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Equipped for the Harvest


7 - Clearly Communicating the Gospel

Pop Quiz! Get a partner. number yourself either one or two. Number 2: you have forty-five seconds to share the gospel with your neighbor. Go. Ok number 1 - your turn. Go.

Sometimes we get scared of sharing our faith because we are worried, what if I get it mixed up? What if I miss something? Again, start here and keep sharing your faith until it become natural and comfortable. And don’t worry about critics. I live the story that one day a lady criticized D. L. Moody for his methods of evangelism in attempting to win people to the Lord. Moody's reply was "I agree with you. I don't like the way I do it either. Tell me, how do you do it?" The lady replied, "I don't do it." Moody retorted, "Then I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it."

Most modern evangelical presentations of the gospel centre on four points. We’ll go into them a little deeper later, but they are roughly, 1) something of God and his original plan for humanity 2) how every one of us messed it up by turning away from God to death and condemnation 3) what God has done for us in Jesus 4) how to respond to what God has done for us in Jesus. For example, today we’re working off of pastor Bill Hybel’s four points to ponder, the four point outline is not unique to him. Not at all. Tim Keller speaks `of the gospel as having four chapters - roughly the same four points as Hybels. Mark Dever, in his book, “The Gospel and Personal Evangelism”, shares the gospel using four questions and answers. Billy Graham’s famous tract “Steps to Peace With God” has four steps, and of course, who could overlook Power to Change’s Four Spiritual Laws! 

One criticism of the “Four Step” approach is that you don’t ever clearly see the gospel shared this way in the Bible itself. I went back through most of the presentations of the gospel in the book of Acts and nearly all of the gospel presentations were a two-step approach - basically, here’s what God has done in Jesus, and here is the appropriate response. Tim Keller helps us here by clarifying that technically, the gospel is only the third point - the joyful proclamation of what God has done for us in Jesus, but that the other points set a context for the gospel that is so vital in understanding the gospel that we may share them all and call the whole thing the gospel. In Acts, the mostly Jewish audience already understood much of who God is and the consequences of sin, so they only needed to hear the good news about Jesus. As Paul took the gospel to the Romans however, he spoke to them more about the nature of God and the reality of sin, and so, in our context, a four-point gospel makes sense. 

So four points, easy to memorize, easy to share. Like I said, we’re going to follow Hybel’s outline, but you’re going to get a bunch of my personality as well. I’ll also share with you some of my favorite illustrations to use. You may have your own. Here’s the point - start here and keep sharing your faith until it become natural and comfortable. So here we go - the four points. Take fingers and make guns - gospel guns. cross pointers. There you have it, God, Us, Jesus, Me.

Hybel’s outline is very easy to remember. Four words. God, Us, Jesus, You. Expanded: God loves us, We blew it, Jesus paid for it, You must Receive Him. Now remember, the first two points just set the context for the gospel, so I think they are fairly interchangeable. Sometimes, you might want to lead with God - what’s God’s like, why did he make us, what does he expect from us, and then lead to how we’ve sinned and rebelled against him. Other times, it might be more natural to start with point two - why is this world so messed up? Do you think you’re a good person? How do you know? What if you’re not? and then move into speaking of God and his holiness and love. The popular method of gospel sharing called Way of the Master starts with challenging people’s supposed goodness before moving on to God.  So start with either. 

  1. God. God Loves Us. 
    1. God is Loving: The unique revelation of God in the Bible is that God is Love. This is not assumed in many other world religions. Hybel’s starts with this, though I find that most people in our culture assume this, yet misunderstand it because we are narcissists. Of course God loves me, I’m me! Yet there are two times I stress this one - I’m talking to someone who is broken and hurting, and needs to know that God loves them, or I’m talking to someone from an Islamic background, because it knid of freaks them out in a good way when we speak of God as loving.
    2. God is Holy: A harder pill to swallow is that God is holy - perfect, cannot look on or be in the presence of sin. Absolutely pure and separate from anything impure. He is perfect light, in whom there is no darkness or even shadow of turning. 
    3. God is Just: This is perhaps the most important thing that we need to set up in our cultural context - that God is not only loving and holy, but that he is just and rightly must punish and separate from himself any evil that violates the moral fabric He has built into the universe. 
    4. Ill: Our longing for justice. This brings us to our first illustration - our longing for justice. When someone does wrong to us, we want justice. You can see it in children, give one a bigger slice of cake, and the others scream, “That’s not fair!” We see it in ourselves when we are wronged, we want sue or have some recompense and for the person to be punished. When someone violates us, our relativistic notions of morality that we keep for ourselves get pushed out of the window. Among this younger generation there is a profound contradiction - this generation is marked for a zeal for social justice, and a relativistic morality that would insinuate that their is no such thing. Every time you complain or protest about something - check yourself, isn’t your complaint a cry out for justice? We want justice, we just don’t want it for ourselves.
  2. Us. We Blew It
    1. We sinned and become evil. We separated ourselves from God and are to be condemned to hell. We are enslaved to sin: helpless to initiate any action to change or save ourselves. The basic idea is that we have to have a sense of the bad news before we can understand and appreciate the good news. Now this may need a great deal of explanation in our culture because we don’t have a good working understanding of sin and consequences in our culture. Last week that’s where I shared that telling your story can put flesh and blood on weighty terms like sin and guilt. One vital idea is that they must understand not only that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” but that they have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Obviously it is a work of the Holy Spirit to convict the heart, but one helpful way to reveal the heart is from Ray Comfort’s Way of the Master. He uses the acronym WDJD - what did Jesus do - referring to the fact that Jesus was masterful at revealing the sinful condition of the hearts of the people he spoke to.
      1. W - Would you consider yourself a good person?
      2. D - Do you know any of the 10 commandments? Have you ever broken any of them?
      3. J - If God were to judge you on the basis of His moral law, would you be innocent or guilty?
      4. D - Destiny. Where do you think you’d end up?
    2. Illustration: Parking tickets. Our inability to save ourselves. Let’s say you accumulated many parking tickets over the years a couple of hundreds of dollars in fines, and you just never bothered to pay them. You didn’t think they were a big deal. Finally you are brought in to court and you still don’t think it is a big deal, I’ll just pay back the tickets now, you say. But now, because of your neglect, the problem is that the charges have become criminal and instead of a couple of hundred dollars in fines, you are fined 45,000 dollars. You can’t pay it back. So you plead, I’m sorry judge. Here, I’ll make a deal with you. I’m actually a good person. If you wave the fine, I’ll just try harder not to park illegally again. The judge says, that’s great, but you still have to pay the fine.
    3. The more religious a person is, the more self-assured, the more you need to press this point. Some are not ready, and you can tell and telling them the gospel at this part might do more harm than good, because if God’s not breaking their heart over their sin, then of what use it it to share with them that Jesus saves. That can lead to false conversions because Jesus just becomes a badge to justify their self-righteousness. On the other hand the more broken, the more despairing over sin, people are, the less you may have to emphasize this point, because they know that their sin brings death. Give grace to the humble, chop down the proud.
  3. Christ: Christ paid for it. easy way to remember: Christmas, Good Friday and Easter.
    1. Christmas: Christ was God and man and therefore uniquely able to solve our dilemma.
    2. Good Friday: Christ died in our place as a substitute; expressed the love of God, upheld the holiness of God and satisfied the judgement of God.
      1. Ill: Forgiveness Costs: You break my car. If I am to forgive you, I must pay instead of forcing you to pay.
    3. Easter: The Spirit Gives Life Again. God raised Jesus from the dead to show that he holds the keys to life. He ascended into heaven and will return for those who await his coming. The Bible says that the same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is now at work in all who believe.
      1. Ill: The Judges Dilemma. A judge sees his own son. He must pronounce his son guilty, yet as a father he can pay the fine himself.
  4. You: I must receive Him
    1. Each must receive the forgiveness and leadership of Christ personally. Now here is where we tend to lose it. How do the five-points of Calvinism fit in? Can I press them to believe if I don’t know if they are elect? Should I tell them to receive the Lord, or repent, or believe?
      1. It is biblical to press for response. In the book of Acts, every time the gospel was presented the hearers were pressed for response.
      2. Receive, believe and repent are all biblical words.
      3. Don’t press for superficial response. Use discernment to wait for the heart to cry out, what must I do to be saved?
        1. Repent (turn from sinful life), Return (to God), Receive (Jesus’s new life)
        2. ABC: Admit you are a sinner, Believe in the Lord Jesus, Confess Him as Lord.
        3. I can’t, You can, Please do.
    2. Ill: Two religions: Do verses Done:

Illustration: The Bridge



6 - Telling My Story

Story of humiliation after my first year of bible college.

Why should people listen to you? Tell them your story.

  • All believers have a story to tell.
  • People are generally open to hearing stories.
  • A story is hard to argue with.
  • Because you listen to them first

Paul told his personal story three times in the book of Acts and twice in the Epistles (once in Philippians and once in Galatians). We’re going to focus today on hiss telling of his story in Acts 26.

Agrippa II ruled over a large region mostly just east of the Sea of Galilee. He was grandson of Herod the Great, known in the Bible as the ruler who had the babies in Bethlehem killed near the time of Jesus’ birth. He was son of Agrippa I, who shows up earlier in the book of Acts as having beheaded James and imprisoned Peter.  Even though the land under his control was far north of Judea, because of Agrippa’s expertise in Agrippa’s expertise in Jewish affairs, it was his responsibility to appoint the high priest and oversee the Jerusalem Temple’s finances. Thus, He maintained a close working relationship with the Jewish leaders and deeply understood the various theological controversies of the day. 

One of the biggest of these controversies centered around the belief in the resurrection of the dead. There were basically two strong parties in this controversy. The Sadducees oversaw the maintenance of the Temple and oversaw many of the civil affairs of the people. The Sadducees were an interesting bunch, because even though they kept the Temple, they were actually pretty secular. They minimized God’s involvement in the world’s affairs and rejected any belief in an afterlife or resurrection. You might remember the time that the Sadducees tried to trap Jesus by asking about the woman who had seven husbands - whose wife would she be in the resurrection? They were trying to trap Jesus by demonstrating the absurdity of life after death (Jesus of course schooled them). The Pharisees, on the other hand, affirmed the resurrection and God’s involvement in the world as its judge. 

Paul knew that Agrippa was familiar with all of the controversies of the Jews and so he started there: 

“I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am going to make my defense today against all the accusations of the Jews, especially because you are familiar with all the customs and controversies of the Jews. Therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently”

 So he starts by just simply identifying himself by the categories that Agrippa was familiar with. This is called “Finding Common Ground” 

It is interesting that another time in Acts when Paul shares his story, he is in front of a mob. In Acts 22, Paul doesn’t stress his Pharisee credentials or expose his familiarity with Jewish controversies, but instead emphasizes the zeal for God he had as a Jewish man. “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished.” Why would he emphasize his zeal and his attempt to persecute members of the Way of Christ? Because that’s what his audience was doing! I was just like you are! 

For me personally, I have a number of ways of sharing my story. I often tell my story emphasizing that I basically grew up not believing in God in an secular agnostic family. Yet if I am talking to a lapsed Catholic, I’ll pull out my Catholic card. I come from a line of Irish Catholics and did the whole baptism, catechism, first communion thing, but religion never took to me. Both stories are a true part of my story, but I emphasize different parts depending on whom I am talking to. To blue-collar hard working people, I emphasize the work ethic my parents instilled in me, and the barrier that was to my understanding of the gospel. That’s all part of my story, so when I tell my story, I’m searching for common ground.

Each time Paul tells his story, he hangs it on three handles, which we’ll signify with: BC , cross, AD.


“My manner of life from my youth, spent from the beginning among my own nation and in Jerusalem, is known by all the Jews. They have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest party of our religion I have lived as a Pharisee. And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. And for this hope I am accused by Jews, O king! Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead? 

 “I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities. 

Notice how Paul then goes into his own story of who he was before Christ. Yet he does so very concisely and ties in his backstory with the common ground theme that he hopes will keep Agrippa’s interest. He identifies himself with the Pharisee’s, placing himself in the centre of the Jewish controversy over the resurrection. Also, as we go on in the conversation it seems clear that this also happened to be the side that Agrippa was most sympathetic to.  So Paul is again building bridges and finding common ground. After bringing up the key point of the resurrection of the dead, Paul then turns his story to tell of his initial reaction to Jesus. He shares his internal thoughts: “I was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth.” Interestingly, where many Pharisees may have thought that someone should do something about the Christian movement, Paul’s beliefs led him to action. This is Paul’s confession. A confession is a part of telling your story in which you open up a bit of the sinfulness your life to the person. They need to see concrete examples of what sin looks like. Instead of telling someone, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” your showing them what sin actually looks like with flesh and bone on it in the story of your own life. 

  • I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, [he calls Christians, “saints”
  • but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. 
  • And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, 
  • and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities [notice, not “righteous anger” or “theological zeal” but “raging fury” I was out of control. ]

This is why your story is so effective. If you just say, “You’re a sinner” - well, maybe they don’t even know what sin is, and you risk offending them with a religious label that mean’s very little or nothing to them. But when you say you were acting out of control with raging fury, and giving details of how your sin consumed you, that speaks to the heart and illustrates for them what you mean when you say “all have sinned.” Don’t skip over your confession in telling your story. 


“In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’


Paul goes on to tell of his personal encounter with Christ. Obviously, here is something different and personal to each one of us. Describe what led you to the Lord. What was the moment that the Holy Spirit led you to the son of God? Again - this is the part that no one can really argue with, it is your story. I saw a bright light and heard a voice from heaven. Now I can provide a different interpretation of your subjective experience, but I can’t deny that in your mind something happened. It’s good to do this for yourself - I call it the objective subjective experience proof of faith. I know what I’ve experienced. It might be subjective to you, but it is objective to me because I was there. Christ changed my life. this is what carried me though a severe time of doubt that I had in university. I had to remind myself that God had met me. To deny him would be like to deny my own mom’s existence. JI Packer starts out his book, knowing God telling the story of an old man who stood at the back of an audience shaking his head as a speaker attacked the Christian faith. Knowing the man to be a Christian, 

As Paul put it, “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto him until that day.” Notice, not “I know what I’ve believed” or “I know that I’ve believed” but “I know whom” - ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. Paul knew whom he had believed. The who is important because, again, you can tell people Christianity is a relationship, not a religion, but until they see the who with whom you are relationship with, that is only a cliche, and a non-sensical one at that.

In addition to the whom, there is the how - this is a great time in the telling of your story that you start explaining to the person how they can be saved. Notice how subtle this is in Paul’s telling of his story: Jesus told me, Paul says, to go everywhere and tell everyone to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’  The gospel is the proclamation of what God has done for us in Christ, but just because you’re “sharing your story” doesn’t mean that you skip over the proclamation.


“Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.” 

The final part of you story is how God changed you since coming to Christ. Paul speaks of his obedience to the Lord Jesus’ words and how ever since he has had in his ministry “the help that comes from God”. Nothing testifies to the truth of the gospel like you’re own changed life. As D.L. Moody once said, “Out of 100 men, one will read the Bible, the other 99 will read the Christian.” 

How has Christ changed your life?

Notice the effective part of the story - there is radical change and there is thematic continuity. What I mean is, the radical change (I once hated Christians and wanted to see them all arrested and killed off, to now I go everywhere declaring the message of the Christians and people want to arrest and kill me). But there is also thematic continuity - I once participated in controversies around the resurrection of the dead as a Pharisee, yet now because of Jesus I understand with greater clarity more than ever before in my life that the dead are raised, because the scripture teach that the Christ must raise, I know I know the Christ who has been raised! 

We call this a unifying theme. For Paul the two things that tied his story together was his intense passion for serving God and his and Agrippa’s shared interest in the resurrection. 

The Concluding Question

And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.” But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words. For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.”

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Paul directly confronts Agrippa with a question of response: Do you believe the prophets? 

 And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?”And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.”

 Other Concluding Questions

  • So, that’s what happened to me, can you relate to any of it?
  • Does any of this make any sense to you?
  • How about you — what’s your spiritual background?
  • Were you taught any of this growing up, or maybe I can ask, what do you believe?
  • Would you like to know how you can know Jesus Christ?

Ask people about themselves. Listen to their story.



Starting Conversations

I shared on Friday that Thanksgiving in my dad’s house was always a bit strange. Thanksgiving was my dad’s favorite holiday, but we didn’t celebrate it like anyone else. First, we never had turkey. He didn’t like it. So we’d have tacos, or spaghetti, or tuna salad. So really, thanksgiving dinner was just like any other meal. But not entirely like any other meal, because my dad would give his thanksgiving speech. This was no regular thanksgiving speech. Oh, it started like a speech that most people might say before Thanksgiving - he’d start out by saying how thankful that he was for us kids and for his health - but then the speech would go off in a different direction. See, my dad was really into “The Power of Positive Thinking” and self-actualization gurus. His motto for life was that, “If your brain can conceive it, and your heart, can believe it, than you can achieve it.” So the rest of my dad’s Thanksgiving speech was a pep talk of how we create our own reality and produce our own blessings. Then we’d get gifts. Now, my dad is not a gift-giver. Birthdays and Christmas hit and miss, but Thanksgiving, we’d get gifts. The gifts were always the same - a new self-help book. Then we’d eat. 

As I became a Christian, the irony of Thanksgiving at my dad’s house struck me. While Thanksgiving was his favorite holiday, it seemed to me that he missed the point. There didn’t seem to be a lot of thankfulness in his speech. Think about it, what would you think if you gave me a present, like bought me a car or something, and then I responded with a speech in which I credited my own attitude and positive thinking that produced such blessing in my life. You’d be like - it wasn’t your positive thinking that got you that car, I gave you it! See, giving thanks implies that there has to be someone to give thanks to. This is not just nit-picking - giving thanks, and to whom we give thanks, is an essential part of the Christian faith, the heart of the gospel.



4 Address Book Revival

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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?


  1. Be friendly: Treat people as if they are worthy of our love, respect and concern. They are!
  2. 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. 
  3. Work on getting their first name and use it with them: The sweetest sound to your ears is your own name.
  4. 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. 


  1. 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.
  2. The great part about meeting up with an old contact is that there is immediately something for you to talk about.
  3. 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
    • Baptism
    • Holiday Celebrations: Friends for Dinner
    • Thanksgiving Next week
    • Weddings
    • 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
  • October
    • 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)
  • November
    • Re-connect With Your Friends to Follow-Up
    • Invite Friends to Your Small Group
    • Consider Another Matthew Party! Perhaps “Friends for Dinner”

Listen Now!



Be Yourself: Your Evangelism Style



Some of you have tried to share your faith. You wen’t to some training or a how-to seminar or campus ministry. You gave it a go, but it never seemed natural to you and so you came to realize that you just weren’t any good at it. I’m not an evangelist and never will be. 

 That was the experience of Mark Mittleberg. He was a young Christian, very excited to share his faith and so he signed up for a certain churches summer evangelism program. He was trained a certain, very direct means of evangelism, similar to what sales people call cold-calling. Approaching strangers and going door-to-door in the neighborhoods around the church. Mark found this to be very difficult work, and in the end he concluded that if this is what evangelism was, he was not cut out for it - he simply was not an evangelist. 

 Today Mark serves as evangelism director for one of the largest and most influential churches in North America and has written books on evangelism. He has led hundreds of people to Christ. 


What happened? Mark learned that one of the secrets to being a highly potent Christian is to be comfortable in yourself and who God created you to be and then to use your unique personality and communication style to share the faith naturally in a way that plays to your strengths as an evangelist while working with others who can cover your weaknesses. 


The idea that God has made us each different is very basic to the new testament. In Romans 12:3-8, Paul writes:

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”

The idea behind this passage is that God did not make us cookie-cutter carbon copies of one another, but that he gave us a unique personality and communication style for the purpose of serving one another. Therefore we do ourselves a disservice and do damage to the mission of the church when we take a one-size-fits all approach to ministry. We understand this sometimes in the church, but then we often train people for evangelism as if there is one way to do it. A lot of evangelism training is like Saul outfitting David. If you don’t know the story, there was a giant mountain of a man named Goliath who was challenging Israel, God’s people. And so this young shepherd David says, how dare he challenge the Lord, I’ll fight him! And so Saul, the king, brought David in a gave him all his own armor to go out a fight. But the armor didn’t fit him and David knew that his hope wasn’t in the armor but in his God, and so he left the armor by the side of the river and went to face the challenge in clothes more suited to him with God at his side.  Some of us have given up on evangelism because we’ve only tried it wearing armor not suited to us - methods handed to us from others, but that don’t really fit us. 


So today I want to encourage you with this. You are able to share your faith, you can be an evangelist, but I want to help you find your voice. 

Direct Style 

Some of you are Peter’s. We’ll call this the direct style. Like Peter in the Bible, you’re bold, confident, bold, assertive, to the point. Peter rarely backed down, especially after the resurrection. If you go to Acts 2 you can get a pretty clear picture of Peter’s evangelism style. Acts 2 is the day of Pentecost, the day that the Holy Spirit first filled the church. Jerusalem was filled with people and when the Holy Spirit gathered a huge crowd, who was it but Peter who lifted up his voice above them all and started proclaiming to the gospel of Jesus. Peter held back no punches - he very directly addressed the crowd and told them that they had crucified and killed Jesus. Peter so directly confronted their sin that people actually called out, “what shall we do to be saved.” and again Peter did not shy away from telling them, very clearly, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you for the forgiveness of your sins.” This is a guy to get in your face. These people like doing randoms, they make great preachers. This is the style that we often most closely associate with evangelists. Billy Graham has a direct style - a simple message of faith that he has delivered over and over again. Mark Driscoll is a pastor with this style - and his church sees a lot of salvations every year. Ray Comfort is also a very direct evangelist. This is the Power to Change, may I ask you a question style. I’m not this style, so I have had to learn to be more direct when I share my faith and in university I even intentionally put myself in situations in which I was stretched in this area and am glad I did, but this is not me. I’ve actually been encouraged to be more direct as part of this church - I find the Chinese are very direct. If you visit our Chinese side, they’ll just ask - are you a Christian or not, ok then you go to the seekers class. We Canadians are way less direct - where are you on you spiritual journey? That sort of question would drive you Direct Style people insane. 



  • Be sure to seek God’s wisdom so you will be appropriately sensitive and tactful. 
  • Allow the Holy Spirit to restrain your desire to come on strong.
  • Avoid judging or laying guilt trips on others who approach evangelism with a different style.


Suggestions for Using and Developing This Style

  • Ask friends for feedback on whether you have the right balance of boldness and gentleness. Keep in mind Paul’s phrase in Ephesians 4, “speaking the truth in love.” Both truth and love are essential.
  • Prepare yourself for situation where you will stand alone. The nonbeliever you confront with the truth will sometimes feel uncomfortable. Even non-confrontational Christians who are with you will sometimes feel that discomfort. That’s ok. Under God’s guidance, challenge people to trust and follow Christ and He will use it.
  • It is critical that you listen and value what others say before telling them what you think they need to hear. 
  • Team up with friends who have other styles that may be better matched to the person you hope to reach.


Intellectual Style 

Some of you are Paul’s. Like Paul in Acts 17, when you share your faith you are more analytical, you use apologetics and reason. You anticipate questions people may have. You love reading things that give you insight as to how people think.  Others who have this style might be pastor Tim Keller, apologists like Josh McDowell or Ravi Zaccharius. This is my primary style. I was doing the exercise with my wife and the thing says - Often when listening to teachers or TV commentators, I mentally (or even verbally) argue with their positions and logic. I’m like, yep I do that all the time. I often gripe to Jean about logical fallacies I see or hear. That’s me. 



  • Avoid getting stuck on academic points, arguments, and hair-splitting points of evidence. These are mainly to clear the path to the gospel message.
  • Remember that attitude is as important as information. 1 Peter 3:15 says to have “gentleness and respect.”
  • Avoid becoming argumentative.


Suggestions for Using and Developing This Style

  • Set aside time to study. This style, more than others, relies on preparation. Take serious action on what it says in 1 Peter 3:15.
  • Avoid doing all your preparation in an academic vacuum. Get out and talk to others. Try out your arguments on real people, and make refinements as necessary.
  • Develop your relational side. Talk to people about everyday events, and what is happening in their life and your.
  • Team up with friends who have other styles that may be better matched to the person you hope to reach.


Testimonial Style:

Some of you are like the man whom Jesus healed of blindness in John 9. “They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”  “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind.”


Notice the man refused to enter in to theological debate with them, just kept saying, “I once was blind but now I see.” He had a story to tell. People with this style are often clear communicators because they know their story, they can be good listeners, vulnerable about your personal life, ups and downs, overwhelmed by the account of how God reached them, and always looking for links between their experience and that of other people. This was my other primary style - and since I did this study I started listening to myself in conversations and realized just how much I do this. Lacy Sturm from Flyleaf at Rock the River last year had a way of connecting people to her story. Nick Vujacic.



  • Be sure to relate your experience to the life of your friend. You need to first listen to them to be able to connect your story to their situation.
  • Do not stop with merely telling your story. Challenge them to consider how what you have learned may apply to their life.
  • Don’t downplay the value of your story because it seems too ordinary. Ordinary stories relate best to ordinary people!


Suggestions for Using and Developing This Style

  • Practice so you’ll be able to tell your story without hesitation.
  • Keep Christ and the gospel message as the centerpiece of your story. This is an account of how he changed your life.
  • Keep your story fresh by adding new and current illustrations from your ongoing walk with Christ.
  • Team up with friends who have other styles that may be better matched to the person you hope to reach.


Interpersonal Style 

Some of you are Matthew’s. Matthew was a tax-collector minding his own business when Jesus approached him and said, “Follow me.”  What did following Jesus look like to Matthew? 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 

(Luke 5:27–29 ESV) These are the friendship evangelists. They are relationally warm, conversational, compassionate, friendship-oriented, focuses on people and their needs. This is what we talked about last year when we spoke about using our homes and our family rooms as centres of evangelism. This is having people over for bbq and hockey matches and building relationships with them to lead them to Christ. This is the strategy of the My Hope with Billy Graham initiative where you build friendships and bring people into your home to hear the gospel. So this fall is your turn to shine. 



  • Beware of valuing friendship over truth. Telling people they are sinners in need of a savior will test relationships.
  • Do not get so involved in the process of building friendships that you forget the ultimate goal: bringing people to know Christ as Lord and Savior.
  • Don’t get overwhelmed with the amount of needs your friends might have - do what you can and leave the rest to God.


Suggestions for Using and Developing This Style

  • Be patient. This style tends to work more gradually than others. Look and pray for opportunities to turn conversations toward spiritual matters.
  • Continually create and plan opportunities to interact with friends and new people through social events, sports, etc. This will put you in a place where your style can flourish.
  • Practice telling the gospel message so you will be prepared when the opportunity arises.
  • Team up with friends who have other styles that may be better matched to the person you hope to reach.


Invitational Style 

Some of you are like the woman at the well in John 4. The woman at the well in John 4.“Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the town and were coming to him.” (John 4:27–30 ESV). You are always thinking about who you can bring with you to a place where they can hear the gospel. Hospitable, persuasive, enjoys meeting new people, enthusiastic, spiritually opportunistic, outgoing. You are a networker. You know who to connect with whom. Allison Mo - you might be this style. 



  • Don’t let others do all the talking for you. Your friends and acquaintances need to hear how Christ influenced your life. In addition, they have questions you could answer concerning the implications of the gospel.
  • Carefully and prayerfully consider which events or church services you take people to. Look for ones that are clear with truth, but sensitive to the needs of spiritual seekers.
  • Do not get discouraged if people refuse your invitation. Their refusal could be an opportunity for a spiritual conversation. Also, their “no” today could become a “yes” tomorrow.


Suggestions for Using and Developing This Style

  • When inviting people, try to get written details about the event into their hands (either preprinted or handwritten). Whenever appropriate, offer to pick them up and do something together before or after the event.
  • At events, mentally put yourself in the place of the other person. Ask yourself whether the event would relate to your concerns or mindset. Reinforce the positive aspects to the person you invited.
  • Offer constructive feedback to the event sponsors consisting of specific and realistic ways you think they could improve the event and make it more compelling to the people you bring. 
  • Invite friends to other, not specifically “outreach-y” type of events to develop your friendship. When they invite you to something that is important to them, try to go with them if your conscience allows.


Serving Style

Some of you may be Tabitha’s (also called Dorcas) in “Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. And he stayed in Joppa for many days with one Simon, a tanner.” (Acts 9:36–43 ESV) Tabitha was known for her good works and surrounded by people who she impacted for the gospel - now hopefully you don’t have to die before they actually hear the word of God preached! Traits, Patient, Others-centered, Sees needs and finds joy in meeting them, Shows love through actions more than words, Attaches value to even menial tasks. This is my wife, Jean. We work together well. 



  • Remember that although “words are no substitute for actions,” “actions are no substitute for words” either! In Romans 10:14 Paul says that we must verbally tell people about Christ. You can do this in many ways as you point to Him as the central motivation for your service.
  • Don’t underestimate the value of your service. It is your style that will reach the hardest to reach people. Acts of loving service are hard to resist and difficult to argue with.
  • Be discerning as to how much you can do realistically without depriving yourself or your family of needed care and attention.


Suggestions for Using and Developing This Style

  • Find creative ways to communicate the spiritual motivation behind the service you offer. If could be through a word, a card, or an invitation.
  • Seek God daily for opportunities to serve others for eternal purposes. He will open your eyes to areas you might have missed. Be ready to follow His leadings, even if they seem a bit out of the ordinary.
  • Be careful not to impose your service on others. Pray for wisdom so you will know where to invest your efforts in ways that will be strategic for the kingdom of God. 
  • Recruit nonbelievers to work along side of you while you are serving others. This can open up opportunities to speak with them about your central motivation for serving - the Lord.
  • Team up with friends who have other styles that may be better matched to the person you hope to reach.



Be Yourself: Your Evangelism Style

Some of you have tried to share your faith. You wen’t to some training or a how-to seminar or campus ministry. You gave it a go, but it never seemed natural to you and so you came to realize that you just weren’t any good at it. I’m not an evangelist and never will be. 

 That was the experience of Mark Mittleberg. He was a young Christian, very excited to share his faith and so he signed up for a certain churches summer evangelism program. He was trained a certain, very direct means of evangelism, similar to what sales people call cold-calling. Approaching strangers and going door-to-door in the neighborhoods around the church. Mark found this to be very difficult work, and in the end he concluded that if this is what evangelism was, he was not cut out for it - he simply was not an evangelist. 

 Today Mark serves as evangelism director for one of the largest and most influential churches in North America and has written books on evangelism. He has led hundreds of people to Christ. 


What happened? Mark learned that one of the secrets to being a highly potent Christian is to be comfortable in yourself and who God created you to be and then to use your unique personality and communication style to share the faith naturally in a way that plays to your strengths as an evangelist while working with others who can cover your weaknesses. 



The Harvest Formula

Intro: Frustration of being told what to do, yet not how to do it. Happens at school, happens at job, sometime it happens at church as well. We tell you to share your faith, share your faith, share you faith, but sometimes we’re not good at supporting you to do it. 





The Harvest

This is why I am using the term, “unskilled laborers” to describe these guys and us in our task of evangelism. These are not the best of the best, not the specialists, but they are committed to the task and will see the job done. Jesus uses a harvest analogy in speaking to these guys. In Israel around harvest time, there would be so much work to be done that the farmers - the professionals - would need all the held they could get. So they would go to the marketplace where there were scores of unskilled laborers milling around, and they would hire them for a day or two or however long it took to get the job done. These weren’t professional farmers but they could get their hands dirty and work. Grunt work, is what we used to call it. Evangelism is the grunt work of the church.