This is such a thought provoking video. Watch and be encouraged.
Reposted from The Exchange
Evangelism is not recruitment.
Evangelism is not even outreach.
Outreach can lead to evangelism, but you can have outreach all day and never announce the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Evangelism is when people are challenged directly with the gospel and invited to respond.
Many people may stumble at that point, but we always want people to hear and respond to the good news of the Gospel.
Evangelism Never Changes
Evangelism always involves a bloody cross and an empty tomb. It always involves Jesus’ death on the cross for our sin and in our place.
Those facts are a constant. Without that message, there is no evangelism since there is no good news.
Evangelism is transcultural and universal, and it goes throughout every era of time. It is men and women being called to trust and follow Jesus, to believe that the power of the Gospel transforms upon repentance of their sins.
But how we do evangelism—how we get to the point of gospel proclamation—is impact by the when and where of culture.
Methods of Evangelism Change Over Time
Evangelism is always going to involve calling people to repentance, to trust and follow Christ, and to be born again by the power of His Gospel. But we can think about eras of evangelistic methodologies.
A few decades ago many people came to Christ when they heard great radio preachers. Radio evangelism was significant and cutting edge.
The bus ministry in the 1970s and ’80s was once a meaningful evangelism method. (My sister rode a bus to a church on Long Island outside of New York City.)
She heard the challenging claims of the Gospel, then trusted and followed Christ as a young girl. That led to my mother hearing the Gospel, and then me hearing the Gospel.
Evangelistic crusades were large gatherings typically in a stadium or arena where people could bring their friends to hear the good news of the Gospel. God is continuing to use meetings like that around the world and even here.
In 1988, I started my first church in Buffalo, New York, on the heels of a Billy Graham Evangelistic Crusade. Consider that Graham’s largest meeting in the world was in Seoul, Korea, in 1973 with more than one million people.
But currently, meeting-based evangelism has declined in frequency and some debate effectiveness. Still, that method has not ended if God has gifted someone as an evangelist to equip God’s people for works of ministry to the building up of the body of Christ. Graham, his son, Franklin, and others can still preach a meeting and people will come to hear the truth of the Gospel and many will respond by grace through faith.
I lead a small group in my neighborhood every Sunday night. I might not be able to take them to a Billy Graham crusade, but I can invite them to my home because they already know me and they trust me. My neighbors two houses down on one side and another three houses down on the other side come regularly. We don’t have to rely on large-meeting evangelism.
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association itself has concluded that home-based evangelism is the next method of evangelism that God is using in our society. In what may have been Billy Graham’s last great opportunity to share the Gospel on a national stage, they put together the My Hope America evangelistic campaign to get the message of the gospel into as many homes as possible.
Jesus Christ is the only hope for any country in every era. Our honor and joy is to participate with Christ in evangelizing the not-yet believers in effective ways.
While we should be thankful the message of evangelism never changes, we should pray that we will always be sensitive to the changing methods so that many people will have the opportunity to hear the good news of Jesus Christ.
Reposted from Billy Graham
Q: Do you think people who’ve already entered heaven can look down and see what we’re doing here on earth? Sometimes I think of my spouse in that way (she died four years ago). But, then, wouldn’t she be unhappy looking down on all the misery here? I always thought heaven was a place of total happiness.
A: Yes, heaven is a place of total happiness and peace, and we can be confident that our loved ones who have gone before us into heaven are not disturbed or upset over the evil things that happen here on earth.
The Bible doesn’t clearly tell us if people in heaven are able to observe what happens on earth–although there are some hints that they do. In the book of Hebrews, for example, the writer recalls the great men and woman of faith who have gone before us and are now in heaven. Then he adds, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses … let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1). Like spectators in an arena, he seems to suggest, they are watching and cheering us on as we seek to follow Christ.
Never forget that heaven’s main focus is Christ. Even if those in heaven see some of what happens here, they now see it from God’s point of view. And they know that some day “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14).
Thank God for the hope we have in Christ–a hope that is based squarely on Jesus Christ and what He did for us through His death and resurrection. Is your hope and trust in Him?
By Richard Greene
Reposted from Decision Magazine
When Mike Adams was denied a promotion to full professor in criminology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington in 2006, it wasn’t because he was failing in the classroom. On the contrary, Adams had been showered with accolades and awards for teaching, research and service.
What landed Adams in the political correctness doghouse was that the former atheist and leftist committed his life to Jesus Christ in 2000 and became bold in his faith. As his life changed, so did his political persuasion, and he voiced his conservative opinions via a nationally syndicated column. Stands that Adams took on social and moral issues ruffled feathers and didn’t sit well with more liberal university officials and academic colleagues. And so, in 2006, UNC Wilmington blocked his promotion, in spite of his stellar performance record since 1993.
Seven years of court battles led to Mike Adams’ vindication after UNCW denied him a promotion. Adams sued, citing academic harassment and bias. He claimed the university illegally retaliated against him by denying him a promotion because he expressed his contrary religious and political views—thereby trampling upon his First Amendment rights to free speech.
After seven years of court battles, a federal jury ruled this past March in Adams’ favor. UNCW appealed, but the two parties settled in July. Under the settlement, the university agreed to drop its March appeal and to promote Adams from associate professor to full professor at an annual salary of $75,000. In addition, he was awarded $50,000 in back pay and $615,000 in attorneys’ fees.
“This is one of the largest amounts awarded in the academic freedom context,” said David Cortman, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented the professor. “It’s a shame university officials wasted taxpayer money all because they didn’t want to promote a conservative Christian.”
This case marked a substantial victory for religious liberty. Two major—yet close—U.S. Supreme Court decisions in May and June also garnered praise from conservatives. In Town of Greece v. Galloway, the court narrowly upheld that the Constitution allows the centuries-old tradition of opening government meetings with prayer. Then, in a similar 5-4 decision, the court agreed that “closely held” companies may exercise their religious beliefs and conscientiously object to providing abortion-inducing contraceptives to employees through their health insurance plans.
“These were very significant rulings,” said Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. “Any incursion of religious liberty or freedom of conscience for anyone, Christian or not, is a danger to all of us. If the Hobby Lobby ruling had gone in the other direction, it would have been a setback for religious liberty, the implications of which we would be facing for the next 100 years.”
Todd Starnes, host of Fox News & Commentary, also applauded these Supreme Court rulings. “They were certainly good news,” he said. “But at the same time, they’re not the end of the battle. The war goes on.”
Indeed it does. Despite these recent religious liberty victories, evidence is mounting that the Christian voice is becoming marginalized, if not criminalized. Groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, American Humanists and the Freedom from Religion Foundation are intent on ripping out any mention of God from public life and erasing the influence of Christians.
Consider the plight of Bob Eschliman, the former editor-in-chief of the Newton Daily News in Newton, Iowa. He was fired in May for comments made on his personal blog daring to defend what the Bible teaches about marriage between a man and a woman. In that piece, Eschliman criticized the “Queen James Bible,” a new edition of the King James Bible in which liberal editors rewrote eight key verses that speak against homosexual practice.
The day after firing Eschliman, Shaw Media president John Rung lambasted him in a stinging editorial: “The First Amendment does not eliminate responsibility and accountability for one’s words and actions. While he [Eschliman] is entitled to his opinion, his public airing of it compromised the reputation of this newspaper and his ability to lead it.”
Eschliman has filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Shaw Media and the Newton Daily News. The Liberty Institute is pushing Eschliman’s lawsuit forward.
Another high-profile example of alleged discrimination involved Dr. Eric Walsh, the former public health director for the city of Pasadena, Calif., and an associate pastor. Walsh was placed on paid leave in May after some of his sermons surfaced, expressing his views on homosexuality and evolution. He subsequently resigned from his public health position. The sermons came to light after Walsh was invited to be Pasadena City College’s commencement speaker. Students researched his beliefs, published them on social media and sent them to media outlets in protest. Walsh’s saga took another negative turn when the state of Georgia two weeks later retracted a job offer made to him after learning that Walsh had been put on leave in California.
Other legal challenges are drawing attention. Religious symbols, including the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial Cross in San Diego, are being threatened, if they haven’t disappeared already. Students are being told they can’t speak about God on campus. Military chaplains are being suppressed. Business owners are being penalized if they take stands of conscience.
“We used to think in this country that religion held a special place, that it was important to foster religious expression,” Liberty Institute general counsel Jeff Mateer said. “Now we’re seeing an extremely troubling shift toward the notion that religion is a hindrance and should no longer be tolerated. That’s certainly the opposite of what our founders envisioned for America.”
But America isn’t the only battleground. Europe has been spiraling downward for much longer and at a faster clip. As churches empty at an alarming rate and secular humanism grabs hold, the Christian faith is often viewed as irrelevant, if not subversive.
Here are some headlines from Europe:
- In Denmark, the country’s parliament overwhelmingly passed a new law that requires all churches to conduct gay marriages. In 1989, Denmark became the first country in the world to offer civil unions for gay couples.
- In Sweden, a midwife was fired for refusing to perform abortions. A Scandinavian rights group has filed suit against the Swedish government on her behalf.
In Great Britain, Christians have been threatened or have lost jobs and/or business for supporting biblical marriage. David Burrowes, a member of parliament and founder of the Conservative Christian Fellowship, became the target of death threats and hate mail after supporting traditional marriage. Burrowes’ children have even faced bullying at school because of his positions.
- In Northern Ireland, the national Equality Commission has threatened court action against the owners of a bakery, who refused, based on their Christian convictions, to prepare a cake with the slogan “Support Gay Marriage.”
“The battle to protect religious freedom is global,” ADF’s Cortman said. “Christians in the U.S. must remain vigilant, not only on their own behalf but on behalf of our brothers and sisters in other countries.”
So what should Christians do in their vigilance? First of all, believers must pray, recognizing this ultimately is a spiritual battle. Second, become educated about the issues. Next, get active in your own community, particularly with organizations like your local school board. Let your voice be heard. Fourth, vote your values, including the upcoming November elections.
“And if necessary, choose to litigate,” said Mateer of the Liberty Institute. “The Apostle Paul used the Roman system to further the Kingdom of God by going through what essentially was a civil appellate process.”
Fox’s Starnes said pastors must be willing to take tough stands and possibly engage in civil disobedience when such action is warranted. “Too many churches have been trying to be culturally relevant but are now becoming spiritually irrelevant,” he said. “In the Bible, we’re called to be salt and light, but unfortunately the church is on a salt-free diet these days.”
The SBC’s Moore concurs, stating that the American church needs to preach a costly, cross-bearing Christianity that includes with it the possibility of social marginalization within the prevailing culture.
“We need strong, robust preaching and discipleship that models the principles of the coming Kingdom of God,” Moore said. ©2014 BGEA
On a daily basis I’m blessed with memories and stories of the many ways God chose to use my grandfather to reach people around the world over the course of many decades. Nearly everywhere I go people stop to tell me about how entire families and generations were impacted by his ministry. It’s humbling.
What many people may not know is that it almost didn’t happen. Everything we know of the ministry of Billy Graham from the late 1940s on – the massive stadium events, the evangelistic movies, the radio programs, the counseling of presidents and kings – hinged on a singular moment in history that took place at the California retreat center of Forest Home.
I visited Forest Home last year to get a fresh perspective on my grandfather’s story, and I’m returning there next week to speak at their annual Summer Family Camp.
As such, now seemed like the right time to share the story of the evangelist named Billy Graham, a discouraged young man searching for answers and direction in his life, unsure of God’s plan for him.
At the mid-point of the 20th century, he had already been an evangelist with Youth For Christ and had preached across Europe in the aftermath of World War II. He had held his first “Billy Graham Crusades” in places like Charlotte, N.C, and Grand Rapids, Mich. He was also the president of Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minn., the youngest college president in the country.
Not everything had gone as planned, however. His crusade in Altoona, Pa., had been – in his own words – “a flop.” It was spiritually difficult and he felt things had gone poorly, and it left him questioning whether or not evangelism should be his focus.
At the same time, a very good friend and contemporary of my grandfather’s, a man named Charles Templeton, had begun challenging my granddaddy’s way of thinking. Mr. Templeton, who had preached with Youth For Christ as well, had gone on to study at Princeton, where he began to believe that the Bible was flawed and that academia – not Jesus – was the answer to life’s problems. He tried to convince my grandfather that his way of thinking was outdated and the Bible couldn’t be trusted.
My grandfather had more questions than answers.
As a young man in his early-30s, all of these things were swirling in his mind when he traveled to California in 1949. Should he invest fully in the college, which he knew meant seeking further education for himself? At the time Northwestern wasn’t accredited, and for it to become so he – as president – would need to get an advanced degree, which would require taking several years off from preaching.
Should he leave the school and follow the calling of an evangelist, even though Altoona had gone so poorly?
Did he even believe the Bible from which he was preaching, or should he follow Templeton in questioning its validity?
It was at this time that my discouraged grandfather reluctantly accepted the invitation of Henrietta Mears to visit and speak at a Christian retreat center called Forest Home. Mears had worked at First Baptist Church in Minneapolis for Pastor Riley, who was also my grandfather’s predecessor at Northwestern, and she was a very well-known and godly woman. She would end up having a huge impact in Hollywood, Calif., as she served as the director of Christian Education at First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood. She took grief for inviting him to speak because he was not part of the camp’s denomination, but God had a plan in all of this.
As I toured Forest Home last year, it moved me greatly to walk the paths that my grandfather walked as he struggled with the Lord, and ultimately had the experience that would change the course of his ministry and the eternities of millions.
You see, while he was at Forest Home, he spent a great deal of time studying the Bible, and he kept seeing the same phrase pop up. “Thus sayeth the Lord… Thus sayeth the Lord…” While my grandfather had always accepted in his head the authority of the Scripture, this became the turning point as he realized in his heart that God’s Word is divinely inspired, eternal and powerful!
One night at Forest Home, he walked out into the woods and set his Bible on a stump – more an altar than a pulpit – and he cried out: “O God! There are many things in this book I do not understand. There are many problems with it for which I have no solution. There are many seeming contradictions. There are some areas in it that do not seem to correlate with modern science. I can’t answer some of the philosophical and psychological questions Chuck and others are raising.”
And then, my grandfather fell to his knees and the Holy Spirit moved in him as he said, “Father, I am going to accept this as Thy Word—by faith! I’m going to allow faith to go beyond my intellectual questions and doubts, and I will believe this to be Your inspired Word!”*
My granddaddy wrote in his autobiography that as he stood up his eyes stung with tears, but he felt the power and presence of God in a way he hadn’t in months. “A major bridge had been crossed,” he said.
The resulting change did not go unnoticed. The next day my granddaddy spoke at Forest Home, and 400 people made a commitment to Christ. Henrietta Mears remarked that he “preached with authority” that she hadn’t seen before from him.
This was August 1949, and mere weeks later Billy Graham would go on to hold the historic 1949 Los Angeles Crusade in the tent erected on the corner of Washington and Hill Streets. That outreach was scheduled to last three weeks, and ended up going for eight weeks as people packed the “Canvas Cathedral” and media outlets nationwide began talking about the upstart evangelist.
Because of that moment kneeling by a stump at Forest Home, I get to hear stories of lives changed through my grandfather’s ministry. Because of that moment, my father and I are invited around the world to share the same hope of Christ that my grandfather preached in Los Angeles and hundreds of other locations both near and far. That moment not only changed Billy Graham’s ministry. It impacted eternity.
*Just As I Am, Billy Graham, 1997
Reposted from Will Graham