Archive for June, 2009

A Thought on Evangelism

What’s the good word? Well, I was looking at our website over the week while on vacation and I noticed the Great Commission everywhere. You know this is what our ministry should be about, period. We should be going out of our way to make sure this is happening. We love to vote on things. We love to vote on who our leaders of our country will be. We love to vote on any number of things in our churches. I always heard growing up that one thing Lutherans do well was pot-lucks, but I think the second thing we love to do is VOTE! But NOT on this one thing- because it is not up to us to decide. Jesus already told us what our mission is. When he told us to go out into the world and make disciples he didn’t leave room for deliberation. He didn’t say, sit back and wait for people to show up and then do what you can to get them to join and then your job is done. NO! He told us GO into the world, and MAKE disciples. But what does that word “Make” look like. It means to shepherd them. If we are serious about Martin Luther saying we are all priests (priesthood of all believers) then it isn’t just up to the pastor, it is all of our jobs! And it continues constantly. We provide small groups for them to get connected, play groups to socialize with other believers, a place to worship, and a number of other ways. Basically it looks like the 5 C’s: Educating, showing compassion, building a welcoming community, providing a place for worship, and going out into the world to continue spreading God’s word. When the Great Commission is central to our thinking about what Evangelism looks like, it will take us a long way. And we wont’ need to vote! That’s the good word!

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What’s the good word? I’ve heard it a few times over the past several weeks, “But we haven’t done it like that before?” Sound familiar? It’s a phrase that is echoed through many church halls and narthexes and sanctuaries across the United States. BUT, there are many churches who are refusing to say that, and it is working in their favor! Innovation is basically the process of making improvements by introducing something new. And sometimes it is necessary. We would not be where we are today if it had not been for innovation. TVs, radios, phones, cell phones, email, all innovations. Creativity is one of the most important human resources. Without it we would be stuck in place with no where to go. When I think of innovation, I am reminded of the story in the gospels of the men who were trying to get their paralyzed friend to Jesus. Finding no way to get him there, they became innovators by cutting a whole in the roof. They created an opportunity, and it paid off. Their friend was healed, and more importantly his sins forgiven. As a church we must not be afraid of innovation. Kirby John Caldwell said at a conference I was at, “The church that fails to innovate, will eventually die.” For the sake of those who have not heard about Christ, we must not be scared to think BIG. And you know it’s innovative when the first thing you get is opposition. Innovation by definition will not be accepted at first. Martin Luther was an innovator, and aren’t we glad he was. He broke the big rule, he thought outside the box, he broke rules, and his innovative thinking was not accepted first. But aren’t we glad he kept going. Because there were those who thought humans weren’t spiritually capable to handle God’s Word, Luther disagreed and translated the Bible into German. It takes one good idea to solve a problem. And sometimes God guides us by what he doesn’t provide, so that we can become innovators ourselves. We have everything we need to do what God wants us to do, now it’s up to us to get past “We haven’t done it that way before.” That’s the good word!

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What’s the good word? It happened again!  As I have been journying these four years as a pastor, I am becoming more and more convinced that church leaders need to sit down with farmers. I grew up on a farm and I am constantly being taken back to my farming days. Everytime I turn around there is another example from lessons I learned as a farmer being taught about church leadership. It happend on Monday at our staff meeting again. We have been reading through the book “Organic Church” as a staff, and right there in the chapter we were reading, there was another lesson from farming. Perhaps the spirit is trying to tell me something. Perhaps the Spirit is trying to tell US something! I stated in one of my sermons that it begins with us! We are the soil. My grandparents always told me,”We can’t make the seed grow. That’s God’s job!” They were right. We can’t make people grow in their relationship with God. But what we can do is make sure they soil is ready for the seed. That the soil offers all it can for the seed to be able to grow. We can’t change people’s hearts, only God can, but we can create environments where people can come and prepare their hearts for God to begin to work in their lives and in their hearts. More on farming later! That’s the good word!

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