To fulfill the Great Commission, lives must change

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GRAPEVINE – In order to fulfill the Great Commission, Christians must live their lives differently, according to featured Radical Engage speakers.

New programs and ministries are good, said Bob Roberts, pastor of NorthWood Church in Keller, but they don’t necessarily encourage people to share their faith. A person’s willingness to share his or her faith is a result of a strong relationship with Christ, not outside influences.

Christians must be committed to following Christ and filled with God working in their lives, Roberts continued. When that happens, evangelism and the making of disciples will become natural and regular activities. 

God called His followers to live with “abandon,” blessing others to the best of their abilities, Roberts said.

“We don’t need a new way to share our faith,” he said. “We need a new way of living life.”

Steve Stroope, lead pastor of LakePointe Church in Rockwall, said a commitment to Christ frees people to use their gifts to share the gospel. They begin to understand there are multiple ways people share their faith, and all of them are valid ways to expand God’s kingdom. Then people are empowered to do just that.

“If we are going to win the entire world, we have to set the whole church free to share their faith,” he said.

Set free, Christians will talk about God and his actions in routine conversations, Stroope said. Some of those dialogues will have eternal impacts.

“Witnessing is more in a sentence than a paragraph,” he said.

If Christians continue to live life as they are, Roberts believes they will continue failing to reach the non-believers around them.

“There are people in your life that you see every day,” Roberts said. “And you’re not touching them.”

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One Response to “To fulfill the Great Commission, lives must change”

  1. David Troublefield Says:

    RELATED—EXCERPTS FROM BGCT EVANGELISM ARTICLE (written in Summer 2008):

    “. . . It’s the summer of 2008 and America’s drivers are suffering from gas pump sticker shock. Texans, though, plan lots of things to do and decorating their driveways with their parked pickup trucks isn’t on the list. Drivers in the Lone Star State want to go places, and they’re serious about getting there in F-150’s and Chevy Suburbans. Texans won’t like it, but they’ll pay $4.00 or more per gasoline gallon because it takes fuel to motor down the roads where they want to go.

    Churches need fuel to go places, too. Christian ministries and programs whose designs should have affected whole towns never pulled away from the curb, for a lack of that fuel. To use cell groups evangelistically, first fill them up.

    Fuel for the Long-Haul: Position and Passion before Vision and Mission

    Anything Jesus Christ desires for Himself as Lord of the universe is what all Christians everywhere also want for Him—how could any real ones not? There’s no good thing that a conscientious believer won’t now do for his Lord, Jesus! The fuel of churches’ evangelism ministries for the long-haul is what Christians realize gratefully about their present spiritual positions before God (rescued, from the well-deserved eternal penalty due for all their sins—and standing forgiven, in His righteousness) and the sincere passion believers have for the One who permanently changed their forevers. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself has become believers’ Passion.

    ‘One Big Zero’ describes the former life of each person truly born-again. The New Testament admonishes Christians to ‘remember . . . you were without the Messiah, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, with no hope and without God in the world’ and ‘dead in your trespasses and sins’ (Ephesians 2:1 and 11-12, HCSB). With no exceptions, each Christian really is radically redeemed, having been ‘rescued . . . from the domain of darkness and transferred . . . into the kingdom of the Son’ (Colossians 1:13). On the outside looking in—that had been the apostle Paul’s spiritual position, too, before encountering the risen Lord Jesus on the Damascus Road. After that meeting and for the rest of his life, the testimony of Paul—and each member of the church-starting team with which he traveled the Roman Empire’s cobblestone highways—was, ‘the love of Christ compels us’ (2 Corinthians 5:14). That personal love-relationship with the Rescuer, the Transferor, the Forgiver and Savior—it propelled Paul and his mission team constantly forward through Asia and into Europe with the good news about life in Jesus despite the hunger and homelessness and cussings and garbage-like treatment those men endured (1 Corinthians 4:9-13). Paul didn’t stop his evangelism efforts; it’s reported that he was stopped by an executioner’s axe—a sobering contrast to the confessions of many in 2008 to be Christians but holding so little appreciation for Jesus—Himself hammered onto a cruel cross in their places and for them—that they fail to attend Bible study weekly or even to arrive on time when they go.

    Vocational ministers may cast vision for their congregations’ cell groups, and they might teach cell group leaders the details of their mission statement. But, for the sake of souls, cell groups must be evangelistic for the long-haul; vision and mission act as those groups’ GPS, but position and passion are their required fuel. Organize evangelistic cell groups whose members will act on their vivid salvation-testimony memories and the fact that Jesus Christ paid the price for the spiritual standing they enjoy now. Christ Himself urged believers, ‘Remember therefore what you have received and . . . keep it’ (Revelation 3:3). Always keep a tank-full of it!

    Catalytic Fuel: Senior Pastors Leading Enthusiastically

    A barber decided to bless a few others of his town’s hard-working folk—the police chief, a local florist, and the pastor of First Church—by giving them free haircuts. Early on the morning following the free haircuts, the barber found at his shop’s door a dozen glazed donuts, a dozen red roses, and a dozen other church pastors!

    It isn’t only pastors who listen to other senior pastors; it’s their churches’ members, too. Christian congregations love and appreciate all their professional staff, but they follow their senior pastors (just ask the associate ministers). Research shows that, among congregations using staffing schemes including the position of senior pastor, effective ministries which also become sustained ones are those for which the senior pastor serves continually as head cheerleader. Those ministries might be developed by other staffers, and the planning model of those ministries must permit them to be perpetuated, but it’s the senior pastor who consistently gets the platform, hallway, and sidewalk opportunities to communicate urgently the need for congregants of all ages to participate in church-life at times and in ways which are fitting for those claiming to be the redeemed in Christ. It’s true that senior pastors’ plates are full with activities representing their biblical responsibilities for preaching, leading, and pastoral care (cf. 1 Peter 5:2-3). Yet, the public challenge senior pastors can hold out on Sundays and the personal examples they can show on Mondays definitely will help to wind-up fellow members who, by Divine design, tend to wind down physically and emotionally every so-many hours each day.

    The ministry of the average Christian cell group in the U.S. today will require many starts and re-starts in order to be characterized as evangelistic. The frequent, sincere, and excited ‘’At-a-boy!’ and ‘Brothers, do not grow weary in doing good’ (2 Thessalonians 3:13) from their senior pastors will serve to ignite and reinvigorate those groups’ witnessing efforts on behalf of Jesus. Texas’ senior pastors: start those engines by leading the people with Heaven-bound enthusiasm. It’s contagious!

    . . . In the end, cell groups represent the larger body and exist, not for themselves alone, but to help ensure their congregation’s future as a useful harvest tool in God’s hand. So, implement cell groups which would be evangelistic with the following body-building list in mind.

    1. God’s will is for the growth of churches (cf. Matthew 16:18). To be one of a local Christian church’s cell groups, making plans to raise participants’ maturity level through Bible study or to aid in their recovery from dysfunctional behaviors, but developing no strategies to assist in the biblical growth of the body through on-going evangelistic outreach is not to understand accurately the concept of cell or body, or the purpose of cell groups. Teach every congregant what God means by the word church; train workers to maintain appropriate respect for the church body, and guide them to discover concrete ways for supporting the body by witnessing or assimilating efforts of the group.

    2. Principles of biblical church growth apply to all congregations in all places, at all times (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:1-7). The conclusions of research conducted by Natural Church Development International suggest that, everywhere they’re found and without exception, churches growing possess certain characteristics to specific quality degrees or higher (‘small groups which are holistic relevantly’ is a characteristic of growing congregations worldwide). Many of the churches holding those attributes, and all of this planet’s largest Christian bodies, now are located outside of the prosperous United States—some even existing in the midst of conditions which would seem to prevent those churches’ continued increase. God grows the local church (1 Corinthians 3:6-7), and He can grow any church which will grow. Believe that church growth is possible and that God will do it through the cell groups which may serve, for newcomers to the faith, as front doors of the body which the groups represent. Learn and practice the principles which apply to evangelistic cell groups.

    3. Biblical growth is symptomatic of a healthy church (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10). The pattern observed in God’s creation is that living organisms—including social organisms such as families and churches—naturally experience a process of growth when the systems of which they’re composed aren’t dysfunctional or diseased. If they’re designed for it and possess at least a minimum degree of health, the organisms also can reproduce. The growth and reproduction of healthy churches should be virtually automatic—when neither is so, there’s reason for serious concern. Check for the following symptoms of health and of disease, acting through the cell groups either to manage health or to cure disease: (1) baptisms: 6+ per 100 members points to health—but, 5 or fewer per 100 members means illness; (2) finances: 33% of participants giving 66% of the money points to health—but, 25% or less giving 75% or more means illness; (3) average member tenure in the church: 0-9 years points to health—but, 10+ years means illness; (4) small group membership: a net annual gain points to health—but, breaking-even or a net annual loss means illness.

    4. Identifying and overcoming hindrances to the growth of churches is possible (cf. Revelation 2-3). It’s reported that Chicken Little thought the sky was falling and that he acted as if nothing could be done to stop it. Similarly, some declining churches in 2008—if they aren’t altogether ignoring their sad condition—also may have concluded they’re doomed. Though more than 2500 U.S. congregations go out of business annually, a turn-around is possible for most of them before their sanctuaries go into mothballs. It’s the effective leaders of all kinds of organizations who can diagnosis accurately and discuss honestly the needs of their groups—be one of those leaders. Often, small groups are the best things going in a strife-torn church. Where it’s so, celebrate it and keep inviting the neighborhood to experience the holistic ministries of those groups while working to resolve conflicts in the larger group.

    5. Growth of churches requires adequate prayerful planning (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5). The sustained growth of Christian congregations is a spiritual happening—and it’s an administrative thing. Spiritualistic believers (whose maturity level appears high but proves low upon examination) down-play requirements for management of church growth; technocrats focus on planning for growth to the exclusion of the Spirit. Scriptures tell the church, though, that its spiritual and numerical growth result from the activity of God in individual and corporate lives—that He acts through the witness of Christians to produce other Christians and the work of churches to establish more churches in the world. Cell groups can network with cell groups literally to pray down upon their towns and friends the revival or spiritual awakening productive of growth, and they should hold each other accountable always to be Great Co-missionaries.

    6. The dynamic for growth of God’s church is the Holy Spirit (cf. Ephesians 2:16-22). The Holy Spirit was biblical for a long time before He became Charismatic or Pentecostal or anything else which might be the reason Baptist Christians avoid Him. Without the Comforter’s ability to make lost folks horribly uncomfortable in their hearts about their sins and dark destinies, no church since the Cross ever would have existed. On Texas Baptists’ best ministry day, the credit for souls saved and lives changed still will go to the Holy Spirit. It will not be by strength, it will not be by might; it will be by His Spirit, says the Lord (Zechariah 4:6)—or churches and their cell groups in Texas just won’t be. Tell Christian cell groups which would become evangelistic, ‘Pardners, the Holy Spirit is your Partner.’

    7. Leadership is the key to church growth (cf. 1 Peter 5:1-4). The condition of Christendom in the U.S. cries today for effective leadership. Leaders see a preferred future and show the way; they plan remediation which will overcome deficits preventing progress; they organize work and workers; they share authority and responsibility; they create teams and guide them from adolescence to learning, to achieving exceptionally. Effective leaders, like Jesus, shed their own blood, sweat, and tears for the good of the whole. If lead, follow, and get out of the way are the options in 2008, Texas Baptists must choose to lead. Cultivate leadership qualities among cell groups’ members so that the millions of Lone Star State residents without Him can know the Leader of leaders, Jesus Christ the Lord.

    8. When the biblical growth of a local church is sustained, it’s via that congregation’s evangelistic small groups maintaining a balance in relevantly living out the functions of the New Testament church in their communities (cf. Acts 2:41-47). It’s predictable.”

    (jon.randles@bgct.org for entire article)

    David Troublefield
    Minister of Education
    Lamar Baptist Church
    Wichita Falls, TX
    david@lbcwf.org

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