LESSONS FROM ‘ROCHDALEVILLE’

Humility
It seemed to me that Mr. Brown did not hear clearly what the lady said
to him. Maybe he was irritable about something else already. Maby he
wasn’t listening attentively. Maybe it wasn’t even what she said but
the fact that she dared to become an interruption…

The point is, he failed to listen (properly). If he would have – he
would have realised she was a genuine supporter that voiced fears that
were valid. If so – he could have taken the time to expose some of the
fallacies regarding ‘foreigners taking out jobs’ and explain his own
deep-felt convictions about this thorny issue.

Integrity
Yes, we have all done this. Hypocrisy is rife in real-life, nevermind
the ever spun webs of political life. Still, he should have confronted
her politely and publicly, if he thought she was wrong. That would
have shown real leadership and backbone.
This is a warning to us all. If we keep changing masks, eventually we
will lose our identity and integrity. ‘Spin’ will only makes us dizzy…

Mercy
I have no particular political sympathy towards Mr. Brown, although I
have center-left leanings. I do feel sorry for him though. He is not
an ‘immage’ gifted man like the other two. He is under pressure from
the polls. I wouldn’t dare to guess how well he sleeps at night. It
was a mistake and one that many of us would have made.

How many of us would love to get a ‘mulligan’ when we do a blunder like this. The press is immorally self-righteous and vindictive. Let’s drop the stones, look in the mirror (no pun intended) and learn the lessons.

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EFFECTIVE EVANGELISM

Dr. Thom Rainer is a one of the most brilliant modern day ecclesiologists. His observations and solutions are worth pondering over. In this article, he identifies several characteristics of highly evangelistic Christians. See what you make of them, but most importantly – how are you doing re. these characteristics?

For over twenty years I have been researching and studying churches, primarily those in North America. I had the joy of serving as senior pastor in four churches where God blessed with evangelistic growth. I have written over twenty books about the church in America.

I am not giving you my credentials to impress you, but simply to share that my life’s passion has been leading and learning about evangelistic churches. At this point in my life and ministry, however, I realize that I have not given sufficient attention to one of the primary characteristics of evangelistic churches.

The Great Omission

It is so obvious. Indeed it is so clear that I am surprised at my neglect of this factor. Stated simply, the evangelistic churches that I have researched for the past twenty years have one or more highly evangelistic Christians.

I know. The previous statement is no great revelation. It is almost stating the obvious. But, if it is reality, why are we not hearing more about these Christians who seem to have a passion for evangelism? Why are we not doing a better job of telling their stories?

In this short article I hope to address this great omission.

Seven Characteristics

It is inevitable that, when we do research on evangelistic churches, we learn about one or more members in the church who, to use the book title by Charles H. Spurgeon, embody the traits of “The Soul Winner.” Oftentimes one of those members is the pastor. But we have also seen many laypersons who are themselves soul winners.

In our interviews with these people, or with those who tell us about the soul winners, we began to discern some clear patterns. We called those patterns “the seven characteristics of highly evangelistic Christians.”

1. They are people of prayer. They realize that only God can convict and convert, and they are totally dependent upon Him in prayer. Most of the highly evangelistic Christians spend at least an hour in prayer each day.

2. They have a theology that compels them to evangelize. They believe in the urgency of the gospel message. They believe that Christ is the only way of salvation. They believe that anyone without Christ is doomed for a literal hell.

3. They are people who spend time in the Word. The more time they spend in the Bible, the more likely they are to see the lostness of humanity and the love of God in Christ to save those who are lost.

4. They are compassionate people. Their hearts break for those who don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They have learned to love the world by becoming more like Christ who has the greatest love for the world.

5. They love the communities where God has placed them. They are immersed in the culture because they desire for the light of Christ to shine through them in their communities.

6. They are intentional about evangelism. They pray for opportunities to share the gospel. They look for those opportunities. And they see many so-called casual encounters as appointments set by God.

7. They are accountable to someone for their evangelistic activities. They know that many good activities can replace Great Commission activities if they are not careful. Good can replace the best. So they make certain that someone holds them accountable each week, either formally or informally, for their evangelistic efforts.

The “Secret” of Evangelistic Churches

The secret is really no secret at all. Ultimately, evangelistic churches see more persons become Christians through the passionate efforts of highly evangelistic Christians. More than any programs. More than any church events. More than anything else, we are the instruments God has chosen to use.

Sometimes we ask the question “What is my church doing to become more evangelistic?” But the better question is “What am I doing to become more evangelistic?”

Charles H. Spurgeon was right. We need more soul winners.

We need more highly evangelistic Christians.

OUTDOOR LESSONS

I did some garden clearing the other day and once again I was amazed how resilient and stubborn the weeds were. Frustratingly, their top part would come off but the roots would remain so strong. I even found one that went underground for over a meter in length, hidden from view.  On the other hand my herbs that I toiled over struggled so much and seemed to be so fragile.

I remembered that Jesus talked about plants quite a bit. It seemed pretty unusual for a carpenter. I guess He was undercover after all… The parables (sower, tears & wheats), the vine  and the branches – all show a favourite theme. The point is that the natural world would very often provide us with helpful picture of the spiritual life. Though I have very little clue about gardening, it is sufficient to make me realise that ministry is not that much different.

This reinforces my conviction that we need to invest much in discipleship (spiritual growth/formation). This will be a process of being co-workers with God at the painful and often tedious uprooting of the elements of the old man (in Bible-speak , the flesh). It will be continuous and often reoccurring roots might bring some surprises. Then we must remember the fragility of the new plant and its constant need for watering and creating a helpful environment for growth.

What is God uprooting in your life right now? What is He growing? Who are you nurturing in their growth?

MEDITATE

“All those that are justified, God vouchsafes, in and for His only Son Jesus Christ, to make partakers of the grace of adoption, by which they are taken into the number, and enjoy the liberties and privileges of the children of God, have His name put upon them, receive the spirit of adoption, have access to the throne of grace with boldness, are enabled to cry, Abba, Father, are pitied, protected, provided for, and chastened by Him as by a Father: yet never cast off, but sealed to the day of redemption; and inherit the promises, as heirs of everlasting salvation.”

– Westminster Confession, Chapter XII

“On the Cross we see God doing at the cosmic level what we all have to do when we forgive. There God absorbed the punishment and debt for sin himself. He paid it so we did not have to.”

– Timothy Keller, Counterfeit Gods (New York, NY: Dutton, 2009), 92.