|Worship Service at the Gladstone church||8:30 AM|
|Worship Service at the Biggsville church||9:45 AM|
|Worship Service at the Oquawka church||11:00 AM|
|Bible Study @ Biggsville||6:30 PM|
Evangelism and Our Churches
article by Mike Holeman, Oquawka United Methodist Church
More than ever evangelism is so important to the survival of our churches today. First, Jesus charged the believers to go forth and witness in His name. It is a responsibility of Christians to bear witness of the Good News of the bible to the unbelievers. And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19, Mark 1:17 (NASB) We are not only in a battle for lost souls but in so doing we can help our congregations grow so that we might be strong in numbers. The churches of Henderson County are facing many new challenges and these challenges are based on financial issues. For the churches to survive individually, we must be able to support the costs of maintaining them. Each week in the bulletin is the statement that it takes $1300 per week to meet the financial obligations of each church. That is $67,000 a year, times 3 (Biggsville, Gladstone and Oquawka) is $202,800. With the addition of Stronghurst and Lomax, the financial burden increases exponentially for all of us. With an average membership of 200 per church, the burden is $335 per member annually. Unfortunately, there are only about 75 active members so the financial burden increases to $893 per member annually. In one of the poorest counties in Illinois, it is a tremendous burden on our families. One way to overcome this situation is to increase our church membership. And this is why evangelism is so important to our churches' survival. I believe evangelism begins in each of our individual churches. If we could increase the participation of those current members, the financial burden is deeply decreased as shown in the example above. $335 per member versus $893 per member. The burden of $17 per member per week as opposed to only $6 per member per week with just increasing our current church member participation. The big payoff, are pews are filled every Sunday. As a congregation, we have to be proactive. If we see that someone has not been to church for a few Sundays, we need to contact them. We have to let them know we missed them and be sure there is nothing wrong. We need to be aware of special needs of our members. Maybe a member needs a ride. With the cost of gas, perhaps car pooling is another solution. But we need to make contact and find out why they are not attending and then meet that challenge. We need to reach out to our neighbors and friends. With the churches established in small communities, we have an excellent opportunity to interact with these people and to invite them to church. I feel, from personal experience, we hear Pastor Jeff preach this but then we do not act for a number of reasons. We have the Good News but we are hesitant to spread it out of fear.
“I am afraid I might do more harm than good.”
“I don’t know what to say.”
“I may not be able to give snappy answers to tricky questions.”
“I may seem bigoted.”
“I may invade someone’s privacy.”
“I am afraid I might fail.”
“I am afraid I might be a hypocrite.”
Perhaps the most common fear, however, is that of being rejected.
To evangelize we will have to use both our minds and our hearts to "become all things to all men in order to save some."
We must realize that not all of us have the gift to preach the word to non-believers. Not all of us are evangelists in the true sense. However, we all have the gifts God has given believers. We are all to have faith, give, show mercy, and help others. Some, however, are uniquely able to serve in these capacities above the norm. I think the same applies to the gift of evangelism.
People with the gift of evangelism ought to be encouraged and engaged in training others how to witness. This is not only logical, but evangelists are gifted men who are given the role and responsibility of equipping the saints for the work of ministry. “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers.” Ephesians 4:11 (NASB)
Here are some very important principles that I came across to keep in mind if we want to be effective in seeing others come to know Christ through our individual witness.
1. Go to people. The heart of evangelism is Christians taking the initiative to actually go out and "fish for men." Acts 17:17 describes for us how Paul was effective in his day and time: "Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there."
2. Communicate with people. Engage them. Sharing the Gospel involves communication. People must be focused upon and then understand the Gospel to respond to it. It is our responsibility as Christians to make it as clear as possible for all who will listen. "Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men" (2 Cor. 5:11).
3. Relate to people. Effective witness involves not only the transmission of biblical information; it also includes establishing a relationship with the other person. Hearts, as well as heads, must meet. "So, affectionately longing for you," said Paul to the Thessalonians, "we were well pleased to import to you not only the good news of God, but also our own lives, because you have become dear to us" (1 Thess. 2:8).
4. Remove barriers. Part of our responsibility involves having the skills to eliminate obstacles, real or imagined, which keep an individual from taking the Christian message seriously. When God sent the prophet Jeremiah forth, He said, "Behold, I have put my words in your mouth . . . and I have ordained you to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant." Sometimes our task as well is one of "spiritual demolition," of removing the false so the seeds of truth can take root. Apologetics sometimes serves in that capacity, of preparing a highway for God in someone's life.
5. Explain the gospel to others. We need an army of Christians today who can consistently and clearly present the message to as many people as possible. Luke says of Lydia, "The Lord opened her heart so that she heeded the things which were spoken by Paul" (Acts 16:14).
6. Invite others to receive Christ. We can be clear of presentation, but ineffective because we fail to give someone the opportunity and encouragement to take that first major step of faith. "Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we beg you in Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God" (2 Cor. 5:20).
7. Make every effort by every means to establish them in the faith. Stay with them, ground them in the Scripture, help them gain assurance of their salvation, and get them active in a vital fellowship/church.
8. Above all, use the power of prayer. Invite the Holy Spirit to be present. “For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit,” 1 Corinthians 12:8 (NASB)
In preparation for evangelizing, we should be living for the Lord individually—something that will surely impact others. We have the good news of salvation by faith in the shed blood of the risen Christ. Go tell others the Good News.
Then I said:
“Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.
“Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’
Jude 1:21 (KJV)
Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
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