Summary: This is the first of a 4 part series adapted from Willow Creek's Contagious Christian Evangelism Training course.
BE CONTAGIOUS: WEEK 1
Scott Bayles, pastor
Adapted from “Motivations for Evangelism” by Bill Hybels
Several weeks back we distributed a Congregational Questionnaire that asked questions about your attitudes toward church growth, worship, and our education program among other things. After reviewing the results of those surveys, we noticed several trends.
I, for one, was thrilled to see that 100% of those responding want see new members being accepted into the life of the church and would be willing to support efforts to provide additional facilities, staff, or programs if it meant more effective outreach. That tells me and the rest of our shepherds that, collectively as a church, you want to reach unsaved and unchurched people with the message of God’s grace and love. You want to see lives changed and souls saved. You want to see Blooming Grove being to bloom and grow.
However, those same surveys also showed that not one respondent believed that we, as a church, are actually reaching the unchurched and unsaved very adequately. And, the majority or members believe that we are doing a “less than adequate” job training members in witnessing skills. We hear you and we agree. It’s sad that what is arguably the most important purpose of the church seems to be the area that we’re lacking in the most, but we are aware of the problem and we’re taking action to correct it.
Next month, we’ll be holding a six-session training course, titled Becoming a Contagious Christian, which will equip you to be able to share Jesus, your faith, and your church effectively and comfortably in a way that fits your own personality. I’m confident that together we can grow and learn how to become more effective in this area and I have high hopes for what God might do in each one of our lives as a result. That’s especially true because our Sunday messages for the next four weeks will sync up and synergize with the content of the seminar that many of you will be participating in at the end of this series. That reminds me, there is a sign-up sheet in our foyer. The seminar will be October 15-16. Dinner will be served on Friday, lunch will be served Saturday. Baby-sitting will be provided downstairs. If you haven’t signed-up yet, do it today!
Right now, I want to start this series by asking the question—WHY? Why become a contagious Christian? What motivation is there for putting energy into communicating our faith? I want to jump right in and offer you two reasons why every one of us should be motivated and stay motivated in developing a contagious faith—first, because we love God and, second, because we love people! That should be our motivation in everything we do, right!?
• REASON #1: WE LOVE THE LOST!
Let me start by talking about our love for people—specifically, spiritually lost people. Jesus commands us to all people. He said, first of all, “Love one another” (John 13:34 NIV). That refers to loving each other within God’s family. But Jesus also said, “Love your enemies” (Luke 6:47 NIV). That means treating the people who hate you and persecute you with love and goodness, praying for them even. On top of that, Jesus also said, “Love your neighbor” (Matthew 22:39 NIV). This refers to people don’t persecute the family of God, but they’re not part of it either. These people are your friends, your relative, your co-workers, the teller at the bank, the gas station attendant, and Wal-Mart associates. These are people that you interact with everyday, but many of them are spiritually lost because they don’t know God!
Do you remember the series of parable that Jesus told in Luke 15? First he tells the story of the lost sheep, then the story about the lost coin, then the prodigal son. Each one of those stories teaches the same lesson. The shepherd went out in search of the lost sheep, because the sheep mattered to him. The woman searched for the lost coin because it mattered so much to her. The father waited so intensely for his son to come home, because even though his son was lost he still loved him so much! People matter to God and they ought to matter to us too. If you love spiritually lost people then you search for them and reach out to them!
As a member of God’s family, you have this vast spiritual stockpile and inheritance overflowing in your life and it needs to be shared. Let me share a story with you form the Old Testament. The Bible says, “King Ben-hadad of Aram mustered his entire army and besieged Samaria. As a result, there was a great famine in the city. The siege lasted so long that a donkey’s head sold for eighty pieces of silver, and a cup of dove’s dung sold for five pieces of silver” (2 Kings 6:24-25 NLT). Yeah, that’s disgusting! But that’s how desperate these people were for food. Some were so desperate that they started resorting to cannibalism. One woman killed and cooked her own son.