|Preview: Talkin' ...
Talkin' about Christ - Over the Back Fence
The second most memorized verses in the Scriptures, right up there next to John 3:16, must be Matthew 28:18-20, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Many of us have called this verse (along with Mark 16:15-16, Luke 24:46-48, John 20:21 and Acts 1:8) the Great Commission.
It represents God’s direction to us to share the Good News of His provision for our eternal life with all people everywhere. We, as Evangelicals, take this commission very seriously. We want to do what God has directed us to do. Unfortunately, not all of our efforts to do it have resulted in positive experiences. Executing the Great Commission also musters up visions of talking to people about things they really don’t care to hear. Or, even worse, these verses bring back memories of those who were once our friends until our zeal for evangelism made them seek less threatening associates. So, talking to people about Jesus Christ doesn’t always produce positive experiences. Why must this be true?
It is difficult to tell people where to go before you know where they are!
In the pages of this book, you’ll find a method for sharing Christ’s Good News to people based on discovering where they are in their journeys toward God. You’ll see how routine, non-threatening discussion can pick up the clues needed to see what God has already revealed to people. Our fulfillment of the Great Commission then becomes the job of taking every person we meet one step closer to meeting Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord. Paul says it very effectively in his first letter to the Church at Corinth, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” (1 Corinthians 3:6). Likewise, some of us will be called upon to “plant” or to “water,” and some of us may even have the great privilege of leading one of God’s chosen into fellowship with Him. Regardless of the role, our job is to be prepared; prepared not only to share the right parts of the Scripture at the right time; but also prepared to initiate and guide friendly discussion toward discovery of spiritual development in those God has planted around us.
This is a book based on finding out where people are!
Your decision to study this book says a great deal about your commitment to our Lord; a commitment to reach all kinds of people for Christ; a commitment to His Great Commission. As Christians, we sometimes want to be obedient by doing the “letter of the law” without doing the “spirit of the law.” In other words, we want to accomplish the Great Commission by jumping in at the same place with all people, regardless of their current understanding of God’s plan for them. Frequently then, our actions are premature and the results fall very short of our personal expectations. We become frustrated and hesitant to share Christ again in the future. My hope is that the techniques you find in these pages will provide some understanding of and insight into the dynamics of the salvation experience and the associated discipleship processes. Further, that the end result will be a returned excitement about evangelism.
This book was the product of several years of work and experience in the ministry of outreach and evangelism. The First Southern Baptist Church of Colorado Springs, Colorado was the place of its writing and original testing in 1982. The target ministry group was those young people at the United States Air Force Academy’s toughest engineering schools, and the men and women of all three military services working in missile warning, space surveillance and atmospheric sovereignty at the nation’s national defense hub. So, you will find this book to be different from anything you have ever experienced. It came from my study of every major source of evangelism training offered at the time. A study conducted to find the right approaches to reach a special people; a people in search of more than just an emotional experience. A people dedicated to analysis and testing; people desiring a complete understanding of the mechanics and mechanisms of the greatest experience a man or woman can have – the experience of becoming re-united with their Creator. The formal publication of this work is in 2010. The unpublished manuscript has been successfully applied in part or in full in over twenty churches in Colorado, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio and Washington, DC. It has been applied as a classroom study and as a classroom study combined with a strong program of in-home visitation to fully apply each training session in an evangelistic setting.
How is this book laid out?
The book is divided into two, ten-chapter parts. The first part is dedicated to an in-depth understanding of the salvation experience. We discuss the truth of our personal choices to sin and the resulting separation from fellowship with the Holy God Who created us. Then we study how God saw the hopelessness of mankind and decided to provide a way to immediately remove the penalty of sin, to initiate a process to overcome the power of sin and to prepare us for travel to that place where there is no presence of sin. We look closely at the past, present and future tenses of being saved from sin to see what help God has provided in each tense. Along the way, we’ll also look at how Christ lived and provided examples for us to follow.
The second part turns from the inspection of evangelism from an internal perspective to evangelism from an external perspective In other words, we shift our study of what happened, is happening and is going to happen within ourselves, to how we can recognize God’s work in those around us. It is not God’s will that any should perish, so how can we see the right steps to take to help our friends and neighbors find Christ? Next, we look at how to apply what we’ve studied to our work within our church. Whether our service is in Sunday School or Church Training; working with children, youth or adults; we’ll find direct applications for our studies to those ministries.
Again, let me acknowledge and affirm your personal commitment to understanding more about the life-changing work God has started in you. May God richly bless your journey through the pages of this work.