Posts Tagged ‘evangelism’

This week’s message is called Messy Ministry, part I. It’s on the theme of outreach and evangelism using the example of the calling of Matthew.

My denomination, has been quite divided for quite some time. In an effort to repair the rift, the leadership has decided to bring us together to discuss and pray about what they call the compelling vision. The idea is, rather than focus on what divides us, to focus on what unites us. It sounds good in principle and I do hope there is a way to come together, but as I was praying this morning, I was reminded of why I do what I do in the first place. I think it makes a pretty great compelling vision, and my prayer is that the whole church can at least agree on this.

Are you familiar with the fourth wall? It’s when you’re watching a movie, TV show, play, etc. it’s what separates you from the action. You’re watching what’s happening, but you’re not involved. Now on occasion, there will be a movie or show that tears down the fourth wall. A character will turn and address the audience, and when that happens you (the audience) are brought into the story. That’s what tearing down the fourth wall is all about, and by the way, as a Christian creative, that’s part of your call.

You see there are far too many people who know the story of Jesus, but it’s as if they’re watching from the outside. It’s just a story for them and they may even believe it happened, but it’s not enough. Jesus came and tore down the fourth wall. He removed the division between God and man. He made us part of the story. Brothers and sisters, I believe God wants to use His creatives to illustrate that point. The Great Commission commands us who believe to invite people into the story. Your creative gifts are part of that plan. How might you be used to tear down that fourth wall and bring people into the story? Party and ask God, then go and act accordingly.

A project that has been on my mind for years, and it’s time. I call it The Imaginative Church. The idea is pretty simple. I want to see the church embrace their imagination to find new ways to communicate the unchanging truth of God’s Word. I already have worked up a lot of this material in various forms, but I am finally going to curate it into a compendium of (hopefully) useful information. Stay tuned, and in the mean time, which cover do you like better?


or B.

Share your vote in the comments.

Okay this didn’t really happen and for those of you who don’t know, Geddy is Geddy Lee, bass player, lead singer and keyboardist for my favorite rock band, Rush. Widely regarded as among the great rock musicians of all time, Geddy is my musical hero. This guy just oozes talent. He didn’t really come to my house, but in a dream I had last night, there was a knock at my door and there he was. I took him to my studio. I must have known he was coming because it was clean. I showed him some of the stuff I am working on as well as some other stuff. Then I started to take him around and introduce him to my family and friends, he was very gracious. Then finally things got a little out of hand and we were on the roof of this low building and people were mobbing him for autographs, Stuff like that happens in dreams. Amidst the chaos, I woke up and it got me to thinking.

If I ever met Geddy, if he ever came to my house, that is pretty much what I would do. I’d show him the stuff that was important to me and I’d introduce him to everyone I could. Some of you know where I am going with this…

I know Jesus and while Geddy is a musical genius, Jesus is the creator of the universe and Savior of all who will believe, yet it would be dishonest for me to say I have introduced him to everyone I know. It would be cool for my friends and family (not to mention me), the people I love to meet Geddy. It is essential that they meet Jesus. I guess I post this to ask you the same question. If your hero came to visit your house, who would you tell? Now, who have you introduced to Jesus?

I think we can all do better.

I was out of work, my day job had gone away and I was trying to figure out where I was headed and looking for some work along the way when i saw a listing looking for something called a “Master Artist.” Well I didn’t really know that it was and Rembrandt is a master artist, not me, but it had artist in the title so I decided to investigate. It turns out the listing was a for a paint party service. As part of the application process, I went to be a participant in a paint party and had a great time but I also had a thought. I could do this myself. So I rounded up some easels and some supplies and started to do a few here and there and I found it was fun. One of my life missions is to help people embrace their creativity and this seemed a great way to do it.

Fast forward, I find myself accepting a call to be an interim pastor. I wondered how would a paint party work as an outreach/fellowship opportunity for the church. Well we tried one and we were so pleased with the results that we have been doing them ever since.

I started by coming up with a simple painting that I could teach others how to paint in about an hour-90 minutes and then publicized it to the church, making flyers they could hand out to their friends featuring the picture they would be painting. We set up tables in our fellowship hall with easels, brushes and paint for each participant. We also posted a sign up sheet so we would have at least a rough idea of how many people were coming.

The event itself lasts two hours. I start off with a few rules. Most of these are humorous, just to remind the people that we are there to have a good time and to set their minds at ease. Then I just teach the painting step by step. About half way into the party, we take a 15 minute or so break to talk, look at each other’s work and let the paint dry. We did the first one as a free event and started charging a small amount to cover materials after that (less than a third of what the commercial painting parties charge). The people also bring snacks which are hared throughout the night.

I find everyone ends up laughing together and having a great time and it’s a great way to build community. There’s no high pressure evangelism with this. I usually just plan on painting in my service the following Sunday and invite the people to come and see what I do. We’ve had a few people actually take us up on that, which was nice. Also it seems that everyone who comes, comes back and many bring a friend with them. This has been a great way to get to know people and open doors to the church.

Okay, first of all a disclosure. I do not like this song and after watching the video below, I feel kind of bad about that. It probably wouldn’t bother me that much but I go to a gym nearly every day and they play a top 40 pop station that seems to have the song on infinite repeat and I never really got the opportunity to take the lyrics in. To me it just sounded like one of those ear worm pop songs. I didn’t even understand the lyrics for quite a while and to be truthful, I’ve started to become one of those people I swore I’d never become, i.e. someone who doesn’t like the new music very much. There’s just something about the tone of the song that bugged me when I heard it.

When I finally understood that the first line of the chorus is:
“All my friends are heathens take it slow” I wondered, “What is he talking about?”
Could it be? As it turns out it looks like it is.
He appears to be talking about sharing your faith and how Christians approach non-Christians and now I have to admit, I’m intrigued. Consider how the Pop Song Professor Clifford Stumme explains the song.

I have to admit I agree with the approach presented here to some degree. When Peter instructs us to always be prepared to give the reason for the hope we have, he also instructs us to do it with gentleness and respect. If that’s what twenty one pilots are advocating, I am on board at least to some degree. Stumme gets it right when he uses that old adage people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care and a big part of sharing faith is meeting people were they are. We often can’t just barge in with our faith. Often instead we need to do the hard work of earning the right to be heard through forming genuine friendships or at least relationships, serving and being a blessing.

Sometimes you have to take it slow, especially with “heathens.”

peoplenumbersMy church still takes attendance (I guess most churches do). Last week seemed pretty full (for us) so I was a little shocked when I saw a not terribly high number on the sheet. I checked with someone who knows such things to see if there was an error. She confirmed the count and then said something you might be thinking, “Don’t become obsessed with numbers.” She was right to a degree and there is a little bit of a fleshly thing in me that I do need to guard against. I can’t afford to get my validation from how many people show up on a given Sunday and it would be very wrong for my church to assess my performance in that way as well, but there is also a larger issue.

You see, if as a pastor, I begin to treat people as numbers, I should get the right foot of fellowship from my church as soon as possible. I would deserve to be fired. People are not numbers, people are people, and they deserve to be treated as such, especially in the church. Everyone should be treated as individuals and with honor and respect. I strive to make sure that I always do that, and I think I succeed most of the time.

People are not numbers but numbers are people and this cannot be overlooked. Our attendance on a given Sunday ranges from 50 to 80, not bad for a small church and the people are faithful as all get out. Our area population is about 5,000, with nearby communities we could also draw from. This means our church accounts for about 1 percent of our population. Again people are not numbers, but numbers are people and in a world that needs Jesus so desperately, every church would want to see their numbers rise. Rising numbers means more people are hearing the truth that sets men free. The church is a body, a living organism and living organisms grow and reproduce. So am I fixated on numbers? To some degree, yes, and you should be too. We are called to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

Now of course it’s more than numbers because people aren’t numbers. We need to be exceedingly relational, after all we are called to do more than just make converts. We are called to do the hard work of making disciples, fully committed followers of Jesus Christ. In order to do that properly, guess what we need (in every church, not just mine). We need more people.

At the end of the day, a big part of the reason the church exists is for the people outside it. We exist to take the Gospel to the world. There are other functions as well but outreach is primary. Before people can become disciples, they have to hear God’s Word and that often means entering a local church. There’s this really great church growth book that says these words:

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?”

That book is called the Bible, specifically Romans 10:14-15. How will you use what you have been given, your creative gifts and talents, as well as anything else, to take the good news to the world and bring people in to the church?

People are not numbers, but numbers are people, and in this world, we need all the people we can get.

What would change if everyone knew Jesus? Here’s what I think might happen and how to get there.

This is a friendly reminder of our purpose as Christ’s ambassadors.