Worship Evangelism

by Pastor Mike Stine

There is a worship debate in many churches today.  Perhaps your own church is one of them.  In these churches there are two factions.  One side wishes to uphold the rich traditions of the church and that it holds dear.  The other side believes that those traditions are outdated and are unable to reach the lost and dying world that we live in today.  The debate quickly spins out of control and into “he said, she said” type of argument.  At the end of the day, the actual glorification of the Almighty is pushed to the back of everyone’s minds if not forgotten altogether.

Both sides have their points.  The church is meant to worship.  Our Sunday morning service is typically called a worship service.  Also, the Bible instructs us to reach the lost with the message of Christ crucified for our sins.  What these two sides don’t realize is that both can be accomplished in one church service and the argument of traditional vs. contemporary does not even have to be brought up.

Every week the church meets and unbelievers are among us.  Some have sat in the sanctuary for years and don’t even realize that they’re still lost.  Others have wandered into the church for the first time.  Why do these people come to church?  With the rare exception of some large churches, these people did not come simply to be entertained, because the church has excellent music, or great dramas.  These people are in church in an attempt to fulfill an unsatisfied need.

We live in a very spiritual age.  It is much like the age about which Paul tells young Timothy.  People have a form of godliness, yet deny its power.  Being religious is an accepted and respectable thing still.  The majority of people in America still claim to be Christians.  The problem comes when they are expected to act like Christians.  These people are in our churches every week.  They are drawn fill a void in their lives that they can’t fill with anything else.  These people cannot worship God however, because they do not know Him.

If you took a survey of why unbelievers came to church, you’d find that very few people came because of the worship style.  Churches with a particular worship style may grow, but it is not necessarily from people getting saved, but rather from people switching churches.

So why does worship matter at all in respect to the unbeliever?  It matters a great deal because it is the one time when they get to see God at work in the lives of many Christians at once.  The pastor gets his chance to preach the gospel to the unbelievers in the church, but it is during worship that the lost see the difference that the gospel makes.

If believers are truly worshipping God, there is tremendous power behind that.  When believers come together in worship, there is a unity that cannot be found in the workplace, in politics, on television, or anywhere else.  There is a sense of purpose that is shown through the worshippers.  Any nonbeliever who is a witness to this is going to ask themselves from where this sense of purpose and unity comes.  The answer is in Jesus Christ.  These lost souls who have wandered into our churches looking for something to fill the emptiness in themselves are going realize that they’ve found what they been looking for.

The answer does not lie in a particular style of worship.  Nonbelievers do not enter the church because they heard great things about the worship there.  They may stay because they find entertainment in the church.  They will stay if they see people with changed lives who enjoy worshipping God.

The responsibility is ultimately on the congregation and not the worship planning committee.  No matter what style of worship is used in the church, if unbelievers do not discover what they are searching for in it, they probably won’t stick around.  Odds are, they can find better entertainment somewhere else.  However, if the people of the church make an effort worship God with their full being every Sunday, it will be noticed by the outsiders looking in.  That is how evangelism is accomplished through worship.  It has nothing to do with debates over styles but everything to do with giving God all of the glory that He deserves.

Reaching Out Part 2

by Mike Stine

Last week, I told you the story of the people of northern Africa, neighboring the Sahara Desert.  They receive rain only four months out of the year.  They plant and harvest all within those four months.  As the harvest comes in, there is much rejoicing and dancing.  The people eat two meals a days, morning and evening.  Then as the months go on, food becomes more scarce.  Finally, the month before the rainy season a child will rush in excitedly exclaiming that they found grain in the shed and that they can eat that night.

But the grain is not for eating, it is what has been saved to plant for the next harvest.  Finally the rains come and the father takes the only grain he has and scatters it across the ground.  Tears stream down his face because he knows that his family is hungry and that he is scattering their only grain across the ground.  But he believes in the harvest.  He believes that his investment now will see benefits in the future.

Last week we looked at three values surrounding evangelism that should spur us on to a deeper desire to reach those who do not know Jesus as their savior.  These are three things that we must believe fully if we are going to able to make the sacrifice to scatter the seed in hopes of a harvest.  These values are: People matter to God, People are spiritually lost, People need Christ.

If we truly believe these things, we are going to be able to make the sacrifices needed to reach out.  We will be willing to spend our time and our money and our talents on things that we believe will enable us to make contact with those who do not know Jesus.

Some of you are at this stage where you feel the need to reach out and you wish to use what God has given you for building His kingdom further.  Some of you have tried, some of you have scattered the seed and have not seen any return.  And you ask yourselves why?  Some of you are frustrated because your efforts seemed to have been in vain.

The matter comes back to soil.  Rest assured, the man who’s life depends on whether he can grow grain during the rainy season does not simply go out and scatter grain across the ground.  The soil must be prepared.  Today we know all about fertilizers and crop rotations and soil nutrients.  Even without these things, the soil must be tilled.  When the seed is planted is must not be planted too deeply.  It must not be too shallow so that the soil won’t wash off of it.

If you simply scatter seed, some seeds are going to grow and some are not.  If you take the time to prepare the soil, you will maximize your results.  You will get the most return on your investment.  And let’s face it, you and I, and the church as a whole, do not have money and time to waste on things that are not going to work.

Soil is a very good analogy used for non-Christians but the audience Jesus spoke to would have understood it better than we do today.  As many people today live in big cities and have been nowhere near a farm, there are a few things you should know.
Not all soil is good for growing in.  Sometimes soil is too rocky or hard to grow in.  Other times, there are too many, or too little nutrients in the soil to grow.  Other times, things are simply too hot or cold to grow some plants in.  My dad was recently in Arizona and remarked how none of the homes had grass in their yards.  It was simply too harsh an environment to grow grass.

Soil must be prepared before it can be planted on.  Jesus speaks on soil in Mark 4:3-9.  The four types of soils are four types of people.  On three types of soil, the seed is planted but there is no fruit gained.  Only on one type of soil is there anything gained.

“Listen! A sower went out to sow.4 And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. 6 And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8 Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” 9 And he said, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”

So, all of this begs the question, how do we prepare the soil if we wish to plant the gospel in people’s lives?  The final four values in Mark Mittelberg’s Becoming a Contagious Church discuss how to do this.

Value # 4

People need answers

After September 11th, people were all asking the same question.  How can a loving God allow such an evil thing to happen?  There was an intellectual barrier blocking people from believing in God.  People are willing to listen about the love of God and the forgiveness of sins.  But if their concept of God is of someone who didn’t care enough to stop a terrible thing like the 9/11 attacks, then they don’t want to know anything about that God.

Other questions are, how can I believe that Christianity is the only true religion when there are so many with so many devout followers?  How can we even know that God exists?  Why should I believe the Bible?

The last question is one that I believe Christian have ignored far too much.  We have packaged our evangelistic techniques into nice little boxes that we pull out whenever we have the opportunity to do so.  We answer questions by saying Romans says this and the gospel of John says that.  But if these people don’t believe the Bible is God’s word and don’t believe that it is truth, you may as well quote Shakespeare to them.  While the Bible may be truth to us, those who don’t believe the Bible are not going to do something just because the Bible says we should do it.

This, of course, compounds our problem.  Not only do we need to be aware of what the Bible says as truth, we need some way to back it up.  If the Bible says that all have sinned, you need the person to realize what sin is and that they have sinned.  When the Bible speaks of our need for salvation, you can speak about relationships.  When we make a family member upset, we need to do something to make up for it or the relationship is hurt.  So it is between us and God.

I run a school online and have two entire courses devoted to causing students to think through answers to common questions that unbelievers may have.  At times we won’t have the answers right away.  We may need to go ask a more mature Christian about a question.  That is okay.  Most times a person will respect that you don’t know the answer but are willing to find it out.  But people need answers and we need to give them if we want to overcome boundaries in sharing the gospel.

Value #5

People need community

We all want to be a part of a place where we feel accepted.  We want to go to a place where everybody knows our names, to quote the theme song from Cheers.  This is just as true among non-Christians as it is among Christians.  Teenagers especially flock to people who are like themselves or will try to be like someone else so that they will fit in.  Gangs are formed with a strict sense of community.  You mess with one person from the group, you mess with all of them.

We are a very relational society.  We have telephones so that we can communicate when we are apart.  Now we have instant messengers and cell phones to aid us in this.  What this all comes down to is the fact that people are not going to come to any church and stay if they feel unaccepted, unloved, or unwanted.  The man who doesn’t own a suit and tie is not going to attend a church where everyone wears a suit and tie every Sunday because that man will not feel like he belongs where he is at.

So how does community help us to prepare the soil to plant the gospel?  I have become absolutely sold on relational evangelism.  This means that evangelizing is not a one time, hand out some tracts, “come to our service” type of thing.  If we are to win people to Christ, we need to establish relationships with them.  They must become comfortable with us before they are going to become comfortable and accepted with a whole community of people like us.

Relationships need to be established because it is by far what is the most effective in bring people to Christ.  When a church isn’t growing, the pastor usually gets blamed for not bringing people in.  However, statistics tell us that the vast majority of Christians were lead to Christ by a friend or family member.  The pastor accounts for very few actual conversions.  The actual numbers as to who or what drew a person to Christ:

 

A special need drew them 1-2%
They just walked in 2-3%
A Pastor 5-6%
Church visitation 1-2%
Sunday School 4-5%
Evangelistic crusade or TV program 0.5 %
A church program 2-3%
A friend or relative 75-90%

 

Why are friends and relatives so successful in bringing a person to Christ? It is the need for community.  A group of friends or a family is a small community and in that community people are going to be more trusting of one another.

This doesn’t mean that suddenly our friends and family should become “targets” for evangelism.  Rather, we should be willing to discuss Christianity with them in an open and natural way.  Don’t press the issue but when opportunities arise, express how you feel about certain things because you are a Christian.

Even more importantly, live your life the way you should be living it.  Your actions speak much louder than your words.  If your life does not reflect how much you love God, your telling a person how much they need God and how they should love God isn’t going to get you anywhere.

We need to establish relationships because people need community.

Value # 6

People need cultural relevance

If you talk to the vast majority of non-Christians and ask them why they do not go to church they will tell you they do not believe Christianity is relevant today.  Church is something that their parents went to.  Church is a bunch of traditions that don’t mean much to the average person today.

The church people look different, act different, dress differently, and talk differently than the rest of the world.  We are called to be not a part of this world and we have succeeded admirably in some sense.  Our problem is that we are sitting in our churches, dressing, acting, and talking like church people do and wondering why people don’t come through our doors.  We’re the only ones with the gospel of life, why aren’t people beating down our doors to hear it?!

According to the outside, we’re weird.  We don’t understand the world as it is today.  When missionaries prepare to go to another country, they spend a lot of time in preparation.  They learn about the people they are trying to reach.  They learn the language of the people.  The look at how they dress.  They learn what their culture values.

Yet the church in America says this is how things should be, we are right, everybody should be like us because we know what we’re talking about.

America has a divorce rate of 50%.  This means that we have a lot of single mothers trying to raise children on one income and possibly child support.  Has the church taken the time to understand what these women value?  Have we taken the time to learn how to best reach these women?

Do we understand the needs of teenagers and college students?  Or have we said, they don’t understand God, they don’t love God enough because they don’t like what we like?

In order to be relevant, the church needs to earn the right to be heard.  We think that everyone should listen to us because we are right.  The problem is that everyone else thinks that they are right as well and we are all yelling our solutions at the world from our soapboxes.  Our arguments can’t be heard above the din of the rest of the world.

In order to be relevant the church needs to earn the right to be heard.  This means that we must show people that we care about them.  We need to show people that we are concerned about their needs.  Maybe we don’t approve of the way they dress, or the music they listen to.  This is all superficial.  If we show people that we care, they will be willing to listen to us.  When they understand that we have something important to say, suddenly, the church seems a whole lot more relevant.  Maybe we still don’t look and sound like popular culture but when we have taken the time to be heard, we’re understood that we have an important message.  When others realize that the message is important, they are much more willing to overlook the fact that we may look and act weird.  In time, they may even understand and appreciate why we look and act so weird.  But people need to see the church as culturally relevant before those doors can be opened.

Value # 7

People need time

I can be a very impatient person at times.  It goes along with my youth I believe.  I hope.  I get frustrated if the drive through takes me longer than a minute.  How long does it take to collect money and hand someone their food anyway?  The stuff is already cooked and just waiting to be stuffed in a bag.

But people need time.  The seeds we sow are not magic beans.  We won’t plant them and wake up the next morning to discover a beanstalk full of beans waiting to be harvested.  Just like in actually planting, even when the soil is properly prepared it will take some time for the plant to sprout.  Even after the plant has sprung up, more time is required before a harvest can be made.

So it is with sowing the gospel.  We can’t expect immediate returns.  Even when we’ve done all the work of establishing a relationship and causing the person to see a need for Christ, it still isn’t easy.  We may feel defeated when we present the gospel and a person doesn’t understand fully or isn’t ready to accept yet.  On average, a person must hear the gospel seven times before they accept it.

This means that you may never see the fruit of your labors.  You may work with someone for years and never see them come to Christ, then they move away.  Six months later they write to you about how they became a Christian.  All of that work you did, and now someone else even gets the credit for it!

However, the work you do is still a necessary part in bringing people to Christ.  Even Paul recognized that not everyone who taught was brought to Christ immediately.  Instead, Apollos later came along and built on the foundation that Paul had laid.  But neither one took credit for their work because it was God who caused growth.

1 Corinthians 3:5-9 says:

5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each. 9 For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.

We may never know the impact that we make upon people.  Words that we say may seem to never be heeded but they may be recalled to memory years later.

We may never be aware of when a person came to Christ either.  For many people, salvation is a gradual process and once day a person may wake up and realize that they are a Christian.  They can’t look back at any moment when they suddenly “got it” but they realize that at some point they understood.

We can’t rush the salvation process.  We can’t force people into a decision that they are not ready to make.  When can simply pray that God would soften hearts so that once the seed is planted, it would spring up quickly.

When a plant does sprout however, we can expect a harvest of 30, 60, or 100 times what we planted.

In conclusion, if we expect a harvest, we must be willing to prepare the soil.  We must spend time and effort into making this happen.  The four values that reflect the soil preparation process are, People need answers, People value community, People need cultural relevance, & People need time.  If we keep these values in mind, we can expect a great harvest along with much rejoicing.

Reaching Out Part 1

by Pastor Mike Stine

The following article is based on a sermon by missionary Del Tarr who served fourteen years in West Africa with another mission agency. His story points out the price some people pay to sow the seed of the gospel in hard soil.

I was always perplexed by Psalm 126 until I went to the Sahel, that vast stretch of savanna more than four thousand miles wide just under the Sahara Desert. In the Sahel, all the moisture comes in a four month period: May, June, July, and August. After that, not a drop of rain falls for eight months. The ground cracks from dryness, and so do your hands and feet. The winds of the Sahara pick up the dust and throw it thousands of feet into the air. It then comes slowly drifting across West Africa as a fine grit. It gets inside your mouth. It gets inside your watch and stops it. The year’s food, of course, must all be grown in those four months. People grow sorghum or milo in small fields.

October and November…these are beautiful months. The granaries are full — the harvest has come. People sing and dance. They eat two meals a day. The sorghum is ground between two stones to make flour and then a mush with the consistency of yesterday’s Cream of Wheat. The sticky mush is eaten hot; they roll it into little balls between their fingers, drop it into a bit of sauce and then pop it into their mouths. The meal lies heavy on their stomachs so they can sleep.

December comes, and the granaries start to recede. Many families omit the morning meal.

Certainly by January not one family in fifty is still eating two meals a day.

By February, the evening meal diminishes.

The meal shrinks even more during March and children succumb to sickness. You don’t stay well on half a meal a day.

April is the month that haunts my memory. In it you hear the babies crying in the twilight. Most of the days are passed with only an evening cup of gruel.

Then, inevitably, it happens. A six-or seven-year-old boy comes running to his father one day with sudden excitement. “Daddy! Daddy! We’ve got grain!” he shouts. “Son, you know we haven’t had grain for weeks.” “Yes, we have!” the boy insists. “Out in the hut where we keep the goats — there’s a leather sack hanging up on the wall — I reached up and put my hand down in there — Daddy, there’s grain in there! Give it to Mommy so she can make flour, and tonight our tummies can sleep!”

The father stands motionless. “Son, we can’t do that,” he softly explains. “That’s next year’s seed grain. It’s the only thing between us and starvation. We’re waiting for the rains, and then we must use it.” The rains finally arrive in May, and when they do the young boy watches as his father takes the sack from the wall and does the most unreasonable thing imaginable. Instead of feeding his desperately weakened family, he goes to the field and with tears streaming down his face, he takes the precious seed and throws it away. He scatters it in the dirt! Why? Because he believes in the harvest.

The seed is his; he owns it. He can do anything with it he wants. The act of sowing it hurts so much that he cries. But as the African pastors say when they preach on Psalm 126, “Brother and sisters, this is God’s law of the harvest. Don’t expect to rejoice later on unless you have been willing to sow in tears.” And I want to ask you: How much would it cost you to sow in tears? I don’t mean just giving God something from your abundance, but finding a way to say, “I believe in the harvest, and therefore I will give what makes no sense. The world would call me unreasonable to do this — but I must sow regardless, in order that I may someday celebrate with songs of joy.”


Do we believe in the harvest?  Do we believe in a greater good to come that we are willing to sacrifice right now so that one day we will see something greater come of what we have invested?  Are we willing to come to the point of tears, knowing the pain and frustration of what we may need to endure because the sacrifice needs to be made?

Each one of us has a bag of grain.  It is totally ours.  No one can tell us what to do with it or can make us use it in any way that we do not wish to.  The grain is our time, and talents, and our treasures.

We may feed ourselves and live comfortably for some time on the grain that we have.  But eventually, the grain will run out.  When this happens, we starve and experience a slow and painful death.  Or we may take our grain, ration it, and wait for the right time to plant it.  This requires temporary pain and self sacrifice.  But if we believe that the harvest will come, we look forward to another year that we may live and a harvest that will bring about dancing and rejoicing.

Now we aren’t here to discuss growing food and bringing in a harvest but rather we speak of winning souls and growing the kingdom of God.  And when I speak of this, most if not all of you will agree that this is something that the church needs to do.  Half of you are willing to do more than simply pay lip service to the fact that the church needs to reach the lost for Christ.  But most of you are wondering how do we do this?  We’ve tried every technique and outreach we can think of.  Why hasn’t this church blossomed when these techniques worked for everybody else?

The first thing that anyone must do before they undertake any sort of activity is to prepare.  We have to do this with even the smallest things in life, so why do we overlook this when it comes to evangelism?  When we go to work, we don’t wake up, jump in the car and go.  We have to shower, get breakfast, brush our teeth, comb our hair, and get dressed.  Even when I was in college, I at least had to get dressed before going to class at the early hour of 11.

How do we prepare for evangelism?  Praying is a good start.  Confess your sins.  Prepare your heart so that when you go out, you aren’t aiming for personal glory or even just to add numbers to your church.  Ask God to eliminate any and all pride so that whatever is done would be for His glory and His alone.  And ask that God would use you to reach other people with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

As you prepare, you need to know what you are talking about.  That’s why you need to be reading your Bible and constantly searching the scriptures for truth.  This isn’t something that simply makes good sense, it’s something that we are commanded by scripture to do.  In 1 Peter 3:15, Peter writes, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”

This doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to answer every question a person may have about Christianity.  I can’t answer every question about Christianity.  But we can both look for answers.  What our responsibility is, is that we are able to tell anyone why we are a Christian, the difference Christ has made in our lives, and why they should be Christians to.  And how they can become a Christian.  Believe it or not, many Christians, although they themselves are saved, do not know how to explain to another person how to be saved.

Using phrases like, ask Jesus into your heart, or believe in Jesus and be saved might mean something to us, but to the unchurched, they sound very weird and confusing.  How do I ask Jesus in my heart?  How do I know if he’s in there?  How do I believe in Jesus?  I believe that he lived, he was a real person.  Is that enough?  Know how to explain salvation to someone else without using confusing terms!

Jesus said in Luke 14:28-33,

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower.  Will he not sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?  For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’  Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king.  Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?  If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.  In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”

In Building a Contagious Church Mark Mittelberg has seven values that we must consider before reaching out.  I wish to examine the first three today.

We live in an increasingly secular society today.  Most of you can tell me how society has changed since the 1950’s, starting very rapidly when prayer was removed from our schools in 1963.  I can chronicle how society has become a wasteland in the last 15 years.  The church, for the most part, has remained unchanged.  We hold the same doctrines that we did 2000 years ago.  Sure the music has changed some and the buildings have too, but our core values are the same fifteen years ago as they were fifty years ago as they were 2000.  This means that we continue to grow farther and farther away from what is normal for society.  We can’t relate any longer.  Most of us, myself included, have been in a nice protected bubble where we don’t even get influenced by secular society any longer.

Unfortunately, if we have kept society at an arm’s length away so it can’t influence us, we’re also too far away to influence it.  So without compromising any moral values, we need to take at least one step toward a secular society in hopes of relating to it and being able to influence it and reach the lost for Jesus Christ.

The first three values give us motivation to take these steps.

Value # 1

People Matter to God

Just like the need for a church to do evangelism, this value sounds like it doesn’t even need to be said.  We can repeat from memory John 3:16 that says that “God so loved the world.”  But we find it so hard to live this idea out.  Do we really live our lives like people matter to God?  Do we act on the knowledge that every one of our friends and neighbors who doesn’t know Jesus Christ is going to hell unless they repent of their sins?  Do our church programs center around the fact that people matter to God- or are they oriented to the idea that Christians matter to God- or even just we matter to God?

If I may go off subject for a moment, the church has become really self-centered.  Our churches are the way they are because we like it that way.  The decorations that are up are the ones that are acceptable to us.  The music we play is that which we are accustomed to.  Even our method of preaching is the manner that we have known for years.  What we have before us, in this church, and in most churches in America, is what it is because people in that church like it that way.  Even churches with more contemporary music implemented because it helps to better reach non-Christians have the music because enough people in that church like it.

Now, I believe that a worship service is meant for Christians to worship.  Whatever the style, it is supposed to cause the Christians gathered in that place to worship Almighty God.  However, a Sunday morning worship service is the service that non-Christians in most instances are most likely to come to.  So we have a dilemma that I don’t have an easy solution to.

All of this said however, if we held an “outreach” service, say on a Sunday afternoon or evening, one where believers were not intended to hear deep instruction or even gain a truly worshipful experience but where non-believers could come into contact with basic truths of the gospel – if we held an outreach service – most of us would hate just about every element about it.  But if we truly believed that people mattered to God, we’d invite everyone we could and come with them and suffer through the “terrible” service.

Believing that people matter to God means that when we hold a community event like an Easter Egg Hunt or and Ice Cream Social, we make a conscious effort to not even talk to people from our church.  We try to be friendly to everyone at the event that we don’t know, to establish relationships with them, learn their names, and hopefully even remember them the next time you see them in the community or at another event.  Believing that people matter to God means that you sacrifice what could be a fun social event for you with your church friends so that you can build relationships with the people who matter to God and yet are going to hell because they don’t know about Jesus Christ.

Mark Mittelberg writes, “When this value really takes root, it dramatically affects our checkbooks and calendars, because those are the places where it expresses itself in daily life.  We ought to be able to look back and say, ‘Here’s where I’ve spent my time and energy trying to reach people outside the family of God.’  We should be able to open up our checkbook ledgers and say, ‘Here’s where I’ve invested my resources to help make evangelism happen through supporting the church’s outreach efforts; buying Bibles, books, and tapes to give to spiritual seekers; spending money to take a nonbelieving friend out to breakfast or lunch; or inviting non-Christians into my home.’”

None of these things are done for personal glory, a pat on the back, or an attaboy from the pastor.  But, if I knew most of you for more than two months, I’d be able to look down every aisle and tell which people really believe this.  If you do not believe that people matter to God, if you don’t believe this deep down in your soul so much so that it affects everything that you do, everything else won’t help you in evangelism.  All the skills in techniques in the world won’t enable you to effectively win souls for God because if you don’t believe God thinks that they matter, you won’t really make an effort to save them.  You’ll pay lip service to the notion and tell me on the way out the door what a good sermon this was.  And then probably think I wish so-and-so was here to hear it.

Value # 2

People are Spiritually Lost

When I was in high school it really bothered me the way people partied and drank and did other things more stupid and harmful to their bodies.  In my first year of college at a secular school I was so immersed in it that it sickened me to no end.  I became enraged when a gay and lesbian club spoke to my class to try to get people to join them.

Today, it doesn’t bother me as much.  Not that I’ve become numb to the sin that I’m surrounded with.  Instead, I’ve realized that people who don’t know God, live their life like there is no God.  We can’t expect any better from them and honestly it is unfair to expect them to live by our standards.  Make no mistake about it, what they are doing is sinful and wrong and God will judge them fully for everything they do.  But what should we expect from people who do not know better?

What we know that non-Christians don’t know about themselves is that they have a hole in them that only God can fill.  They are miserable without God.  Their lives have no purpose as they chase after wealth and power and prestige with the knowledge that in the end they will still die and no matter how wealthy, powerful, or important they are they come to the same end as the homeless man on the street.  People drown their misery in alcohol, drugs, sex, food, television, and an endless number of other things.

The Westminster Confession states that the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.  If that is what we are here on earth for, how can the person who doesn’t know God achieve this?  No wonder they are so wretched.

All of this comes down to the fact that people need God.  People matter to God and these very same people need God.  They might not know it but they do.

Value # 3

People Need Christ

Values 2 & 3 are so closely tied together, I already stated the value before.  Because people are spiritually lost, they need Christ.  This creates two barriers in evangelism.  First, many people even recognize that they are lost, that there is a barrier between them and God.  They do not realize that despite however good they try to live their lives, they haven’t lived a perfect life and have therefore sinned.  They do not realize that their sin separates them from God, that no sin can enter God’s presence.  People need to realize this before they can even know that they need Jesus.

Once they know that they are separated from God, then they realize they need a solution.  No other religion offers a permanent solution to sin.  Someone asks you why Christianity is different from other religions, tell them this.  Jews had to continually make sacrifices to atone for their sins.  Hindus must go through a series of reincarnations before reaching nirvana and thus cease reincarnating into this ugly world.  Buddhists don’t even deal with sin and just say that suffering is the result of sin and enlightenment is the goal.  Muslims have to cross their fingers and hope they were good enough.  Catholics have to say Hail Mary’s, have the last rites performed, and go through purgatory.  Christianity is the only religion that offers a once for all sacrifice for sins.  This is why we need Christ.

The blood of Christ is what washes away our sins and allows the sinner to enter into God’s presence.

These three values we need to truly affirm if we are going to be able to be effective witnesses for Jesus Christ.  The next four values will help us to bridge the gap in reaching a culture that we have difficulty relating to but nevertheless needs to hear the gospel.

In review, before we begin to evangelize, we need to be prepared.  This means we need to pray and to be studying the Word of God.  We should be doing this anyway.  Then we need to affirm values that remind us of why we going out into the world in the first place.  People matter to God.  People are lost.  People need Christ.  These are simple but forgotten so often and lived out very little.  We need to return to them and dwell on them if we are to reach our community.