Biblical Church Growth

Spurgeonevangelism
Q. What is the chief and highest end of man?
A. Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.

There are four means that God has ordained to grow His Church. They are, Evangelism (sharing the gospel), Discipleship (training and teaching the new believer) Service, (Helping the hurting and dying world) and persecution. People only become converted from hearing and responding to the gospel. They grow closer to God, and get to know Him by reading His word, and learning His truth. The new heart and nature of a convert is on display in the world humbly serving the lost and dying, displaying the glory of God. Persecution weeds out the false converts, and demonstrates another truth, the world hated Christ, and they will hate you also for His namesake. The exclusivity of the cross is offensive to the world. Remember persecution comes from outside the Church.

Who goes to Church, and why? This is important to figure out, if you are concerned that your congregation is dying. One category of people is false converts. Some of them know they are not Christian, some believe they are Christians. Lost people have a few reasons why they go to Church. Of those reasons, none of them are the right ones. They go to Church to get a pep talk, a self-help speech, they go for professional and social networking, they go to feel good about themselves, (self-righteousness) they go to be entertained by a slick, “praise/worship band. We can agree that these are not the right reasons to go to Church. So what are?

If you are a true convert, you know your purpose in life is to bring glory to the Lord of salvation. You’ve been brought to new life by grace, through faith. You were dead in your trespasses and sins. You know you were purchased at a price, and the Lord of Creation suffered humiliation and death on a cross, in your place because of your sins. Christ became sin for you. You come to Church because it is God’s will. From your new nature you want to do God’s will. After all, He is changing your desires and affections by the power of the Holy Spirit, and the reading of His word. Our minds are being renewed so we can prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. You come to be with brothers and sisters in Christ, to hear the word of God expositorily preached, to sing praises to God, to worship Him in prayer, and song, to be baptized, and have communion, and to be sanctified by God in learning to live in community with other sinners, and by granting them grace, to live out the gospel for the glory of the Lord.

Who is church for, the goats or the sheep? Church is ultimately for the glory of God, and that glory is for our good. God says, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Church is for the sheep. They are the ones who really want to go for the right reasons. When God says in Matthew 16, “…I will build my Church…” we also see the means He has ordained for the growth. He is going to use us to preach the gospel to the lost and dying world, because the gospel is the power of God unto salvation.

Salvation is of the Lord. It originates with Him. It is provided by Him. Jonathan Edwards once said, “You contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary.” Even persecution is given for the growth of the Church. If there are false converts in the local body, when persecution comes, they will flee, and deny Christ. The truly converted will stay, and proclaim the gospel, and make disciples even during persecution.

What is the gospel? Simply put, “Repent of your sins, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” We have to unpack that for sure. It shouldn’t be a daunting task for us. It should be something that overflows from the heart of a believer, as they have experienced the love and grace of Jesus. While we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Most people don’t share it, because they are woefully ignorant of what it is.

Here is a simple analogy. Imagine you are a telling a class full of students who want to become mechanics that you are a mechanic, but you leave out the fact that you don’t understand how an engine works. Then when the students ask you how the engine works you mumble and string together things you’ve heard mechanics say. You wouldn’t feel very comfortable or sure of yourself would you?

Believers should feel confident and comfortable sharing the gospel. It is imperative that they learn how to do so, and that they do it. People are entering eternity without Christ. They will rise to eternal torment and burning, having the very wrath of God poured out on them. How can we say we have love, if we refuse to give them the gospel?

Ask some of your congregation “imagine I just was stabbed, and only have moments to live. I am afraid of dying and going to Hell, and I say, “What must I do to be saved?” You can’t tell them to be a good person, they are dying. You can’t tell them it is by baptism, they only have moments to live. What can you tell them? You can preach the gospel to them. You can say, “You are afraid of hell, and rightfully so. You are a sinner. Just like me, you have broken God’s laws, and deserve His just wrath, but being rich in mercy, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to live a perfect, sinless, life that we couldn’t live. Jesus was and is righteous. He humbly offered Himself up on the cross, He submitted to death on the cross according to the will of the Father, where the wrath of God was poured out on Him in our place, so that the justice of God could be satisfied. When He was finished atoning for our sin, He said, “It is finished.” He died, was buried and resurrected on the third day. If you’ll repent, or turn from your sins, forsake them, hate them, and ask God to forgive you based on the work of Jesus, He will save you from your sins, for there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Will you confess your sins to God and trust in Jesus?”

Friendship evangelism is impractical. The Christian should have a fervent urgency to share the gospel with the lost so they can be saved. Friendship evangelism is slow, and you can only befriend so many people at a time. The need is great, and the workers are few. The command is not to preach to a few, but to all, and we need to get busy.

Remember the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. It is offensive because they are confronted with the righteousness, and exclusivity of Christ. Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. John 15:18-25 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates Me hates My Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. 25 But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’”

Don’t compromise on the gospel. If we soften the gospel to make it more appealing to the lost, we rob it of its effectiveness. If it were readily acceptable to the reprobate sinner, it is because it doesn’t require rebirth for him to believe it. The only way to grow the true church is by the means that God has ordained evangelism, discipleship, service, and persecution.

What needs to happen so we can do this? Free up Elders who are gifted and able to preach and teach the gospel to the laymen, and to teach them how to evangelize. Organize them, to go out and evangelize. When people are converted they will look for a Church. It doesn’t matter if you put more people in the seats at your Church. We don’t do this to grow our kingdoms, but rather the kingdom of God. New converts will come in. When they do, be ready to teach them from God’s word. Don’t feed them cotton candy theology, sermonettes, or topical sermons that are more self-help than the word of God. Take your position in the pulpit seriously. Get them grounded in God’s word because when persecution comes they will need to know the hows and whys of it. Get them out there serving the lost and dying world out of the new love they have in their hearts.  Equip them to go out and share the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.

Why do Calvinists Evangelize?

Spurgeonevangelism

  1.  God commands it in His word. Mark 16:15 (NASB) 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
  2.  He ordains the ends and the means.
  3.  At that moment in time, it is not apparent to us who is among the elect.  If we share the gospel with a person who is among the elect, but it is not their due time to be regenerated, then they will reject the gospel.  If it is their time, they will respond with repentance and faith, that are also granted by God.  If we share the gospel with a person who is not among the elect, no matter when in their life they hear it, they will never respond with true repentance and faith.  Even a person who is not among the elect could affirm the gospel intellectually, but never be truly converted.

If people would look into the history of modern evangelism, they would see that many of the memorable evangelists have been Calvinists.

Calvinist Evangelists

  1.   The Apostle Paul 🙂
  2.   George Whitefield
  3.   David Brainerd
  4.   William Carey
  5.   Charles Spurgeon
  6.   C.T. Studd
  7.   Jonathan Edwards
  8.   Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones
  9.   Francis Schaeffer
  10.   Francis Chan

Just to name a few.  Oh, and before you get all persnickety and claim that some of the people on the list were Pastors, or theologians, remember they also evangelized.  Spurgeon said, “Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.”  While we are at it, we all are sinners.  We have broken God’s laws and are guilty.  Repent from your sins.  Turn from them and obey God’s word.  Believe on the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, where He atoned for your sin.  Don’t put your faith in your own efforts or works to save you.  You can never satisfy the requirements of God’s righteousness, but Jesus did.  His righteousness can be credited to you if you will repent and trust in Him.

Tired of getting fake friends requests, that are obviously spam?

Tired of getting fake friends requests, that are obviously spam? I mean, seriously… Why would anyone take a half naked picture of themselves, use it as a facebook profile picture, and then ask people with no obvious connections to be their friend? Have I got a solution for you! Just copy the following gospel presentation, open your favorite word processing app, paste it, and save it. The next time you get a spammy request, just copy and paste the text into a message to that person. If genuine request, they will get the gospel. If it is a spammy request, they will get the gospel. It is a win all the way around. ***begin copying here***
You have sent me a friends request. I don’t know you. Why should I accept your request? Did you know that all people are sinners. We have all sinned against God, by breaking His laws. By nature we are His enemies. The Bible says that none are good, and we are all storing up wrath against us for the day of judgment. Do you know how to be forgiven? Do you want to be right with God so that He will know you and you will know Him? You must repent of your sins, and trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the eternal Son of God. God made for Himself a body in the womb of the virgin. He came into His creation as fully God and fully Man. Jesus lived a perfectly righteous life. He went to the cross without guilt. He bore our sins on the cross. He took our punishment there. For all who would be saved, He paid their penalty, and justified them to God. He did this for the glory of God, and because He loved us. He atoned for our sins. We must repent, or turn from our sins, and trust in the righteous work of Jesus on the cross to atone for us. We must not trust in our own works. The Bible tells us that God sees our best works of righteousness as, “filthy rags.” Instead we trust in the perfect work of Jesus on the cross. When we do that, the Holy Spirit will come into us and bring us to new life spiritually. We will be born again, and He will start conforming us to the word and likeness of Jesus. Have you repented and trusted the Savior? www.needgod.com

If you don’t respond to this message I will report this as a spam account.

This Book isn’t really about, “How to Pick Up a Stripper and Other Acts of Kindness” is it?

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To answer the question, no this book isn’t really about picking up strippers.  It is about a Pastor (Todd Stevens) and his Church’s efforts to perform outreach ministry to all the people in his area no matter who they are with no strings attached.  He focuses on what we might commonly refer to as friendship evangelism or, “loving them into the kingdom.”  This focus is seemingly exclusive in regards to other forms of evangelism.

The title of the book is misleading, but you have to ask, “If you are a Christian, why are you buying a book about picking up strippers and then are disappointed when you find out it isn’t really?”  It is a title that requires a second glance when browsing Christian titles.  The book is definitely not about picking up strippers.  It is however about outreach ministry and service to even the people you might look down on.

While reading this book I noticed that the author chose to quote heavily out of the, “Voice” version of the Bible.  This is a big red flag to anyone who is a serious student of the word.  It put my guard up immediately and caused me to be even more critical than I usually am.

Throughout the book Stevens is referencing things he and his Church have done and are doing.  I know this is to encourage people to do something, but it comes across as, “Blowing his own horn.”  “Look what I/we are doing!”  I am giving Stevens the benefit of the doubt.  Perhaps it is just because he is enthusiastic about what he is doing?

One of my concerns is that it took him about to the halfway mark before he had a clear gospel statement.  I am giving him the benefit of the doubt here as well.  Perhaps he assumes that the readers already know the gospel since they are buying a book about outreach.  On the other hand, it is a book about outreach.

I’m sensitive to the seeming discouragement of other types of evangelism because I do some of the other types of evangelism.  It is like Stevens precludes the appropriateness of other types of evangelism as unkind and harmful.  He discourages it.  Instead he teaches to do many and varied services and kind acts.  He claims that it is not very likely that a person will be able to have a relationship with someone they just encountered and shared the gospel with.  He hints that our motives are not loving or effective.  The last time I checked the gospel is the power unto salvation and salvation comes by hearing.  Salvation doesn’t come by having people give you stuff or by them being really super nice to you.  It is God who does the saving.  An angry man shouting the gospel from a soapbox does not save or condemn a person.  They are already under the condemnation of sin.  God’s gospel preached to the lost is what does the saving.  This is probably my strongest criticism of the book.  I can feel deeply for the person I’ve just met on the streets, or at work.  They can tell that I care and they continue to listen.  Even if they don’t respond in the affirmative I still keep in contact with them.  When they do respond in the affirmative we develop a disciple/mentor relationship.  I appreciate the outworking of love towards people, but his version seems to be a pragmatic formula for Church growth based on doing nice things to people.

Stevens never really makes it clear if his wife was providing meals in the strip club during the operating hours.  He talks about how his wife would bring catered meals and gifts in to the club.  I would hope that his wife and the other volunteer ladies would not be in the club during business hours.  Even women can have temptations to be avoided.  Again, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they were there before and/or after business hours.

Stevens tells a story about the Roman Catholic nun, Mother Teresa.  In the story he makes it sound like she is a Christian or at least, worshipping the same God evangelicals worship.  This is a very troubling issue.  Mother Teresa was a self-admitted Universalist.  Universalism is a heresy.  These, in addition to other heresies of the Roman Catholic Church preclude them from being included as Christian.  Stevens including the story in the way that he did demonstrates an imprecise ecumenism.

There are superior books on outreach and evangelism.  This book might be helpful to the freshly born again to help them move the focus off of themselves and on to being Christ-like in their love, but it also might confuse them as well.  We don’t want people to become works based in their soteriology.  Keeping justification and sanctification clearly delineated will benefit the new believers.  Throughout the book I just got the feeling that if you don’t do it his way then you are mean and not showing the love of Jesus.  I doubt this is what Stevens intended.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”