Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Driving Conviction about Evangelism: Practical Suggestions (Five Essentials, part 1B)

Passion for missional Christianity comes from the Lord. You cannot create a passion in your church, only God can. For that reason, the primary “methods” for creating this passion in your people are prayer and the Word.

In your personal devotion, pray and ask God to create this passion in His people. Pray for more laborers in His harvest (Matt 9:38). At the same time, be intentional in times of corporate prayer to pray for the lost, to pray for missions, to pray for unreached peoples, to pray that God would give his people a burden for evangelism, to pray that God would raise up more laborers.

Pray and ask God to give YOU a burden for the lost and for his gospel. Pray and ask God for opportunities to evangelize. Pray specifically for lost individuals. Set aside time for personal evangelism. Baptize believers with rejoicing. Allow the church to “catch” your own passion for the gospel.

Make God’s act of redemption through Jesus Christ central to your preaching. Spend more of your sermon and teaching time focusing on the Cross and Resurrection. When preaching on practical issues, make sure to emphasize not only the moral guidelines. Rather, preach Christian living in terms of redemption, putting on the new self. Preach a sermon series on God’s redemptive plan. Demonstrate this redemptive purpose through the entire corpus of Scripture and not just the Great Commission. Show how evangelism and missions is the role of His church.

How do we create a passion in God's people? Continually bring the need for gospel passion to the Lord in prayer. Then, bring that need to the church in your word and witness.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wade Burleson Resigns

For those of you following the IMB trustee story line, a significant event occurred yesterday. Wade Burleson has resigned from the IMB Board of Trustees.

Grace and Truth to You: A Decision I Believe Is Best for the Future of All

I have no comments at this time, but reserve the right to comment in the future. In the mean time, I encourage you to pray for Wade as well as the remaining Trustees. Above all, pray that the work of the IMB will continue to be used of God for his glory.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Weekend Reading for Missional Christians


Here are a couple blog posts I recommend:

David Sills, on his blog Culturality and Missiology, has posted a compelling essay that deserves wide readership. I strongly encourage you to read "Has Anybody Seen Our Missionary Heroes?" May we live up to the standard set in this post. May God raise up a generation of missions leaders.

Also, Larry Baker has posted preliminary findings presented by Chuck Lawless on the habits of pastors of high impact churches. The official report will be released this spring. The findings may not surprise you, but they may convict you. Read the post here.

-- Todd

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Driving Conviction about Evangelism: Essentials of a Missional Church, part 1

It is surprising to me how many believers go through their Christian life with little or no concern for reaching people with the gospel. While teaching a discipleship course on evangelism at my church last fall, one member, a leader in the church, commented that he really did not have a burden for the lost. He admitted that he had never thought of evangelism as an important aspect of his Christian faith. I am thankful that he was candidly honest about where he was. Unfortunately, this man is not an anomaly. His viewpoint is far too common and in many churches is the norm. Multiply that perspective by 150 church members and you have a partial answer for why a church is not effectively reaching their community for Christ.

It is a good thing for churches to be concerned about the discipleship of their members. It is important for churches to teach their members the truths of Scripture and help them grow in faith and in the image of Christ. However, such discipleship must include teaching believers to be missional Christians. How can we claim to be like Jesus if we neglect his very mission?

If a church wants to fulfill the Great Commission, it will require first that its members share the heart of Jesus for the lost he came to save. We must share the heart of Jesus who wept for Jerusalem (Luke 18:41). We must follow the model of Paul whose heart was for the salvation of his fellow Jews (Rom 9:1-3; 10:1). We must be compelled by the love of Christ for a lost world and take on the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:14, 18).

Still, in many churches, evangelism is something we talk about and list among other Christian duties. As Russell Moore quipped in Southern Seminary’s chapel last fall, we know we should evangelize in the same way we know we should floss. Until evangelism ceases to be a Christian virtue that we have not yet achieved and becomes the driving passion of our church and personal ministry, we will never fulfill the purpose God has set for us. To become a missional church, we must have a passion for the Great Commission – reaching persons with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel is the grand theme of Scripture. It should be our theme as well.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Five Essentials of a Missional Church

The following is an outline I have been developing concerning evangelism and missions in the local church. I intend to blog about each of these points over the next couple weeks as well as offer suggestions for implementing them. For now, here is a summary of my thinking. Please feel free, as we go along, to offer your comments, additions, suggestions, etc. (Sidebar: In my view, verbal witness is primary and essential but should also be accompanied by the kinds of works described in Matt 25:31-46. Also, fulfilling the GC includes initial conversion as well as establishing of believers in the faith.)

To be effective in Great Commission work, a local church ought to have the following:

1. A deep conviction about evangelism. The church must develop a heart for the lost and a passion for the gospel.

2. A church culture that in which fulfilling the Great Commission is central to the mission of the church. This priority should be evident in every aspect of church life.

3. An equipping ministry that trains believers to effectively share their faith and use their gifts in kingdom work.

4. Sufficient opportunities to be involved in missions and evangelism.

5. Complete dependence on the Holy Spirit for the success of the mission.

I will break up a more detailed discussion of these points over several posts. In the mean time, feel free to comment. (For those that prefer an alliterated list, here you go: To be truly missional, a church must have a Driving Conviction, a Dynamic Culture, a Developing Competence, Deliberate Connections, and a Dependent Confidence.)


-- Todd

Monday, January 7, 2008

Why R. Albert Mohler is Good for Evangelism

Many are weighing in on the prospect of a Mohler presidency. Whether or not he is elected, here are a few reasons (among many) that Dr. Mohler is a positive force for Great Commission work.

1. Mohler has shown himself as a uniter around the cause of the gospel. In his commentary, “A Call for Theological Triage and Christian Maturity,” Dr. Mohler has laid out what he calls “second-order” and “third-order” doctrinal differences. While contending for right doctrine on all three tiers, Mohler has demonstrated a willingness to work together with those he differs with on second and third order differences for the cause of missions and evangelism. A number of examples demonstrate this willingness to unite around the gospel:

a. His prominent role in the 2001 Billy Graham Crusade in Louisville.

b. His 2006 Pastor’s Conference break out session with Paige Patterson, “Reaching Today’s World Through Differing Views of Election.” Mohler called Patterson, with whom he disagrees on the issue of Calvinism, a close friend. He went on to say, ““Dr. Patterson and I have discussed this far more extensively than a one-hour presentation here would allow,” Mohler said. “It’s a part of the vibrancy of our friendship in the Gospel. … We owe it to each other as brothers in Christ, who share an affection for the Gospel … to, as iron sharpens iron, talk about these issues so that we can be evermore faithful in preaching and teaching the Gospel.”

c. His co-founding of “Together for the Gospel” with Presbyterian Ligon Duncan and charismatic C.J. Mahaney, along with Mark Dever. The first line of the Together for the Gospel statement reads, “We are brothers in Christ united in one great cause – to stand together for the Gospel.” Mohler says of this group, “I am incredibly thankful for my friendship with Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, and C J Mahaney. In recent years, I have come to a new and deeper understanding of what these friends mean to me . . . I have come to prize most highly those friendships that can last a lifetime. Yet, I am confident that something deeper and more important is at work here. The friendship that binds us together is a friendship that is rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Here we have found our shared redemption, our shared identity, our shared calling, our shared commission, and our shared passion. . . . We are together . . . in and for the Gospel.”

2. As a major leader among younger reformed evangelicals, Mohler has rejected hyper-Calvinism and has defended the proclamation of the gospel. In his breakout session at the 2006 Pastor’s Conference, “Reaching Today’s World Through Differing Views of Election” Mohler explains, “there is the real theological danger of those who do not believe in the well-meant offer of the Gospel. These are not persons who are merely five point Calvinists. Five point Calvinism is not hyper-Calvinism, it’s just Calvinism. However, if one takes an additional logical jump from that point and says, therefore, we should not present the Gospel to all persons, they’re in direct conflict with the Scripture and direct disobedience to the call of God and in direct contradiction to the model of the apostles.” Mohler is more pointed in his remarks in his major address, “Don’t just Stand There Do Something,” Mohler states, “if your theology does not issue a determination to see the glory of God in the salvation of the lost, and see that responsibility as a sacred privilege, then take your theology somewhere else.”

3. Mohler has continually demonstrated commitment to the gospel at Southern Seminary. Under Mohler’s leadership, Southern has founded the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth; added requirements that all students take both Introduction to Missiology and Personal Evangelism; established the Great Commission Center to promote missions and evangelism opportunities on campus. Further, Dr. Mohler continually challenges students to be involved in missions and evangelism.

4. If elected, Mohler has pledged to lead our Convention in the cause of the gospel. Speaking of his nomination for SBC president, Mohler states, “Our greatest challenge is to recover our passion for the gospel in evangelism and missions and to renew our determination to defend the gospel in an age of postmodern confusion. I would hope to articulate a vision that would unite Southern Baptists and energize us together. . . . We are not a top-down denomination—and for good reason. I promise to do my best to encourage Southern Baptists to be even more faithful, more biblical, more evangelistic, and more thankful for what God has given us in this convention of churches.” I am confident that whether Mohler is elected as president or not, he will be a champion for the gospel and a leader in Great Commission work.

May we follow Dr. Mohlers' example and passion for the good news of Jesus Christ!

The Campaign Against Mohler for SBC President Has Begun

A debate concerning Dr. Mohler's qualification for seminary president can be found on Wade Burleson's blog post: Grace and Truth to You: Al Mohler: The Right Man for the Wrong Job?
See especially the comment by "Louis" (Comment #102). You may also read my response to Wade's blog post there.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Favorite Mohler quote

Given the recent announcement that Dr. R. Albert Mohler will be nominated for president, I thought I would share my favorite Mohler quote (from "Two Inaugural Addresses"):

“To those of us on the faculty [of SBTS], if we are not driven to lead our students into evangelism, then we must teach somewhere else. Students, if you think evangelism is something you are called to do at some point in the future, rather than the present—or something that someone else is called to do—go study somewhere else. And beloved, if your theology does not issue a determination to see the glory of God in the salvation of the lost, and see that responsibility as a sacred privilege, then take your theology somewhere else.”

-- Todd