Reaching Out Without Passing Out #2
CLIP: Comfort Zone
I have no idea how that guy did that or where they got such a huge balloon but I do know for some of you, even hearing the “E” word “Evangelism” strikes fear in your heart and threatens your Comfort Zone. Reaching Out to others is our first call and commission. It is the purpose of the Church as a whole. United Methodist claim our purpose and mission is, Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Two weeks ago we talked about how Evangelism can only take place in a healthy congregation. We talked about the Barnabas Card or Encouragement Cards which you’ll find in the pew pockets.
Today, I’m going to share another tool for doing reaching through Non-Confrontational Evangelism in our series. Reaching Out Without Passing Out.
Do you remember Show and Tell in school? That’s where you would bring something you thought was really cool, show it to the class and then tell them where you got it and why you thought it was so cool. Well, I almost flunked Show and Tell. I didn’t mind getting up in front of people. I like that. But I never really had anything I thought was cool enough. Oh, I always brought something but nothing like what everybody else brought. Or what anybody else told us about.
I was never really excited about Show and Tell until I was 22 and accepted Christ. And then I had not something but someone to Show and Tell about. I was so full of what Christ had done for me that I could hardly contain it. Maybe that’s why God called me to preach.
All I know is that ever since that moment I’ve been compelled to Tell about Jesus and try to Show Jesus in all I do. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always do a very good job of it either, especially the Show part. Sometimes, too much of Billy shows through and not enough of Jesus. But in the words of John Wesley I’m striving for and going onto perfection.
Anyway, my point is this. You and I have both experienced the unconditional love and grace of Christ Jesus in our lives. We have experienced redemption and the forgiveness of our sins through Jesus. And now, we are called and commissioned, just like the disciples, to “Show and Tell.”
I personally think that our church should be so evangelistic in nature that we start serving special cookies in our nursery and preschool. I think we ought to serve Billy Graham Crackers. (1)
I know that was bad but I couldn’t pass it up. This morning as we continue our series “Reaching Out Without Passing Out” let’s look at the passage from Mark 1:16-22. (NRSV)
 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea–for they were fishermen.
 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”
 And immediately they left their nets and followed him.
 As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets.
 Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
 They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught.
 They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
Here we have the call of Peter and Andrew, James and John. Obviously they saw something in Jesus, in his personality and lifestyle that was inviting. Jesus SHOWED them who he was with how he lived. And then Jesus took time to TELL them how to have the same thing. And Jesus called them to Follow Him. From the very beginning Jesus was all about Show and Tell and calls us to do the very same thing.
For most of us the Show part is the easy part. We truly try to live for Christ and let Christ live through us. We admit that sometimes WE get in the way of others seeing the Christ in us. We block the world’s view. Or we simply get it wrong and blow it. But for the most part Jesus can be seen in our lives and in our lifestyles.
I read about a mother whose daughter worked for a pizzeria. Mom had the job of picking her up from work every evening. When her daughter would get into the car she’d smell so much like pizza that often times Mom would go back into the store and buy a pizza.
When we give our lives to Christ, when we spend time with Christ and seek to live for him; when we let His love, grace and forgiveness cover us, then we’ll have Christ’s aroma in our lives. His love will spread and shine through us for others to see and breathe in. And when we live like that, our very lives become an invitation. And when our lives are an invitation, others will be compelled to seek him and ask questions about our faith. Remember what Francis of Assisi said: “Preach Christ always, use words when necessary.” It’s the same principle.
A. AND. Some of us get stuck there. We know the SHOW part, we can sort of do that but for some of us, the TELL part stymies us and that’s very problematic. For some of us, when someone asks us about our faith we suddenly act like we’re either in the Secret Service and try to keep the Good News to ourselves. Or we think we’re part of the Witness Protection Program and act like we’ve got a Get Out Of Jail Free card that says we don’t have to Witness about our faith. Why is that?
I know sharing the faith and sharing what we believe can be a challenge. I know there’s a great fear of rejection and fear of saying something wrong. There are all kinds of reasons, excuses and rational for NOT sharing the Gospel. But not a single one of them can trump the Great Commission.
Someone said that the reason Jesus Ascended into Heaven as soon as the Great Commission was given was so He wouldn’t have to listen to excuses and questions or debate the issue with the Disciples. Instead He just stated our Mission, left our marching orders and said GO.
B. One of our greatest fears is that people will perceive that we’re like Lucy in an old Charlie Brown. Lucy says to Charlie Brown, “I would have made a great evangelist.”
Charlie Brown answers, “Is that so?” Lucy says, “Yes, I convinced that boy in front of me in school that my religion is better than his religion.”
Charlie Brown asks, “Well, how did you do that?”
And Lucy answers, “I hit him over the head with my lunch box.” (3)
We don’t want to be perceived as those kind of Christians. So, out of fear of rejection, fear of saying something wrong, fear of being labeled and fear of not knowing what to say, we don’t say anything. But that’s not what Jesus called us to do is it?
So, How Do We Tell Others without becoming overbearing? I truly believe that if we serve Christ and if we live for Christ then that pleasing aroma of Grace and the light of Christ will shine through us and people will ask us about our faith. And when they do, we need to be ready.
Not only that, but when we serve Christ and live for Christ, our eyes and ears and hearts will be attuned for opportunities to share, in non-confrontational ways, the difference Christ has made in our lives. And when that happens, we need to be ready.
A. And that brings us to the TELL part. I know how frightening the TELL part can be. I know how challenging it can be. I ran across something in one of Adam Hamilton’s sermons that I want to share with you as a way to share your faith without being confrontational or judgmental in any way whatsoever. Adam Hamilton the Senior Pastor of Church of the Resurrection in Leasburg, Kansas, just outside Kansas City. It is the largest United Methodist churches in America with an average of 7,500 people in worship every weekend.
Adam Hamilton and the Church of the Resurrection have as one of their churches goals and mission is the transform and revitalize the mainline denominations. They hold a Leadership Institute I’ve had the privilege to attend for a few years now. Plus, they give us permission to exploit everything they are doing and to adapt it to our needs.
Having said that, this comes from a series of sermons he did on World Religions and comparing them to Christianity. This is from his final sermon. CLIP
B. So, what does that have to do with us. Rev. Hamilton’s six points are an awesome way to talk about our faith. They are non-confrontational. They are focused on Christ and on our beliefs. And they follow a progression which tells the story and even leads up to an invitation.
I have put those 6 points on business cards for you to carry with you. The card is there as a reminder of how to share your faith when someone asks. Let’s review:
1. I believe the accounts of eyewitnesses. You simply talk about the Gospel accounts.
2. Because of the Christian Ethic. This is one of my favorites: Most of the world’s religions have an ethic of retribution or justice. The eye for an eye evening out the score kind of ethic. The Christian ethic stands that on it’s head and says “love your enemy, do good to those who despise you.”
3. The compelling picture of God in Jesus. Jesus is the very image of God in flesh and blood. When we look upon the face of Jesus we see the heart and soul of God. And Jesus’ life, His words, His message are so compelling that we can hardly not follow. There’s an excitement that bubbles up just being in His presence.
4. The redemptive power of the cross. We live in a fallen world. The word we use is Sin. Our sin, our disobedience caused a great chasm to open between us and God. The cross is the bridge across that chasm. And the cross points to the depth of God’s love for us. God didn’t just abandon us when we did wrong. God’s love for us is so deep, God sent His only Son, who gave His life on the cross for us..
5. The hope given because of life after death. Christianity is the only religion which offers the hope and promise of resurrection. I don’t know how I’d face death or help others face death without the gift and promise and hope of the resurrection. That one day, we will be raised to life eternal.
6. My own personal experience. And then share how this has impacted you. (4)
The invitation is my addition. It’s simply there to remind you that you can make a simple invitation to anyone and everyone to be your guest at worship and Sunday School where they can learn more.
One of the exciting things that is happening at Annual Conference this year is that everyone present is being asked to sign a Radical Hospitality Covenant: “Before Almighty God and my sisters and brothers in faith, I enter into this Holy Covenant to heed Jesus’ call to “make disciples of all nations” by extending the hand of Christian witness to at least two people each week until God calls me from this life. Amen.”
What this covenant requires is that we find two people in our midst, anywhere, and ask if they have a church home. Simply asking if someone has a church home opens the opportunity to show radical (or what some call real, Christ-like) hospitality. And there’s no telling where the Holy Spirit might lead that person. But how will they know if someone doesn’t SHOW AND TELL?
When Jeff was twelve, he and his best friend broke a window while playing baseball. They looked around to see if anyone had seen them. No one was in sight, except for Jeff’s little brother. They went over and offered him a piece of candy not to tell. He refused it. “I’ll give you my baseball,” Jeff said. “Nope,” said his little brother.
“Then what about my baseball and my new glove?” Jeff’s friend added. “Nope!”
“Well, what do you want?” they pleaded.
With a grin and a gleam in his eye Jeff’s little brother said, “I wanna tell.”
We should have the same kind enthusiasm for telling the world the Good News that Jeff’s little brother had for telling his parents the bad news. (5)
Now I don’t expect you to go out to lunch today and grab the waiter of waitress and start working them over trying to get them to come to church. However a nice polite question, “Do you have a church home,” Could be the starting point for the transformational work of Christ.
AND the next time someone brings up questions about the faith, about what you believe. You have an outline by which you can tell them “Why” you are a Christian.
I hope that all of us can become comfortable with talking about our faith. I don’t want any of us to flunk “SHOW AND TELL.” I hope all of us can become like Jeff’s little brother and “Wanna tell.”
This is the Word of the Lord for this day.
1. Parables, Etc. (Saratoga Press, P.O. Box 8, Platteville, CO, 80651; 970-785-2990), August 2001
2. Ashton T. Stewart, Jr., World Witness, The Board of Foreign Missions for the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, Olney, Maryland
3. The Pastor’s Story File (Saratoga Press, P.O. Box 8, Platteville, CO, 80651; 970-785-2990), July 2001
4. Rev. Adam Hamilton, Church of the Resurrection, Kansas
5. Stories for Preachers and Teachers Software, HeavenWord Inc. 1999
Other References Consulted