Audio at Bottom
Today we continue equipping for the harvest. So far we have looked at the first part of the equation: High Potency. We first maintained that To be highly potent Christians we need to be genuine and generous (and really that is the same thing, a genuine Christian is a generous Christian). Then last week, I shared that everyone is an evangelist, only what kind of evangelist am I? Am I a direct evangelist like Peter, an intellectual like Paul, an interpersonal friendship evangelist, the testimonial type who loves sharing my story, the inviter or the servant. A highly potent Christian considers themselves with sober judgement and develops themselves to be a powerful tool in the hands of the Lord of the Harvest.
Today we are going to move onto the second part of the equation: close proximity. It doesn’t matter how potent you are if you hide yourself in your Christian bubble and never come into contact with unbelievers. The salt needs to get out of its shaker before it can do its work of seasoning and preserving the food. So my stated goal here today is this: to shake you up and get you out of here.
To help you visually today I’ve got two props: an address book and a BBQ. I’m gonna show you how these two things might be super important in reaching your friends for Christ. First, I wanna show you a great little passage that demonstrates the principle that we’re going to look at today, the importance of the address book.
The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” (John 1:35–45 ESV)
Your address book holds the key to revival in Canada. Look at this passage. John the Baptist had Andrew and his friend in his address book. Andrew, obviously had his brother, Peter. Jesus then went to Bethsaida and found Philip - how did he find Philip? Well Luke tells us that Bethsaida happened to be Peter and Andrew’s hometown, so the natural deduction is that Philip was in Peter or Andrew’s address book. Philip then got his address book out and thought to look for his friend, Nathanael.
This is an address book revival. This is the normal natural path of conversion: through the personal social networks of believers introducing friends and family to Jesus.
In the mid-1960‘s two, sociologists John Lofland and Rodney Stark, were the first scientists to study conversion to new religious movement, in this case, the Moonies (a Korean cult that was just coming over to North America for the first time). What they found was that, even though people often speak of their conversions as private and personal, every single one of the those who actually converted to the religion did so only after their personal social networks tipped in favor of the new movement. Put simply - they followed their friends into the faith. Address book conversion.
The Mormons have found the same thing. According to records kept by the president of Mormon missions, when missionaries make cold calls, the conversion rate is about 1 in 1000. However, when missionaries make their first contact with a person in the home of a Mormon friend or family member, the conversion rate jumps to 50%! Address book conversion.
Stark and Lofland concluded that the different between a successful religious movement and one that fails is the ability of the movement to remain an open network, one that constantly reaches out and into new social networks. When networks are kept open, the movement grows exponentially, for every new member entering the group brings along his or her network of family friends and associates. The kingdom of heaven being yeast that works through new loaves (networks) of people.
This makes sense: How many of you really read all of the junk mail you receive at your home or in your inbox. Who are you more likely to say, “I’m sorry I can’t talk right now to: a telemarketer or an old friend?”
Hybels: The fact is, all of us experience discomfort when someone outside our circle of friends tries to influence us about personal significant matters. We all naturally gravitate toward people we already know and trust. Friends listen to friends.
The question we have to ask ourselves: are we the church remaining an open network - or a closed one.
“Too Christian, Too Pagan”, Dick Staub notes that many Christians have no unbelieving friends because they spend all their social time with other believers. In fact, some have observed that the average believer has no unbelieving friends after he has been a believer for two years. Because of the large evangelical subculture that John Fischer has identified, most believers are already in “relational overload” with just their believing friends. As a result, they have no time, energy or relational capacity for unbelievers.
Perhaps its time to take a good, hard look at our address books and contact lists. Perhaps what’s truly holding back revival in Canada is not our potency, or our clarity, or our prayer, but that Christians are content to simply live in the salt shaker.
So here’s a take home assignment: go through your address book or contact list and only concentrate on those outside of the church, non-believers and the unchurched. Here’s the first step, take a piece of paper and write on it: People I know. Then another column: People I used to know. Finally the last column: People I’d like to know. Now this last one might not be in your address book. It may be the grocery clerk in the store you frequent. You might write neighbor in the red house with the big dog - and not know their names.
For the direct approach people: There is a evangelism networking and training session on Tuesday night in Ottawa called E2: Equipping Evangelists. It will be held at Blackburn Hamlet Community Church, 2598 Innes Road (near the TD Bank) on Tuesday October 8th, 7:30pm to 9:30pm. They are looking for 3-4 people per church who are passionate about evangelism, to do networking and training. Please attend.
Let’s go back to front. So you got your list and have added to it people that you don’t know. The key here is to move them into the people you know column, particularly if your people you know column only has a few names in it.
People I’d Like to Know
How do I get out of the bubble and meet people: neighbors, bank tellers, dog-walkers, bus commuters (at the station not on the bus). How do I meet people?
- Be friendly: Treat people as if they are worthy of our love, respect and concern. They are!
- Ask them questions about themselves: show genuine interest. Don’t just ask them what they do, ask them what they like about what they do. Ask them what skills they are most proud of having developed.
- Work on getting their first name and use it with them: The sweetest sound to your ears is your own name.
- Also remember to look for openings to lead into spiritual conversations. Some people are open immediately, for some people your friendship may start over a spiritual conversation. The goal is not only to move them into a “people I know column”, our hope is that they might come to know and be known by Jesus, and some of them may be ready for that immediately.
People You Used to Know
How about those that you used to know but no longer have much contact with? Obviously, facebook makes this a completely different thing because now it feels like we know what’s going on in each others lives even when we haven’t really connected. So here’s the challenge - don’t let a facebook relationship count as a “real” connection. So if you have facebook friends you used to know, or contacts in your address book, and they’re non- Christian - maybe they used to come to the church here and you know that they’re not worshipping anywhere, especially if they grew up here with you - try to reconnect with them.
- Get over guilty feelings. Sometimes we feel bad because we didn’t keep up our end of the relationship. You know what, they might feel bad too and are just hoping you’ll call.
- The great part about meeting up with an old contact is that there is immediately something for you to talk about.
- Because they will feel they knew you once, you can take a bit more liberty in asking them about their faith and sharing yours with them.
People You Know
- Informal means
- BBQ First Principle
- Watching the game/ Movies (Damien’s block)
- Working out/sports
- Welcome New Neighbors on Your block
- Playdates with kids: invite parents to stay
- Planed events
- Holiday Celebrations: Friends for Dinner
- Thanksgiving Next week
- Matthew Party
After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.”And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
(Luke 5:27–32 ESV)
- Today: Pick up a Matthew Packet
- This Week
- Tell Pastor Dan That You Will Host a Matthew Party
- Create Your Matthew List
- Begin Praying Daily for Those on Your List
- Share Your List in Your Small Group
- Review the Materials in Your Packet
- Connect With Each of Your Friends in an Informal, Friendly Way
- Continue Praying Daily and in Your Small Group
- Complete Your Online Training
- Plan Your “My Hope Party” (Time, Place, Group)
- Late October
- Put Up My Hope Poster Somewhere Public
- Get Excited When You Start Seeing National Advertisements
- Invite Your Friends to Your “My Hope” Party
- Practice Telling Your Story
- Nov 3-10: My Hope Week
- Hold Your “My Hope” Party!
- Pray for Others’ Parties
- Invite Friends to “My Hope” Sunday at Church (November 10)
- Re-connect With Your Friends to Follow-Up
- Invite Friends to Your Small Group
- Consider Another Matthew Party! Perhaps “Friends for Dinner”