Thursdays With Oswald—Too Focused On Numbers?

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Oswald Chambers

Too Focused On Numbers? 

     We don’t go in for making disciples today, it takes too long; we are all for passionate evangelism—taken up with adding to the statistics of saved souls, adding to denominational membership, taken up with the things which show splendid success. Jesus Christ took the long, long trail—“If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself”—take time to make up your mind. Men were not to be swept into the Kingdom on tidal waves of evangelism, not to have their wits paralyzed by supernatural means; they were to come deliberately, knowing what they were doing. One life straight through to God on the ground of discipleship is more satisfactory in His sight than numbers who are saved but go no further.

From Conformed To His Image

When Jesus first called His disciples He simply said, “Follow Me.” They followed Him for nearly four years, learning from Him exactly what it meant to be disciples. There was not one “Aha!” moment of complete surrender to Jesus, but a long, gradual, sometimes stumbling and painful process to discipleship.

Jesus was focused on true disciples, not multitudes of fickle fans.

Why have we gotten this backwards in our churches? When someone asks, “How’s your church doing,” they are really asking, “How many people show up on Sundays?” Perhaps a better gauge of God-honoring success would be: How many disciples?

What do you think?

Evangelizing The Evangelized

I was talking to a friend the other day about church growth, and we both notice something disturbing: Most of the “new” people coming to church are actually not so new. Much of what has been called church growth is actually church transplants.

We’re not reaching the lost. Ouch!

I think Howard Hendricks nails it with this:

The Gospel is failing to produce results in some places today because it lacks an audience. Christians in churches are busy evangelizing the evangelized. We constantly face the danger of developing a fortress mentality: making occasional excursions into unfriendly territory and scurrying back to the safety of our church and its people when opposition arises. We tend to derive security from friendly surroundings rather than from Jesus Christ, and so we fail to penetrate our society for Christ.

I pray my greatest strength is my relationship with Jesus Christ, and that my driving passion is for others to know this beautiful relationship too.

May God help me to have an audience in Cedar Springs!

Um, That’s A Bit Awkward

Somehow I don’t think this is the most effective way to start a conversation about your faith!

Here are a few thoughts I have…

Don’t compartmentalize. In other words, don’t put on your “Christian hat” to talk about your relationship with Jesus. Just be Christ-like all the time. People are looking for something real, not someone who’s playing an act.

Develop relationships first. Don’t lead with a sermon; lead with a friendship. As the saying goes, “People don’t care how much (or Who) you know, until they know how much you care.” Be a genuine friend first.

Wait until they’re ready. Jesus told stories with a deeper meaning and asked a lot of questions of people before He spoke to them directly about the kingdom of God. Don’t force people into a conversation. Keep the door open, and let them step in when they are ready.

Don’t get discouraged. Just like there are some topics you’re not ready to discuss right now, others feel the same way. So just because they say “No thanks” today doesn’t mean nothing happened. The Bible says that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Salt and light are always seasoning and illuminating everywhere they go. Your life is making a difference.

Any thoughts you’d like to share? Please do so in the comments.

Thursdays With Oswald #30

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Pseudo-evangelism

It was this form of pseudo-evangelism, so unlike the New Testament evangelism, that made [Thomas] Huxley say — “I object to Christians: they know too much about God.” …God is the only Being who can afford to be misunderstood; we cannot not, Job could not, but God can. If we are misunderstood we “get about” the man as soon as we can. St. Augustine prayed, “O Lord, deliver me from this lust of always vindicating myself.” God never vindicates Himself, He deliberately stands aside and lets all sorts of slanders heap on Him, yet He is not in any hurry.

From Baffled To Fight Better

I’m learning more and more that when people ask why God behaves in such-and-such a way that the best answer may be, “I don’t know why, but I still trust Him.” I trust Him even when I don’t have all of the answers, because I know He has all of the answers.

To try to answer for God — or, as is probably more likely, to try to defend my theology — is rightly called pseudo-evangelism. O Lord, deliver me from pseudo-evangelism!

Basketball Evangelism

Basketball's creator James Naismith

In preparing for our Salt & Light series which starts this Sunday, I’ve been reviewing the different places in my life where I can season and illuminate my world. It’s pretty simple:

  • In order to season like salt, we have to get out of the saltshaker.
  • In order to shine like light, we have to uncover our brightness.
  • And we have to be around people who need seasoning and illumination.

One of my favorite workout activities is playing basketball, so I absolutely loved reading a story about why James Naismith created this fun sport.

Read the rest of this entry »

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