Thursday, November 29, 2007

Lost - Part 2

Sorry for the delay in writing part 2 of this article. My wife and I have had a serious case of new born baby interrupt-us. Please continue to pray for us – especially my wife who is experiencing some minor complications with her c-section incision.

Now for the post…

I believe one of the greatest challenges facing today’s church is not reaching people with the gospel, but convincing believers that people need to be reached with the gospel. In other words, we must help Christians see the lost.

It is difficult for some to think of their loved ones, friends and neighbors as being lost. Most of us tend to think the best about people. We see the good that they do and think, "how could God send such a good person to hell?"

Jesus, in John 3:18 said, "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." [Emphasis added]

The condemnation that the lost are under is not based upon their sins, but upon the fact that they are sinners. The Bible also describes the lost as being, dead in their trespasses and sins, under Gods wrath and controled by Satan (See Ephesians 2:1-5)

Even though most people are capable of doing great good, their nature is to gravitate toward sin. That is why we believe that people have a sin nature - because they tend to sin. Even my "innocent" little 4 year old son tells lies and disobeys his parents.

In Acts 17:16-34, Paul was waiting for Silas and Timothy in Athens. The running joke in Athens during that day was that there were more Gods than men in Athens. As Paul looked around the city, the bible says that His spirit was "provoked" within him at the sight of so many idols. Literally, he was exasperated because he saw the desparate spiritual condition of the Athenians.

This led Paul to start preaching Jesus in the synagogues, among the gentile believers and in the marketplace. His understanding of the lostness of the people of Athens led him to take action.

I am convinced that once Christians truly understand the lostness of the people in their circle of influence, and the consequences of that lostness - eternal separation from God, they will take action and announce the good news.

If we never see a need, then we will never sow the seed!

Monday, November 12, 2007

We interupt this blog....

We are interrupting your regularly scheduled Blog for this very important announcement...

Rebekah Mae Davis

Born 11/12/07 9:37 AM

7 lbs 6 ozs

19 inches long

God bless you...

Monday, November 5, 2007

Lost - Part 1

"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." (Jesus in Luke 19:10)

Do you have a burden for the lost, or have you lost the burden?

I am amazed at a how the post-modern church has left this highly biblical term behind in favor of more culturally sensitive terminology. We talk about the "pre-Christians," "not yet believers" and "seekers." We have come to fear the use of the word lost when describing those who do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Obviously, this shift in semantics was meant to express a biblical idea in a positive or optimistic manner. The word lost conveys negative images. However, call me old school; if the word lost was good enough for Jesus, shouldn't it be good enough for us?

Now I know that my dogmatic argument is probably not going to convince you of the need to recover this allegedly archaic word, so I better make my case before I lose you.

I would like to suggest that lost is actually a positive word.

In Luke 15, Jesus gives three parables about lost things: the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost (or Prodigal) son.

When the shepherd lost 1 of the 99 sheep, he dropped everything he was doing and went to find that one lost sheep. He did not give up until he located the sheep. When the woman lost 1 of her coins, she stopped what she was doing, lit her lamp and swept the house. She did not give up until she had found the coin. The father never lost hope that his son would return and kept watch for his return day and night.

Each lost thing in these parables was valued highly in the eyes of the one searching for it. In fact, the lost thing was so valued, the "owner" went to great pains to recover it.

If an object - a trinket, a watch, my mobile phone, money or _______ - is valuable to me, I will exhaust every effort to find the missing item. I will even rejoice when I recover the item and share the happy news with someone else. I don't get stressed out about losing something that has no intrinsic value.

So when I say that someone is lost, I am not just talking about their spiritual depravity and I am not trying to be offensive; I am saying that that person is valuable to God and to me. So valuable in fact, that God sent his precious son to die upon a cruel cross for that person's soul.

The terms pre-Christian, not yet believer and seeker just don't say much about the person's value in the eyes of God. In fact, these terms take the focus off of God and place the focus on man. The term lost implies the need for external help in order to be located. (A tip of the hat to any reformed theologians out there.)

In the next post, I will talk about the why is it is so important to help believers in today's church understand what it means to be lost. The future of evangelism depends on us recovering the idea of lostness.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Good Look at the Great Commission - Part 2

In the previous post, we looked at the authority that Jesus gives to us in order to accomplish the great commission. In this post, we are going to talk about the assignment that we are charged with.

Some of you may recall the old television program from years back - Mission: Impossible.

As the plot went, one of the IMF team members would receive a message which said something like..."your mission, should you accept it..."

Jesus is telling his disciples - and us - in Matthew 28:19-20 that their mission was to "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." - ESV

This was an active assignment. In other words, Jesus was saying that as the disciples went about their daily activities, they were to proclaim the gospel message and teach people about salvation.

Your assignment, should you accept it, is to look for ways to tell people about Jesus within the context of your daily activities. As you go, seek to make disciples of the people that God places in your circle of influence.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Good Look at the Great Commission - Part 1

First of all, Pastor Chris with Evangelism Coach has posted a simple yet thoughtful article that reminds me that God is sovereign in evangelism. It is entitled: God - the Evangelist. It is worth reading - especially if you think that your the one doing the evangelizing!

now for my post...

I had the privilege of leading the Wednesday Bible study at my church the other night in the absence of our pastor. God had laid upon my heart to teach on the Great Commission. I believe that it is very important to remind ourselves of the basics every great now and then - as we have a tendency to complicate things.

I found myself drawn to verse 18 in Matthew 28 and taught primarily from that verse and the first few words of verse 19. "And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore...""

When Jesus talks about authority in this verse, he is not referring to His authority as King of kings and Lord of lords. (See. Colossians 1:15-17, Ephesians 1:20-23, Philippians 2:9-11) Rather, He is referring to his authority as the mediator between God and man for salvation. (See 1 Timothy 2:5 and John 5:22-27)

Keep in mind, this was not too long after His death, burial and resurrection.

After reminding his disciples of this authority, he said to them, "Go therefore..."

“Jesus came close to them… and made this astounding claim. He spoke as one already in heaven with a world-wide outlook and with the resources of heaven at his command.” (Robertson’s Word Pictures)

Do we recognize the authority that Jesus has passed on to us as his followers - to go and spread the good news? Do we recognize - and draw upon - all the resources of Heaven that he has passed on to us as his witnesses?

I like to think of it this way...

My dad used to love to watch western movies and TV shows. I remember the plot line
sometimes involving the local sheriff rounding up a posse of men (white hats) to go and catch the bad guys (black hats). After the sheriff had gathered the men together, there was a solemn swearing in ceremony.

It was then that the sheriff would deputize these men therby passing his authority on to them. In so doing, he made these men equal to himself in the eyes of the law. They would then tear out of town on horseback, ride to the bad guy's lair, shoot it out and arrest the bad guy. They would ride back to town, turn him over to the sheriff and justice would be served.

As witnesses for Him, Jesus has made us a part of his posse! He has deputized us with his authority to go out and round up sinners. Our Job is to bring them to Sheriff Jesus. But instead of justice, they find in Him infinite mercy.

Jesus told the disciples (and us): "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
Every time we announce the good news of Jesus Christ, we are using the keys to the kingdom. Not that we have any authority to remit the sins of those that we witness to. But, we open the doors to the kingdom so that Jesus can welcome them into his salvation by faith. Knowing that you have been given the authority of Jesus and all the resources of heaven, shouldn't it be easier to spread the good news of Jesus Christ? I'll let you decide...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Need for Relational Evangelism

I received an e-mail newsletter today from Building Church Leaders that spoke about evangelism. The author of the article lamented the fact that he did not possess the gift of evangelism. Which, by the way, cannot be found in the scriptures. There is the gift of the evangelist - a person whose calling is to devote his or her life to sharing the good news (See Ephesians 4:11). But, no gift of evangelism.

He did - to his credit - talk about the fact that he and a friend would often hit the streets of Chicago looking for someone with whom to share the gospel. He recognized that his lack of "giftedness" did not stop him from sharing the good news. This is good. I would hope that all Christians begin to think this way.

I decided to visit the site to see what kind of resources were available. One of the first things I saw was a survey entitled: 20 Questions to Evaluate Effectiveness in Evangelism. I decided to check it out.

As I looked through the questions, it became obvious that this survey was operating from what I would call the field of dreams perspective. (i.e., if you build it (the organized church) then people will come.)

The survey could have asked, "Do church members intentionally build relationships with the unchurched in order to win them to Christ?" Or, "do church members "rub shoulders" with unchurched people during the week in order to build relationships with them?"

Most of our evangelistic efforts in the church today are focused on the "just get 'em to church" and then evangelize them attitude. I don't know of any lost people who get up in the morning thinking, if "I could just find a good church, I would find meaning in my life."

We have to take the good news to the streets. We have to meet people where they are and introduce them to the one who will accept them just as they are. (Jesus, of course)

We need a different paradigm; one that says, we have to build relationships with people in order to win them to Christ, build them in faith, and send them back into the world to influence others.
let's "get 'em to Jesus" first, then "get 'em to church."

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ministry to the Orphans in Zomba

Yesterday was another glorious day of seeing God move in a powerful way.

First thing in the day, we traveled out to the orphanage near Zomba to visit the new work that the pastors are undertaking there.

We turned down a very rutty path and passed through rows of newly planted coffee plants clinging to the side of the mountain. Our car, a small Toyota 4wd similar to a Camry, bottomed out frequently as we slowly crept toward our destination – the orphanage site.

We arrived to find a large crowd assembled and waiting for our arrival. There were perhaps as many as 150 men, women and children sitting patiently under the shady trees.

After we debarked, we were greeted by the village headmen and offered a seat. The bishops and headmen spoke briefly (Well, as briefly as can be expected in Africa) and welcomed us to the site of the orphanage. Currently, there is only a building standing there which is used as a classroom. The orphans stay with the mothers and fathers who have taken them into their homes to care for them.

Practically all of these orphans are without parents due the every present HIV/AIDS problem in Malawi. I saw no shoes on these children and mostly ragged, dirty clothing. There were however, many beautiful smiles in the crowd.

I stood to present the gospel to the crowd. The children were very patient – much more so than American children. I may have spoken a little too long for the children, but I believe that the Holy Spirit was directing my message and I trust Him. In the end, perhaps as many as 50 people indicated their desire to receive Christ. (It was very difficult to tell and I am trusting God that their commitment will endure).

A slight cultural misunderstanding occurred when the villagers saw the size of the gift that we brought with us. You will remember that I mentioned the fact that Africans are receivers from my previous update. Bryan and I had purchased a 50 kilo bag (About 110 lbs) of rice and a 50 kilo bag of sugar.

Had we known that our gift was only a token, and, had we been better prepared for our visit, we could have done more. In fact, our gift probably only helped a handful of the children at best seeing as there are only 600 orphans in the village.

After leaving, we returned to the guest house for lunch and to prepare for the evening service. Sampson, our house helper, had prepared a very nice and tasty spaghetti meal for us.

About 3:30, the bishops came to pick us up for the service at one of Bishop Tangwe’s churches. We again journeyed down some very poor paths to get to the place where the church was located.

Upon arrival, we discovered that our bumpy ride had punctured the gas tank on the car.

We continued on foot to the church. Children were coming out of the woodwork like little ants shouting, “Azunga, Azungu!” This is typical.

When we arrived in the church, the congregation was worshipping and praising God. Their joyful singing brought much needed light to that dimly lit little church. The floor of the church was dirt and the pews were mounds of dirt that were shaped and compacted like the adobe bricks that you see frequently here. The pews were “padded” with old burlap maize bags so as to avoid getting dirt on the parishioners clothing.

I preached a message on How to Share Jesus from Acts 8 with Phillip and the Ethiopian eunuch. It was very well received and the people seemed excited about the challenge of sharing Jesus with their friends.

Today, we will be at Bishop Khula’s church for worship, and we will tie up loose ends with the committee in a planning meeting.

Please continue to pray for us here in Malawi. The journey home is very long and tiring. I hope to get a few days rest upon returning home.

Darrel – From Blantyre, Malawi

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Miracle in Mpemba

Miracle in Mpemba

I wanted to update you on our work here in Malawi and the progress toward the 2008 crusade. We had a wonderful vision meeting with over 40 pastors and bishops in attendance. I brought a message from Acts 17 on God’s Heart for the City based on Paul’s visit to Athens and Mars Hill. It was well received.

Please pray for these pastors as they decide whether to participate in the 2008 crusade. I have presented a new way of thinking to them – namely that their churches are going to have to contribute financially to the local budget cost.

One young pastor stood and said that he was challenged because the Azunga (whites) had paid for everything in the past; that the whites only saw African churches as receivers. He said, “This is why God is not blessing our churches – because we are only receiving and not giving!”

We want to empower them so that they can see God do great and mighty things.

Now, for an update on yesterday’s adventure and God’s providencial appointment…

Bishop Khula and Bishop Edward graciously offered to take Bryan and me to a game reserve to see some animals. Usually, I am so busy on these trips that I never have time to see any of the local scenery so I was glad for the privilege.

When we arrived at the game preserve, Bishop Edward’s car started having problems with the battery. That should have been a sign from God for us…

After we pushed the car to get it started, we proceeded to drive down the rutty paths that they called roads. We saw a few animals including some monkeys, springbucks and other unusual species. We even saw some huge cape buffaloes.

As we drove further in the park we took some lesser traveled paths in the reserve. Soon, we ran out of path! (I think we may have even stumbled into Mozambique!)This was fine until the car stalled out again in the middle of nowhere. By that time, Bryan and I started to get a little concerned.

We had only a half liter of water each and I had a few energy bars. The pastors had no water at all. This game preserve was huge and we were so far in, it would have taken days for anyone to find us. We had no map either as the ranger was fresh out.

Brian said that he figured he could pretty much out run me and that I could keep the pride (of lions) busy for a while! Thanks brother!

After praying we finally found on of the main paths, and more importantly the road signs pointing the way back to base camp. After about another 45 minutes of driving, we made it to the front gate alive and well.

As we left there and passed through the Shire highlands, the car started acting up again. This time, it was the spark plugs. We nursed the car through the mountains to within about 5km of Blantyre coming to rest near a roadside stand in Mpemba.

As Bishop Edward phoned for another car to fetch us, we began to notice some children walking down the road. Bryan pulled out his instant Polaroid camera and offered to take their picture but they kept going. Soon, they came back again and passed us.

The next thing we knew, people from the village started showing up. Bryan snapped a few photos and gave them to the people. We all realized that this was a divine appointment and the good news needed to be proclaimed.

So I went back to my pack and got out the evangecube. I began to share the gospel while Bishop Edward translated. There were about 30 people or so and a few children in the crowd. Nearly all prayed to receive Jesus Christ!

God’s timing is incredible! We went from being lion bait to preaching the gospel in the space of a few short hours. Praise God for his work.

Today, we are traveling to Zomba to visit an orphanage and will return to preach at Bishop Tangwe’s church. Please keep us in pray for the remainder of the journey.

Darrel – from Blantyre, Malawi

P.S., There really were no lions on the preserve, only hyenas and leopards! J

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Power Failure

Recently, I received a well meaning, but sad e-mail from a missionary couple with a particular organization which dismissed proclaimation evangelism and advocated a long term approach to preparing people before presenting the gospel. Their concerns stemmed from the difficulty of following up on people who made decisions during the harvest event. Furthermore, they claimed that mass evangelists were the exception in the New Testament.

Well, here we go again! I can't tell you how many times I have heard the argument that proclaimation evangelism doesn't work these days, or never worked at all. I often wonder if they have actually read the New Testament.

The Apostle Paul said, "For since, in God's wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of the message PREACHED." [Emphasis added] 1Co 1:21

They have somehow missed the fact that the church, on the day of Pentecost, was birthed out of mass evangelism through the preaching of Peter. They have missed the preaching of Paul, Steven and Phillip the Evangelist in Acts.

I try to imagine Paul, as he approached Athens and was provoked by the spiritual condition of the city, thinking,"I really need to build a relationship with these people, share some Old Testament stories with them, and maybe, just maybe I'll get to tell them about Jesus!"

One of the greatest needs in the church today is a revival of the confidence in the Gospel to save whosever, wherever whenever it is proclaimed. The Gospel is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. Salvation is God's business. Our business is to proclaim the message of salvation and believe that God will honor that by saving the person who responds to the invitation.

let us renew our confidence in God's message to save.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Article Published by Baptist Press

Recently, I wrote an article about the Los Angeles ICE Mission that was published by Baptist Press. To read the article, go to:

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Outreach in Los Angeles

The following photos are from my work with the Intentional Community Evangelism Team in Los Angeles, CA. We saw 264 people come to faith in Christ through our entire team and 18 in the areas where I worked.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Divine Opportunities

I’m back. It has been an embarrassingly long absence to be sure. Having started the FriendFluence Blog with many good intentions, I found my laziness to be stronger than my creativity. I’ll try to do better…

Recently, my wife and I went out to eat after church and God provided us with a divine opportunity to lead our server to Christ. It was an amazing, God-orchestrated encounter.

The whole thing started when we asked the question, “can we pray for you today.” It is a practice that the Lord has led us to follow on many occasions in restaurants and many doors to witness have opened as a result of asking this simple question.

Our server, a young girl named Heather, nearly started crying when she thought about her answer. It was clear that she was overwhelmed at the thought of a stranger caring enough to ask a question like that. She wanted prayer for her mother but did not tell us any specifics as to why.

So we prayed for her.

When she returned with our drinks, I asked her if she was 50%, 75% or 100% sure she would go to heaven when she died. She responded by saying that she had no idea how to answer that question. She knew that there was some kind of divine standard, but did not know what that was.

Before the meal was finished – between her serving duties – she prayed to receive Christ. God was working in her heart to bring her to faith in Jesus.

Sharing the good news must first begin with caring. If people know that you care, they will listens to what you have to say. If we show genuine concern for those around us, God will give us divine opportunities to influence – even lead them – to faith in His Son.

So, take time to care if you dare!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Tis the Season...

OK, first of all I admit...I am a lazy blogger. I didn't post anything this week although I had good intentions to do so. So flog me with a wet noodle...

Now for the post...

This is one of those times in the life of the church where we are presented with a wonderful opportunity to reach people with the good news, yet we fail to seize the moment. I am talking about the annual Easter (Or Christmas) cantata that many churches put on.

For several years, my home church music ministry, led by my wife, put on an elaborate program at the local Christian College. We had great sets, wonderful lighting, acting, lots of wonderful singing and special effects including an accession scene where Jesus was lifted up on a hydraulic lift camouflaged by lots of smoke and special lighting. For a small country church, it was quite an impressive show.

The biggest thing we had going for us was the strong gospel message presented through the drama and music. I know smoke and mirrors doesn't draw people to Jesus, but a clear presentation of the gospel coupled with the convicting power of the Holy Spirit does.

There was one thing missing however...lost people.

The audience was primarily made up of people from our church and other churches in the area. Rarely did any of the believers bring their lost loved ones and friends to see and hear the gospel message. It wasn't as if we were asking believers to witness to their friends - we were asking them to bring their friends to be witnessed to.

Most churches never take advantage of the opportunities that fall in their lap to get people to Christ. They spend lots of money to entertain the saints when they should be evangelizing the lost. Churches don't think with an evangelistic mindset.

It may be too late to change your program now - to make it more seeker friendly. (I use that term in the sense of planning and presenting our programs with the lost in mind, not in the current sense and usage of the word.) Here are some suggestions on how to make your program into an opportunity to reach lost people.

  • Hold the event at a neutral location. Lost people are more likely to come to a program being held at a local high school gym or civic auditorium than at a church.
  • Advertise your event through secular media as opposed to Christian media. It may cost more, but lost people generally don't listen to Christian media outlets.
  • Emphasize the fact that this is an opportunity to reach lost family and friends to the congregation. Challenge believers to invite and offer to bring at least 5 of their lost friends with them to the event.
  • Always have a pastor or lay leader give an invitation to follow Christ at the end of the program. Make sure that attendees have a reply mechanism such as a guest card so that follow up can be made for decisions.
  • Make sure the gospel is clearly presented in the program; not just some pretty music.

Let's not waste the opportunity to present the greatest message of all - the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Invite Them to Church Therefore...

We’re back! Having spent the weekend in beautiful Atlantic Beach, NC I have returned to the blogosphere a nice shade of cooked lobster red! It is rare to have a weekend away for our family and we enjoyed every minute of it.

On Friday night, I had the opportunity to speak to a group of deacons at their annual church retreat. (This was the only way we could get away to the beach.) My subject was “Deacons are Called to be Beacons.” In my message, I looked at the example of Stephen from Acts 6 & 7 pointing out that even though he had a rather short ministry Stephen had a powerful evangelistic witness.

As I was waiting for my wife to return to the hotel to pick me up, a few of the deacons and I were discussing the need to get out of the church and into the world. One of the older deacons understood that churches tend to do evangelism backwards. “We build big buildings and expect people to come to us when we should be going to them,” he said.

Another deacon, who came into the conversation late, said, “We have just got to get people into the church so that they can be taught about Jesus and eventually accept Him.”

Two different philosophies; one is biblical.

Jesus never said, “Invite them to church therefore and make disciples of all nations…” He said, “Go.” In fact, he really said, “As you go.”

Jesus set the example. Out of 132 contacts that Jesus had with people recorded in the New Testament, 6 were in the temple, 4 were in the synagogue, and 122 were out in the mainstream of life. (Adapted from Why Christians Sin, by J.K Johnson, Discovery House, 1992)

Churches are great places for discipleship and community, but not the best place for evangelism. If only everyone thought like that older deacon.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Compassion or Aggression?

A friend of mine named Marty has often said that people today view evangelism as an act of aggression, when it is really an act of compassion. That statement is so true. (I wish I would have thought of that.)

Even among Christians, the idea of sharing the gospel with someone and inviting them to trust Christ as their Lord and Savior smacks of shoving the gospel down their throat. We are so fearful, in our post-modern context, of being offensive that we soft pedal the message of Christ – we tone it down for fear of losing our friendship with the people we are witnessing to.

Certainly, there is a danger of being offensive with the gospel. The smacking someone over the head with the big black Bible technique comes to mind when I write that. I must admit that there have been times in my life when I have presented the gospel in an offensive manner. (A couple of encounters with Jehovah’s Witnesses come to mind.)

Posture makes the difference.

We can choose to be aggressive or compassionate in sharing the gospel. Aggressive means we are only looking for another notch on our gospel belt. Compassionate means we will sow in tears as we tell our friends and loved ones about Jesus and His love. An aggressive posture means I am out to prove you wrong no matter what and your opinion doesn’t matter. A compassionate posture means I have set myself aside and that you are a person of great value to me and God.

The Bible says that Jesus looked upon the crowds and “He felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36 HCSB)

Where is our compassion for the lost?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Price of Friendship

Today, I read an article on our state newspaper’s website, the News and Observer, about a woman who shelled our $25,000 to her veterinarian for saving her beloved pet dog Tony. Tony suffered from a ruptured disc. He underwent major surgery and spent 30 days on a ventilator in recovery. The $25,000 bill doesn’t even cover the expensive physical therapy that the dog will need to return to health.

Tony’s owner put most of the bill - $16,000 – on one of her credit cards and plans to have a yard sale to help cover the rest of the cost. The article stated that the bill showed how far her owner was willing to go to maintain a relationship.

First of all, I think it is tragic that our society has become so affluent that we can afford to treat our pets better than we treat human beings. Having traveled extensively in the past 10 years – and not to tourist destinations mind you – to see the way the rest of the world lives in light of this excess is astonishingly criminal! (I am by no means against capitalism. I am against the misuse of the blessings of capitalism.)

Second, I think of the many Christians I know of that would indulge in the same kind of, or similar, excess yet fail to give more than a mere pittance to God for building His Kingdom. Many American believers live in houses much larger than we need and drive $40,000 SUVs. We buy $150 tennis shoes for our children and entertain ourselves with $3000 televisions. Truly sinful!

Now, to my point…I wonder, what would happen if Christians placed this kind of value on human relationships - especially relationships with lost people? Is there a price too high to pay when it comes to reaching people with the gospel? Our pets become a part of our family, but we refuse to tell a neighbor, friend or co-worker how to become a member of God’s family?

Meditate on that thought…

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Introverts Unite!

I am an introvert.

I know that being an introvert and an evangelist don’t seem to mix. Most people think of an evangelist as someone that can talk to anyone – and everyone. Clearly, there are some evangelists who are extraverts. But personality does not an evangelist make…it is the call of God that makes one an evangelist.

I have to work very hard at getting to know people. This often affects my ability to engage people in conversations which lead to sharing the gospel. I much rather stand before thousands of people and preach a gospel message than talk to people one-on-one about a relationship with Jesus. But I know that my calling demands that I engage people on all levels – including face-to-face.

I am in good company...

Many believers are introverts too. Not in their personalities, but in their willingness to engage people with the gospel.

Recently, I taught a FriendFluence class in our church. As we progressed through the class, it was apparent the most of the participants felt the need to share the gospel. They had invited people to church, special programs and events, and bible studies. But most had never actually presented the gospel to someone and invited them to trust Christ.

What are some reasons that keep people from sharing the gospel with people in their circle of influence?

Fear – Nobody likes being rejected. If we share the gospel with someone, and that person does not respond by receiving Christ, we tend the feel that they have somehow rejected us. Or, we may irrationally feel that their rejection of Christ may somehow push them away from Him and do more harm than good. This fear comes from a misunderstanding of our responsibility in sharing the gospel. In Ezekiel 3:19 we read, “But if you warn a wicked person and he does not turn from his wickedness or his wicked way, he will die for his iniquity, but you will have saved your life.” In other words, our responsibility to others is to share the good news, not to convert them. We cannot convert anyone! God does the work of conversion.

Lack of Knowledge – Some believers feel they don’t know enough about the gospel to share it with others. I often wonder, how did ever come to Christ themselves? Surely they have some knowledge of the gospel if they have experienced salvation. This idea shows that they lack the motivation to learn and grow in their faith. If you don’t know something, what is keeping you from learning it?

Apathy – I have been dismayed and surprised at the lack of concern displayed by believers for people who don’t know Jesus. While we may be concerned for meeting their physical needs, we neglect their greatest need of all which is a relationship with Jesus Christ. We may hear hundreds of messages in our lifetime dealing with our need to share Jesus with others, yet fail to develop a burden for the unbelieving world.

There are probably hundreds of other reasons why we don’t share the gospel. The only way to truly overcome any of these objections is to go out and practice evangelism.

I have discovered that the cure for my gospel introversion is to keep sharing the gospel until all of my fears are assuaged. It’s like learning to ride a bicycle without training wheels. We may start out with a lack of confidence, a little help from someone holding onto the seat, a push, a crash and a bloody knee. Eventually, we will getup, dust ourselves off and remount the bicycle. Finally, after many tries and failures, we will ride free and easy. We will begin to look forward to riding over and over again.

If you are a gospel introvert – like me – face your fears, lack of knowledge and apathy or a hundred other excuses by getting to know someone that needs Jesus. Get to know them and share the good news as you get to know them.

Friday, March 9, 2007

The Parable of Kingschurch - Pt. 3

Many days passed and the citizens began to notice that fewer and fewer strangers visited their town. The wanderers had long since moved on. Rumor had it that they had made a new home in the city of Newchurch.

The king of Kingschurch had not yet returned from his journey. Some of the citizens began to worry that something bad had happened to the king in his travels. Others seemed content to follow the direction of the town elders who were ruling in place of the king.

Some began to notice how dilapidated their fair city had become. The bright yellow banners were now tattered and dingy. The buildings were starting to crumble. Even the cheery music that wafted through her corridors seemed to be sad.

The citizens decided to tidy things up a bit and make repairs. They painted everything a dull gray to match the color of the wall. New gray banners were hung from the spires of the city. Surely, these improvements would attract more visitors to Kingschurch.

One day, the leading elder suggested that the town build a new banquet hall. It would be furnished with the finest linens, the best china and the most comfortable furniture in the land. “This new banquet hall will attract visitors to our wonderful city,” said the elder. “A great idea,” declared the other elders, “Let’s start right away.”

When the banquet hall was built, a great feast was proclaimed throughout the city. The citizens were encouraged to invite strangers and friends to the banquet. The feast was spread, the places set, and the wine was poured.

The hall was not as full as everyone had hoped. Some citizens from surrounding towns like Drearychurch and Inwardchurch were present, but no strangers. The citizens of Kingschurch had forgotten to invite the strangers they knew to the feast. Still, the banquet went on and a good time was had by all.

More time passed. Many of the citizens of Kingschurch had crossed over the river into the land of Goldencity. Those remaining often reminisced about the old days, when the city was thriving. They would look at the paintings of their great feasts which artists had painted long ago and sigh.

“Strangers just don’t care about living in cities anymore,” said the leading elder. “We have tried everything we know to make our city beautiful and attractive for strangers, yet they don’t seem to care,” said another, “Worst of all, our great king has forsaken us. He now rules over the town of Newchurch.”

Kingschurch is nothing more than a memory now. Her gates hang limply from their hinges, her banners are torn and her streets are quiet – not even the sound of a mouse can be heard in the once fair city. If you ask any stranger in that land about her, they know nothing of her splendor or her great king. They just stare at you in silence.

The Parable of Kingschurch - Pt. 2

The day of the feast came. There were tables spread throughout the Kingschurch Banquet Hall; they seemed to go on for miles. Every kind of food one could want was laid out in abundance: the finest wine, the freshest fruits, the most succulent meats and the pick of the garden.

A few of the wanderers came into the banquet hall. They did not see the ones who invited them to the feast. Instead, they saw some of the citizens standing in a group beside one of the tables. Those citizens glared at the wanderers with suspicion yet none dared say a word out loud.

After a while, the wanderers began to feel uncomfortable. No one had attempted to make them leave, yet no one had welcomed them either. One of the wanderers remarked, “If this is how the king teaches his subjects to treat others, I am sure I would never want to live here.”

After the feast, the wanders departed the banquet hall to go back to their camp. A few of the citizens had made a feeble attempt to greet the wanderers, but none dared to get to know them.

The next day, some of the citizens called a meeting. “Something has to be done about these wanderers,” said one of the leading town elders, “we can’t have them ruining our feasts. They are nothing but commoners!”

After a lengthy discussion, it was decided that a wall had to be built around the city. This wall would protect their fair city from the wanderers and other riff-raff and allow the people of Kingschurch to enjoy their peaceful refuge. It was to be constructed of the finest rock and mortar – nice and high.

Construction began immediately. But, there was anything but peace in Kingschurch. A dispute had broken out about what color the wall should be painted. Some wanted the wall to retain the natural stone color. Others wanted to paint it a bright, cheery yellow to match the banners of that city. There were a few who didn’t want the wall at all. But their concerns were dismissed by the majority of the citizens.

When the wall was completed, many of the citizens gathered together for a great wall dedication ceremony. The people had invited the king to attend, but he declined the invitation. The king had other plans – to travel to the city of Newchurch which had been started by some of the citizens of Kingschurch (the ones who didn’t want to build the wall).

The decision was made to dedicate the wall in honor of the leading elder who had suggested building the wall. After all, this man had supplied much of the stone and mortar to build the wall. A statue honoring the leading elder was unveiled that day and the citizens were filled with joy at seeing the new stone wall – painted a dull gray of course!

To be continued...

The Parable of Kingschurch - Pt. 1

The Parable of Kingschurch

Once upon a time there was a city named Kingschurch. Her gates were always open to travelers and her colorful banners were seen waving high above the spires of her buildings. Those banners waved in the breeze to all who passed by as if to invite them in to explore her goods. Her beauty and hospitality were well known throughout the land.

All who visited there were welcomed with great joy and invited to make their home there, that is, if the stranger had no home. Much laughter and joy could be heard in her streets. Cheerful music wafted through her corridors and good news was always the order of the day. Kingschurch was a place of refuge for citizen and stranger alike – everyone knew her as a place of peace.

The people would often brag about their city whenever they traveled away from her. For many of them labored outside her gates in the countryside. Those people were especially proud of their King – a benevolent sovereign who always put the best interests of the people first. They loved the king so much, that they told many strangers about his valiant deeds and invited them to come and meet him personally. His chamber was always open to receiving new people.

For many years, Kingschurch was a beacon on a hill. The people of that land looked to her with admiration and vowed to visit her one day. But the citizens of Kingschurch lost their sense of wonder about their king and their fair town. They began to take what they had for granted.

One day, a dispute broke out about a neighboring group of wanderers who had set up camp outside of Kingschurch. Some of the citizens began to complain about the personal appearance of these wanderers – they didn’t wear the bright colorful uniforms that those citizens were so accustomed to wearing. “They wear the clothes of the commoners,” one man complained. “Yes, and they are dirty too,” quipped another lady.

No one was quite sure what to do about these wanderers. So they decided to visit the King regarding the matter. Some said they ought to welcome the new strangers and some said they ought to turn them away.

The king was quite intrigued by the citizen’s complaints. After listening to their concerns, he addressed the assembled crowd. “I am preparing a great feast,” proclaimed the king, “and I want everyone to come whether they are a citizen of Kingschurch or stranger. It will be a day of joy and celebration. So go to those wanderers and invite them to my banquet as well as any others you may see along the road.

The crowd filed out of the king’s chamber. Some were mumbling under their breath; others were apathetic about the king’s feast. However, a few were excited about inviting the wanderers to the celebration. Immediately, they left to visit the camp of the wanderers to tell them the good news.

To be Continued...

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Who is in Your Circle?

Who is in your circle?

I remember going to visit a couple once to share with them how they could be involved with supporting our evangelism ministry. They were faithful members of our church and upstanding people in the community.

As I was sitting in their living room, I asked the question, "What do you think keeps people from coming to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?"

The wife responded by saying that people were generally apathetic. As she continued to talk, she admitted that she really didn't know any lost people - that is people who have never trusted Christ as their personal savior. She said, "when I was working, I was around them all the time. Now I am around church people. in fact, I don't feel comfortable around lost people."

Here lies the problem with the average believer: they only know churched people. Modern Christians have no close personal relationships with lost people.

We have insulated ourselves in a cocoon of casual Christianity and therefore isolated ourselves from the lost world.

We must begin to build relationships with people around us in order to win them to Christ, build them in faith and send them back into the world to influence others.

Start by looking at the people that God has placed in your circle. They could be family, friends, co-workers or casual acquaintances. Ask God to give you ways to begin building friendships with them and use those friendships to share the good news. You won't regret it...

3 Commandments of Friendfluence - Pt. 3

“I've become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life.” 1 Corinthians 9:22 The Message*

In my previous post, I talked about what it means to “see” people. That is, to acknowledge their existence, to enter into their world and understand them. In this post, I want to talk about sharing the good news with them.

Ultimately, Paul was concerned with sharing the message of Jesus Christ with everyone. By serving them and seeing them as people, he had earned the right to be heard. We are living in a day when people will listen to you if you earn the right from them to be heard. That means treating them with respect; not treating them as another notch in your evangelism belt.

In an article written by Dr. Thom Rainer entitled Ten Surprises About the Unchurched, Dr. Rainer talks about the importance of relationships in sharing the gospel. A team was commissioned by Dr. Rainer to research the attitudes of unchurched people – i.e. those that did not maintain an ongoing relationship with any local church. One of his researchers wrote the following in a memo to Dr. Rainer:

Most of the unchurched that the team is interviewing would respond positively to a 'genuine' Christian who would spend time with them in a gentle, non-judgmental relationship…

I realize that I have just made a whole bunch of people practice confrontational evangelism madder than a wet hornet. First of all, I am not against confrontational evangelism. In fact, I often practice it. I preach evangelistic crusades, I share with people one-on-one, I give out bible tracts and everything else you can imagine to reach people with the gospel. So hold the angry e-mails.

I just know that most people come to faith in Christ as a result of the influence of their family members or friends. (Hence the term FriendFluence.) In fact, a survey quoted by Elmer Towns in Church Growth, State of the Art stated that 86% of the people who came to faith in Christ did so due to the influence of friends or relatives…


By Advertisement 2%
By the Pastor 6%
By Organized Evangelistic Outreach 6%
By Friends and Relatives 86%
From: Church Growth, State of the Art

However, there is a very real danger that we will focus on building the relationship with the person, and never getting around to sharing the good news. We must never forget that our task is to bring others into a personal relationship with Jesus. We cannot automatically assume that they are going to see how we live and be attracted to Jesus. Beside all that, I don’t ever recall seeing a believer who lived such a holy life that people fell at their feet begging to come to Jesus.

Paul made sure that the people he encountered heard a clear presentation of the gospel. In fact he said, “woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor. 9:16 HCSB) I believe that everyone deserves to hear a clear presentation of God’s message of salvation alone through Jesus Christ. As we build our relationships with people, we must ask God to give us opportunities to share the good news with our friends. It is not our job to save them – we cannot; it is our job to share with them.

Who in your circle of influence have you shared the good news with?

*I used the Message paraphrase due to the clarity of the passage.

Monday, March 5, 2007

3 Commandments of FriendFluence - Pt. 2

In the previous post, I talked about the importance of serving others in order to build a bridge for sharing the gospel. In this post, I want to talk about what it means to “see” people.

In 1 Corinthians 9:19-22 Paul wrote: “…I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized--whoever. I didn't take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ--but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view…” (1 Cor. 9:19-22 The Message*)

Paul had empathy for people. He saw them first and foremost as sinners in need of a savior. Yet he also recognized the fact that every person was an individual with differing perspectives, lifestyles and experiences. He thought of them first and how he might enter into their world in order to reach them with the gospel.

Recently I was in a conference for evangelists in Portland, OR where Donald Miller was speaking. I know some people get their pants in a bunch about Donald -- one of my friends thinks he ought to be roasted at the stake like a heretic of old -- but I really believe he has something to say to us about reaching this generation if we will stop stereotyping him.

He talked about the going into a local convenience store one day to buy something – for the life of me, I don’t remember what. He began to talk to the man behind the counter who was from another country – or rather; he begins listening to this man pour out his life story. When he paused to hear this guy, he came to the startling revelation that “other people exist.”

Don’t tune out yet…Donald explained that so many times we view life as a movie about us. Our eyes are the camera, our ears, the microphones. We are the stars. Everybody else is the supporting cast. Pathetic!

Paul was saying that life was not about him, but it was about other people and getting them to Jesus at all costs. Religious people, irreligious people…Moral and Immoral…The defeated and demoralized…they all need Jesus.

The world hasn’t changed much in two thousand years. People still need Jesus. The key for us is to really see them with the eyes of Christ. God knows, I don’t always like the way they look or how they live. But, I must love them because Jesus loves me and he loves them too.

I walked into a local coffee shop the other day. The guy behind the counter had lots of body piercing including those big round quarter sized hoops inserted into both of his earlobes. They reminded me of the pictures of natives I saw in National Geographic Magazines as a child. I am almost sure he had lots of dark tattoos to go along with his fancy ear wear.

In an instant of seeing him, I could already feel my holier-than-thou conservative suit-wearing Baptistness creeping up to judge him. I felt equally repulsed by the teenage kids who came in the shop and plopped down in the chairs in front of me spewing out the f-words and so forth. Jesus had to do a little work on my heart right then; He reminded me that He died for them too. Ouch!

Jesus met people where they were. He was a friend to tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers, the unclean and the unwanted. He didn’t take on their way of life by any stretch of the imagination. He did however take their sin in his own body on the tree. He didn’t meet them in church either. He met them in the day to day places of life.

In the book, Why Christians Sin by J.K. Johnston we read that “Christ met unbelievers where they were. He realized what many Christians today still don't seem to understand. Cultivators have to get out in the field. According to one count, the gospels record 132 contacts that Jesus had with people. Six were in the Temple, four in the synagogues and 122 were out with the people in the mainstream of life.” (J.K. Johnston, Why Christians Sin, Discovery House, 1992, p. 142.)

Do you see people when you walk around your little world? Or, are you the star of the show?

*I chose to use the Message paraphrase instead of a traditional translation because of the clarity of this passage.

3 Commandments of FriendFluence - Pt. 1

In 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 Paul writes what some have called the "evangelist's manifesto" It reads like this:

"Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized--whoever. I didn't take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ--but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I've become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn't just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!" 1 Cor. 9:19-23 - The Message*

This passage reveals the heart of Paul and his way of approaching the task of evangelism - or sharing the good news with people. He was passionate about telling others the good news and went to any length to introduce people to Jesus Christ.

As we look at this passage, I believe there are three very important things we can learn from Paul when it comes to influencing people for Christ. 1) We must SERVE people 2) We must "SEE" people and 3) we must SHARE with people in order to influence them toward faith in Jesus Christ. Keep in mind, this influence is not a mere human act leading to their salvation but rather, through the work of the Holy Spirit, a supernatural influence in partnership with God, the author of salvation.

In this post, I will focus on what it means to serve people and how important that is in leading others to faith in Jesus.

To serve others is to put their needs and interests before your own. It doesn't mean that you think any less of yourself by doing so; it means that you simply don't think of yourself at all. Paul said he voluntarily became a servant to everyone so he might lead them to faith in Christ.

This statement reveals an attitude of humility which is often not found in the hearts of many modern Christians. So many people want to be served - have their own needs met - instead of serving others. I have often heard people say, "I didn't get anything out of that sermon." They complain if the pastor or one of the church staff members fails to meet their expectations. They see themselves as the ones to be ministered to, rather than the ones to do the ministry. This is an attitude that is inherited from our culture and not from Christ our example.

A genuine demonstration of servanthood speaks volumes to our self-centered culture. First of all, it is so rare to see someone with a servant spirit, that it is novel and thus attractive. Second, people have so many needs - most of which are ultimately spiritual - that are unmet by the drivel offered by the world. Meeting these needs can be a bridge to sharing Jesus with people.

The question we must ask is "are we serving others?" What are we doing to meet the felt or perceived needs of the people in our circle of influence? God has entrusted us to share the gospel with them. Serving others leads to saving them.

For the believer, a servant attitude is something that has to be developed. Here is an acronym that describes what it means to serve.

S - Self must decrease
E - Elevate others
R - Resist pride
V - Value people
E - Enter into the lives of others

A missionary was conversing with a native one time. This native said, "you built a bridge of love between my heart and your heart and Jesus walked over." What a powerful statement! This missionary served the needs of the native and the result was salvation.

In way of application, what do you need to do to develop this essential servant attitude? What must change in order to make that happen? What are some of the ways you can serve the people in your circle of influence?

In my next post, we will talk about seeing people...

*I chose to use the Message paraphrase instead of a traditional translation because of the clarity of this passage.

Building Friendships for Eternity

FriendFluence: actively pursuing relationships with people in order to win them to Christ, build them in faith and send them back into the world to influence others.

One of the most distressing things I have seen in modern Christianity - at least in the western world - is our apathy toward sharing the greatest message of all - the good news of Jesus Christ. Jesus said in the gospel of John that He "came so that people might have life and have it in abundance."

According to the teaching of the Bible, Jesus died on the cross, was buried, rose from the dead on the third day and ascended to the father in heaven so that the sins of the world could be forgiven. By faith, anyone who turns from their sins (repents) and believes in Him can find that abundant life which is for now and forever more. In my book, that qualifies as good - no...GREAT news!

Yet, I am baffled when I meet Christians who say that they have met Jesus, yet have no desire to see other people experience the joy of knowing Jesus personally. Could it be as Billy Graham once said: "the greatest hindrance to evangelism today is the poverty of our own experience." In other words, Christians don't tell others about Jesus because they never met Him in the first place. God forbid...

FriendFluence is about teaching believers to look for ways to build relationships with people who have never met Jesus Christ in order to introduce them to Him, build them in their faith, and teach them to influence others in the same way.

This Blog is dedicated to the development and teaching of a Bible based curriculum called FriendFluence which was created by Evangelist Darrel Davis of Foundation Ministries. The goal of this curriculum is to change the mindset of believers when it comes to spreading the message of Jesus Christ and equip them to take an active role in reaching people.

I welcome your constructive input through comments and suggestions. Keep checking back for more posts and updates on the development of this curriculum. My desire is to equip Christians to build Friendships for eternity.