struggled when we moved to Singapore many years ago, before we moved here to Australia. I made myself vulnerable with her and shared how I met God during those trying times. I did not give her a grand Gospel presentation, but only my testimony that there is real hope and freedom through Jesus. I told her that God loves her and cares about everything that matters to her. She was greatly moved when I prayed for her. She was a bit emotional as she responded in Christ’s invitation. Her face was beaming with gratefulness before we parted ways.

What do open doors look like? These phrases might help you: deep feeling of isolation, inadequacy, brokenness and misery due to a variety of reasons like relationship struggles, death of a loved one, health issues etc. When any of these events happen, people’s hearts start searching for answers and they are often receptive to hear the Gospel. These life events become doors of opportunity to witness for Christ. Pay attention as life happens to people and prayerfully step in with your testimony and by the blood of the lamb you will overcome!

 

When to talk to someone about God?—when you ask a question and they are responsive

Interacting with Christians from all different places is a joy to me. I love to help Christians learn how to have natural conversations about God with their friends, family and people they meet.

 

I’ve learned that many Christians struggle to know when it’s appropriate to bring God into a conversation with a non-believer. On one hand, Christians enjoy a beautiful and personal relationship with God, who has transformed their life, and they want others to experience God in a personal way too. On the other hand, they respect the personal views and beliefs of others and don’t want to unnecessarily offend people. So… when should you talk about God?

 

There are many circumstances when Christians can openly and naturally talk about God. One of those times is when you ask a question and people are responsive.

 

What do I mean by that? I remember a conversation I had with a tradesman when we were on a job together. We talked about all sorts of topics and what we looked forward to on the weekend coming up. He had a family birthday party on, and I shared I was also heading to a birthday party and then to church on Sunday. I asked him “What’s your spiritual belief?”. He replied, “I’m not into any of that,” and quickly changed the topic. It was obvious he wasn’t open to speaking about God, so I didn’t pursue it.

 

On another occasion I was having a conversation with a lady when I was travelling home from work. She shared how she was heading home for the weekend to take care of her disabled son and how tough life was for them as a family. I shared with her how I was going to spend the weekend and mentioned that I enjoy hanging out with friends at church on Sunday. I asked her “What’s your spiritual belief?”. She began to share with me her experience growing up with religion around her but that she never pursued church. However, she believed that there is more to life than what she was experiencing.

 

This lady was open and responsive to talk about God and for the next hour we spoke back and forth about Gods love, the heartaches of life, the reality of our experiences and the hope we can have when we personally know God, the one who hold the future.

 

You can enjoy natural conversations about God with people who are responsive simply by asking a question. What question could you ask?

 

Take a moment now and ask God to give you questions you can ask. Ask him to help you recognise when someone is responsive. Then trust him with your conversations!

When to talk to someone about God?—when they have lost all hope

In 1 Peter 3:15 it says ‘But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.’

 

There is such an outcry for hope in our world today. Not something wishy washy … but a hope based on the unwavering truth of God’s Word. A hope that is living and active. A hope powerful enough to transform, heal, and set the captives free.

 

Bev came to a gathering in the community centre. She was very prickly, angry and lonely. We talked for maybe 5 minutes. I did not say anything profound. I simply accepted her and told her God loves her. The following week Bev came again. Her words astonished me. She was quite emotional as she said, ‘Last week I was going home to commit suicide. But because of what you said .. that God loves me .. I didn’t go ahead with it. Thank you.’ We had many conversations after that. Bev gave her life to Jesus and lived to serve him.  She was transformed into a warm, generous and loving person.

 

Ellie was struggling with anorexia. She was a very private person. As we entered into a conversation, her inner turmoil became very apparent. I asked her if I could pray with her. She was happy for that. As we did, she became quite emotional and shared that she had gone through an abortion. The shame and guilt were robbing her of her life.  I was able to share with her how Jesus gave his life for her and for her sin and shame. That he would forgive her, wash her clean and set her free, if she was willing to confess to him. Ellie responded to Christ’s invitation. As we waited on the Lord, again deep tears raked through her body. I asked her what was happening, and she said ‘Jesus has just given me a picture of my daughter with Him. He has forgiven me!” Her relief and gratitude were astounding.

 

There are many ‘Bevs’ and ‘Ellies’ in our world. People who are hiding their pain and grief and struggle. People God loves with a profound love. People He puts in our pathways, because He knows we have the answer for anyone who is in need of His transforming hope. Sometimes we let fear of rejection rob us of the opportunity God gives us through His Spirit, to speak life into the lives of those who are struggling. What amazing opportunities we miss out on, when we allow darkness to rob us of His Light. If Jesus through His Spirit brings people into our pathway, it is because we are invited to be part of the process to leading them to the Giver of HOPE. We are a part of His plan for their lives.

 

As we press into Jesus in our own lives, learning to listen for the Spirit’s voice and are ready to give the reason for the hope that lives in us, a hope based on the Truth of Him, we will have the awesome privilege of witnessing God’s amazing miracle of redemption at work in the lives of others!!! What an incredible adventure we have been invited into. May you be blessed on the journey!!

When to talk to someone about God?—When their life is falling apart, or they are facing a crisis

A person is desperate for God’s help when they are facing personal crisis. This is a time when you should definitely talk with them about God.

 

A few years ago, our son Ryley suffered a major injury which resulted in him being in ICU for 4 weeks. It’s amazing how life can change in an instant. One second you are enjoying a weekend away with the family, the next instant you know your family will never be the same again.

 

I’m sure you have heard the saying that goes something like, “God uses tragedy to get people’s attention.” One person I know put it this way, “Suffering, the spiritual shortcut.” That is, it will either push us further away from God, or bring us closer. I think for many people it may be a bit of a cliché to say these things, however we can tell you that it certainly got our attention!

 

See the thing is, when tragedy strikes or your life is falling apart, one of people’s first reactions is to cry out to God for help. Even if we don’t realise it, we do it. I would challenge anyone who has had tragedy strike to say they haven’t cried out a variant of that statement. This was most certainly our reaction! The instant that I saw my son lying there in a pool of blood, I cried out to God, “Help!”

 

As soon as I cried out, “Help!” God answered by sending his supernatural peace and reassurance. Not because of anything we had done, or that we were more holy than others, simply because he loved us, and as a Father he wants to comfort us. Later on, sitting by our son’s bedside, not knowing if he would ever wake up, if we would ever get to tell our boy that we love him again, we were calm. Yes, we were worried; yes, we were sad and still are to this day, but we were calm. Many people commented, “How can you be so calm?” It was quite simple and can be summed up by 2 verses. Philippians 4:7 says, “And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding…” and Ephesians 3:19 says, “To know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.”

 

While we sat by our son’s bedside in ICU, we saw a lot of people come and go. We witnessed firsthand the despair and hopelessness that people experience when their child is at death’s door. We could see, and almost feel their hopelessness and grief.

 

For us it was different, simply because we knew 2 things beyond a shadow of a doubt—that God loved Ryley more than we could ever possibly imagine and that he had a good and perfect plan for Ryley’s life—whatever that may be. And that was comforting beyond comprehension.

 

So, when should you share with others about a real relationship with God? Without a doubt you should share when people are going through a crisis, whatever it may be. At that point in time, people are crying out for these things:

  • A reason that this is happening. For us, we didn’t understand why this happened to Ryley, but we had a confidence in the love and sovereignty of God in that situation. And only a knowledge of that love and sovereignty will be able to help people through those situations. Our experience, as Christians, of God’s nearness and help in times of crisis becomes a huge connecting point with others in crisis, who do not know God personally.
  • Someone to care. One of the most amazing things happened. As soon as I got off the phone from emergency, I called a few people to ask them to pray. They passed the word on to others and so on. By the end of that first day, we knew there were people literally all over the world praying for us. Talk about an impact!

 

So, if you know someone who has something tragic or hard happen to them, or if they are facing a crisis in their marriage or with their kids (or their parents) first let them know you care! Ask if you can pray for them and be there for them. But then let them know about the love and sovereignty of God. Let them know there is a God who cares for them more than they could imagine, who loves them with an everlasting love. Point them to the One who wants to be their Father in heaven.

When to talk to someone about God?–When they ask a question about God, your faith, church, or spiritual things

If you force someone into a spiritual conversation it can have a negative impact on their openness to God or to future discussions with you. So how can you know when to talk to someone about God?

 

In this blog series we will be highlighting a number of signs that let you know that now is the time to have a God-conversation with a person in your life.

 

Today’s answer to the question, “When should I talk to someone about God?” is…

 

…when they ask a question about God, your faith, church, or spiritual things.

 

Think about how Jesus approached this question of when to have spiritual conversations with people. When you observe Jesus’ life in the gospels, you recognise that he was always trying to identify the seekers among the crowds of people he interacted with. As soon as Jesus recognised that someone was searching for answers, or that they were thinking about God, or that they were aware that something was still missing in their lives, he immediately focused on that person and tried to help them see that a right relationship with God was what they needed.

 

In John chapter 3, when Nicodemus showed up at Jesus’ door at night, saying, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him,” Jesus knew he was searching, so he headed straight for a truth that he knew would begin a life-changing discussion with Nicodemus. He said to him, “You must be born again.”

 

In John chapter 4, when he encountered the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus began probing to see if she was searching. He began talking about living water that can satisfy your inner thirst in a way that physical water never can. The further that conversation went, the more obvious it became that this woman was searching. Jesus immediately began talking with her about her sinful pursuit of love in the wrong way. He also described God’s nature and how we approach him. All the way through the conversation, the woman was totally involved in the back and forth. It wasn’t a lecture; it was a great conversation that led to her bringing her whole village out to meet Jesus.

 

We could keep going and talk about Zacchaeus, the woman with the haemorrhage who touched him in the crowd, the scribe who had questions about eternal life, blind Bartimaus, the man let down through the roof, the Syrophoenician woman, etc, etc.

 

In the midst of his talks to the big crowds, while he was healing person after person and casting demons out of all who were oppressed, as he interacted with people along the way—in every circumstance and encounter, Jesus was on the lookout for seekers. And so often, the thing that showed him a person was searching for answers was that they were asking questions.

 

When a person asks you or someone around you a question about God, even if they ask it nonchalantly, you should always focus your attention on that person and begin responding to them as though they are searching for God. Talk to them about what God means to you. Ask them a question that will let them express themselves at whatever level they are comfortable with.

 

When someone mentions what your faith means to you, share with them on the personal level about your relationship with God. Don’t just talk about theological truths about God. Tell them what he means to you personally.

 

When someone brings up church, talk about the difference between religious Christianity and a personal relationship with Jesus, who is alive.

 

The first and most obvious sign that it’s time to talk with someone about God is when they ask a question that opens the door.

 

Why don’t you stop right now, and pray that God will bring someone who is searching across your path today? Ask him to show you they are searching by having them ask a question!

 

What is the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

“In its simplest form, what is the Gospel?” This question was asked of me by a church leader. Although, this is a question I also love to ask Christians everywhere I go. Why? Because the message of the Gospel is the only message that has the power to transform lives, restore families, unite communities and heal nations.

 

This message is profoundly simple yet profoundly powerful. Without this message of love and hope no person on earth can be saved from an eternity of torment and judgement. This message of the gospel must be understood in order for a person to be forgiven of their sin and restored relationally to God.

 

The gospel of Jesus is the one message that has remained unchanged since it was first proclaimed in Jerusalem by the Apostle Peter, just after the death and resurrection of Jesus 2000 years ago, resulting in three thousand souls turning to Christ. It’s the unchanging message of the gospel that convicted Martin Luther, a catholic priest, when the church had gone astray to lead a movement that refocused believers on the essential tenets of the Christian faith. It’s the same unchanging message of the gospel preached by Billy Graham in the 1900’s that saw millions of people from many nations surrender their lives to Jesus. It’s this one unchanging message of the gospel that Christians are called to share with the people all around them today.

 

There is no salvation without this message, no hope without this message.

 

What is this message? What is the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

 

The Apostle Paul puts it simply in 1 Corinthians 15:3-6.

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

 

“I delivered to you as of first importance” Paul says. In a way he is saying; there is nothing more important in the Christian faith than this so pay attention. This is the essential truth you must not get wrong. This is the gospel boiled down into two great truths. Did you see them?

 

Christ died for our sins, and he was raised on the third day. That’s it!

The evidence that Jesus died is that he was buried. The evidence that he rose again is that he was seen by many (Cephas, the twelve, more than 500 brothers, James, the apostles, Paul himself). But this is our one unchanging message. This is the gospel. Two truths:

 

“Christ died in our place, for our sins, and he was raised again, he is alive today and we can know him personally.”

As a follower of Jesus Christ, when you learn these two great truths, you will never have to wonder what to say when it comes to sharing the gospel with people in your life. Every conversation you have with people will be different, but every conversation can revolve around these two great truths when you know them.

 

So today, I give you two simple challenges:

 

First, ask God for an opportunity to share these two great truths with a person in your life that needs Jesus. When God gives you that opportunity, keep it simple and share boldly.

 

Second, ask a Christian friend the question – What is the gospel? Listen to their response and share with them these two truths straight from the pages of the bible. Then encourage them with these two simple challenges.

 

Are you ready to grow in your relationship with God each day? Start off your day with Time With God daily devotion. It will take you into God’s word in a way that connects you relationally with the Lord. Sign up now at https://afci.com.au/time-with-god/ to receive Time with God directly in your email!

 

5 SHIFTS needed if our churches are going to reach this generation for Christ

This blog series is to challenge our thinking when it comes to evangelism in our churches if we are to reach this generation for Jesus. I’ve already shared with you the first four SHIFTS we must make:

  1. “We need to SHIFT from leader-owned evangelism to congregation-owned evangelism.”
  2. “We need to SHIFT from event-driven evangelism to relationship-driven evangelism.”
  3. “We need to SHIFT from decision driven evangelism to journey driven evangelism.”
  4. “We need to SHIFT our focus in evangelism from reaching the lost to activating believers as effective witnesses.”

 

The fifth SHIFT that must take place is this:

 

  1. We need to SHIFT our strategy from special-focus evangelism to developing a witnessing culture and lifestyle

 

When you think about the evangelistic activity of your church, where do you see evangelism taking place? You would probably say at Christmas and Easter time; you may have a fair or carols or maybe a special evangelistic service. You may even have a special Mother’s Day or Father’s Day service. Or maybe you have an evangelistic event on Valentine’s Day or Anzac Day, and you probably have different ministries you would say are evangelistic. These are the times when people typically think, “It’s evangelism time.”

 

Now, just take a moment to think about the budget you put into these things. Think about how much effort and resource is tied up in these events every year at your church. Then consider how many people you have seen repent and turn in faith to Jesus at those events. Feel free to pause here and write down some of your thoughts.

 

 

When you think about the response you have seen, let me ask you, have you seen numbers of people responding to Jesus to match the effort and resource expended? Most church leaders I talk to say, “No”.

 

Let me challenge you with this question: What if you put that budget and those resources into developing a witnessing culture and lifestyle among your people? I can hear some leaders saying, we can’t stop doing these things, but think about it. Has your approach to evangelism caused the believers in your church to develop a personal witnessing lifestyle? Does your church have a witnessing culture or is your approach to evangelism simply keeping your people busy organizing events, while few people respond to Jesus?

 

We know cultural change takes more than just a weekend seminar. It takes consistency over time to change a culture. That is a primary reason EvangelismSHIFT is a two-year journey we take churches on.

Many leaders are committed to evangelism and putting on evangelistic events. As leaders we preach the gospel and the word of God faithfully, but if we are honest, we struggle to personally live as effective witnesses in our own daily lives. Bible colleges are so valuable to the church, but they typically don’t teach leaders how to live effectively as witnesses for Jesus.

 

We ourselves must learn how to live as witnesses if we are ever going to be able to pass this lifestyle onto our people so that they live as effective witnesses in their daily lives. Cultural change begins with leaders. So where should we start?

 

Wouldn’t you agree that we typically look around and see a church that seems to be growing and we think, what are they doing that we can adopt. But when it comes to strategy, the best place for us to start is imitating our Lord Jesus. The Apostle Paul understood this. He even said, “imitate me as I imitate Christ”.

 

Each of the four gospels were written by the gospel authors to make a theological point about Jesus.When it comes to each of the gospels, all the events in Jesus’ life are put in order to emphasis the point they are trying to make.

 

But when you look at all the major events in Jesus’ life, there are statements around them that act like time markers. As a result, you can take the major events of Jesus’ life and lay them out chronologically. This exercise allows you to ask the question, did Jesus have a clear strategy for developing those people who didn’t know him into people who would become multiplying disciplemakers?

 

The answer to that question jumps out of the chronology. There are clear phases that Jesus went through strategically to develop multiplying disciplemakers. When you study Jesus’ process, you discover what Jesus’ objectives were and how you can achieve those same objectives in our time and culture today.

 

As leaders, we must understand Jesus’ approach to ministry in order to SHIFT the way we approach ministry. Why? So that when someone comes to know Jesus personally, they don’t just do what typically happens, come into the big collection of Christians who sit in church for decades, being taught the word and growing spiritually, but never getting involved in the Great Commission. Rather, they come into a culture where they are actively taking their next step in developing an effective witnessing lifestyle and becoming a disciplemaker who contributes to spread Jesus’ spiritual movement across the world.

 

We need to SHIFT our strategy from special-focus evangelism to developing a witnessing culture and lifestyle. This is the fifth SHIFT that we help churches take through the journey of EvangelismSHIFT.

 

Our EvangelismSHIFT vision is to see a movement of churches across the world whose people have a culture of living as witnesses in their everyday encounters, calling others to respond to Christ.

 

You can learn more about EvangelismSHIFT at www.evangelismshift.afci.com.au .

5 SHIFTS needed if our churches are going to reach this generation for Christ

This blog series is to challenge our thinking when it comes to evangelism in our churches if we want to reach this generation for Jesus. I’ve already shared with you the first three SHIFTS we must make:

  1. “We need to SHIFT from leader-owned evangelism to congregation-owned evangelism.”
  2. “We need to SHIFT from event-driven evangelism to relationship-driven evangelism.”
  3. “We need to SHIFT from decision driven evangelism to journey driven evangelism.”

 

The fourth SHIFT that must take place is this:

 

  1. We need to SHIFT our focus in evangelism from reaching the lost to activating believers as effective witnesses.

 

What! Don’t focus on the lost? This sounds ridiculous; don’t we evangelise to reach lost people?

 

Well yes, but our focus as leaders should be on activating believers as effective witnesses. We don’t forget about lost people but our focus is on activating the believer. Why? Because this is the approach we see in Jesus and the Apostle Paul. If we had time, we could also explore this focus in the New Testament Church.

 

Let’s take a look at Jesus. In his personal life he was all about reaching lost people. He came to seek and to save the lost and he modelled this to his disciples. Just think of him reaching out to Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman. There is also his life changing time spent with Zacchaeus and many others. In his personal life Jesus reached out to the lost!

 

But when it came to his ministry strategy, what do we observe about Jesus? We see Jesus activating believers as effective witnesses.

 

Think about it. Jesus calls his disciples and says to them, “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men”. In effect, he is saying to his trainee ministry team, I will train you how to reach the lost. But not only that, I will also train you in a way that you will then be able to train your own disciples, and in turn they will be able to reach the lost and train their own disciples.

 

Isn’t it interesting that we see Jesus send out his 12 disciples to reach the lost, then we see him sending out 72 others and then at the beginning of the book of Acts 120 are gathered. I find it interesting that 72 and 120 are multiples of 12.

 

While Jesus ministered to the masses his focus was on a few—equipping them, training them, activating them as effective witnesses.

 

And this is the same mindset we see in the Apostle Paul. As an imitator of Christ, Paul was committed to reaching the lost. He tells us that he became all things to all people that by some means he might save some.

 

In his personal life Paul was committed to reaching the lost but when it came to his interaction with believers, Paul was constantly challenging them in their witness.

 

Think about Paul’s teaching on prayer as it has to do with evangelism. Prayer was a priority for Paul, and he talks a lot about prayer. What does Paul say to us about prayer and evangelism?

Did you realise that Paul never instructs believers to pray for the lost? Not once. Now, there is no doubt that Paul did pray for the lost because in Romans chapter 10, talking about his fellow Jews, he says “my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved”. Paul prayed for the lost, but he never instructed us to pray for the lost. I’m sure he wanted us to, but that was not his focus. Paul’s focus was activating believers and his teaching on prayer connected to evangelism reflect that focus.

 

Paul says to pray that God would give you open doors to be his witness and when God gives you an open door he says make the most of every opportunity you are given. Paul tells us to pray for boldness to speak and, as you speak, pray that the Holy Spirit will empower what you are saying.

 

Paul’s focus when he taught about prayer was always about praying for the believer and their witness. Activating believers for evangelism was the focus for Paul, just as it was Jesus’ focus.

As leaders, we need to SHIFT our focus to activating believers. Activating believers is where we should be focusing our money and resources for evangelism, our staffing for evangelism, our teaching, our training, our evangelistic efforts.

 

If God has positioned you as a leader in your church for the equipping of the saints for works of ministry, let me ask you this. What is the greatest ministry Jesus Christ wants the people in your church to have? Isn’t it Jesus’ ministry, to seek and save those who are lost. After all, why has he left us here? All other purposes in the lives of believers will be fulfilled so much more completely in heaven. He has left us here to be his witnesses!

 

Your purpose as a leader is to equip your people as witnesses. All of Jesus’ ministry was geared around equipping his disciples to become fishers of men, then multiplying them to equip others to become fishers of men. Even our events, small groups and gatherings that are designed for the lost should also serve to equip believers in their witness to the lost.

 

We need to SHIFT our focus in evangelism from reaching the lost to activating believers as effective witnesses. This is the fourth shift that we help churches take through the journey of EvangelismSHIFT.

 

You can learn more about EvangelismSHIFT at www.evangelismshift.afci.com.au .