Archive for the Evangelism Category

That you may know…

Posted in Discipleship, Evangelism, Uncategorized on November 19, 2018 by mikekeaton

One of the questions I have had many times in my experience as a Christian is, “Am I sure I will go to heaven?”  A little context might help here…see, I grew up in a Christian home, I’ve been going to church as long as I can remember.  I was ‘saved’ and baptized at an early age, went to Sunday school every week, went to Bible College, Seminary, and have been serving in ministry for over half my life.  Basically, I feel confident that I ‘know’ a lot of stuff about faith, church and the Bible.  Even still, there have been times where I wondered, “Am I sure I will go to heaven?”

I am sure the Devil plants seeds of doubt in all of us and in these times of uncertainty, and since feelings change like the weather, we need to turn to what we ‘know’ to be true.

One of the early followers of Jesus, whose life was dramatically changed because of what he saw, heard, felt and touched, basically ‘knew’, as it pertains to the Lord Jesus Christ, wrote a gospel and 3 letters, which are part of the Bible, for the very reason….“that we may know”! His name was John.

If you were to read his writings, the Gospel of John and the First, Second, and Third Epistles of John, you would notice that he wants us to ‘know’ because he uses that word 2, 3 and 4x as much compared to the other gospel writers and over 30x in his short letters.  He plainly says, ” I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.”

He tells us many ways we can know, such as our abiding in Christ, our walking in the light vs. darkness, the way we love God and others, and many more, which are worthy of our intent study, but one specifically he mentions, is if we ‘keep the commands’ of God, we can know!

So, how is your ‘obedience factor’?  Would you characterize your ‘following of Jesus’ as obedient or disobedient?  Keep in mind there are always areas of our lives that we are growing in obedience.  Just because you disobey and commit a sin, does not mean you are not saved, just like it does not mean that a child who disobeys their parents is no longer their child!  The key is, what is the pattern of your life or what is the overall characteristic?

A mark of a follower of Jesus is obedience!  Jesus himself expectantly asked, “why do you call me Lord and not do what I say?”    Obedience is required as the ‘pattern’ of our lives. so the next time you are tempted to doubt or wonder if you’ll go to heaven, just ask some honest questions about your love for God and others, or your abiding in Christ, or your faithful fight against sin.  Turn to John and read his writings, he wrote them from his own experience as one of the 12 disciples, so that…you, and me, may know!

How to encourage others to “step up” and help you lead your small group!

Posted in Discipleship, Evangelism, Leadership, small group leadership, Uncategorized on November 15, 2018 by mikekeaton

One way to guarantee burnout and discouragement as a Small Group Leader is is to do everything for your small group by yourself without any help.  So, how do you get others to step up and take on some responsibility for the group?  Here are several key ways you can guarantee long term success in developing others:

  1. First, Pray! – I know, I know…sounds very “christian-eze” like and cliche too.  BUT…you simply cannot underestimate the power of prayer.  The Lord says, “we have not because we ask not”.  So, ask the Lord to give you fellow laborers in this disciple making harvest called Small Groups!
  2. Ask someone! -Seems obvious right?!  Here is some clarity – ask someone specifically, face to face!  I heard a leadership talk once where the speaker said, “leaders don’t usually respond to the ‘all-call’, they like to be asked personally”.  When you ask, give them clear guidelines, a timeline, a definitive role, specific tasks, let them know they will not be out there by themselves, but you will walk alongside them to encourage, support, help, and coach.  Be clear.
  3. Start small! – Jesus said, “he who is faithful with little will be rewarded with much”.  Don’t shoot for the moon right away and try to land the next leader for the new group that is going to branch off of yours.  Assign a simple task or responsibility, like prayer time (leading it or just taking down the requests and emailing them out to the group after the meeting), or the opening icebreaker question, or taking attendance, or planning the next fun event, dinner, or service project.  Keep it simple, check on progress, offer to help, and evaluate and give feedback afterward.
  4. Create positions! – Make a position out each of the 5 elements of a healthy small group as seen in this diagram:   5elementsofahealthySGThen, share it with the group, so they can see and understand the different components of a group, then, make the “BIG ASK” of individuals. You can also consider the 5 different purposes of the church as positions, which are closely related: they are as follows: Evangelism, Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship, and Ministry.
  5. Use Giftings! – God has uniquely gifted each person in your group so that the whole benefits and actually grows in God’s love as they use their spiritual gift. Let Holy Spirit work through His Word by planning a study on Ephesians 4:11-16 for your group. Pass out a spiritual gifts test for each person to complete in group or take our online version.  Their spiritual gifting will help you know who could teach, or take care of hospitality, or any other position.
  6. Practice! Practice! – At some point you need to just let someone lead.  To use a sports analogy, ‘you have to let them get some reps’!  They are not going to do it like you would or even prefer, but you have to let them do it.  They will only get better by doing it, you debriefing with them for encouragement and correction, and them trying again.
  7. Consider all! -Sometimes, the best leader is the one you’re not considering! A couple of tried and true grids for identifying potential leaders are the 3 C’s and the F.A.T. acrostic.  Do they have Character, Competency, and Chemistry and are they Faithful, Available, and Teachable?

Developing disciple-making leaders takes time, dont get discouraged and dont give up.  Keep the mission in focus and in front of your group members.  Cast the vision that your group is not a ‘holy huddle’, but a mission driven environment to grow groups, people, and leaders for God’s Kingdom and His Church!

Does our heart pound hard for God?

Posted in Evangelism, Uncategorized on July 9, 2012 by mikekeaton

when a congregation’s heart pounds hard for God, we give of ourselves—our time, our resources, our lives—TO LOVE OTHERS

i recently read this article and it provoked my thoughts profoundly.  i wonder if we, our church, are passionate about reaching those who need to know God more intimately?  i wonder if i am passionate about those who need to be close to God?  it spoke to me, so i thought to share it here in its entirety…how about you?  Are you passionate about those who are lost and need to know and connect God?

When God looks at His bride, the church, He longs for her to have a healthy heartbeat. He wants our hearts to beat with His love for the lost, and He longs for evangelistic passion to flow through our veins. The Maker of heaven and Earth wants to see each and every church alive with love for the lost and engaged in reaching out with the message and grace of Jesus in natural, organic ways.

God wants to draw people into our fellowship with the assurance that they will be embraced by grace and introduced to the Savior, Jesus. But this can happen only when the people in our church are deeply in love with God.

When we are, our heartbeat is strong. When we do not love God, it is difficult for us to love others. As God looks at the spiritual monitor that registers the evangelistic heartbeat of a church, He sees one of several different patterns. What do you think God sees when He looks at your church?

FLATLINE

Some churches have a loud, high drone and a flatline on their heart monitor. There is no love for God, nor is there a relentless love for the lost. These churches are closed off to visitors, their community, and the world. They don’t reach out or train their members to share Jesus’ love.

Prayer for their community is nonexistent. There was a heartbeat at some time in the distant past, but today the church is flatlining.

If this describes your church, don’t lose hope! We believe in a God who can raise the dead. Heaven is watching your church’s heart monitor, and the Spirit of God is always ready to send a pulse of heavenly energy into your congregation’s heart to bring it back to life. God is ready to return your church to her first love, Jesus Christ. And the Holy Spirit is ready to move your church from apathy to passion.

WEAK PULSE

Sometimes when a doctor checks for a pulse, he’ll say, “I have a pulse, but it’s weak.” There is still life in the body, but action needs to be taken quickly to sustain it.

Many churches have a pulse and there is life, but it’s faint. There is love for God and for people, but it is waning.

If this is a picture of your church, be honest and admit it. You might have a map on a wall somewhere with several pins showing where you send money to support missionaries. You might do an event or two each year that “spiritual seekers” are welcome to attend. You might even try to be friendly if a guest or visitor happens to wander into your church on a Sunday morning.

But honestly, your passion for outreach is gone.

Your church lacks a desperate love for God that will drive you into the world with His good news. You are nice to people who visit your church, but you don’t go out of your way to reach those who are far from God. You send money overseas, but you don’t engage the mission field right next door.

If this describes your congregation, you too need to fall in love with God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—all over again. Yes, you still care. You love God, and you love people. But it is time to rehabilitate your congregation’s heart.

You might need to do some spiritual exercise and fortify your heart to make it beat strongly again. The heart is a muscle, and if you use it, it becomes stronger.

Read Page 2 >>

RAPID HEARTBEAT

Sometimes, a heart races wildly. This can be very dangerous, because if a person’s heart pumps too fast for too long, it can lead to cardiac arrest and eventually death.

Some churches’ monitors show that their hearts are beating two or three times faster than a healthy heart. Because these churches love God and want to be faithful to His love for lost people, they launch outreach program after outreach program and initiative after initiative. Church members grow tired and exhausted as the congregation jumps into the latest evangelistic fads.

Outreach is not organic in a church like this. Instead, it feels fabricated and inauthentic. While the motives are right, the practice of outreach is so forced that it fails to bear much fruit. Churches like this often experience frustration when they try lots of programs but never find something that works. They invest lots of money and time, and they genuinely love God, but lost people rarely come to know and embrace Jesus.

These churches need to love God enough to slow down. If they want to establish an organic culture of outreach, they need to do less to accomplish more. Better yet, they need to channel their energy, time, and resources into a sustainable approach to church-wide evangelism. Whatever the condition of your church’s heart, know that God is ready to increase your love quotient. Evangelism is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. It’s not a fad; it’s the fabric of a healthy church. It’s not a system or a program; it’s the natural fruit of a church that loves God.

GETTING BACK TO YOUR FIRST LOVE

The first and most critical step a church needs to take to move toward healthy outreach is to develop a growing love for God. In the book of Revelation, Jesus says to the church of Ephesus, “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.” Whenever our love for God ceases to be first place in our hearts, our vision for reaching out wanes.

Jesus made this clear when He taught his disciples that the first and most important of all the commandments is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” This is not just our calling as individual followers of Christ; it is also our calling as a church. If we forget our first love, our collective heart will grow cold, and nothing that we do will have the impact we desire.

Loving God does not begin with our own efforts. It is based on the awareness that God was passionately seeking us long before we ever sought Him. In the letter of First John, we find a powerful tutorial on the love of God. We learn, first and foremost, that God is love. Because of His love for us, we can become children of God. The depth of the Father’s love was revealed when He sent His only Son to this Earth to die in our place on the cross for our sins. As we are grounded in God’s love for us and as we learn to walk in this love, we will continue to grow in our love for people and for God.

If your church is struggling to invest in reaching your community and the world, ask yourself this question: are we a church that is on fire with a passion for God? If reaching out to others has been pushed to the back burner (or off the stove entirely), it probably won’t help to add some spice to the meal. You need to start by turning up the heat.

Maybe your church has lost its first love.

Remember, God so loved the world that He gave.

Love gives. And when a congregation’s heart pounds hard for God, we give of ourselves—our time, our resources, our lives—to love others.

This article adapted from Organic Outreach for Churches. by kevin harney…original title of article – how to measure the evangelistic heartbeat or your church

Invest & Invite, and Invite, and Invite!!!

Posted in Evangelism on October 6, 2010 by mikekeaton

I like to read other pastors blogs from time to time not b/c I need to go to sleep ( I know some people would be like what the ?, another pastor’s blog…c’mon man!! ).  well, mostly b/c I am always desiring to learn from others and even more mostly b/c most others are a lot smarter than me – ha!

I recently read one that I thought was great, so here is some practical advice from him (michael lukaszewski) on ideas (no copyrights in heaven on ideas) for inviting people to worship with you…check it out and pick a few to try….remember the harvest is ready, we just need workers…

“… one of the primary reasons were here is to share and live the Gospel and invite people to join His kingdom.  Since the church is the display of God’s glory on earth, and since Jesus said HE would build His church, we believe the church should be central to our lives and faith.  So inviting people to our church is part of our core mission.  Here’s forty great ways you can invite people to our church.

  • Grill out for the employees of a company or business.
  • Dress up like a Star Wars character wherever there are people and take pictures with kids and families.  Give them a special invite card with the location they can download the picture.  You will have a blast and invite a bunch of people to church. (let me know if you do this, i would like to take a picture w you)
  • Tailgate at high school football games.  Give away hot dogs and invite people.
  • Set up a moonwalk at a local park while events are happening.
  • Volunteer at community runs and bike races
  • Hand out coffee or hot chocolate at local events.
  • Give out hand warmers at winter events like the Christmas parade
  • Do a free oil change.
  • Host a UFC fight party.
  • Host a block party for your neighborhood.
  • Provide “full service” at a local gas station – wash windows and leave a car freshener
  • Show free family movies in your yard and invite your neighbors
  • Help local schools with their fall festivals.  Instead of re-creating the wheel, just help a school make their event better.
  • Take professional pictures at local school talent shows
  • Visit a nursing home
  • Take a couple of hours and put out door hangers in your neighborhood.
  • Go put invite cards on car windshields.  Try not to get arrested…that keeps it fun.
  • Be intentional about coaching a kids sports team.
  • You and your kids set up a lemonade stand.
  • Have a free garage sale…give away things and invite people to church
  • Do a free car wash
  • Walk around a neighborhood and collect canned food.  Invite people to church while asking for food.
  • Hand out helium balloons at special events
  • Get a truck, ladder and a bunch of light bulbs and walk around and ask people if they need light bulbs changed.
  • Set up a bounce house at the movie theater when a big kids movie premiers.  Or in front of another store.  Managers are often open to anything that draws attention to their store.
  • Put out road signs on the weekend (did you know about 15% of people who attend our church for the first time do so because they saw a road sign?)
  • Put a giant sign in the back of your truck.  Politicians do it – our cause is way more important!
  • Give away silly bandz anywhere there are kids.
  • Enter a float in one of the parades.  Walk along side it and give away candy and invites.
  • Take breakfast to school teachers.  Simply email the principal and ask if you can do it, set a day, and make it happen.
  • Salt driveways when it ices during the winter.
  • Help with field days at a local elementary school.  What school wouldn’t appreciate volunteers?
  • Take food to fire stations.  Let them know you appreciate them and that they are always welcome at your church.
  • Valet cars when a school has an open house.
  • Provide childcare for high school graduations.
  • Cook team meals before home games at local sporting events
  • Pass out candy and invites at your own house on Halloween.

Better yet…come up with your own idea, get your friends or group involved, and make it happen.  Let us know how we can help and how it goes!!”

The Great-omission (not a characteristic of a “soul-winner”)

Posted in Evangelism on April 22, 2010 by mikekeaton

“Soul-Winner”!  That’s a term I grew up hearing in the church we went to as a family.  In fact, we used to go every Tuesday night out “soul-winning”!  I think it was Charles Spurgeon who coined the term originally in his book, the soul winner“. In case you don’t know, (and that is fine if you don’t), soul-winner refers to evangelism, or better known as sharing your faith.

Anyway, I have been thinking about evangelism a lot lately.  I feel like our church has been a little weak in this area of sharing our faith.  The survey we are doing as a church (code 51516) is pretty eye-opening for me, mostly for my own lack of “soul-winning”.

I was reading this morning in the Gospel of Mark and the 3 parables Jesus tells are all about scattering seed.  Basically, that is our simple command to obey…scatter seed!  I will admit that I focus more on the soils than the scattering, but that is not mine or yours to own (4:28 confirms this). So, do you know what happens next…”the great omission”.  We have been commissioned to scatter not to omit scattering.  We are promised if we sow, we will reap.  Do you know the best part of reaping?  We always reap later and greater!  So to reap a great harvest we must sow seed!!

Do you want to know if you are a “soul-winner”?  See if you have any of the following characteristics:(adapted from an article by Thom Rainer)

1. Soul winners are people of prayer.  How much are your prayers for the lost to be saved?

2. Soul winners have a theology that compels them to evangelize. Do you believe that anyone without Christ is doomed for a literal hell?

3. Soul winners are people who spend time in the Word. The more time they spend in the Bible, the more they see the love of God for those who are lost.

4. Soul winners are compassionate people. Their heart breaks for those who don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

5. Soul winners love the communities where God has placed them. They are immersed in the culture because they desire for the light of Christ to shine through them in their communities.

6. Soul winners are intentional about evangelism. They pray and look for opportunities to share the gospel.

7. Soul winners are accountable to someone for their evangelistic activities. They know that many good activities can replace Great Commission activities if they are not careful. Good can replace the best.

The “secret” of evangelistic churches –The secret is really no secret at all. Evangelism is not a program.  Evangelism is not an event.  Evangelistic churches are Evangelistic persons!

a question for you: What am I doing to become more evangelistic?