How To Prepare A Sermon: Part 5, Arrive at the Proposition

By DrBillNo Comments

Hi All, especially up-and-coming preachers!light shining down

We are working on our ten-part series on How to Prepare a Sermon.  We’ve already given you all ten steps of sermon preparation, and part 1, Praying about your Sermon; Part 2, Textual vs. Topical; Part 3,Study the Passage; Part 4, Read the Commentaries.  Now, we need to talk about the Proposition.

This is key. The better you do here, the easier the rest of the sermon will fall into place. What is the Proposition? The Proposition is the entire message squeezed into one sentence. It is the ‘sermon in a sentence’; also known as “the Big Idea”. And please note that I said that you “arrive at the proposition”. You don’t create the main idea of the passage; you discover it. You don’t go to it; it comes to you. It IS the message. Then the Mains and supporting material are just unpacking that single idea.

The Proposition is the sermon in a sentence. Sound ridiculous to think you can pack an entire sermon into a sentence? If you cannot say what you intend to say in one sentence, then you do not have a clear idea of what you are talking about. Now, obviously all of the depth of meaning, the expanded content, and the specific application cannot be included in that single sentence; else you would have quite the run-on sentence. But yet, a well-designed proposition captures the essence of the sermon in its grasp.

The Proposition, or Big Idea, or Sermon in a Sentence is something you “arrive at”, you don’t create it. It comes to you as you study God’s Word. God the Holy Spirit reveals it to you, and then you write it out. The Word of God has a message for you and for your congregation. Because the Word is “living and active, and sharper than a two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12), it has a very specific application for your unique church situation. Discover it, and you have discovered the Big Idea for your sermon. How do you know if you have arrived at it? If someone says “give me a quick summary of your sermon”, you can actually give a quick summary, in just a sentence.

Once you have the Proposition, then the Main Points support and explain it more fully. Main points will not add anything new to the big idea of your sermon; they will merely expand upon concepts or themes which are inherent in your Proposition.

Once you have the Proposition, you have a significant part of your sermon already done. Now please note that we are at point 5 in your sermon preparation, and you have just arrived at the Proposition. So you have done quite a bit of research and study already. But once you get the Proposition down, the rest of the sermon will come together relatively quickly, because you already know everything you need to say. You just have to unpack it.

So that is the Proposition. You can read more about the Big Idea here if you like. We are half-way through the process of writing a sermon. Stick around for the rest of the series.

Exercise: Select a passage of Scripture, anywhere from four to ten verses; read it through several times; study it; then try to express its meaning in one sentence.

God’s best to you as you prepare to teach God’s Word!

Dr. Bill Miller

General, Proposition, Sermon Preparation

Our Churches Yesterday and Today

By Gladys Perez-NejudneNo Comments

by Charles (Chuck) Robey

According to the scripture, we are now living in the church age. The period of time from Pentecost (Acts 2:1-9) to the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). It is called the Church Age because it covers the period in which the Church is on earth, corresponding with the age of Grace (Ephesians 2:7). In prophetic history, it falls between the 69th and 70th weeks of Daniel (Daniel 9:24-27). And Jesus predicted the Church Age in (Matthew 16:18) when He said, “I will build my church.” Jesus has kept His promise, and His Church has now been growing for almost 2,000 years. The book of Revelation, given by the Apostle John, gives an inspired intuitive understanding into the church age. These insights come in the form of a synopsis of seven churches from Asia Minor (Revelation 1:4).

“The number 7, occurring 54 times in the book of Revelation, appears more frequently than any other number. In the Bible it is associated with completion, fulfillment and perfection ” ( Gen.2:2) (Ex.20:10) (Lev 14:7) (Acts 6:3). (Dr. Ryrie)

So, is God perfecting His church age (Rev 1:11,20) ? Is He speaking to our churches of today ? “These 7 churches were actual churches of John’s day. But they also represent types of churches in all generations. This idea is supported by the fact that only seven churches were selected out of many that existed and flourished in John’s time, and by the statement at the close of each letter that the Spirit was speaking to the churches”. (Rev. 2:7) ( Rev. 2:11) (Rev 2:17) ( Rev. 2:29) (Rev. 3:6) ( Rev. 3:13) ( Rev. 3:22).(Dr. Ryrie)

To understand these Revelation writings, one must depend on God’s Holy Spirit.( 2 Peter1:21). The scriptures reveal our future. However, one must always realize the devil also works hard to conceive mankind by convincing that God’s prophecies are beyond our understanding (Ephesians 6:12).

Though theses were literal churches in that time, there is also spiritual significance for churches and believers today. In other words, the modern 21st century can defiantly parallel certain conclusions, from these churches, picked out and named by God’s Holy Spirit.

Why were these churches singled out, you might ask ? In my opinion, God wanted to reveal seven different types of individuals/churches throughout history and instruct them in His righteousness. How do these churches measure up to today’s churches ? Our focus should be on what message God is giving us through these particular churches. The seven churches are:

(1) Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7) – the church that had forsaken its first love (Rev 2:4).

(2) Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11) – the church that would suffer persecution (Rev 2:10).

(3) Pergamum (Revelation 2:12-17) – the church that needed to repent (Rev 2:16).

(4) Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29) – the church that had a false prophetess (Rev 2:20).

(5) Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6) – the church that had fallen asleep ( Rev 3:2).

(6) Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13) – the church that had endured patiently (Rev 3:10).

(7) Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22) – the church with the lukewarm faith (Rev 3:16).

Read the rest of the article here.

General, Preaching

How to Prepare a Sermon in Ten Easy Steps

By DrBillComments Off

Hey Preachers, and Future Preachers!

In this post, I’ll just summarize for you the main elements of sermon preparation. Then if you want to look at any of these elements in a greater way, take a look at the “Sermon Tips” category of this website.hands

Sermon Preparation in Ten Steps:

1. Pray

If you want to be engaged in a spiritual exercise like preaching, you will need spiritual power.

2. Select your Text & Topic

I believe in pursuing a more textual approach to preaching, rather than topically-based.  See the post “Sermon Preparation: Textual vs. Topical”.  The text will determine the topic; but if you choose topic first, then you need to make certain that you are addressing a significant portion of Scripture so that the text of God’s Word directs your message.

3. Study the Passage

Before you open any commentaries it is important to read, meditate, dwell upon the passage at hand. Study its layout.  Make an outline of the flow of thought.  Identify key themes; important verbs; repeating ideas. That is, thoroughly immerse yourself in the passage so that you know it really, really well. This is one of the most important parts of the sermon preparation process. It is here that you learn the message which God is trying to deliver in the passage. Find God’s message for you here, so that you achieve Focus.

4. Read the Commentaries

Once you have completed step three, then you can read the commentaries to learn the historical, socio, grammatical context of the passage.

5. Arrive at the Proposition

This is key. The better you do here, the easier the rest of the sermon will fall into place. What is the Proposition? The Proposition is the entire message squeezed into one sentence. It is the ‘sermon in a sentence’; also known as “the Big Idea”. And please note that I said that you “arrive at the proposition”. You don’t create the main idea of the passage; you discover it. You don’t go to it; it comes to you. It IS the message. Then the Mains and supporting material are just unpacking that single idea.

6. Develop the Mains

Your sermon can have anywhere from one to five Mains; usually no more. However, I did listen to a message by John Piper which had 17(!) points. But that message was aimed at pastors, so maybe you can break the normal rules in those cases. The Mains explain and unpack all the powerful concepts which are stuffed into your Proposition. The Mains need symmetry to be good Mains.

7. Provide supporting material

This is the main content of your message which supports each of your Mains. It is here that you are teaching the Scriptures, explaining, illustrating, applying, comparing, contrasting, etc., all to make a point.

8. Write the Conclusion

This is where you want to take it home. The conclusion must be powerful, personal, and memorable. This is where you touch the heart.

9. Write the Introduction

Yes, the introduction often comes right at the end. The main goal here is to get their attention and to introduce the topic, thus “introduction”. Once you know the main thrust of the sermon and the main points, it is much easier to write the introduction.

10. Create the Title

Finally, you can choose the title. The only point of the title is to advertise and promote the sermon and let people know in a very brief way what it is about. If you choose your title too early, you may find yourself preaching to the title, rather than the text. Don’t confuse the two.

So, there you have it.  How to prepare a sermon in ten easy steps. Now all you have to do is take a lifetime to master it.

Yours for great preaching,

Dr. Bill Miller

Preaching, Sermon Preparation

Recovering the Great Commission

By Gladys Perez-NejudneComments Off

by Piotr Krakowczyk
Recovering the Great Commission – reflection on Matthew 28:16-20 and Matthew 10:7-8
The Great Commission can be found at the end of Mathew’s Gospel: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (28:19-20). There is, however, a less known commission of Jesus in which He tells His disciples: “As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely you give” (Matthew 10:7-8). Unfortunately, this commission has practically disappeared from the missionary strategies of our Churches. A few of us dare to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, or drive out demons. We prefer to speak, to teach, and to baptize, and enjoy a quite good income out of all these activities.
The message – the kingdom of God is near
During ten years of my ministry, I have gone to many nations, preached thousands of sermons, given lectures and conferences on various topics, and baptized many people, mostly children. And I can’t complain: this work provided me with enough financial assistance to live a comfortable life. Perhaps, I could dare to say that I am fulfilling the Great Commission of Jesus quite well. However, a few things puzzle me when I look closer at my missionary life: the content of my preaching and teaching; God’s hand stretching to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders; and the Gospel being preached free of charge.
“The kingdom of God is near.” The content of this message is that God comes to rule over His people. As if He has made up His mind, seeing our suffering and misery, and decided to do something about it. “I have seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and specious land, a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:7-8). God comes to claim us back for Himself. He claims us back from the forces of evil, and He decides to restore us and give us back our very lives.
Jesus and His disciples succeeded in preaching this message. They helped the people to “see” that God is concerned with a sparrow; they enable the people to realize that everyone is precious in God’s eyes; and they were able to point out that the end of life is not emptiness and nothingness, but a joyful banquet in the God’s presence. Moreover, they did not only speak about it; they made into a reality.
The power of message – signs and wonders
“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons.” What a fascinating passage! What a commission! Yet, what have we – Christians of the twenty first century – done with these words? Many theologians and pastors came out with a hypothesis that sees all signs and wonders recorded in the Gospel as a myth or fairy tale. There are even Churches who claim that the era of signs and wonders was confined to the Apostolic Church. Thus, the miracles ended long time ago, and now is the era of knowledge and science. Could it be true? Could this explain the lack of miracles in the midst of our Christian congregations? But then, what about those who actually were able to fulfill this commission, those who healed the sick, raised the dead, cleansed the lepers, and drove out demons? His name was John Sung (1901-44), born in the home of a Methodist pastor in Fujian, China. He is considered one among the greatest Chinese evangelist of 20th century. There were numerous cases of healing in his ministry. For example, instant recovery from a near fatal heart attack, the lame walking, the leprous being made clean, and the deaf and dumb being made whole. It was May 1988, Suangzang, Myanmar. Kam Cin Hau conducted a prayer meeting during which many people converted to Christianity and many were healed.
A hypothesis is a suggested explanation of a phenomenon. However, in the scientific world, any hypothesis requires testing, and one fact that contradicts a hypothesis is sufficient to disclaim it. The two above mentioned examples clearly indicate that signs and wonders are still part of Christian preaching. And there are more examples that could be cited in this matter. There seems to be no escape from concluding that if signs and wonders are missing from our proclamation, then there is something wrong. Jesus always meant what he said. If He said, “go and heal,” He meant it that way, and He promised to stretch out His hand and do the signs and wonders.
The message as a gift – giving it freely
If the content of the message can make us pause for a while and think about our preaching, and if the power of the message can challenge the way we do mission, the last part of Jesus’ commission – “freely you have received, freely you give” – should make us feel uncomfortable. Money is so woven into our missionary activities. In the eyes of many preaching the Gospel has become a commodity; more so, it has even become a way of living, quite affluent I would dare to say. And yet Paul set up an example for any missionary, namely having the joy of preaching the Gospel free of charge (1 Corinthians 9:18), and he warned against peddling the word of God for profit (2 Corinthians 2:17).
A mission station in one among the poorest country in the world, located in the rural area of the country is equipped with a vehicle, a truck, two motorbikes, and a house with kitchen, dining room, four bedrooms, two toilets, and the porch. The population of this mission reaches ten thousand. There are only two private trucks owned by local businessmen, few privately owned motorcycles, most of the houses are made of mud bricks and grass, and very few have toilets. Some church leaders and missionaries blame money as the major cause that accounts for the failure of Christianity in Africa and Asia. Aside of rich Christians living far beyond their needs, there are also rich missionaries living far beyond the wildest dream of the people whom they serve. In this regard, M. Gandhi said to the Christian missionaries working in India: “Noble as you are, you have isolated yourselves from the people you want to serve.
Yes. It is much easier to fulfill the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19-20 than the one found in Matthew 10:7-8. It is easier to speak, teach, and baptize than to proclaim God’s kingdom with all its power and free of charge. Yet, people are tired of beautiful words, but they are hungry for God; they do not want to be spoken upon, but they dream to be lifted up from their yoke of slavery. We have such a powerful message to share with the world. Can we share it the way Jesus and His disciples have done in the past? It will depend on how far we dare to go in trusting God’s promise and His providence.


Preaching Everywhere

By Gladys Perez-NejudneComments Off

by Rev. Brian Mathis

13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things; immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
1 Tim 4:13-16 (ESV)

Paul is giving Timothy instruction on how he is best to conduct himself as he serves God. These same instructions can be applied to each of us in our daily walk you may not stand behind a pulpit or a lectern teaching the word to groups of people; yet your interactions with others as you meet them on your job or in the grocery store or market shows your relationship and understanding of who Jesus is and what He has done for you. I know you may think that no one is watching you and that what you do has very little effect on those you meet but you will be surprised. Something I have learned is that Christianity and a walk with Jesus is not really something you can teach. It has to be something that is caught; it is best described as a fire. You can strike a match and you hold one flame as you move that flame near other stuff it catches and the flame spreads that is a simple visual of how your Christian walk should effect those you meet the bigger your flame for Jesus the more people will come to know Jesus through your actions more than through your words.

Don’t miss understand me; you must feed your flame through prayer and bible study. It is important that you personally know God’s word and apply it to your life and that is so when others come to you; you will be able to share it and give them direction on how to have a saving relationship with Jesus. Francis Assisi’s motto in life was, “There is no need to go and preach; if you do not preach everywhere you go.” I have to say I love that philosophy and it is one we should all desire to have. He was a man who believed in service to God and his fellowman. Through that service he was able to change the hearts and minds of those he met bringing Jesus to them and allowing the Holy Spirit to do its work amongst them. I want to help you understand the Holy Spirit is the one who brings salvation. You just have the privilege to be a vessel for Him and to God’s glory. I pray you are blessed and highly favored as you walk in the light of God’s Word today and every day.

Read original article here.


How To Prepare A Sermon: Part 6, Write the Main Points

By DrBillComments Off

Hi All, especially up-and-coming preachers!Luther

We are working on our ten-part series on How to Prepare a Sermon.  We’ve already given you all ten steps of sermon preparation, and part 1, Praying about your Sermon; Part 2, Textual vs. Topical; Part 3,Study the Passage; Part 4, Read the Commentaries; part 5, Arrive at the Proposition.  Now, today we are looking at that part of the sermon which will be the most memorable part to your listeners, the Main Points.

What separates great! Mains, from so-so or ho-hum Mains? Here are some guidelines you need to follow to write good mains which will captivate your listeners:

1.  The Mains explain and unpack all the powerful concepts which are stuffed into your Proposition.

Remember that your Proposition, is actually the “sermon in a sentence”. What that means is that the key ideas for your entire message are already inherent in your Proposition. The Mains then, help to explain, unpack, unravel, and reveal all the concepts already hidden in your proposition. If the Proposition is the “sermon in a sentence”, then the Mains are simply the sermon in three, four, or five sentences.

So when you write each of your Main Points, you need to be asking the question, “Does this Main Point unpack my Proposition?” If it helps to make your Proposition more understandable, then it may be a useful Main Point (if it meets the following conditions as well).

2.  The Mains should not introduce a concept or idea which was not inherent in your Proposition.

The reason for this is that it destroys the Focus of your sermon. If your Mains do not contribute to explaining your Proposition, then you have not clearly figured out the main point of your sermon.  The Mains explain your Proposition, they do not confuse or expand into new territory which is not inherent in your Proposition.

3.  The Mains need symmetry to be most helpful to your listeners.

The Mains need to have a sense of flow and direction.  Mains can help your sermon to be understandable, memorable, and even beautiful.

4.  The Mains are most powerful when they are phrased as actions to be taken.

There are a number of different approaches which you can take when designing your sermons.  Some sermons are inspirational, some are informational, some are action-oriented. All three are needed.  I personally have a bias for action-oriented sermons. Many people need to know how to live the Christian life in a God-honoring way that helps them to truly follow God.  I believe a preacher’s job is to help them do that. So sermons which are addressed specifically to people to take certain actions will often have verbs in them. For example, your Mains may be something like this:  ”Trust God during tough times,” “Follow God during rough times”, “Obey God during all times”. This is just a quick example, but it shows the key idea of placing an action step for each main. This pulls people into it, because you are talking to them directly.

5.  The number of Main Points should usually be from one to five points.

Finally, there is debate about just how many points a sermon should have. Andy Stanley makes a great case for just one main point. I think it is found in his book “Communicating for Life Change”. But some people prefer to take a more traditional approach to the Mains. In those cases, you need to have enough points to explain your Proposition, but not so many as to overwhelm the listener. Usually, from one (a la Andy Stanley) to five points is normal.

So there you have it. How you put your Mains together will make a big impact on your listeners. The Mains carry your content forward in an understandable fashion. Good Mains make for a good sermon.

Yours for better preaching!

Dr. Bill Miller

General, Preaching, Sermon Preparation

How to Prepare a Sermon: Part 4, “Read the Commentaries”

By DrBillComments Off

Hi All,books

We are working on our ten-part series on How to Prepare a Sermon.  We’ve already given you all ten steps of sermon preparation, and part 1, Praying about your Sermon; Part 2, Textual vs. Topical; Part 3, Study the Passage. Today, we will talk about using commentaries and other references well.

In part 3, Study the Passage, I warned all budding preachers not to run to the commentaries first. You must study the passage on your own, and let God speak to you first. I outlined a number of different exercises which you can do to study the passage. Now, once you have completed those studies on your own, you may certainly feel free to open up the commentaries and learn from those who have gone before.

What can Biblical commentaries give you that you can’t get on your own?

  • Historical Information – to see where this passage fits in the flow of Biblical and world history
  • Cultural Background – to understand the passage more thoroughly
  • Original Language Insights – even if you already know Hebrew and Greek, the insights of a language scholar can be very helpful
  • Linguistic & Grammatical Nuances – you may know the Hebrew or Greek word, but a good scholar can help you understand the unique nuances of the usage of said words in this particular passage
  • Related Texts – where else in Scripture this passage or theme is addressed

How can you use this information in your sermon?

The big mistake is to turn an inspirational sermon into a college lecture. That is not the purpose of the information you gain from the commentary. This “hard data” which you learn in commentaries is likened to the bones of a body. Bones give a body structure; no bones, and you have a jelly fish. Yet bones are often covered in soft flesh. So too, the information you gain from commentaries is there to give structure, strength, and content to your message. It is there to support your Big Idea or Proposition, and your Main Points. It is supporting material to the message which God has already given you as you executed Part Three of Sermon Preparation: Study the Passage.

What else can be used to study the Bible?

There are lots of great tools out there besides Biblical commentaries. Here’s a few:

  • International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
  • Greek & Hebrew Interlinears – provides English translation above the Greek and Hebrew words for each passage
  • Dictionary of NT Theology
  • The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah by Alfred Edersheim

Check out the reference section of a Christian bookstore for lots more.

So get a few commentaries and references and make good use of them; not as a crutch, but as a supplement to your own work and and study.

If you would like to keep your sermons organized, be sure to check out our “SermonBase Message Planning Software“.

God’s best to you as your preach God’s Word!

Dr. Bill Miller

Sermon Preparation

Biblical Giving Through Ministry Support

By Gladys Perez-NejudneNo Comments

Biblical Giving Through Ministry Support

by Loddie Resnick

The first article written on Biblical giving established the foundational principles relevant to a sincere believer’s acts of charity. Giving to those in need with no expectation of return is the true heart condition pleasing to the Lord. But another important aspect of giving is participating in taking the Gospel of Christ to the lost. Jesus declared the world is ripe for the harvest of souls. Who are the true laborers of the Lord will now be considered.

“Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.” (Acts 13:1-3) True believers fall under one of two categories when it comes to taking the gospel to the world. One group is sent and the other does the sending. One group is not more important than the other. Both are necessary for the proliferation of the Gospel of Christ and the nurturing of the family of God. Paul and Barnabas were called by the Holy Spirit for a work to be done while Simeon, Lucius and Manaen were called to send them off (support). The Lord calls and anoints both these groups.

The Apostle John, in his letter to Gaius, provides an accurate and definitive portrait of a believer supporting those who were sent. “This letter is from John, the elder. I am writing to Gaius, my dear friend, whom I love in the truth…..Dear friend, you are being faithful to God when you care for the traveling teachers who pass through, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church here of your loving friendship. Please continue providing for such teachers in a manner that pleases God. They are traveling for the Lord, and they accept nothing from people who are not believers. So we ourselves should support them so that we can be their partners as they teach the truth.” (3 John 1:1, 5-8) Notice that providing the needs of those who are sent is being faithful to God. And faithfulness is a necessary trait of the sincere believer. Gaius was encouraged to continue his support in a manner that pleased God. This was a reference to attitude as well as the amount given. Consider Paul’s words to the Philippians concerning financial help. The continual support of him, even as he ministered to other churches, was a sweet-smelling sacrifice, acceptable and pleasing to God (Philippians 4:15-18). Commitment adorned the heart of the Philippians as well their faithfulness. Paul reminded the Corinthians regarding their Jerusalem gift, “Each of you should give whatever you have decided. You shouldn’t be sorry that you gave or feel forced to give, since God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8) Again the heart attitude of a giver was central to pleasing the Lord. The amount was left to the giver. And he did well to remember that the Lord is a generous God who has given the same generous spirit to his children. John’s final word to Gaius on support acknowledged the partnership created with those sent. This partnership transcends the earthly realm and reaches the throne of God.

Read the rest of the article here.


Relationship Evangelism Revisited

By Gladys Perez-NejudneComments Off

by Charles Snyder
In my short article about Relationship Evangelism I got two responses. One encouraged me to keep writing. The other follows.
“Charles, you’ve written on what is the “in-thing” in churches today. It has its place, but Jesus said preach the gospel to every creature, He doesn’t mention friendship. You quote Acts as a basis for your view, but let’s not forget we read there in ch 7 how Stephen gave a message that told the truth and “cut them to the quick” – and they stoned him to death. We must tell the whole truth, hell and all, no matter what the reaction. Also, while we’re “making friends” forming a “relationship” the person can be hit by a truck.”
Yes there are a lot of churches that are doing some form of Relationship Evangelism. But non that are taking it to the extremes I am suggesting the Lord wants us to go, and do.
Yes Jesus said “preach the Gospel to every creature”, but He did not say open the doors of your building and preach to every creature who darkens the door.
Yes Stephen was stoned to death for preaching the Gospel. But he was not preaching in a church building. He was out where the people were. He was doing the work God gave him to do. We fear to go outside the doors of our comfortable churches and meet the people face to face.
As an example, our church threw a block party for the community. In my estimation this was a good thing as far as it went. Those who attended enjoyed a lot of fun things, food, and they heard the Gospel. They had to register when they came. All that was great. But no one went to their home afterward to find out if they had needs. If they were members of another church. If they were seeking the Lord. Nothing.
Luke 14:23 NIV Jesus says “Then the master told his servant, ‘go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house well be full.
Throughout the Gospels Jesus set the example. He went out into the streets and homes of the people. Yes He went into the synagogue, on the Sabbath, But the rest of the time He was out meeting the needs of the people.
My idea is perhaps a radical, or extreme form of Relationship Evangelism. It is to form teams who will go out into the roads and country lanes and meet the people where they live. To write down what they find. (church members, obviously lost, hurting, needs, etc.) The purpose of the first visit is to make the initial contact. If the Lord leads and the door is open yes at that time you should lead them to Christ. But the primary reason for the call is to establish a relationship. To break the ice so to speak. To begin to show that you care. On the first visit you are planting a seed.
After that first visit, if there is no immediate need the church could meet, perhaps a month later go back to follow up to build a positive relationship. You would pray for the Lords leading as you went. If there was an imediate need, and the church could meet it, it should be done as soon as possible. Otherwise the exact length of time is not what is important. What is important is that you go back time and time again to see if they have a need the church could pray for or meet directly. The follow us is when you are watering the seed or tender plant.
Teams could be husband and wife or two men for the initial contact. If they find a single mother of a widow or just a woman living alone, the follow-up call could be made by, preferably, a team of two women, or a husband and wife.
If it is a family, the follow-up could be made by a husband and wife.
In most churches there are those who are good at fixing things, carpenters, handymen, mechanics, etc. Say you go to a home and find a widow with a broken or rotted board. A team of handymen or carpenters could go to the home and replace the damage. Say a single mother has car problems and no money to fix it. A mechanic in the Church could go with a partner to the home and fix the car. Or tow it to his shop to fix it, no charge. Many just need someone to talk to. That conversation can be directed around to the subject of salvation.
But you first have to get in the door. People are more and more reluctant to open the door and let strangers in. You have to build relationships first. In order to get in the door to talk to them.
Jesus went about meeting the peoples needs. He walked up and down the roads and country lanes meeting the needs of the people, and talking to them about the things of God. What compelled them to come to Him was that he met their needs. He healed the sick. As a carpenter I am sure he did a little of that from time to time.
We will never know in this life all that Christ did. We see a small fraction of what Christ Jesus did in the Gospels. We see a small fraction of what the Church did throughout the rest of the New Testament.
There are six other days of the week. During those six days Christ was out walking the roads, looking for needs he could meet.
Then there are those who attend the church regularly. In many churches they never receive a visit in their home. When they stop coming no one visits them to see what is wrong.
In most churches only a small few do most of the work. Many will never volunteer, no matter how much you beg from the pulpit. But what if someone visited them on a regular basis. Say you scheduled a visit for members at least every six months or better yet every quarter. Just to touch base and see how they are doing, or if they had a need the Church could help with.
Don’t you think that may encourage them. If we really got to know the people and asked them they would likely get involved too. Say you had four men and two women who said they would help start the ministry of relationship evangelism. Once that core group got comfortable with the ministry they could each invite others to help at specific times. They could go with them until they are at a point where they are willing to do the same.
There are some who would just go out and make the first contact. Say on a specific street a church member lived. One of the team members could team up with that member to visit those on his or her street, who are un-churched. It makes sense that at least one member of the follow-up team be someone who has been there before.
The point is that what ever the interval, we need to visit the people where they live. When people come to church they don’t have time to spill their guts, so the speak, about the challenges in their lives. They are not likely to do it too much on a first visit. But if we keep coming back, showing them that we care, eventually the Spirit will work in their lives and cause them to respond.
If they don’t come to us, and we don’t go to them, we have not done our duty of going out into the roads and country lanes to bring them in.
Thousands of church members each year, fall by the wayside, because no concerned member bothered to visit and water that tender plant that was growing in the church, but the cares of this life pulled them away, because they did not think the church really cared for them, or their needs.
Jesus told Peter to feed His Sheep. Feeding the sheep is not just preaching the gospel. That is an important part of it. But it is important that we go to the sheep, on a regular basis and check on them.
A real shepherd will not turn the sheep into the pasture, and leave them there for a year, then go out to sheer their wool. No he will check them to make sure they have food and water. He will make sure they are not being abused by wolves or other animals that could harm them.
A gardener will not plant his seed and come back at the end of the season to harvest his crop. If he did that he may not be able to find the crop. No, he will cultivate, he will water, he will prune where needed, throughout the year. He will work to keep the wild animals away. He will remove damaging insects.
In the same way we should not win the lost, then leave them to their own devices. Surely the world will lead many astray. The cares of this life are many. They can get in the way of spiritual growth.
Discipleship is not just about winning the lost. It is about showing the people that they are not just a number. It is showing the people that you care. That your church cares.
We get so busy doing the work of the church. We get comfortable. We grease the squeaky wheel. But leave all else to their own devices. Those who actually ask for help are only a fraction of those who really need help of some kind or another.
Yes, my brother, we need to preach the gospel. But first we have to get inside the door. If we don’t get in the door we cannot preach. If we hit them over the head with the Gospel on the first visit, rather than depending on the leading of the Spirit, we may not be allowed back in.
We must show the people we care first, like Jesus did. Then they will be asking for the reason, why we care. Then the Spirit will have free reign to work through us.
Yes, someone we visit could get hit by a truck and die before they can receive Christ. It is our job to go, It is God’s job to save. If we go in our own strength, and pound them with the gospel we may get some honest conversions. We will have few who will repeat what we have done.
If we go out in love depending on the leading of Christ, we may talk to a person seven times or more before they actually accept Christ. But if we then invite them to go with us to visit others and show the love of Christ to their neighbors, they are more likely to do it.
We are not responsible if we go and they don’t accept Christ the first time. We are responsible to go and to keep on going, until Jesus comes again.

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