Month: September 2016

Feed the sheep

Jimmy Draper’s Don’t Quit Until You Finish is a rich resource on pastoral ministry. The book’s theme seems to be that we should love the people God has entrusted to us. Jimmy Draper has modeled that priority through his years as pastor and Baptist statesman. You can see that genuine love in a pastor who has it, and you miss it in a pastor who doesn’t. It is the bottom line in pastoral ministry. People forgive someone who is diligent but not naturally gifted in preaching, as long as he loves his flock. The two or three men in my life I consider to be my “pastors,” though they live in various states, are not so because they are excellent preachers but because they listen, they love, they expend themselves for others, they keep confidences—they are pastoral. 

The word “pastor” is a term related to the work of a shepherd. A “pastoral” scene is a rural one, perhaps a pasture. We have three churches in Texas called Iglesia Bautista El Buen Pastor (“Good Shepherd Baptist Church”), or some version of that. When Jesus restored Peter in John 21, he told Peter to feed his lambs, in response to the love Peter professed for the Good Shepherd. So I’m not particularly taken with the scholarly pastor who only, or prefers to only, fill the pulpit and study the deep things of God. It’s hard to be a good preacher or a pastoral leader if you don’t actually love the sheep enough to embroil yourself in messy lives that take away the time you’d otherwise spend on “more important” or “strategic” matters.

It is true that “pastor” is only one word used to describe the role of a church’s undershepherd. He is also the overseer (bishop) of the church, and sometimes called an “elder.” I recognize that there is significant overlap in these three titles; that’s one reason I believe they all three describe one who is simply the pastor. The role of the shepherd is indispensable, and perhaps the most difficult role for most of us to do well. 

There is a servant aspect—meekness and humility—that, while necessary in the life of a faithful bishop and effective elder, shines paramount in the shepherd as he visits and counsels and comforts and disciples and teaches the flock entrusted to him. Some roles of the pastor can be done pretty well without that servant spirit, shepherding will not be done at all without it. 

We know examples of men in large churches and small churches who are exemplars of pastoral ministry. You can tell what kind of pastor a man is by only a little association with him. Some pastors you’ve never heard of do a great job at pastoring their flocks in out of the way places. Although the CEO pastor seems to work best in the suburbs, the true pastor is at home in all places—anyplace where there are people of God really.    

W.A. Criswell, in his Guidebook for Pastors, explains that the other things a pastor does are enabled by his daily service to his people, his relationships with them. He says, “When the pastor has established personal religious relations with his hearers, to them, even the simplest sermons are clothed with sacred power.” 

The significance of this ministry seems a pretty good argument for pastoral internships. Forming “religious relations” with people is not so simple as being nice or having a gift of gab. Experienced pastors emphasize that pastoral contacts (including I suppose, email and phone calls) should have a spiritual focus. I remember being an associate pastor right out of seminary. My pastor told me where my office was located and that I shouldn’t do anything troublesome to the church. That was it. My first year of hospital visitation was a mess. I had no seminary preparation and no training in hospital visitation, so I learned it by trial and error. I visited rooms and homes with no clear idea of what I would say, or not say, except that I would pray with the people. Some of those visits were a waste. Later, I understood that I wasn’t anyone’s buddy showing up before or after a surgery, or in a bereaved home, or in the home of a discouraged church member. It was obvious to everyone else why I was there, so it was important that I was ready to be pastoral. Training and coaching could have been a head start on experience in my pastoral ministry. 

The bottom line is that we must do it. If we love people, we must do more than offer platitudes when we happen to see them in the hall. Pastoral ministry goes to find the lost or injured sheep entrusted to us by the Good Shepherd. That trust makes it a high priority indeed.   

Pastors play critical role as first-responders in counseling members

JACKSONVILLE For Mike Smith, a pastor’s counseling ministry is like the work of an emergency room doctor. 

“When someone comes to you, usually it’s an emergency,” says Smith, who serves as the president of Jacksonville College in Jacksonville, Texas. “You then can refer them to the specialist. I tell people, ‘I’m here to listen to you. I’m going to pray for you, but it may be that when you share with me I’m going to have to refer you to someone else.’”

Smith’s advice comes as more attention is being placed on the counseling ministry of local church pastors. Several high-profile pastors, whose children committed suicide after struggling with mental illness, have initiated a national conversation on the topic. 

After a 2013 Southern Baptist Convention resolution urging churches to demonstrate compassion for those with mental illness, SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page established a voluntary advisory council on ways to communicate better with Southern Baptists about mental health ministry needs. Page’s daughter, Melissa, ended her life at age 32. For the past two years, Saddleback Church has sponsored a mental health conference for church leaders after the son of its pastor, Rick Warren, committed suicide.

Smith encourages pastors to have basic preparation for counseling needs, such as pre-marital counseling, hospital chaplaincy and basic introductory counseling courses. This preparation will help pastors identify issues and determine if they can handle them or need to refer them to a professional counselor. 

“(Pastors) are wanting to meet the needs of the people and give help,” says Smith, who has served as a local church pastor, a director of missions and on the staff of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. “That’s good and admirable, but they need to understand their limitations. I think sometimes they tend to deal with areas they are not really equipped for.”

Katherine Pang, a licensed psychologist and the director of the graduate counseling program at Criswell College, recommends pastors develop a strong referral list of counselors to whom they can send members. She suggests starting with people they know and entities they respect. She points out that schools like Criswell College can help identify biblical counselors who can help. She also recommends talking to deacons and other leaders in the church to see what experiences they’ve had with counselors in the area. She urges pastors to look at a counselor’s background before referring to them. 

Pang acknowledged that many pastors struggle with referring church members to counselors because they fear counselors might mess up their theology: “There are people who are grounded in the truth of God’s Word, and they are uniquely qualified to bring together both the truth of God’s Word with counseling theory and technique, which are important in helping people move through these issues, to be able to be where God would have them to be.”

Frank Catanzaro, chair of biblical counseling at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, says the most important part of preparing pastors for a counseling ministry is helping them develop strong biblical knowledge. He compared counseling to discipleship, where pastors use Scripture to help people see where they need to make a change in their life.

“I teach my students to listen, primarily, for unbiblical thinking and then to counter it with biblical truth,” Catanzaro says. “Whether you’re actually sick or not, I can’t deal with that because I’m not a medical professional. If you’re not thinking biblically, I can do something about that.”

Another lesson Catanzaro teaches prospective pastors is to not be intimidated by people who come to them with a psychological diagnosis. 

“When someone comes for help who has already received a diagnosis, it is not my job to evaluate the validity of that diagnosis but to listen for unbiblical thinking and counter with biblical truth,” Catanzaro says. “It has been my experience, that when people think biblically, joy replaces brokenness, even in that face of a trial.” 

Resources available for Oct. 9 Global Hunger Sunday

Global Hunger Relief (GHR) is sponsoring its annual Global Hunger Sunday on Oct. 9 to combat world hunger. Of the 7 billion people in the world, 800 million suffer from hunger. Global Hunger Sunday raises awareness of the high numbers of those in need.

Global Hunger Sunday is a call to action for Southern Baptists. GHR is a joint initiative of Southern Baptist entities such as Baptist Global Response, the SBC Executive Committee, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the International Mission Board, LifeWay Christian Resources, North American Mission Board and Women’s Missionary.

“GHR-funded projects combat hunger in North America and around the world in a wide variety of ways, from participating in disaster relief to addressing chronic hunger, from eliminating urban food deserts to helping women rescued from sex trafficking—and much more.””

GHR provides to local churches resources for Global Hunger Sunday, such as a poster, slideshow, promotional video, three versions of a bulletin insert and three hunger-related sermon outlines.

GHR uses 100 percent of funds donated to address global hunger needs directly. GHR seeks to prepare and educate church leaders to effectively address global hunger. According to its website, “GHR-funded projects combat hunger in North America and around the world in a wide variety of ways, from participating in disaster relief to addressing chronic hunger, from eliminating urban food deserts to helping women rescued from sex trafficking—and much more.”

For resources and additional information, go to

Department of Education Grants Title IX Exemptions for Criswell College

DALLAS— Criswell College received notification from the U.S. Department of Education last week that the school’s Title IX exemption request had been granted. Submitted in September of 2015, the request exempts the college from certain elements of Title IX, the civil rights law prohibiting sex-based discrimination in schools that receive federal funding.

Criswell is one of many evangelical schools that has sought exemption in light of the Obama administration’s 2014 reinterpretation of Title IX to include gender identity and sexual orientation.

According to Criswell College President Barry Creamer, the government has put undue burden on colleges to seek exemption from a law that should not conflict with religious freedom.

“The government violates constitutionally protected religious liberties when it attempts to prevent a student from receiving federal funds to attend an institution in keeping with his or her religious beliefs,” Creamer said.

Just one day after being notified of the exemption by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights released a report that seemed to condemn schools requesting such exemption on the grounds of religious liberty.

“The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance,” said Martin Castro, who was named chairman of the USCCR during President Obama’s first term.

“Our application for a Title IX exemption stems from the belief that every student should possess the freedom to attend a college that represents his or her views, including a traditional view of marriage and sexual orientation,” Creamer added.

Founded in 1970 by then-pastor of First Baptist Church Dallas W.A. Criswell, the college’s mission statement says that the school must maintain “an institutional commitment to biblical inerrancy.” The college’s Articles of Faith are based on the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, which defines marriage as “the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime” and the exclusive “channel of sexual expression according to biblical standards.”

The granting of the college’s exemption request comes on the heels of publicity surrounding a “Shame List” issued by Campus Pride, an LGBTQ advocacy group. Along with eight other Texas schools, Criswell’s inclusion on the list was tied to the school’s request for Title IX exemptions.

Creamer indicated there was no embarrassment on the school’s part from inclusion on such a list.

“We have always been open regarding our views on marriage and gender and feel no shame in an organization publicizing these beliefs,” he said. “We accept that some will never respect these views, but we desire the freedom to hold them in the same way we want to respect and protect the freedom of others to disagree with us.”

While the exemptions allow the school to make distinctions in areas such as admissions, financial aid and hiring, the president unequivocally condemned bigotry and hatred toward members of the LGBTQ community.

“While we are bound by conviction on these matters, active discrimination, violence, and bullying against members of the LGBTQ community are clear violations of the Christian mandate to love one’s neighbor and have no place in the life of a Christian individual or institution.”

In 2015 Criswell partnered with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention to create the Religious Liberty Endowment, which will ultimately eliminate student dependence on federal aid and render the recent exemptions unnecessary. The administration expressed gratitude for the ability to continue operating according to biblical principles in the meantime.

LifeWay trustees approve $501 million budget, hear reports of growth in resources division

RIDGECREST, N.C.—One hundred and twenty-five years after Southern Baptists gave J. M. Frost the approval he needed to begin publishing Sunday School literature, LifeWay Christian Resources President Thom Rainer paid tribute to the entrepreneurial spirit and godly persistence of the man he considers one of his heroes of the faith.

“He knew the Baptist Sunday School Board had failed three times previously, but he persisted,” Rainer told trustees meeting at Ridgecrest (N.C.) Conference Center Aug. 28-30, recalling that the convention gave Frost no money, no office and no assistance.

“So much of what is happening at LifeWay today has the imprint of J.M. Frost. We exist for the bride of Christ, the church,” Rainer said.

After hearing reports from vice presidents in charge of insights, organizational development, finance, retail stores, technology and resources, trustees approved a nearly one percent increase over the current year to set the total budget for 2017 at $501.3 million.

LifeWay is projecting almost $10 million in revenue growth from the resources division this year, continuing to see a turnaround in the sale of ongoing curriculum after earlier years of decline. The successful release of “War Room” by LifeWay Films and related resources contributed to the banner year.

Eric Geiger, vice president for the resources division, offered an overview of new releases with either the LifeWay or B&H imprint, including “Journey,” a four-volume discipleship curriculum “mapping out what a disciple’s path would look like.”

Trustees learned that LifeWay Christian Stores are undergoing a redesign with an interactive area for children and more specific categorization of adult books. “The majority of people are not actually coming in for a specific book, explained Cossy Pachares, vice president over the retail division. “They have a life issue and are looking for a book to address that.

By reflowing books to match issues such as grief, depression, marriage and finances, Pachares said, “We found the very best, biblically solid resources that address life issues. You don’t want to trust yourself to what an Amazon review says. When we found gaps, we worked with B&H and other publishers to make sure we are impacting lives.”

In leading the 5,000 employees serving at the corporate offices in Nashville, the center in Lebanon, Tenn., the conference center in North Carolina, and retail locations across the United States, Rainer said he returns to Psalm 147:10-11 to remember that God is not impressed by buildings or budgets, but by “those who fear him” and “those who put their hope in his faithful love.”

He announced the addition of Connia Nelson as the new director of human resources, bringing years of experience with Verizon Communications where she served as senior vice president in the same capacity with 175,000 employees. “This is another example of how God is working in an incredible way,” Rainer said.

All six Texans who serve as LifeWay trustees were present for the meeting, including Ken Carter of Lubbock, Brice Mandaville of Seguin, Brad McLean of New Braunfels, Bob Pearle of Fort Worth, Michael Stevens of Austin and Roger Yancey of Conroe.

A Voter”s Self Interest

Every election, not just this one, I’m frustrated by candidates who speak to me as if I should sit down with a calculator and figure out which (promised) policies will result in a financial benefit to me and then vote accordingly. A version of this is a voter who believes that his particular union, vocation or hobby will be favored by a candidate or party and must vote his tribe rather than any convictions he might have lying around.

Frankly, this is the mindset behind the lamentable entrance of business lobbies like the Texas Association of Business into debates on moral, social and philosophically foundational issues in our nation. They have a commendable profit motive but a very non-commendable pragmatic approach that subjugates all things to their best guess on profit. This devilish calculus assumes that our communities are simply collections of consumers and vendors. We are not any simplistic thing. We are not voting blocs or demographic groups or socio-economic clusters or ethno-linguistic groups. We are free and morally responsible citizens of our nation and communities who hold the institutions and liberties of our communities in trust. That implies so much more than personal enrichment or empowerment of a group of us.

And yet actual values voters are like space aliens to many of our leaders of both parties. It’s why classist appeals to revenge or restoration have become the mainstay of political speech, unless the speaker is talking to a primarily religious crowd. In that case, the emphasis moves to what the candidate has in common with what he or she believes to be the general convictions of the congregation/voters. In other words, our leaders are not so unaware that people who call themselves religious believe in something they consider more important that political power or profit.

Let’s face it friends. Hardee’s markets burgers using pretty girls because nearly everybody likes pretty girls. Political candidates market themselves on what they perceive to be our perceptions of self-interest because we care about that more than just about anything, other than maybe pretty girls. The whole “generally religious convictions” thing is really pretty shallow. They know it.

Instead, I believe a Christian’s (and I believe a good American citizen’s) priority pyramid has self interest at the bottom. “Is it godly, and thus right?” should be at the top. “Is it generally good for our neighbors?” and this second priority is also rarely a matter of economic progress alone, should also be higher than our own enrichment. But the priorities have mingled borders, don’t they? A moral stand—say, for the repeal of no-fault divorce—would be godly and would take a bite out of more social problems (including poverty) than nearly any single thing we could do. So is a Christian lawyer, who makes some of his income from helping marriages dissolve, but who votes for a candidate he believes will work for the repeal of no-fault divorce, a fool or a good citizen? Is he actually even voting against his self interest when lowering the rate of divorce and single motherhood could decrease poverty, dropout rates, prison populations—a broad selection of expensive social problems?

That’s why I’d describe myself as pretty sales resistant to people who see reality as merely “under the sun” to quote the Preacher of Ecclesiastes. They float policies that I consider dubious and incidental to the problems. They offer me and my family money or tax breaks or empowerment that they might not be able to deliver and that they certainly cannot guarantee are going to provide lasting benefit to me or mine. Everything I’m offered this year in the national election is pretty vaporous, except for the threats.

Are you an easy sell to a candidate? Are you undecided? The undecideds are portrayed as folks who pore over reams of campaign data trying to decide who’s best, like Las Vegas bookmakers. Or perhaps we are led to see them as people who have a shopping list and sit in front of the newspaper or TV or iPad and look for keywords until one candidate promises enough—that’s the vision I perceive from listening to political speech. But it’s not either scenario really. These folks (generally) are either totally careless about the election—not likely voters—or will decide in the voting booth based on almost nothing. A voter with convictions, either “me first and last” convictions or with a more highly developed moral compass, can see the difference between this candidate and that.

My adversaries in the debate are people who simply have different priorities. Those on the left who have never met an abortion they didn’t like are not a huge percentage. Those who elect our worst leaders on moral or philosophical issues like religious liberty do so without giving much thought to those issues. They vote based on a more “pragmatic” cause like jobs or wages, or they vote with their tribe or demographic. And for the most part, these voters, like me, unalterably made up their minds months ago.

If we, and the Democrat voters next door, and all my neighbors, think about what is basic to us, what we believe to be sure in life, before voting this year, this election would be a better reflection of who we are, for good or ill. Campaign promises of jobs and walls and chickens in every pot have become background noise. It troubles me that so many find it seductive.      

New collection provides access to primary sources from Conservative Resurgence

FORT WORTH A new collection in Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary library’s digital archive, titled “The Paige Patterson SBC Conservative Resurgence Collection,” allows users to see and interact with materials pertaining to Southwestern Seminary President Paige Patterson’s role in the Conservative Resurgence of the Southern Baptist Convention. Materials include letters, pamphlets and audio recordings of conference presentations and debates significant to this period of Southern Baptist history.

“Dr. Patterson is one of the persons most closely identified with the Conservative Resurgence,” says Dean of Libraries Craig Kubic. “His impact and his directing of the process is captured in this collection. One really cannot fathom the breadth and depth of the experience without reading his life history as it is reflected in these materials.”

The Conservative Resurgence was an effort spanning the 1970s-1990s in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) to take a strong stand for the inerrancy of the Bible as well as to ensure that this position would be propagated in the convention’s seminaries. Paige Patterson, then president of Criswell College, was one of the architects of this movement along with Houston Judge Paul Pressler.

The new collection in Southwestern’s digital archive contains materials tracing the history of this significant movement. One such item is a letter from Patterson to Adrian Rogers, dated June 15, 1976, encouraging him to accept the nomination as SBC president. Also significant is an audio recording of a 1980 debate between Patterson and well-known Texas Baptist Cecil Sherman on the topic of biblical inerrancy. These and other resources offer unique insight into this tumultuous period in the SBC. 

Southwestern archives awarded for preservation of Baptist history

FORT WORTH Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s J.T. and Zelma Luther Archives and Special Collections was recognized for its contribution to the preservation of Baptist history during an award ceremony, May 24, at Baylor University. The Association of Librarians and Archivists at Baptist Institutions alongside the Baptist History and Heritage Society awarded the Southwestern archives with the Davis C. Woolley Award for Outstanding Achievement in Assessing and Preserving Baptist History.

This award was established in 1991 in honor of Davis C. Woolley, the second executive secretary-treasurer of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Historical Commission. The annual award recognizes the creativity and excellence of an individual, institution or program’s work to preserve Baptist history.

“Receiving this award is a verification of the professional quality of service that the Southwestern J.T. and Zelma Luther Archives seeks to deliver,” Craig Kubic, dean of libraries at Southwestern, said. “Our professional archivists are passionate to pursue every opportunity to collect and preserve the dynamic history of our seminary and Southern Baptists in Texas. We are grateful for this achievement by our staff and the recognition it brings to the collection. The acknowledgement given by peers is the greatest mark of accomplishment.”

The seminary’s archives contain more than 500,000 historical artifacts concerning Southwestern as well as other notable Baptist documents. Recently added items include Adrian Rogers’ personal library and papers, a sermon collection of former Southwestern president Robert Naylor, and personal papers and artifacts of evangelist Rodney “Gipsy” Smith.

Jill Botticelli, archivist and special collections librarian, said the most substantial addition to the archives in 2015 was the collection of Rogers’ personal library and papers. This acquisition includes books, papers and personal artifacts donated by the family of Adrian Rogers, a three-time president of the Southern Baptist Convention who served as senior pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tenn., for more than 30 years. The collection is currently displayed in the entry of the archives and features a replica of Rogers’ home study and library. 

“This addition is significant because it serves as a visual representation of the SBC Conservative Resurgence Collection we are currently in the process of developing,” Botticelli explains.

In addition to the archives’ recent additions, they have coordinated with the digital resources department to improve free online access. Much of the archived materials are available to not only scholars and researchers but also the general public. Through the digital archives component of the library’s website, one can find resources and documents containing Baptist history and heritage unique to the Southwestern archives.

“Receiving this award shows that we are succeeding in our field and making contributions to our field and to the area of Baptist history,” Botticelli says. “We are proud of the amount of work we put into these projects.” 

Soccer tournament used to bridge gospel to Hindu community

DALLAS  During the first weekend in August, under the grueling Texas sun, hundreds of people from Hindu religious backgrounds gathered at a soccer field in Dallas, united by a common love for the game. But the event was not merely about playing soccer. 

Despite the heat, about 200 players participated in a two-day soccer tournament, organized by New Life Family Church (NLFC) in Dallas.

While walking through the neighborhoods of their North Dallas community, NLFC leaders noticed many Nepalese-speaking neighbors playing the game in parks, yards and streets. 

“I found soccer is a bridge to reach out to these wonderful people groups in the city here,” said one NLFC Leader. 

Dan Acharya, a missions strategies associate for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, and his wife lead a church for Hindu-background Christians in North Dallas, and together with their church leaders, they began organizing the annual soccer tournaments as a way to get to know more Hindu neighbors, in hopes of sharing the good news of Jesus with them.

“Every time I go out into the community, the elderly people and the young adults, the teenagers, the kids, always talk about playing soccer. I thought maybe I should start using this as an outreach event so people can come together and I can share the love of Christ with them,” Acharya said.

This tournament attracted players from across age groups and from cities across the Dallas area. While teams played, Acharya said he had the opportunity to talk with spectators, sharing the gospel with them and offering prayer. 

“Many times (Hindu people) don’t really feel comfortable coming to a church building, but if you go out and tell them in their context, in their interest, wherever they are, using soccer as a tool to gather them together, they are feeling so comfortable and they talk so openly,” he said. 

The tournament also created an opportunity for the Hindu community to see unity and selfless service displayed through the church. 

“Every individual, every NLFC leader came and joined and donated. It was very active involvement. The Hindu people saw that as a very good example of working together, working as one body. They really liked that because that doesn’t happen in the context where we are serving,” Acharya said. 

Through making connections at the soccer tournament and other outreach events, relationships begin to form.

“They really appreciated being invited. Then they invite us to come to their houses, and we talk more about why and how we do this, and what makes us do this. And I say, ‘This is all because of the love of Christ,’” Acharya said.

“We are very much well received by our community,” Acharya added. In addition to engaging in conversations about the gospel, several families who participated in the soccer tournament even visited his church the following Sunday. 

“Even though they are not accepting Christ yet, that’s the way they will. They will slowly begin to realize salvation belongs to Christ,” Acharya said.

As the Hindu community in Dallas continues to grow, Acharya hopes his church’s desire to see more of them follow Jesus also will grow, and they will be able to reach their neighbors with the good news of Jesus.

“Jesus commands us to go out and preach the gospel and bring people to Christ. … In the future, I want to see every one of them come to know the saving power of Jesus Christ, and be the one body of Christ,” he said. 

Acharya plans to continue using soccer as a way to achieve that goal among his Hindu neighbors and hopes to see the tournaments expand their reach. 

“I really want to promote it not only in Dallas but beyond Dallas. There are so many Hindu communities around the state.” 

10 Ways to Practice Normal Evangelism

Many of us find evangelism daunting, even frightening. However, evangelism should take place as we naturally converse with people. As we have normal conversations, we are to look for opportunities to speak to people about Christ. In a normal evangelism culture, we will pray together for the unbelieving, and we will celebrate gospel conversations, not just “deals closed.” Here are 10 practices of normal evangelism.

1. Know the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Four words provide an outline for the gospel: God, man, Christ, response. When we understand the gospel, we know that GOD is holy and created a world without sin. God provided mankind with all he needed to dwell in his presence. But, MAN rebelled against God, and rebellion requires judgment, the penalty of which is death. Yet, God in his grace, provided CHRIST as a representative substitute to live a life of perfect obedience and to receive upon himself the penalty of sin on our behalf. Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day, proving his victory over sin and death. Now, all who RESPOND with repentance from sin and faith in Jesus have eternal life. This is the good news that we must know in order to share it with others.

2. Live your life in light of this gospel. As this gospel takes root in our own lives and we begin to apply it to our marriages, parenting, relationships, and lives together as a church, then our lives will be markedly different than the world and thereby attractive. How can we announce that this gospel is the power of God to save and change lives if we who profess Christ continue living just like the world?

3. Pray and fast for unbelievers (John 14:12-14; 15:7-8). One reason unbelieving people are not on our minds is because we don’t pray for them. Make a list of unbelieving people and begin praying for their salvation. But also ask God to open doors for evangelism, then by faith be obedient when the opportunities arise.

4. Be willing to share your life with unbelievers (1 Thessalonians. 2:1-8). If we are going to reach unbelievers, we need to get to know them: where they live, shop, eat, recreate. Look for opportunities to relate with them where they are, instead of thinking they will come to us. Let us wisely share our lives with unbelievers: talking to them, inviting them to church or into your home for a meal. 

5. Share the gospel with urgency (2 Peter 3:8-10). To be sure, we need to share the gospel naturally & clearly, but we must also share it urgently. Right now is the time for salvation. When a person dies or Christ returns, there will be no more opportunities for repentance and faith. 

6. Study the doctrine of hell. If you lack urgency in evangelism, then study the doctrine of hell. As you consider the fate of those who reject Christ, ask God to break your heart and move you with urgency to share the good news with the lost.

7. Invite unbelievers to repent and believe. The gospel requires a response. We must call on all people everywhere to repent (turn away from their sinful ways) and believe (in Jesus Christ).

8. Invite unbelievers to church. Invite the unbelieving, unchurched to come with you on the Lord’s day so that they may hear the gospel proclaimed. Surprisingly, in a 2010 study of unbeliving, unchurched people in Austin, a large number indicated that they would be open to invitations to go to church. Imagine that! They don’t come because we don’t ask.

9. Trust Christ for the results. Faithfulness, not results is what God requires of us. Salvation is of the Lord, so we must trust the sovereign Lord to do his work in the hearts of unbelieving people. Our responsibility is to faithfully share the gospel indiscriminately.

10. Share with others and ask them to join you in prayer. I have found it encouraging to hear other Christians’ stories of evangelism. Share your evangelism encounters, celebrate simply sharing the gospel, and pray together for those souls. Let’s make evangelism normal again!