Summary: This is a sermon based on my testimony of how the Lord called me to start a church, and our biblical pattern for ministry & evangelism. Practical points are made on how we are called, how God fullfills that calling, and suggestions for church planting.
It’s funny how the Lord has us in the palm of His hand. How he knows what we can do, and plans the future for us. Some times this even involves what seems like catastrophe.
We were in the middle of a cell group barbecue at our friends the Grants. The children are playing, the adults fellowshipping together. That is, until I trip and break my kneecap. It was a kneecap in the likeness of the Godhead, One Kneecap, separated into three distinct, minutely held together pieces. I would spend 2 weeks in near bed-rest. When the Doc gave me the all clear, I asked him about rehabbing. He said the best thing was walking. Great, I could use a treadmill. My wife suggested good outside walking. I had been introduced to the concept of prayer walking a few months earlier. I felt kind of remorseful that I had not accomplished anything when I was down in bed, so I decided to prayer walk as my rehab the knee project.
I was at a point in my life seeking where I would be in ministry. A month previous, I had been ordained into the ministry, and was seeking where the Lord was going to lead us. While walking, I began to meet people, and God gave me a burden for them. With calm assurance, the Lord answered my prayers concerning what I should do in ministry. He called me to start a church in the apartment complex. Through 1.5 years of ministry there, we saw over 100 people come to our small groups, and 10 people accept Christ. Sometimes it’s hard to understand why tough things happen. I learned that God always has a purpose!
When I prayer walked, I used as an example a messege I had heard from Luke 10, which we are going to look at today.
4 Principles of Evangelism: Luke 10
1) Bless the area and the people (verse 5)
A prayer of blessing is powerful! I prayed a prayer of blessing for the complex. This lasted a few weeks. One interesting situation was the back corner. Fairly unlit at night, I always got a somewhat uneasy feeling there. It sits next to San Jacinto Junior College campus. Also, directly behind it is the Baptist Student Union. At the time we were unaware of some of the evil activity going on back there (not at the student union!). There was drug and satanic activity going on. As we began to minister in our church, some of the very ones the Lord led us to were in that corner. I believe it was because we prayed the blessings and power of Jesus would be in their lives.
2) Fellowship with them (verse 7)
This next statement is a key point in how we have been successful. We did not go around "banging" on people’s doors, telling them how much they need Jesus Christ. Do they need Jesus Christ, you bet! Instead, we started by just walking around outside talking to people that were outside. Some were at the playground. Some were sitting outside smoking, drinking coffee, or other beverages. Others have simply observed our activity, and asked what we were doing. Visibility is important! We have not invaded people’s homes. And I have just gotten to know them, not being too "pushy" about spiritual things. And here is how the Lord worked:
One couple live right next to the clubroom. On our first Sunday, they saw me setting up. They asked what we were doing. I told them. They came the second Sunday, and have been an important part of our church since.
A mother and son were at the park sitting on a picnic bench. I went up and said hi. She began to share how she had some difficulties. After talking, I invited them to come our second Sunday. They came. They were part of the church for several months. The son accepted Christ during that time.
One Sunday, two children asked what we were doing. We told them. Though they now live in a nearby city, they often come by once a month just so they can come to church. They both accepted Jesus.
A young girl lives above the clubroom. She came to a special event we had. She came because she saw activity going on. She has since brought about 10 people, including her mom and dad on separate occasions.
I said all this to emphasis important methods for getting started:
3) Meet felt needs, letting them see the power of God when he answers prayers (first half of verse 9)
After we get to know people, we find out what their needs are.
One evening while doing my walking, I met a woman going through difficult times. She was drinking coffee on a nice summer evening. I didn’t have to pry hard to find out about the difficulties she was going through, a recent divorce, a car wreck, and the loss of her job. We prayed for her, and she saw immediate answers to those prayers! Because she saw the power of God in her life, began coming to church, and eventually accepted Christ, along with her son.