John Stumbo Video Blog No. 48

July 12, 2017

12:41

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Drawing from portions of his Friday morning Council message, John presents four practical methods for evangelism, while cautioning that each church must decide for itself how it wants to reach the unsaved in its community. Note: in this video, John mentions the book GOD in YOU. Order yours from the Alliance Service Center by calling toll-free 1-877-284-3262, Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m., MST.

Transcript

Hey Alliance family, great to be with you again today. I love seeing many of you at Council. For those of us who weren’t there, the sessions are available for us online. Our Web site has each of the sessions archived for us to be able to still engage in that experience.

Today’s theme is evangelism. Now, just like all of us are called to give but not all of us have the gift of giving, or all of us are called to serve but not all of us have the gift of service, so all of us are called to share the good news of Jesus Christ—even though not all of us have the gift of evangelism. I certainly don’t. I’ve complained to the Lord about that a few times through the years. I wish I had that gift.

It just stuns me the way that I can give a gospel presentation in a public setting and nobody responds, and another guy stands up there and sneezes three times and the whole altar is full. I’m being sarcastic. But that’s the way it’s felt like from time to time—Lord, why don’t I have more of that gift? But that’s His choice. That’s His decision.

We all have the call to share the good news and to be intentional about it. I’m saddened because our numbers are not as good as they have been in the past for how many professions of faith that are being recorded through our Alliance churches. The number of baptisms has gone down. Now, I’m not a big metrics, numbers guy. You hardly ever hear me talk about those kind of things, but each one of those numbers represents a soul, and we care that there’s more souls coming to faith in Jesus Christ and are expressing that in ways by becoming baptized followers of His.

And the fact that those records are weak among us in this moment in our time disturbs me. I think it disturbs a lot of us. I’m not questioning our hearts as the Alliance family. I know that we’re all passionate for reaching people for Jesus, but there’re periods of times in some of our lives or ministries where our intentionality has been weakened.

And so what I’m calling us to right now in the Alliance family—as I call us to be a loving, proclaiming, reaching, launching family—is for us to be very intentional about the ways that we proclaim the message of Jesus in life and in word, in demonstration and in verbalization.

This video blog today is going to take us back to bits and pieces of Council where I am suggesting four possible methods of sharing the gospel with people that your church and you as a church leader may want to consider of God as calling you to use one of these. The first is the well-proven strategy of church planting.

Gavin Johnson:
Anytime we have great talent on our staff team that usually means it’s about time for a gospel goodbye. God has probably brought that teacher who can finally hold down the pulpit, and you don’t feel insecure about going out of town; that’s not a gift primarily for you but a sent one to be sent out of you.

John Stumbo: Did you just say, “A gospel goodbye?”

Gavin Johnson: A gospel goodbye. Yeah, that’s it. They hurt, and it’s for the glory of King Jesus.

Matt Cohen:
Unlike Spencer, I don’t have stereotypical church planting gifts, and I’ve never considered myself to be a city person. I had doubts that God was calling us there even after we arrived. But what we never doubted was that God wants churches planted that make disciples of Jesus through the gospel for his glory. So we put our heads down and we got to work. We made a commitment that we wouldn’t even consider leaving for five years. So now six years later, we are now certain that God was in fact calling us to Philadelphia to plant a church. But it was the opportunity and the commitment that actually confirmed the calling for us. And so we learned immediately to make a big splash for the gospel we would need not just to be a church plant but to become a church-planting church.

Two years after we launched, the Lord just dropped into our lap the most gifted minister of the gospel I have ever worked with. He’s a man named Mike Anderson. He’s here with me at Council. He started as a seminary student, a member of our church, and then became a small group leader. Then we hired him as a church planning resident. He went through our greenhouse process, and he launched City Lights Center City in October of 2015 with a team of 40 people that he handpicked and he trained. And by God’s grace, that team of 40 has more than tripled in the last year and a half. They’ve seen baptisms and conversions. They’re reaching a much more diverse part of the city than where we originally planted. So we really believe that our kingdom impact is not primarily through seating capacities, J.D. Greer says, but through sending capacity. And the Lord’s been gracious to us in that.

John Stumbo: So within your first five years, God led you to give away 40 people and plant.

Matt Cohen: Yes

John Stumbo: We celebrate that. And now, Spencer, you’re getting that dream.

Spencer Sweeting:
We believe that God calls us to plant churches that plant churches. As we look around in our city, it seems the trend over the last season has been for churches to leave the neighborhood. Our vision, our desire is to see the church marinate every neighborhood in our community.

John Stumbo:
A second opportunity available to us is the influx of international students coming to the United States. This has become big business for higher education. And the number of international students studying in the United States is set to double in the next few years, which provides us this beautiful chance for us to bring the gospel to these people who often come from some of the least reached and most difficult to access countries in the world. They’re sending us their best and brightest to study in the United States, and most of them never get to experience an American home, a Christian church. And through a relationship that we have with International Students Incorporated (ISI), we’re just encouraging churches that have access to international students because of university systems around you to seriously consider this opportunity. This is Doug Shaw, President of ISI.

Doug Shaw:
We are finding out that international students, whether they’re Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, they want to connect with Americans. They want to know how Americans live. They want to know how Americans . . . what they believe as well. We’re finding out that it really doesn’t matter what we hear in the media. The fact is there is a hunger and thirst after righteousness. They don’t know exactly what they’re seeking for. And we come along and we serve them in different ways. That’s really our posture; it’s a posture of service, whether it’s picking them up from the airport, feeding them meals, taking them to retreats, introducing them to American families at Thanksgiving and Christmas. And then we find them responding in great and marvelous ways. In fact, the last three years we’ve had one student for every single hour of every single day tell us they accepted Jesus.

John Stumbo: Amen. Amen. We celebrate that.

Doug Shaw: Thank you.

John Stumbo: And then going back to some of the least-reached places on the planet and taking the gospel with them.

That’s right. And they go back to their own countries where people who are executives of the Chinese Communist Party, who have accepted Jesus and are sacred believers. We have people in the Islamic world. We have people in India. All of this is possible, really, because of churches that understand and see the vision and the timing of what God is doing by sending the best and the brightest into the U.S.

John Stumbo:
Alpha. It’s not a resource developed by The Christian and Missionary Alliance, but it is one that some of our leaders are finding very effective. I asked Joel Bubna, one of our Alliance pastors from Ohio, to introduce this subject.

Joel Bubna:
This is what it looks like . . . you come; you share a meal, and then over the meal you don’t pray and do all these Christian things, you just share a meal together. After the meal there’s about a half-hour video like what you just saw. For 10 weeks you’re just talking about Jesus, “This is who He is, and this is why it matters.”

He said, “The only other thing you need to know, Joel, is in your table group after the discussion, people are going to ask questions and you don’t answer them. You just let them ask. This is what’s going to happen. Three or four weeks in, all of a sudden they’re going to have ears to hear because you listened to their questions.”

Why does it work? Part of the story in the Books of Acts is hospitality that Jews invited Gentiles into their homes. Jews went into Gentile’s homes. People invited people into their homes. And when you marry hospitality and truth, it just works.

John Stumbo:
A fourth resource that was suggested at Council was one that’s very personal to me. Years ago, I wrote a very brief book that I wanted to use to share faith with friends that I had that verbalizing that faith face to face was quite awkward and difficult. For five years that book sat on my shelf undeveloped, unprinted. But just before Council, I felt the freedom to have it printed and distributed.

It’s a gift book. It’s not teaching you how to do evangelism; it’s intended for us to share this with somebody we’d like to share a faith with.

It starts very simply. “I’m aware that God exists. I believe that you are too. Deep down, perhaps buried under a lifetime of pain and unanswered questions, somewhere within your soul, you know there is a God. I’m not going to try to prove to you that He exists. I don’t think I have to. I think you already know. You may be ignoring Him or running from Him. You may love Him or hate Him. You may think He’s wonderful or frightful. You may not know what to think of Him or may not think of Him at all, but of this you can be sure, God exists. He’s real.”

Some of you will hear overtones of the opening chapters of Romans in those words.

Jumping about 40 pages, “Sin, we’re pretty good at missing God’s ideals, doing our own thing, wanting our own way, and trying to run our own lives. We’d rather not have anyone tell us what we can or cannot do, even God. But some of us have admitted that this isn’t working too well for us. We admit that we need a Savior. We want a Savior. We’re lost without a Savior. Some people view this lost without a Savior talk as weak. That’s understandable. In fact, it’s true. We’re admitting we are weak, too weak to live a life that we really want to live, too weak to love like we really want to love, too weak to change what we want to change, and all of this makes us horribly unqualified for a perfect place like heaven.”

Later on, I go to say, “Christ, Christian, Christianity, the longer the word gets, the more confusing it gets. I’m not asking you to embrace everything that’s happened under that bigger title of Christianity, but I’m asking you to not miss the Christ.”

It reads in 20 minutes or so. It’s intended to be a careful, thoughtful, gracious presentation of the gospel in a gift-book form for the price of a greeting card and that you can give to a friend. Because of the donation of a generous donor, all the proceeds of this sale of this book go to the Great Commission Fund (GCF). So, it’s just a beautiful combination of being able to support the GCF, be able to share the gospel with somebody that you care about, and doing it in a winsome way.

Now, if none of these four options feel like they’re right for you in your setting, that’s fine. I’m not asking you to adopt anything that we’re promoting just because we said so. I’m saying to you, “Alliance family, I know our hearts burn for the people of this world. I know you care about reaching your neighbors for Jesus, and I’m just asking you, ‘What is your plan? What intentionality are you showing? What are you investing time, money, energy, prayers into to take the good news—the love of Jesus—to the people that are around you?’”

Alliance family, let’s invest in this—God’s peace to you as you do.

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