Jon Cook, who leads an organization of industrial chaplains, quotes Joe McKinney, a former pastor and now in the marketplace, “I am convinced that if we aren’t going into the workplace and building relationships with business people because of a lack of time then we are doing things that God doesn’t intend for us to do.”

Jon says

” In our culture today, evangelism is building relationships with unbelievers. It is loving, caring, and serving. It is investing time. It is patience while waiting on the Holy Spirit to woo an unbeliever, through a relationship with a believer, to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is proactive. And it happens in the workplace.”

The world thinks it knows what a church is for, and what Christians are like.  Let a person of faith act different from what the culture thinks we ought to do and see how they protest.  “Christians shouldn’t do that.”  They don’t come to church because they think all churches are franchise operations, the way every McDonald’s worldwide has exactly the same menu.

What the effective pastor – or lay person – needs to do is get to know and be known by those outside the church.  When they look past the denominational exterior and begin to see us as people of compassion, that’s when we can begin to make the case for our Savior.

Jon’s post got me thinking. I commend it to you.  Read it at joncook.wordpress.com

I heard again tonite a podcast I downloaded from Ozark Christian College from David Bycroft on “Celebrating the Small Church.”  He pastors a church of 700 in a Kansas town of 250, and at the time of the sermon was praying for 3000.  Briefly, here’s some of what he said:

First, know again that the impossible is possible with God.   You can build a congregation that reaches the lost.  In Bycroft’s terms, the average church takes a sports car and each week turns the ignition and “shifts into neutral,” agreeing to do exactly what was done the week before, getting the same lack of result they’ve gotten every other week.  Instead, Bycroft urged his listeners to be extraordinary by tapping into the power of God .

Second, know that it will take some work.  It will take personal prayer on your part.  You will need to teaching your people HOW to pray effectively. And you need to do what you do with intention, being a church that works hard at being God’s church.

Third, get help if you need it.  If you need to learn more, or need encouragement from seasoned pastors, remember that there are LOTS of free podcasts out there.  OCC is but one of the Christian schools that records their chapel services and makes t he sermons available for free download.  Start here.

“Imagine if you didn’t have a home life. Imagine if everybody had pretty much given up on you. Now imagine what it would mean for hundreds of people to suddenly believe in you.”

What do you do if the visiting high school football team comes without fans, without parents, without a cheering section?  Would you send half your parents to sit on the other side and cheer for the other team?

Rick Reilly has an article about a game in Texas where this happened.  Grapevine Faith, a Christian High School, hosted Gainesville State School, and more than just made them feel welcome.  “For instance, when Gainesville came out to take the field, the Faith fans made a 40-yard spirit line for them to run through.”

Faith’s head coach, Kris Hogan, knew the  14 Gainesville players were serving time in a maximum-security correctional facility 75 miles north of Dallas.  He also knew few people showed them any kindness.  They traveled handcuffs with 12 security guards.  People avoided them.  They themselves expected no kindness.

Instead, Hogan called some of his parents and asked them to make a demonstration that would tell the kids they still mattered to tell them “You are just as valuable as any other person on planet Earth.”

He put in players from the 3rd string to make sure the visitors scored some points, ending the game with a respectable loss (33-14), enough to give their coach a squirt-bottle victory shower!

And as the boys walked back to their bus under guard, they each were handed a bag for the ride home—a burger, some fries, a soda, some candy, a Bible and an encouraging letter from a Faith player.


Read the full article at ESPN.com


Now that you’ve read, what opportunities will you look for to show the love of Jesus in extraordinary ways?

Adequate, appropriate space is important. but ministry should be more about  relationships than having the right facility.

I saw a church fundraising brochure that just sounded strange. It asked “How will building help us reach our community for Christ?”

Good question.

Unfortunately, the answer didn’t make sense.

God has called [this church] to be a lighthouse on the East Coast. Our buildings are used by God to reach more people with the gospel and to train up followers to grow and to go out into the mission field. Our new facilities will provide more space for worship, preschool, children, student, and adult classrooms, fellowship, and choir activities. All of our ministries will benefit from having additional room for growth. In addition, the new Worship Center will allow us to attract and minister to more families from our community.

The goal of our stewardship campaign is to provide for the construction costs of a new 3000-seat Worship Center, a new student center, additional space for childcare, additional adult education space, and other support facilities. These new facilities are being uniquely designed to allow for future growth for many years to come. The buildings will be multigenerational-friendly and will provide a welcoming environment with state-of-the-art technology to help us connect with many different age groups throughout the week. We can successfully accomplish this goal and see lives changed forever through our GREATERTHINGS campaign.

As our family of faith seeks the Lord for His provision in this effort, may we remember the testimony of those members who have gone before us… “What God asks us to do, He will certainly enable us to do!”

Buildings don’t save people. Buildings, at most, provide space where the Bible can be taught, where believers can fellowship together, where people can meet for corporate worship, and where members can be trained in missions and Christian disciplines.  However, this particular church has bought into the concept that buildings are what matter, and virtual connections are good enough.  (“a welcoming environment with state-of-the-art technology to help us connect”)

It is clear the brochure is about money

Q – How will we pay for this?

A – We believe wholeheartedly that God has given us a vision to reach this community for Christ. We have faith that [this church] will rise to the challenge He has set for us. With God’s help and our sacrificial giving, we will reach our goals and build a facility that will help us reach GREATERTHINGS.

In your drive to reach your community, be sure you are people-focused.  Everything this church does for the next 3-5 years will be centered around the $20M building campaign.  Already, facility issues are getting in the way of ministry.  (One ministry was told they could only use the church facilities once a month.)  Either the current building isn’t adequate (it services 2700 attenders now), or the church is facility focused in its orientation.

Adequate, appropriate space is important.  But if your ministry is all about having the right facility to attract people, then your interpersonal witnessing needs a tune-up.

Thanks to “Mormon Soprano” for posting the Youtube Video of a Byzantine era Christmas song, sung in modern Arabic (Chanted by: Reader Nader Hajjar, Ottawa). It comes with translations that reveal deep theology.

More important, it revealed a background prejudice in me. Not all Arabic speakers are Muslim.
We have many Christian brothers who worship Christ, often with a depth of devotion that puts this here Christian nation to shame.
As you listen, may you worship, and pray for our brothers in other lands.

The last day of the Navajo Tent Revival, and Stanley’s voice has still not recovered.  So he called a local preacher to help.  That man was not available, but his dad was.  What a message!

Wilson Calvin told us his testimony.  I had met him over supper; there were 2 seats open, one with our group and the other with a table of Navajos.  (I didn’t come this far to talk with folks from my own church, so I got to know the preacher.)  I learned he is a church planter.  He hears from God to go to an area and begin preaching his brand of straight-talk Gospel, and when the congregation is started, he finds a man in the congregation capable and called to preach, and trains him so he can leave him as pastor to his neighbors.  Then Mr Calvin moves on.

It was not fancy preaching.  Pastor Calvin didn’t finish high school, never went to college or seminary, but he knows his Bible.  Says he reads through it a hundred times a year. And he only uses King James.  Just don’t ask him to stand still when he preaches.  Back and forth, down the aisle.  Shouting and pointing and making the Gospel plain for any to hear.

His message started with a comment about a dad.  When people brag on how well his son is doing, he gets a little closer to hear more.  He likes it when you compliment his son.  And God likes it when you compliment His son!

Pastor Calvin came to faith when a preacher, moving across the country to start a church somewhere else, broke down in his town, the very same weekend his son begged him to go to church.  That preacher broke down in front of a vacant building and was able to rent it to hold services, and Wilson Calvin was converted that day.

Calvin said we should be involved in a church.  He said you should find a good church, where the Bible is preached.  When you know a good thing is happening, you should (1) go there, (2) tell others about it and (3) enjoy it.

And when the invitation came, so did one of the church members, eager to get clean before God.  There were prayers and rejoicing.

I couldn’t live on a diet of camp meeting, but I rejoice that I was there.

It was a camp meeting, a tent revival, Navajo style.  Stanley and Mary put up a tent on their land, put a sign out by the road, and put meat on the grill.

Stanley is an older Navajo, a solid Christian.  His wife Mary helps with music at the First Indian Baptist in Gallup.  But their faith is so strong they were willing to give of themselves for the Gospel to be heard.  So he put up a tent and borrowed chairs from 3 churches – seats for 60 in the dirt-floor “tabernacle”.  And next to it, a tent with eating tables.  You know there was plenty: posole soup and chicken soup and fry bread.

Our purpose was to mix and mingle and build relationships.  I met a man who was 98 years old, a Navajo who had in his younger years traveled the country as a translator for an evangelist to the Navajos.  What a great time talking to him!  But soon, food was over and the service began.

It was a preaching service, but Stanley opened the floor for testimony.  Pastor Gary, our mission host, made sure I got up to sing, and I dragged Meredith and Bethany to sing with me.  And there were testimonies of faith.

Finally, Pastor Bobby Boyd got up to preach.  He is a Navajo preacher and brought some from his church (including the 98-year old man).    He preached because Stanley had come down with a cold, and was unable to preach that night.

Pastor Boyd uses an interesting advertising program to get his message out.  He puts baskets of sermon tapes and CDs at the local Christian bookstore and at truck stops, to be given away for free to whomever wants to hear.  And those who take them will be encouraged, and will call him to preach for their services.  His model of advertising is to give himself away and let God arrange his speaking calendar.

It was a great sermon, reminding us that we are by nature sinful, born into a disfunctional family, unable to meet the standards of our heavenly Father.  But that loving Father made a way for us to be saved.  Pastor Boyd then got to meddling – telling us we were justified and sanctified not for ourselves, but for service.  But the rewards he described, the wages of a faithful servant, is righteousness, right standing before God.

And he closed with a passage paraphrased from Ezekiel:  “If you leave here without Jesus, it’s not my fault, because I told you Truth tonite.”

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