Sunday, September 23, 2007

Reaching Out Together

Oftentimes, evangelism seems like a daunting task to us because we don't conceive of it properly. Somehow, many of us have picked up the idea that we each have the individual responsibility to befriend unbelievers, explain to them the gospel message, answer any and all questions they might have, break down all walls of resistance, pray with them to receive Christ as their personal savior, and get them plugged into some kind of discipleship process. Is it any wonder that we acknowledge the importance of evangelism ("Yes, *nod, nod* I definitely think someone ought to do evangelism; I'm all for it!"), but when it comes to actually reaching out ourselves... well, that seems a little overwhelming.

The truth is we reach out better together! There are many aspects to evangelism because everyone comes to Christ differently. Some people have intellectual objections to believing in God. Others have had negative experiences with church people in the past. Still others are just kind of oblivious and haven't really considered their spirituality. And there are many, many other kinds of unbelievers. They each need something slightly different in order to believe. When we work together, we can each concentrate on what each of us is best at.

In addition, people often come to Christ in stages. Sometimes, a person will have a lot of different issues that they need to work through before they're ready to enter into a personal relationship with God. Paul talks about reaching out together in 1 Corinthians 3:5-6, "What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe--as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow."

So when you're involved in leading someone to Christ, very often, there has been a lot of work that God has already done in their life through other people. You're already only one person on a big team, so why not get more people involved and make the team even bigger?

Here are some specific ways that we can reach out together:

  • Have your small group pray for people whom you are trying to reach for Christ
  • When your small group does its service project, make sure that the people you serve realize that this love is coming to them in the name of Jesus Christ and Pathway Community Church.
  • Invite your unsaved friends to church activities (like Trunk or Treat!) so that they can develop relationships with others in the church--they're more likely to come to a church where they know several people instead of just you
  • Plan parties (scrapbooking, girls' nights, guys' nights, Super Bowl, poker night, 4th of July--anything!) and invite church people and unchurched people
  • Refer unchurched friends to Christians for their various needs--auto mechanics, contractors, lawyers, counselors, plumbers, landscapers, etc.--especially if you know these people personally
  • Find a way to serve when the church has outreach ministries going on, and see if there's anyone you can encourage to join you--even someone who doesn't attend worship!

This weekend, Tanya and I are putting a new roof on our house, and many in the church are coming over to help us. I'm going to invite several of the guys from Olive Garden who aren't working that day to join us. You can be praying along with me that they'll say yes!

This is the reason your small group is doing a service project during the 40 Days of Community--because we reach out better together! Be creative! Ask God to show you how you can team up with other Christians to win your unchurched friends to Christ... because we reach out better together!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

We're Better Together!

We really are better together! Wasn't this a great weekend?!! Spending time together, camping out at the church, building a great big bonfire, playing games together, lots of great conversations and connections, a worship service in the round, and the start of our first 40 Days of Community groups. What a kickoff!!! [pictures will be added to this blog later in the week, so stay tuned! As a bonus, we'll link you to the Jello-wrestling pictures when they get uploaded to the youth group site!!] :)

For me personally, in addition to all the plain ol' fun, I honestly can't remember a weekend where I had more meaningful conversations with people about all sorts of big things in their lives--family issues, career issues, relational issues, health issues, grief issues, spiritual issues. It seems that many in our church are going through difficult times right now, and it is a great time to focus (like we will for these 40 days) on the responsibility we have to love each other and carry one another's burdens (Gal. 6:2).

For those of you who missed it, you missed a great day, but you don't have to miss the rest of the great days that God has in store for us. Make sure you get to your group this week. If you're not in a group, see the list down below for names & contact information. We all need a group! Because we're better together! Remember...
  • I'm incomplete by myself
  • I'm unaccountable by myself
  • I'm disobedient by myself
  • I'm unsupported by myself
  • I'm unloved by myself
  • I'm unloving by myself

I don't want to be incomplete, unaccountable, disobedient, unsupported, unloved, and unloving. I want the opposite of that! I want to be complete, accountable, obedient, supported, loved, and loving. And to do that, I need to connect to the spiritual family that God has designed for me, the spiritual family that goes on and on forever--his church!

This whole notion that I can be a good Christian without other people around me is a lie from the pit of hell. The Christian life is not about "Me-n-God"--it's about me acknowledging God as the boss of my life and following what he says, and he says that he wants me to be a part of a local body of believers. Whenever I think I can be a Christian without the church, or without being real in relationships with the people around me, or without reaching out to the people God has placed in my life who don't know him, I'm living a lie.

I need this. You need this. Everyone you know needs this. It's the reason we were created. We were created to love, and you can't love by yourself. You have to practice it by learning how to love in relationships. What a great time to start! It's DAY ONE!!!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

More 40 Days of Community

Hey, I just wanted to let you know that I've updated my last post (8/26) to include stuff that has recently been added to the calendar during the 40 Days Campaign, as well as more small groups that have been started and other information. Be sure to check it out if you have any 40 Days questions. Additionally, here are some things you might want to know:

  • So many of you signed up to be in groups that we ran out of books, signing all of you up! Praise the Lord! We do have more books on the way. So if you didn't get yours, don't worry! There will be one for you on Sunday, so that you'll be able to start right out on Day 1 with everybody else.
  • We had 18 new people sign up for small groups today, bringing the total to 72, which accounts for 82% of the adults in our church. That's obviously fantastic news, but we're still short of our goal of 100% participation. If you know of someone who's not in a group, invite them to come be part of yours!
  • If you're not in a group, you can start your own, if you're a member of the church. Just grab a couple friends (they don't even have to be part of our church!) and let us know. We'll get you all the materials you need--VHS tapes with small group lessons, books, & a service project list.
  • We have added a new edition of the Journey 101 Class, which is our church membership class, to the 40 Days of Community campaign. If this is all about coming together as a community, what better way to do that than to have new people "officially" join the community?! The class will meet on September 30 & October 7 from 4:00-6:30pm. The cost will be $15 per person, which includes materials and dinner. If you want to sign up for the class, you can email me.

I'm really enthusiastic about this campaign. I know that God wants to do great things among us, and I'm excited to see the response so far. Let's keep praying for 100% participation, and devote ourselves fully for these 40 days. Let's Get 1t Together!