Sermon notes from previous weeks are available by calling the Church Office
Sunday January 17th
Each One Reach One, Sequel
Welcome Journey Travelers
I’m Pastor Ben Tims of The Journey Church.
In Matthew 28: 19-20 we find what is commonly called the "Great Commission". This term, "Great Commission" is a word, you don't find it in the Bible. It's usually interpreted to mean "spreading the Christian message and converting others to Christianity. We are to lead others to Christ not to join a church or denomination.
Matthew 28: 19-20 Jesus is speaking: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The word disciple, literally means "pupil" or "follower"....... go and make students and followers of all nations. We find a similar message in
Mark 16: 15-16 He (Jesus) said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
Evangelism, witnessing, sharing, spreading the Good News is important to Jesus .... after all He gave his life for the cause. Because of His sacrifice for us, spreading the Gospel should be important to us as well. In Christianity, evangelism is the commitment to or an act of publicly preaching the gospel with the intention to move forward the message and teachings of Jesus Christ.
If you look back 50-60 years ago, street corner evangelism was alive and well. Tent meetings were common place. People preaching that if you don't repent of your sins you’re going to hell. It's true, but is that the way to teach someone? They probably turned more people off than they ever turned on. I admired their boldness, they were not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but their approach to evangelism won't work in today’s society.
George Barna stated, "we can't be effective if we continue to cling to the old ways, the old strategies, the old assumptions. We don't live in that era and we can't be effective if we behave in a manner that pertains only to the past."
After Jesus Christ's death on the cross, He was buried and then resurrected on the third day. Before He ascended into heaven, He appeared to His disciples in Galilee and gave them these instructions. It was the last recorded personal directive from Jesus. In a sense, it was His last will and testament to his disciples and all Christ followers, to put our faith into action and to go make disciples (pupils, followers). I've heard people try to hide behind the wording found in the directive: "go and preach" ..... I'm not a preacher ..... that's for someone else, not me. NOPE!
The same message is found in all four of the Gospel texts. Although each version varies with wordage, they were all from the same encounter the disciples had after the resurrection.
He uses commands such as go, teach, baptize, forgive and make disciples. So whether you want to say preaching, teaching or reaching, they are all in the same mode :GO! Go and do something.
Where are we supposed to go?
Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Let's take a look at these three places. Why did He mention these three places? They are representative of places that still exist in every believer’s life today. You don't have to travel across the pond to find your Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
1) Jerusalem: the most holy and sacred place, represents our home or the center of the church's activities. This is our home or family, the smallest body of gathered believers in Christ. The home is that fertile ground where our children and grandkids first learn about God's teachings and we can model how to live as a Christ follower.
2) Judea: that was the neighborhood where Jerusalem was located. So, after beginning at home, Jesus urged the disciples to go out into their wider neighborhoods to spread the Good News. It's hard to share Christ with others if you haven't first encountered Him yourself. Then you take that love out to reach others. Where is Judea for you? The workplace, the gym, the grocery store, your neighbors?
3) Lastly, Jesus asks us to go to Samaria. The Jews avoided Samaria and saw the Samaritans as outcasts who were not to be trusted.
John 4:4 Now He (Jesus) had to go through Samaria.
Jesus could have taken another way and avoided Samaria. Samaria was the most direct route for Jesus to travel from Galilee to Judea, but He chose to go through Samaria to encounter the people who lived there. Do you remember the story of the woman at the well? She was a Samaritan. Can you imagine what her life would have been like if Jesus decided to go around Samaria instead of going through it? You can read that encounter in John 4: 4-42
Samaria still exists for each of us today. It's the place or places where we least want to go and meet people we don't trust or want to avoid. Share a little bit of story from my first jail service/prayer line. Jesus asks us to get out of our comfort zone, what's familiar to us and be with those who are poor, homeless, hurting, incarcerated, home bound.
Where is Samaria for you? A homeless shelter? A jail or rehab facility? A shelter for abused women? A nursing home? Don't get stuck in one place forever ....... you may never get your entire family to follow Christ, your Jerusalem. Move on, you can always go home. You may never reach your entire neighborhood, your Judea. Move on, you can come back to the hood. You might not be able to reach all of Samaria, the first, second or even third time around.
Keep moving, "a rolling stone gathers no moss". No that's not in the Bible, but it's true. You must stay active to avoid stagnation. Let me give you three "stories" to help you be successful in evangelism. This three-story evangelism is about bringing three stories together in a natural way.
It's not taking you through a sequence of predetermined steps to form a sales pitch, but rather parts of a story.
1) The first story has to be about Him and His story. Learn as much about Jesus and experiencing His story as you can. His story is so much bigger than His birth, death and resurrection. His story is all inclusive and smothered in love. It's full of wisdom and correction. Forgiveness and grace abound.
Ephesians 5: 1-2 Be imitators of God as dearly loved children and live a life of love just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.
Have you heard of Richard Little, they call him the man of a thousand voices, he's an impersonator? He can imitate almost anyone’s voice. How do you think he learns to imitate voices and mannerism's? It's only by studying the person. The only way you will be able to accomplish this next verse is by studying the person, Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 3:15 Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have.
When we allow His life to transform us from the inside out, when we fall in love with Jesus, we will want to tell His story to others.
2) The second story is about me and my story. Can you tell someone your story? Do you have a story? You have to be authentic, real, vulnerable and honest when you tell your story.
It's more natural for me to talk about my spiritual life than it is to talk about sports, weather or politics. I can't change the score of a game, I don't control the weather and I have no control over the government.
It can be as simple as: I know I'm not the man I ought to be, but thank God I'm not the man I used to be. We are works in progress, He's not done with me yet. Your walk better match your talk, people are well aware of the hypocrisy in the church.
2 Corinthians 5:20 We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.
3) The third story is them and their story. Listening has become more powerful than telling. If we want people to listen to us, we have to listen to them first. People will listen to people who listen. They are more likely to listen to people they perceive as real and authentic than someone who is programmed, giving them a sales pitch and trying to sell them some sort of gadget. Start slow with whomever you are trying to reach. Ask them easy questions like, "how's your family doing?", "how's your job going?", "how are you doing?"
The first question shouldn't be "if you were to die today, do you know where you would spend eternity?" Good question but not a very good ice breaker, not a good conversation starter. Simply put, when I move into a deepening relationship with Jesus and listen to my friend's story, when I can discover where their story and His story connect, I bring it to their attention and then we can start connecting the dots with them.
If you want to be an effective witness for Jesus Christ : 1) Fall more in love with Jesus. 2) Allow His life to transform you from the inside out. 3) Become more authentic and real. 4) Learn to listen to people by asking questions. 5) Allow people to process all of the stories. 6) Finally, connect the Gospel to someone's needs and desires.
The power of Jesus' story is that it connects with different people in different ways. He's not a cookie cutter God. Be kind and compassionate as you introduce His story to them. If they're ready to become part of Him and His story, pray with them and continue to teach and tell them His story.
If they're not ready, keep praying for them and listening to their story until there's another moment where you can show them how His story connects to their's. Ask them if they have a Bible, if they don't, get them one. Get some Jesus calling devotional material. Get them something to start reading and discovering who Jesus is.
The first step in evangelism is not to go into the world, but come to Him. Jesus' first commandment was to love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul and your mind. The Great Commission came out of living with Jesus for three years, from seeing, hearing and learning from Him ... and then the disciples were sent out.
It's said that 99% of scriptures commandments to believers are about their lifestyle. Scripture requires us to have a living and obedient relationship to Him. To be salt and light. Scripture doesn't want our behavior to disqualify us and assumes that good works will coincide with good words. Does your walk match your talk? Scripture wants our life of hope to draw people to Him.
Romans 15:13 May the God of all hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of Holy Spirit.
Three story evangelism
Imagine that you have three rings. 1) His story 2) My story 3) Their story. After I get to know Him and His story, it hooks onto My story ring. Next, we share our story with others and listen to their story. Eventually, those three rings will all be joined. Before you know it, it will become His story and their story and it will produce Another story.
That's how the good news of Jesus Christ spreads. That's how the whole world will know about Jesus. Be a "carrier" of the Jesus bug, the Jesus virus. Infect as many people as possible ...... all for His Glory. Go into all the world and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That's the message the world needs to know and hear.