Tag Archives: evangelism

Bright Ideas Doomed to Fail

Monday Morning Quarterback – Encouraging God’s people to be responsible, encouraging and uplifting in their use of social media.

I’ve not failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.  Thomas Edison, on his experiments with prototypes for the light bulb

broken lightbulbIf I call myself a Christ-follower, and I’m not afraid to wear that label publicly, then it seems right to me that I should have some pretty strong buy-in to the great commission in Matthew 28: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  It is why we, as Christians, are still here…still breathing.  Even after our salvation is secured, God leaves us here in order to fulfill this commission.

If that is all true, then our messaging on social media becomes purposeful, doesn’t it?  We want to use our very public, very searchable, very permanent social media posts to point to God in some fashion…or at least to preserve our privilege to do so with readers in the future. So, in the spirit of Thomas Edison, here are some messages for us as Christians, which are guaranteed NOT TO WORK:

1. The candidate you voted for is… [an idiot, a liar, a lunatic, a buffoon, a criminal, a bigot, a murderer, etc.].  I don’t know, call me narrow-minded, call me naive, call me a bad American…but I’m pretty sure my starting our conversation with this message is not a good strategy for getting you to listen to anything I have to say about Jesus.

2. You are… [an idiot, a liar, a lunatic, a buffoon, a

A Timely Haunting

Tuesday Re-mix:

Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.  Acts 11:20-21

In his book, Deep and Wide, Andy Stanley asks a question that has been haunting me for some time now: Who is church for?  Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?  Seems like we should be able to answer it without even flinching.  But it is killing me…haunting me.

It is killing me because I know the right answer: church is for the lost and broken world around us…it is God’s one and only plan for reaching, saving and healing that world.  Church, when all the programs and budgets and theological debates are done, is for that world.  That is painful for me to admit because, once I admit that, I know it means I must then look at everything I love and want and do in the church and ask myself whether it fits that purpose…whether it is designed to reach that world.  I think you know where that inquiry will lead.

But that question is killing me at an even deeper level yet.  It is causing me to examine my own heart and ask some troubling questions about my heart’s inclinations and leanings, especially where that lost and broken world is concerned.  With the Lord’s leadership, I have crafted an entire ministry around loving, encouraging and healing the church.  It is my passion.  So, it is easy for me to want church to be for church people…because they are my audience, my market, the purpose for my ministry.  I love pastors.  I love church leaders.  I love church people…and …

The Friendship Dare

Tuesday Re-mix – 

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…”  Matthew 28:19a

I can remember pretty vividly how I felt at the births of both my daughters.  Those feelings will no doubt stay in my memory long after the details of the events have left me.  In both cases, God made us wait until long after we thought we were ready.  So when they came, I was overjoyed and thrilled and excited and so very ready to be a daddy!  With Elizabeth, my older, I can still remember taking her little hand for the very first time in Seton Hospital in Austin.  I remember thinking, “What a huge responsibility this will be…I can’t wait to get started!”  I had an attitude of extreme gratitude for the opportunity God had given me and of sober responsibility for how much work nurturing this child would be.

What if we in the church had a similar attitude about new friendships? What if we saw each new friendship in our lives as a God-ordained friendship and treated it as if God had given us a responsibility for it?  What if we prayed expectantly for God to “birth” such new friendships in our lives and then jumped into them with both feet when He answered that prayer?  Oh, how that would change the church!

We in the evangelical world often talk about “just sharing the gospel” and leaving the results up to God.  I do think that is an important perspective.  There is our part in that process and there is God’s part, and it agree that it is important not to confuse the two.  But I also think that “just sharing and leaving the results up to God” lets us off the hook of the Great Commission.  Jesus did not say, “Therefore go …

It’s Like Poking Possums

Tuesday Re-mix –

…the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:26-27

…for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Philippians 2:13

We have lots of “critters” come through our backyard.  Over the last 20 years or so, we’ve had raccoons, possums, coral snakes, skunks, and birds galore.  We even had a Road Runner hatched under our deck once (different story…maybe a future post).  In her younger days, Lacee (our Cocker Spaniel…no longer with us) would sometimes bring us “trophies” which she had caught.  And her favorite was always possums.

The thing about possums is that, when your dog brings you one and it looks lifeless enough, you can’t be too quick to judge.  There is a reason they call it “playing possum”.  You have to poke it a few times to see if it’s really dead.  Sometimes even that doesn’t work.  Then you have to leave it alone out on the patio for a few minutes and wait and see if it gets up and scurries off.  But if it’s still there the next morning, you can go ahead and dispose of it.  It’s dead.  Score one for Lacee.

In my church’s youth gatherings on Wednesday nights, they have been watching an Andy Stanley video series on what it means to be “fishers of men”.  At that same time, I’ve been spending time in one of my favorite passages: Colossians 1.  I have written about it in previous posts (e.g., here).  This is Paul’s very cool statement about “the great mystery …

Making New Friends…Are We Ready for That?

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

I remember having lunch with my friend, Ben, who is starting new works in a particularly “unchurched” area of our city.  He is taking a pretty non-traditional approach, at least in terms of denominational church starts.  He is simply making friendships in businesses and schools and other  places in the neighborhood, then watching as some of  those friendships develop into Bible studies.  The goal, I believe, is to start a number of these Bible studies in multiple locations around the neighborhood and see what happens.

friendship1So, as Ben and I were enjoying our Mexican food, we were talking about these friendships he was making.  Many of them are not the kind of people who would ever feel comfortable walking into my very traditional, very WASP downtown church.  As he was explaining his approach to these friendships, he said something that really hit my traditional, institutional church paradigm completely sideways.  He said, “Blake, the people I am talking to about Spiritual things are not asking the question, ‘what do you believe?’  That’s not a question they care about at all.  What they are asking is, ‘Are you somebody I want to be like?'”

I haven’t been able to get that comment out of my head.  It hit me like a ton of bricks.  It has really shaken my world.

I live and move in a world of strategic planning.  I consult with churches regularly, telling them how important it is that they spend time defining who they are and what they believe. I am big on mission statements and purpose statements and vision statements and core values.  If you ask me to describe my own church to you I would probably begin …

Evangelism is Not So Much an Intellectual Process

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

I can’t honestly say that I love arguing, but I am fairly good at arguing (being a lawyer suits me in that regard).  Actually, it’s ugliness in arguing that I don’t like.  I do love an open and honest exchange of differing viewpoints. I think that’s what I like about the blogosphere.  It is a “pure” form of discussion, without any of the biases or prejudices that come with too much knowledge about a person’s background.  We don’t draw quite as many premature conclusions about each other in this “blogging” realm.  So, arguing (nicely) works pretty well here.

But I have come to believe something about the intellectual process and arguing as it applies to evangelism: it doesn’t work.  In my 40+ years as a follower of Christ, I have yet to see a single person listen to a compelling “argument” about why it is right to be a follower of Christ and suddenly succumb to the logic and fall on their knees in prayer.  I just don’t see apologetics as the key to evangelism.  I honestly do not believe the “lost” world is looking for persuasive reasoning, and I definitely don’t believe young “post-modern” thinkers are looking to engage in an intellectual discussion about faith.  I think the paradigm of a one-on-one intellectual exchange about God and faith is the wrong paradigm for evangelism in our culture.  I think it is a mistaken notion that if we just learn to say it smartly enough or persuasively enough (or loud enough) we will win and people will have no choice but to agree with us and come around to our way of thinking.  I think people today (maybe always?) are looking …