March 2011

March 1, 2011

Thoughts From The Cottage

Dear Friends

By the time you read this we will have had our initial exploring evangelism meeting with Dave Schwan, Pastor of Grace Community Church. I have no idea what we will discuss or what we will decide but I know that as a church we have to get to grips with evangelism. Last year I was visiting a church and made reference to the words of Jesus just before His ascension, “Go then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples; baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19). One elder present said ‘if this church does that then I will leave’. Surely this is the raison d’etre, the mission statement, the purpose of the church. The church is not a social club it is a missionary organisation.

As we know being a Christian is not simply about believing in God. It is about knowing God and allowing Him to change us. The Bible is full of stories about people meeting God and being changed. Our hymn books are full of hymns about being changed by God. My bookshelf is full of books about people who have met God and changed. Drug addicts, gang leaders, violent criminals, witches, prostitutes, murderers, alcoholics, sex addicts, et al, all of whom have had a real encounter with God, initiated by another human being. Someone has met them and shared the gospel, they have received a welcome from the Christian community, they have responded to the gospel, they have been taught what it means to be a Christian and their lives have changed because they want to please the God who has loved them and forgiven them.

So how do we fare. This is a generalisation but it seems that we are pretty good at giving people a welcome, we are quite good at proclaiming the gospel from the pulpit, we are not very good at teaching and we are poor at sharing the gospel outside worship. Unfortunately it is not like an examination where 50% achieves a pass. God calls us to do it all, to make disciples, to baptize them, to teach them to obey. If we are to be serious about evangelism we need to be serious about being church. Evangelism is not about bringing people into our church, it is about bringing people face to face with God and into the Kingdom of God and allowing their lives to be transformed by Him.

That means we have to model the Kingdom of God ourselves. People have to see the difference that God makes in our lives otherwise we are asking them to do something we are not prepared to do ourselves. It is as they see the love that we share, the way our lives are transformed by God, the way we overcome temptation and move from sinner to saint, the way we respond to the needs of others, they way we live that they will grow in the Kingdom. As new Christians grow in the kingdom their friends and family will see the change and some of them will respond and the church will grow again. It is not easy being a Christian, it may well mean giving up things we enjoy, it will mean putting God first and submitting our wills to his, but the result will be an immense peace and joy as we draw ever closer to God.