Summary: Part three of this series looking into why people love this place. This message deals with our model for evangelism.
“I Love this Place” part 3
Brian A. Moon
I have a question for you all tonight… it is a little tricky so be careful in how you answer. How can you tell when something is on fire? The answer is not smoke, it is not heat, it is not light, the answer is because it burns. Fire consumes and ignites other material and in fact, any fire that does not spread will eventually go out. My point is this, tonight we continue our series called “I Love this Place” that has been looking into why people can’t help but say “Wow, I love to come here” and so far we have looked at our purpose for this group, and our strategy, but it all comes down to this… Are we going to burn? Are we going to continue to be on fire because we reach out to others and invite them to come to know the greatest news in the world, the news that God loves them and forgives them, Or are we going to be extinguished because we never shared God’s message with our friends and family? A fire that does not burn is a contradiction; it has to spread and expand if it is going to live. That is why tonight we are going to look at another value we hold high here, so that we don’t get one, two, or five years down the road and say, “Remember when, remember the good times…” The value that we are going to look at is this:
Lost people matter to God, and therefore they should matter to me, and they should matter to you.
(Say that with me…)
This is called “Evangelism” and around here the way we do it is through relationships! In other words we believe that the best way to reach other people is through life on life, friendship based influence. When asking people how they came to Christ, how they became a Christ Follower, the overwhelming majority will say, “Because someone I knew was a Christian and they made a huge impact on my life” It is not through big evangelism crusades or by watching some Christian TV special, but it through relationships! And this is no surprise because some of Jesus last words to his disciples were their “marching orders” so to speak.
Jesus said, “Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism… Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day, right up to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19 – 20 Msg
Jesus says here’s the deal… “I want you to go and communicate the good news that I have given you and lead people to faith in me. Then I want you to make disciples out of those people, I want you to teach them so that they can grow up spiritually.” Then Jesus unveils the way to do this, through the newly created church, or through the believers who meet together and fellowship. That is what we are, we are group of believers in Christ who meet together and hang out, and a group of people that depends on each other and looks out for each other, This is the way Jesus said the good news about God’s love would be brought to the entire world. Why? Because human beings need other humans, we are relational creatures that like to be apart of a group that loves and cares for them, like a family, or a church. And our mission, the mission given to the church is to be about the business of turning irreligious, far from God people into fully-dependant followers of Jesus Christ.
We are to help heal the hurting, and help turn them toward the answer for life, and freedom, and salvation, Jesus! Over the past 3 weeks we have talked about our purpose, and strategy which are vital for us to be successful, but they don’t amount to a hill of beans if we aren’t successful at this mission of evangelism. Famous news commentator Paul Harvey said once, “God has called the church to be fishers of men, not keepers of the aquarium.” So how do we do that? How do we become a group that does not keep all that God has done for us inside these four walls? Well let me tell you a story:
One time Jesus was hanging out with some people that we might regard as the scum of the earth. Jesus was hanging out with tax collectors and known sinners in this one town. It would be like him hanging out with some drug dealers and corporate thief’s today, probably not the most looked up to people of the day. So here he is talking with them, eating with them and the religious leaders of the day were watching him and muttering things like “Who is this guy that he associates with these sinners, these low life’s?” Jesus overheard them and got up, looked them in the eyes and said, “You know what the kingdom of God is really all about, you know what you really should be spending your time doing instead of complaining about me hanging out with the riff-raff…” Jesus then tells them three stories, one right after another to really drive the point home. The first story is about a guy who had 100 sheep that he was watching when he notices that he only has 99 in the pin. So what does he do, does he hang out and look out for the 99 and just consider the one lost part of doing sheep business? No! He runs out and leaves the 99 to find the one little lost sheep. When he finds it he tosses it over his shoulder and joyfully runs home to celebrate with some of his sheep herder buddies. The next story is about a lady that had 10 coins and loses one of them. What does she do… she tears her house apart trying to find the one coin that was lost. When she find it, she calls her neighbors over to have a party! The final story is about a man who had two sons. One day one of them says that he wants his inheritance now and leaves to go chase his dreams. The son spends his money on wild parties and wild women until one day it all runs out. He is hungry, lonely and desperate so he decides to go back home and ask his dad to hire him as a slave. When he gets close to his home he can see his dad sitting there on the porch. All of a sudden the dad sees his once lost son and he runs out to hug him. Not only that but he puts a new ring on his finger and throws him a multi-day celebration! In all of this Jesus ways saying to these religious leaders, In the same way that all these people rejoiced when they found what was lost; God rejoices even more when just one person who was lost and without hope turns to God and finds salvation. Jesus is telling these guys who think they are better than anyone else that this is what it is all about! That is why we meet here every Sunday night, this is what we are all about. We don’t meet so that we can look religious, or so that we can put another mark on our good things done list for the week. We meet to share the heart of God with other people who may not know all that God has done to have a personal relationship with them. We meet to offer other people a safe place to laugh, cry, heal, and just be themselves! In a recent survey that was done of people who were “unchurched” meaning that they did not come to church in the last 6 months it was found that: