Category Archives: Sharing the Gospel

Discipleship and Dialogical Preaching

Here’s an article I wrote for the Five Two Network on the new way I’ve been preaching using questions and dialogue to help disciple our people:
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I love preaching. I love talking about Jesus. I love digging up the truths of a certain text and laying it before the people, so that they might marvel at God and his goodness. I love holding the congregation’s attention, and drawing them into the Law and Gospel through a well-crafted message.

However, since we started a worship gathering for our church plant nearly a year and a half ago, my preaching has changed. I preach dialogically now because I believe it’s the best way for a sermon to contribute to the church’s task of making disciples.

While not a new concept, many haven’t heard of dialogical preaching before. Those who are familiar with the term probably have one of a half-dozen preaching techniques or supplements, used within or outside of the sermon time, that often claim the title, “dialogical.” So let me explain to you what I mean when I talk about this preaching method. I’m talking about asking a series of powerful questions interspersed throughout the message and allowing the congregation to answer them, and even ask their own questions, if they arise, during the sermon time.

The Process of Dialogical Preaching

My sermons are now incredibly simple. They consist of asking five questions* about the text or texts of the day to discover the central truths that will foster repentance, faith, and transformation in the hearer’s life.

These are the five questions:

Read More here…

The Big Story

Check out this great overview of the Story of God?

What do you like about it?

What elements could you use in sharing the story with someone else?

Keller on The Gospel, Moralism, and Irreligion

Check out this short video from Tim Keller on three ways to view the world.  The Christian message is often rejected because it is either viewed as moralism or is presented as such.  The Gospel is really the only thing that frees us and gives us hope.

How To Disciple Someone Through Reading The Bible

So you’ve built relationships with somebody in your neighborhood or work place.  You’ve gotten to know quite a bit about them and they’re starting to consider you a friend.  You’ve had a chance to share the Gospel Story with them and they want to know more.  Now what?  Where do you go from here? 

You can always invite them to join your Missional Community in a service project to see the Christian life lived out in serving others.  Or you could invite them to join your MC in hearing the Story-Formed Way.  Yet the timing might not be right.  You might feel like this person needs a little more understanding regarding how to read, understand , respond to, or apply God’s Word.  One of the best ways you can help is to start reading the bible with them on a regular basis. Yet where do you begin?

If the person is already coming to your MC weekly, why not invite them to come 30 minutes before your gathering to read scripture with you?  You could also invite them to join you on your lunch break once a week.  Try to integrate the Bible Study into something that you’re already a part of so it doesn’t become an added “burden” to an already tight schedule. 

 

What is the Bible?

  You want to clarify what the bible is and is not.   

  • The Bible is not primarily a book of rules telling you what you should and shouldn’t do, though it does contain some laws and commandments.  The bible isn’t really about you.  It’s about God and about what he has done for you. 
  • The Bible isn’t a book showcasing a number of heroes that you should copy.   The Bible does, at times, present people that we should try to emulate.  Yet at the same time, many of those people aren’t heroes at all.  When you look at their lives, you see that even the best people recorded in the Bible have many problems and make many mistakes, sometimes even on purpose. 
  • The Bible is primarily a story about God and His love.   As Sally Lloyd Jones says, “Every Story Whispers His name”.  It’s all about Jesus and what he’s done for us.  (Luke 24: 25-27, John 5:39)

Method

Before we begin to read the Bible, we want to pray that God would give us His Holy Spirit to understand, trust, and put into practice what the Bible says.  Without His Spirit we cannot understand or believe the truth of God, nor can we put into practice what it says. 

When we read any passage of the bible, maybe the best way of understanding what God is trying to teach you in the passage is to look at the verse, within its context (the surrounding paragraphs, chapters, and even the particular book itself) and ask questions concerning what the text reveals to us about:   

  1. Who is God (His Character and nature)? 
  2. What has He done, or has promised to do (particularly through Christ’s person and work)?
  3. Who are we (both apart from God and as a result of who God is and what he’s done)?
  4. How do we live now (In light of who God is, what he’s done, and who He’s made us to be)?  

 

Additional questions to ask each other might be:  

  1. When was the text written?
  2. By whom and to whom was the text written?
  3. Why was it written?
  4. Does it reveal God’s law, (how we should live) or Gospel, (what God does for us)?
  5. How can this text be applied to me?
  6. What is striking you about this text?
  7. Does anything in this text shock you?
  8. When might we use this passage or retell this story?
  9. What can I thank God for?
  10. What promises of God can I trust in?
  11. How does this text point to Jesus?

 

Things to have with you 

  • A Study Bible
  • Pen/Pencil
  • Highlighter
  • Bookmark
  • Notepad

Resources 

In The Beginning Was The Word

I love the opening of John’s Gospel.  It is maybe the most poetic peice in the whole new Testament.  Here’s a good video I found on John 1:1-14 by Jeremy Poyner:

Christian Meditation On the Mass Shooting At the Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut

Today’s headline read, “27 dead, including 18 children, in elementary school shooting” in Newtown, Connecticut.  Parents, children, brothers and sister are not coming home to their families this afternoon. They won’t be with their families this Christmas. Like most parents, I couldn’t help but hug my daughter and pray for the families of the dead. How could such a thing happen? Why does it keep on happening? When will it stop?

More and more people are self-proclaimed atheists. Many others are functional atheists as they live as if God doesn’t exist. Yet if you reject God, you must reject the idea of right and wrong. You have to accept that death created us. Death becomes your god of sorts because through the death of billions of life forms the fittest survived and passed on their genes and evolved into us. So if you reject God, even the kind of death we saw today, is what created us. It’s nothing more than the “weak” being removed so the “fittest” can survive. You have to accept this if you reject God and accept evolution.

Yet when such a tragedy strikes, many suddenly get religion. Their worldview doesn’t provide the answers to the questions of their hearts or they close their eyes to what their worldview actually says about death. So when something horrible happens, suddenly God is alive and real…and to blame for allowing such tragedy. Yet is this really God’s fault? Is it really his will?  If someone asked me what I thought about today, I’d respond by telling them the story.

Creation

While evolution says death created us, the Bible says God never created us for death. Death was never part of his plan. We were always meant to live. God created us to live in a perfect world, where we had a perfect relationship with Him. Because we were in a perfect relationship with God, we were at peace with one another. There was never any violence like we see today. God never designed us to suffer and die. Rather we were meat to live forever by his side.

Fall

Yet this world isn’t perfect, not anymore. You see our first parents thought they could improve on God’s creation. They were tempted by God’s enemy into believing that they’d be better off if they were in control of their own lives. So they rebelled against God and His ways. Suddenly their relationship with God was broken, and just as quickly their relationships with each other fell apart as well. Now sin, suffering, wars, famine, disease, aging, and death hold the world captive.  People even kill each other now.  Yet this wasn’t part of God’s plan and God didn’t want to leave us this way.

Redemption

God continued to pursue His children. He continued to call them back to live a life close to Him, in His ways, under His rule and protection. Yet his children kept rebelling. All of us keep rebelling. Yet God keeps calling us. Finally, God sent his Son who was called Jesus, which means “The Lord Saves”, and Immanuel, which means “God with Us.” He lived perfectly as His Father always created us to live. Yet he died the death we deserved, because of our rebellion, on the cross. As we believe and are baptized in Him, His perfect life becomes our perfect life. Our relationship with God is restored. His death then becomes our death, so death will not hold us because death could not hold Jesus.  We then have hope, on days like today, that death does not have the final word.

Restoration

One day, there will be no more death. The peace that the angels sang about on the night of Jesus’ birth will be realized. God’s enemy, and all who chose to follow in his ways of rebellion and refuse to be cleansed, will be locked away forever. The world will be perfect again. God will raise all those who trust in Him, will give us new life, and never again will there be any anger, fighting, wars, sickness, pain, or death. Such things won’t even be remembered.  Even days like this day will be forgotten.  God will wipe away every tear from our eyes and we will live in joy, true joy, in a perfect world forever more.

Today something horrible happened. Yet if someone asks me why such tragedy happens, I’ll share with them the truth and “good news” of God’s story. We still mourn today, we pray fervently for the families of those who were killed, because we’re still awaiting the Restoration of things. Yet we have hope because one day God will make everything right. We sing, “Come, O Come, Emmanuel!” We pray come quickly, Lord Jesus! And we look to the day when He comes again to make everything right.

Picture found here

The Gospel: 321

Here’s an awesome video displaying the Gospel in terms of God’s Community of Love and Mission.

  1. What’s new to you in this Gospel Presentation?  How did it awaken you to what the Gospel means?
  2. What do you feel, if anything, should have been added in?
  3. We often share the Gospel through Creation -> Fall -> Redemption -> Restoration.  We’re all the elements in this presentation?  What would you like to have seen more of?

 

Video by Jeremy Poyner

The Storyteller Enters The Story

We practice telling the Gospel Story pretty regularly in our church plant and in our Missional Communities.  Here’s a great video from the Gospel Project that tells the biblical Story in a pretty cool way with some great classic art.  I can’t tell you anything about their bible study, other than it’s put out by a great publishing house.  Yet I thought this video was a good way of talking about the Gospel as Story.  Check it out:

Questions:

  1. How did this telling of the Story resonate with your heart?
  2. In this telling of the Story, how does the Gospel connect with you?
  3. What’s missing from this story that you would have liked to hear?
  4. Who in your life needs to hear this Story?  How do you think you can share it with them?

Missional Training # 19 – Sharing the Gospel…with a little help from your friends

Sharing the Gospel or inviting someone to a church service, missional community, or a small group can often feel intimidating.  Christians all know that we’re called to make disciples of all nations, to be witnesses of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.   We know we’re called to be the light of the world, the salt of the earth.  We even want to be effective at this mission.  We want to see or family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers know the life and love they can have in Jesus. Yet, at times we don’t know where to begin.

We have all  seen or heard about a lot of high-pressure evangelist encounters that seemed more like an argument than a sharing of the hope we have in Jesus.  Maybe you’ve actually been the one pressuring someone else to come to become a Christian.   Or maybe you’ve sat there and heard a friend or coworker vent about someone who was “trying to push their faith” on them.   Perhaps, you were just minding your own business and some well-meaning Christians kept pushing tracts in your face, forcing conversation, and if you, a fellow Christian, felt uncomfortable.  We know we don’t want to reach out that way, but we are left unsure of how to go about it.

For most of us we have one big problem with evangelism.  We fear others.  We’re afraid of what people might think of us after we mention the name of Jesus or the word, Church.  We are afraid of what might happen when we step on a stranger’s door step.  We’re even a bit afraid that they might view us as that angry judgmental person.  Perhaps we have all these fears and negative emotions because we view evangelism in the wrong way.

Tim Chester and Steve Timmis suggest that evangelism is actually meant to be a team activity, that we’re meant to share and show the faith together, over time, through relationships.  We recognize here that not everyone shares the same gifts.  Chester and Timmis suggest that there are a few ways that everyone can be involved in witnessing: Building relationships, Sharing the Gospel, and Introducing to Community 

In their book, Total Church, they share this diagram to show how multiple Christians can be involved in witnessing to one person:

Building Relationships

As Christians we should always be interested in knowing new people and getting to know the unchurch people around us.  Especially in a church plant, it is essential that all of our member are regularly starting new relationships with people on the fringes of their life, and depening relationships with the unchurched people they know.  There are people who are extremely gifted at meeting new people and starting relationships with them.

Sharing the Gospel

When we live the Christian life in front of an unbeleiving world, people will take notive of the way we love, sacrafice, and serve and will ask us of our faith.  All Christians all called to be ready to answer when someone asks the reason of our hope.  When we have opportunity, and the Spirit moves us, we’re called to speak.  Yet, for some this come much easier.  Some people can turn everyday conversation into a exhortation to beleive in Jesus.

Introducing to Community

Most of us have people in our lives that are unchurched or dechurched.  The difficult thing is trying to figure out how to get them to church or to sit down and talk about Jesus in a productive way.  Yet, often times all we have to do is to introduce them to the wider community.  It’s hard to just start up a religious conversation and it seem natural.  Its even difficult to simply get someone to agree to go to church, yet its pretty easy to ask them to a barbeque or a movie.  Somepeople are naturals at connecting people.  Someone great in this area might host great parties or plan some great events or they might be simply good at inviting a unchurched friend and beleiving friends to the same place.  The more relationships built, the better, because the unchurched person sees the Gospel play out in the lives of Christians.  There is also, then, a greater chance that the unchurched person might really connect with one of the Christians, which can open the door to greater Gospel converstaions.

When evangelism becomes a community project, it becomes easy and fun.  Everyone has a part to play.  No matter your gift.  God can use you.  He’s save you for this very purpose.  Trust in his Spirit to lead you.

Questions:

  • Who do you know that is far from Jesus?  How can you start to build relationships with them?
  • If you’re not gifted at sharing the faith, who do you need to introduce them to?
  • What kinds of events or settings can you imagine your unchurch and your church friends mingling at?
  • What strand or strands of evangelism are you most comfortable and gifted with?  What other types of Christians do you need to partner with to help reach your friends?

Read more about outreach in missional communities here

Images found here

Tim Keller on Jesus in the Old Testament Story

This is a video from Tim Keller’s talk at the Gospel Coalition conference in 2007.  Keller shares in this video how the story of the Old Testament is really a story about Jesus.  Since we are big in story telling through the Bible, I figured I’d share this post on how a number of the figures and stories in the Old Testament really point forward to Jesus.  When you think about Jesus being central to all of the Biblical Story, it helps make sense of everything in the Old Testament and New Testament.  It gives a much greater take away than just lifting up an OT figure as a hero or example and keeps you from simple moralizing a story.

This could have been a much longer video, but Keller kept it to a few key points of where Jesus is seen in the Old Testament.  What other people or events, in the Old Testament story, point forward to Jesus?   How could knowing how Jesus connects to the Old Testament story help you in sharing the faith with others?

 

Resources

For more on Jesus in the Old Testament, I highly recomend getting a Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones.  Its even a great resource for adults to understand the biblical story.  The subtitle of the book is: Every Story Whispers His Name.  Every story points to Jesus in some way.

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