Find him

I’ve spent countless hours speaking to people who really weren’t interested in listening to the Good News I was sharing with them. Since I am convinced that this will bless them and impact their lives, I kept on trying to get through. But they were not ready to receive my message.

Jesus instructed the seventy two to find the “person of peace” who would be open to their message.

“Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘peace be to this house’ and if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you” (Luke 10:5-7).

“Heal the sick in it and say to the, the kingdom of God has come near to you. But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you,l go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near” (Luke 10:9-11).

Find the persons of peace, and let the kingdom come into their hearts and homes.

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Does sharing the Good News seem impossible?

Sharing Good News shouldn’t be so hard – especially when you know it will benefit those who receive it. But too many struggle with how to begin. How do I start? What should I share?

Make sure you begin with the mindset that you are not speaking to them to get anything from them. The conversation is entirely for their benefit – it really is. Jesus said, “Freely you have received; freely give” (Matthew 10:8). Remember, just like Jesus, you are not a taker, but a giver.

Here we go. We will use the words S T A R T as an acronym to help you in the process.

S – Start with a question. Start where that person is. Begin with their situation. Let the conversation begin naturally with a question regarding what you both are engaged in at that time. It could be your travel, waiting at the bus station, at the restaurant, looking for products at the store, or any anything else.

T – Turn the conversation deeper. Find the appropriate time to move from the superficial conversation to a deeper one. Begin with the mind and move toward the heart. As you are a person who truly cares for them and are deeply interested in their welfare, their hearts will open up. They will reveal their pain. Go ahead and move the conversation in that direction.

A – Apply your story to communicate Good News. There is nothing more natural and compelling than your own story. Share it with boldness and clarity. Make a list of the areas in your life where Jesus has come and transformed the situation. In some areas he has brought healing. He gave peace. He opened doors that were closed. Impossible situations were turned around by the power of Jesus. Share it boldly and with joy. It’s your story within the His-Story of God’s love for the lost world.

R – Reveal Jesus, the reason for the Good News. Make sure you share that Jesus is the sole reason for the difference. Because he is. By all means, don’t leave out his name. With joy and delight, mention the beautiful name of Jesus that oozes with love and compassion for the broken and downtrodden. Reveal Jesus every chance you get.

T – Take the good responses. When you reveal Jesus, you will get several responses. Some will respond with anger and irritation. That’s not a problem. Just excuse yourself from their presence and go away. Some are neutral. They will say something like “Finding god is like climbing a mountain. Whichever direction you take, as long you keep walking up, you will eventually get to the top.” This sounds wonderful, but Jesus doesn’t live on a mountain. Sorry. Finally, there will be a few who listen intently with an open mind and heart. Speak to them and tell them the Good News.

Now, let’s go share the Good News.

 

Magnetic Evangelism

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It is the job of the Holy Spirit to attract/draw people to Jesus. The Spirit is working right now in the hearts of everyone you know. He is drawing them to Jesus.

Think of how a magnet attracts objects. The items that are closest will be pulled to the magnet first before the others.

Ask the Father to show you what He is up to. He’ll show you who is closest to Jesus. Go to them and share the Good News.

Remember, evangelism​ is not a marketing scheme. It is an invitation by God through His Spirit. So let’s put aside the marketing and ask for the eyes of the Spirit. He’ll show you who is closest to Him. They are the ones Jesus spoke of when he said “The fields are ready for harvest.”

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Evangelism – Jesus’ Style

The typical approach to evangelism can be described with this statement: “What you believe is wrong and what I believe is correct. So stop believing what you believe and believe what I believe.” This approach often puts people on the defense and clearly works against our purpose.

 

Reposition Yourself – Meet Needs

Jesus’ approach was different. He sought out people who were needy and met their needs. After their needs were met, he invited them to God’s Kingdom.

Most of the encounters that Jesus had with people put him in the position where he was meeting their needs. For some, the need was healing or the dead being raised. Others received forgiveness of sin. Some needed his friendship or a kind word of mercy. Some were hungry and Jesus miraculously fed thousands of people with just a boy’s lunch.

Whatever their needs were, Jesus met them without any conditions. He never asked for anything in return. It was entirely a one – way giving by Jesus, expecting nothing in return. In fact, when he sent his disciples out to do the same kinds of works he did, he instructed them not to expect anything in return. He told them “Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8)

 

Teachable Moments – Wait for the Proper Time

Although many people were motivated only by their needs, Jesus did not put a restriction on them. He allowed them to enjoy the benefits he provided. It may have been this open hearted perspective of Jesus that paved the way for crowds to seek him out wherever he went.

There were even some who sought him out because of the food he provided. (John 6:26) Rather than walking away from them because their motives were temporal, he took the opportunity to teach them. He told them that although they hungered for bread that perishes, there is heavenly bread that leads to eternal life. In that conversation, he went on to say that he is the bread of life. He used the situation to teach them an important truth about eternal life that he provides.

 

Don’t Pull Weeds – Be Generous and Open

The open minded perspective of Jesus was expressed through the parable of the weeds. (Matthew 13:24-30) A man sowed good seed expecting a good return from his field. But in the night his enemies came and sowed weeds among the good seed. When the seeds grew, the weeds also came up.

The workers came to the master and asked if they should pull up the weeds. But the master instructed them to allow the weeds to remain because in pulling up the weeds, the good wheat may also be pulled up and damaged. They were to wait till the harvest when they can separate the wheat and destroy the weeds.

Thus people with wrong or evil intent may be among the recipients to whom we show God’s mercy, but we are not to dissuade them. Let them remain and enjoy the benefits provided by the Master through us. There are many who are genuine in their need and desire for Jesus.

 

Invite them to Discipleship

In fact, Jesus was so intent on focusing only on the needy that he gave his disciples an instruction that was quite surprising.

And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. (Matthew 10:14)

Although Jesus was clearly open and allowed anyone to come enjoy the benefits from his work, he made a clear distinction for those who wanted to be his disciples.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)

The basic requirement for being a disciple of Jesus was too heavy for the masses. Self denial simply grinds against the common self centered human nature. And the concept of carrying the cross – simply identifies one as destined for death. What an incredulous identity to take upon oneself. Deny yourself and live like you’re destined for death!

No wonder there were so few disciples compared to the crowds that followed Jesus. There were 12 of his immediate disciples, but there is further record of a group of 70 and/or 72 disciples. In the book of Acts, in the upper room, there were 120 who gathered. There is another record of more than 500 who were followers of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:6). But these numbers are nothing compared to the masses that gathered around him.

 

Do Good – Don’t Hold Back

But he never restricted the crowds. Later on, Jesus was described as one who “Went about doing good.” (Acts 10:38) This is the way he lived every day. He wasn’t focused on building a movement, it just became one. There was no intent of impressing anyone because his Father was already pleased with him (Matthew 3:17).

This statement may be a good summary of the approach or perspective that Jesus used in his ministry. He simply “Went about doing good.” He impacted huge multitudes with this approach – then invited the people to the Kingdom of his Father. What an awesome example Jesus has left for us to follow!

 

When Death Came Too Soon

Here was another person who died before being transformed by the power of Jesus. It was a deeply saddening news for me. I had given much time, effort, and energy to connect with this person in hopes that he would give his heart to Jesus and be transformed by God’s power.

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I had similar thoughts and experiences as I related with another person who also died never connecting with Jesus. I wrote about him earlier in a blog called: When Life Ends Before Mercy Ends.

Both of these men turned to alcohol as their solace. But I don’t think alcohol was the real problem. The real problem was that they couldn’t turn their brokenness over to God. There was something in their hearts that prevented them and held them back.

They both felt their situation in life was worse than anyone else. They clearly felt that no one could understand them. Although they were told about Jesus, they just could not give their lives to Him. Their hearts would not open up.

This man was in business and he experienced some success at various times. But he had trouble keeping his commitments. He often got into debts that he could not return. As a result, he left lots of broken relationships.

I’m not sure what I could have done differently in order to bring such people to Jesus. I know that ultimately they need to make a decision on their own. But once they do, I am confident in Jesus that He will change them inside and out.

So now I pray for all who have not accepted the invitation of Jesus. He invites those who are weary and burdened to come to Him. He will give them “rest” for their souls.

Your Turn

Join the discussion and add your thoughts. What have you learned?

Please share briefly in the comments section on the website.

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* Book recommendations on various topics I write on are available at my Resources Page.

** For a list of books that I’ve recently read, here is my Reading List.

Shame as Suffering for the Gospel

“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God (2 Tim 1:8 NKJV).

ashamed

Shame is defined as a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior. When we connect this word and the Gospel, it is an interesting mix. According to the definition, wrong or foolish behavior usually leads to shame.

But how do we see sharing the gospel as wrong or foolish behavior? Although there is nothing inherently wrong or foolish with sharing the gospel, we may experience shame.

This shame may come from fear of ridicule and humiliation by others. So Paul is instructing Timothy to deal with his fear that leads to shame, which may have kept him from boldly sharing the gospel.

After dealing with shame, Timothy is asked to share in the sufferings for the gospel. Sharing implies solidarity and oneness. Paul seems to be taking the idea of shame and directly linking it with the reality of sharing in the sufferings of Christ.

Paul experienced beatings, ridicule, and various other abuses because of the gospel he preached. He related all these as sharing in the sufferings of Christ.

But here in 2 Timothy, experiencing shame is described as sharing in the sufferings of Christ.

Next time you feel ashamed of telling others about your faith in Jesus, think of yourself as a co-sufferer with Jesus. What a glorious way to share and to suffer.

Your Turn

Join the discussion and add your thoughts. What have you learned?

Please share briefly in the comments section on the website.

—————

* Book recommendations on various topics I write on are available at my Resources Page.

** For a list of books that I’ve recently read, here is my Reading List.

 

Small Churches Can Have a Great Impact

People who attend small churches react in various ways when they hear about the work and impact of the larger churches. Some are amazed at all the programs and the vast impact they have in their city. Others criticize them of numerous things.

I pastor a church that is definitely small. But I believe that we can have a significant impact on our city. We are in a time of transition and opportunity. So, in the next few months, here are some things we need to focus on.

1. Purpose that is Clear and Articulated 

We need to clarify our purpose. Why does this church exist? As long as the purpose is unclear, we will not be focused. We may be busy doing many good things for the church and community, and it will certainly do some good. We’ll certainly see some results. But if our purpose can be clear, we can be direct in what we do.

Once our purpose is clear, we need to find ways to articulate it. Creatively “package” your purpose in a simple and brief sentence. It should make sense, and your people should be able to understand and articulate it. This becomes the driving force behind all that you do.

2. Atmosphere that is Inviting 

You may not notice the atmosphere of your Sunday services, but others do; especially your guests. If your atmosphere is cold and uncaring, that will be a clear message to your guests that they are unwelcome. Cold and uncaring? No one wants to be like that. But when we get so busy with our programs and don’t go out of our way to pay attention to and care for people, we communicate a cold atmosphere.

So be intentional about caring for people. Greet everyone with a genuine smile and kind words. Make sure it comes from your heart. Communication from the heart goes right into the hearts of those who are recipients of that communication. Such communication says that people are valued and they will want to come and be among you.

3. Outreach that Connects the Community

Once you work on your purpose and atmosphere, make sure you develop outreach that is genuine and intentional. It should not be fake or for the purpose of bringing people to your meetings.

Genuine outreach says that you will reach out and love others even if they do not respond as you like. They may reject you, or never show up to your meetings. Still you are to continue to love and reach out. That’s real. That’s genuine. Anything beyond that is fake and needs to be rejected.

Intentional outreach can be a program, but it must be much more. Make it personal and intentional. Make it part of your lifestyle. You and everyone in your congregation can make outreach genuinely a part of your life, and intentionally focused on those in need. Such people are everywhere. They are often ignored and rejected by others. Jesus wants to reach them through you. Will you take the challenge and be intentional about it?

4. Teaching that Connects and Transforms

Connection implies connection with you and with God. Teach in a way that you impact their lives. Speak about their cares, hurts, struggles, and longings. This is what Jesus did. Make it simple, and touch their hearts. This way, you connect them with you.

Once they are connected to you, they can connect with Jesus. Give them a clear opportunity to say “yes” to a relationship with Jesus. This decision will be the most important one in their lives. No other decision can compare.

As you go along, remember that your intention is not to give them lots of information. The aim is also not for you to look good or intellectual. The aim is ongoing life transformation. The clear and simple teaching you give should be lived out in their lives. This is what transforms. If they don’t live it out, more information or deeper theological insights won’t do them any good. Connect them to you and to God, then transform.

Is your church small? That’s fine. Don’t worry about it. Size is no issue at all. Just make sure your purpose is clear, atmosphere is inviting, outreach in connecting, and that your teaching connects and transforms lives. Let’s do it together.

What? Another New Church?

Who needs another church?

We have planted churches in cities and towns where churches already exist, and sometimes the obvious question arises: Why another church? Aren’t there enough churches already? Here below are some of the reasons for new churches.

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Vibrancy

Newly planted churches experience more vibrancy than older ones. People are motivated as a new community begins to form. They’re motivated towards action, since this new movement demands action. In a new church plant, there’s no time for discussion over various issues of the faith. Just simple, pure, action is required to get this movement off the ground.

Outreach

As the new church reaches out to the community with the love of Jesus, more people are touched. Jesus went out from village to village and town to town with the message of the good news of God’s Kingdom. Along with teaching about the Kingdom of God, he performed the works of this kingdom as well. The “words” and the “works” went side by side.

Ultimately, this is the best method that anyone can suggest. Teach the words of the kingdom, and do the works of the kingdom. Your community needs this good news now more than ever. The good news that God is not all about having some philosophical discussion, but He is a God of action. He wants to step into your life and bring firm and lasting change. Effective outreach into the community demands truly changed lives.

Involvement of more people

Every aspect of the new church requires the involvement of more people. People are needed to set up chairs, banners and signs, to pray for people, to counsel people, and to do a host of other tasks that are needed for the new church. In existing churches, there are plenty of people already active in those roles. Others are simply watching these people do the work and wondering how they can be involved. Although there is no objection for people to get involved in existing churches, but there just seems to be no space.

A new church plant creates that space naturally. People don’t need an invitation to get involved. They simply recognize that there is more space, and move into those spaces. They see the need and feel the freedom to fill those needs.

Leadership Development

More leaders are needed as the new church develops. The new organization naturally requires people to take responsibility in various ways. Naturally, as more people get involved, more will be developed as leaders. Much of this will emerge according to need. You will be able to distinguish those people who are ready to move into leadership roles. These are the people who take action before they are asked to. Others look at a challenging situation and will begin to make suggestions for improvement.

These are the people who are ripe for development as leaders. Without assigning titles, allow them to function in roles that benefit the new church. Eventually, you can add titles as the need arises.

So there are numerous reasons why your community needs another church. Maybe you are one of those reasons. Maybe you are the person who needs the love of Jesus to penetrate your troubled life and make an impact. Or you may need to be inspired by the challenge of a new community. Some people need an opportunity for involvement, and others are ready to step into roles of leadership. You may not know that you are ready for leadership, but as you step in and get involved, you will notice the flow.

And if you are in the first category of needing the love of Jesus to penetrate your heart and life, feel free to contact me. Use the contact form on the website www.barnabas.in/email and I will reply to you. I would love to speak to you. Allowing Jesus to come and take a prominent place in your life will be the most rewarding step you will ever take.