The Disciplemaking Worldview: What is the Gospel?

Auxano Navigator David Putman is committed to catalyzing gospel-centered, disciple-making movements. He lives out his mission by helping others go further, faster, and longer than they ever imagined. David’s writings have been the primary foundation of this SUMS Remix.

According to David, disciple making at its core is about worldview transformation. A person’s worldview is the way they see and understand the world.  Our worldview is based on our core beliefs. These non-negotiable beliefs determine our behavior. In other words, what we believe determines our behavior.

As a disciple of Christ we might frame it this way, “What we believe about the gospel determines how we follow Jesus.”

David uses a simple tool he created called the “Gospel Lens” to illustrate this. This tool is based on three questions that he believes have a very unique and specific relationship to one another.

It is essential that we begin with the gospel, move to disciple, and finally to the church in the order we ask and answer these questions. In other words, the gospel informs our understanding of disciples, and our understanding of disciples informs our understanding of the church.

What is the Gospel?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary by J.D. Greear

Could the gospel be lost in evangelical churches? In this book, J.D. Greear shows how moralism and legalism have often eclipsed the gospel, even in conservative churches. Gospel cuts through the superficiality of religion and reacquaints you with the revolutionary truth of God’s gracious acceptance of us in Christ. The gospel is the power of God, and the only true source of joy, freedom, radical generosity, and audacious faith. The gospel produces in us what religion never could: a heart that desires God.

The book’s core is a “gospel prayer” by which you can saturate yourself in the gospel daily. Dwelling on the gospel will release in you new depths of passion for God and take you to new heights of obedience to Him. Gospel gives you an applicable, exciting vision of how God will use you to bring His healing to the world.

A Simple Solution

The essence of gospel is good news. It’s an announcement that God has done something for us that we could not do for ourselves. All other religious systems offer us good advice. The gospel offers us the Good News.

Jesus begins His ministry with an announcement, “The time has come the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news” (Mark 1:15, NIV)! In essence He was saying the King has come. Everything has changed. What God began in Genesis, He completes in Jesus. This announcement is good news because in Jesus, God announces that we are redeemed, we are being renewed, and He is restoring all things through us.

It is one thing to understand the gospel but it is quite another to experience the gospel in such a way that it fundamentally changes us and becomes the sources of our identity and security. It is one thing to grasp the essence of the gospel but quite another to think out its implications for all of life. We all struggle to explore the mysteries of the gospel on a regular basis and to allow its message to influence our thinking.

The gospel is not just supposed to be our ticket into heaven; it is to be an entirely new basis for how we relate to God, ourselves, and others. It is to be the source from which everything else flows.

In the last message Jesus gave to His disciples, He told them that the way to fruitfulness and joy – the “secret” to the Christian life – was to abide in Him. They wouldn’t produce “abundant fruit” by reading books, intensifying their self-discipline, memorizing Scripture, or getting in accountability groups. Those things all have their place, but real fruit comes only from one place: abiding in Jesus.

The point is that to produce real love in your heart for God takes something beyond spiritual gifts, greater doctrinal knowledge, audacious faith, and even radical obedience. Something entirely different. Radically different.

That’s where the gospel comes in. The gospel, and the gospel alone, has the power to produce love for God in the heart. Paul calls the gospel “God’s power for salvation” (Romans 1:16). Religion can tell you what to do – namely, to “love God with all your heart, soul, and mind” and “to love your neighbor as yourself”; but the gospel alone gives you the power to do it.

The gospel, however, is not just the diving board off of which we jump into the pool of Christianity; it is the pool itself. It is not only the way we begin in Christ; it is the way we grow in Christ. As Tim Keller says, the gospel is not just the ABCs of Christianity, it is the A-Z; it is not the first step in a stairway of truths, it is more like the hub of God’s wheel of truth. All other Christian virtues flow out of it.

Always “begin again” with the gospel. Abide in it; swim in it; make your home in it. See more and more of your life through it. Be absolutely convinced at every moment of every day of the goodness of God in your life. That’s the only way you’ll ever really grow.

J.D. Greear, Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary

 A NEXT STEP

Author J.D. Greer has developed a tool he calls “The Gospel Prayer” to help saturate himself with the truth of the gospel.

Set aside a quiet time to read and reflect on the following prayer, and make it a part of your daily devotional life.

There’s nothing magical about this prayer. It’s not an incantation to get God to do good things for you. Incidentally, it’s also not my attempt to replace the Lord’s Prayer. This prayer is simply a tool to help you train your mind in the patterns of the gospel. The point is not the prayer; the point is thinking in line with the gospel.

The Gospel Prayer has four parts. The first two parts lead us inward, helping us to renew our minds in God’s acceptance of us and the value of that acceptance to us:

  1. In Christ, there is nothing I can do that would make You love me more, and nothing I have done that makes You love me less.”
  2. Your presence and approval are all I need for everlasting joy.”

Part 3 of the prayer has us consider what responding to the grace of the gospel looks like. Understanding God’s generosity toward us should lead us to radical generosity toward others.

  1. As You have been to me, so I will be to others.”

Part 4 of the prayer helps us see our world through the lens of the gospel and moves us to audacious faith. If the cross really does reveal God’s compassion for sinners and the resurrection reveals His power to save them, then our prayers on their behalf should be audacious and bold:

  1. As I pray, I’ll measure Your compassion by the cross and Your power by the resurrection.”

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 108-1, released December 2018.


 

This is part of a weekly series posting excerpts from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix book excerpts for church leaders.

SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; each solution is taken from a different book. Additionally, a practical action step is included with each solution.

As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS Remix provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company. He joined Auxano in 2012.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How to Eat on Purpose (for the Gospel)

If you and others around you are going to grow in gospel fluency, you need consistent immersion in a gospel-speaking community. This needs to be much more than a weekly gathering of the church where the gospel is preached (though it should include this). It also should be more than a weekly Bible study, small-group gathering,  or missional-community meeting (though I also recommend these). Growth in gospel fluency requires regularly being with others who know and love Jesus, speak about him often, and commit together to regularly remind one another of the gospel when they forget. 

Remember

From the very beginning of the story, the act of eating has played a very significant role in the worship and remembrance of who God is, what he has done, and who we are. God provided a great place for Adam and Eve to live, with all the food they needed. They regularly had the opportunity to remember God, his word, and his work, as well as who they were and what they were called to do. For them, every meal was a time to remember God’s abundant provision and express their worship of him alone. 

When we eat, we see that our food looks good. Some meals look like a painting by Monet, others look like a Picasso, but they are all works of art. We can smell our food. Just think of all the wonderful aromas of the best meals you’ve had. Don’t you love them! And as you put your food in your mouth, there’s an explosion of sensations—sweet, sour, bitter, salty. It’s like a party in your mouth! And you don’t just taste your food, you feel it as well. There are so many textures to experience. And then you hear it as it crunches, or sloshes or slurps its way into your body (some people are annoyed at this part of eating). Through all of this, you are nourished and replenished, strengthened and rebuilt. God wants us to eat and remember—enjoy and worship him—and, at the same time, have our needs met by him. 

Our Needs Are Met

Remember what he said to Adam and Eve: “Eat from any tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat of that tree, you will surely die” (see Gen. 2:16–17). Every meal was an opportunity to remember, trust, and obey. Every meal was meant to be an act of remembrance and worship. But they didn’t remember, trust, and obey. They ate unto themselves. God designed them to trust in his ability to provide for them. Something outside of them was meant to take care of a deep need inside of them—and he would provide that something. They were not to look outside of his provision.

All of this was meant to point us toward God’s ultimate provision in Jesus. Eventually, Jesus came to be God’s ultimate provision for us. He is the bread of life that meets our deepest needs and satisfies our greatest longings. Every meal is meant to cause us to remember and worship Jesus.

What if you took time at every meal—even very simple ones—to give thanks to God, praying not just at the beginning, but throughout the meal? Our family is trying to use our evening mealtimes more intentionally. We are presently rehearsing the Ten Commandments and going through the gospel with each one of them. We also have given each night a theme to guide what we do together at the meal.

On Mission Monday, we remember together our family’s mission to glorify God and fulfill his purposes in saving us… Teaching Tuesday is when one of the children takes responsibility for our learning from God’s word at the meal… With-Family Wednesday is the night we eat with our missional community… Thanks- giving Thursday is when we take time to give thanks for all God has done… On Fun Friday, we go out to eat, or we eat together and then go to a movie, have a game night, or take a special outing… Serving Saturday often means we are with others for a meal or serving some people… And Sunday is when we remember Jesus through taking communion together at our church’s gathering.

Consider our normal, everyday meals: what if your friends, your family, your small group, or your missional community made it a point to make every single meal a remembrance and worship experience? What if you slowed down enough to remember Jesus at every meal? What if you savored every moment as an opportunity to praise God? 

(Taken from Gospel Fluency Handbook by Jeff Vanderstelt, ©2017)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeff Vanderstelt

Jeff Vanderstelt

I'm honored that I get to dedicate my life to teaching and equipping the Church. I draw much joy from training and encouraging ministers of the gospel - YOU! I serve the local church as the Director of Missional Communities and a teaching pastor at Doxa Church in Bellevue, Washington. I'm also on the leadership team of Saturate the Sound, a Puget Sound church collective dedicated to seeing our region saturated with the good news of Jesus. When I'm not coaching our missional communities or prepping trainings and sermons, I oversee the vision of Saturate and the Soma Family of Churches; two organizations dedicated to the planting and strengthening of churches that multiply disciple-making communities. On occasion, I also get to do a little writing. Jayne, my beautiful wife of twenty-four years, and I have three children; Haylee, Caleb, and Maggie.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

3 Gospel-Nurturing Questions to Ask in Sermon Preparation

A few weeks ago, my daughter called to update me on her field trip to the nature center with my grandson Cash. When I answered the phone, her voice was shaky. Here is how the conversation went:

My daughter: “Cash committed a murder today! We were in the butterfly exhibit and I took my eyes off him for like 30 seconds. When I found him crawling out from behind the trees, I could see he was carrying something. When I asked him to show me, he unfolded his cupped hands and – MOM – pieces of a dead, mangled, yellow butterfly fell to the floor!”

Me: “Oh no! What did you do?”

My daughter: “We hauled our heinie to the next exhibit as fast as possible! When the coast was clear, I told Cash; ‘Hey buddy. You can’t hold the butterflies. You can hurt them. They are soft and fragile. Ok?’ Mom, it was so sad. He looked up at me and said, ‘I just hold it a little bit. I just look at it. Teeny Tiny. So soft.’”

I empathized with both sides.

  • The murderer: How sad that this little nature lover accidentally killed something he adored. In his passionate zeal, he came on too strong. He didn’t realize his own power and it had irreversible, devastating consequences.
  • The victim: How sad that this butterfly had his life violently and unexpectedly crushed. I’m sure he thought he was in a safe place. I mean, is there any place safer for a butterfly than in the protected butterfly habitat at the nature center?

The story represented something else to me. It’s really not that big of leap, if you think about it. Church communicators can be murderers. Our message is the victim.

Here are three questions to ask ourselves so that we won’t kill the gospel message in our zeal to communicate quickly and effectively:

#1: Am I coming on too strong?

Do we get in a hurry and come on too strong in our zeal? Are we bypassing Jesus in our eagerness to help people take steps towards Jesus? It’s a common shortcut and it’s tempting: just get people to the destination we’ve prescribed for them as quickly as possible.

We suck the life out of our content when we use all of our promotional real estate pointing people to programs and events in our church instead of next steps with Jesus. Our communication comes across as high pressure and out of touch when we forget to connect people to the higher ideals and spiritual disciplines outside our own church-sponsored events. Life change is not limited to an individual transaction on our church calendar.

Pro tip: Don’t tell the whole story in promotions. Just share little appetizers to pull people into what you have to offer. Then build a sequence of little content nuggets around a central theme in all the communication intersections along your audience’s journey of discovery (e.g., web, social media, platform, bulletin, lobby, etc.).

#2: Do I lack awareness?

Have we created a safe environment for people to ask questions and explore faith, or are we telling people what to think and do—rushing ahead to solve the problem for them? How can we slow down, trust God’s part in the process, and spend more time pointing people to places they can find the answer on their own, even if they color outside the lines a little bit along the way?

When we are students of culture, we have better relationships with ALL people, not just OUR people.

Pro tip: Link to resources, articles, and content from a variety of sources that address the questions people are asking about life, relationships, community, and healing. Don’t hesitate to share content from other leaders, industries, and environments to help people with whole life context around their spiritual next steps.

When we trust and empower individuals with a variety of reinforcements, they naturally take steps towards deeper levels of commitment inside their church family because they have ownership in the journey.

#3: Is my delivery sterile?

In our attempt to achieve professionalism and excellence, our institutional brands have become overdesigned, polished, and censored. Where can we do a better job embracing the imperfections of our humanity to demonstrate vulnerability and authenticity as fellow travelers on a journey?

When we create more space and environments for personal conversations, people are less skeptical and start to respond because they can relate.

Pro tip: While your corporate website can be centralized and standardized, loosen control over organic, conversational outlets like social media. Crowd source photos and content to build community, not perfection. Measure engagement, not graphics standards compliance. While the teams will need coaching along the way, be sure to promote connection over content and nurture conversation over correction.

Effective communications, on both individual and institutional levels, is about locating and disarming the landmines that have the potential to kill the message. But, it’s not difficult to make incremental improvements.

Just look for, and reduce, the areas where you might be wearing people out, turning people off, or taking up space with white noise to bring life back into your messaging.

>Read more from Kem.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kem Meyer

Kem Meyer

Kem Meyer has spent almost three decades working with small business, big business, not for profit, tech, finance, PR, advertising, schools and churches. They all have issues with communications; for better and worse. And, learning from them all, she's developed quite a knack for finding the simple themes that increase organizational clarity and remove barriers that get in the way of our messages.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Sharing a Social Network Gospel

In ministry, some things must never change, but others must change constantly.

Clearly, God’s five purposes for his Church are non-negotiable. If a church fails to balance the five purposes of worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism, then it’s no longer a healthy church, and it’s in danger of becoming simply a social club.

On the other hand, the way or style in which we fulfill these eternal purposes must continually be adjusted and modified because human culture is always changing.

For instance, when I first started Saddleback Church, fresh out of Southwestern Seminary, computers were in their infancy, slow and cumbersome and capable of very limited functions. The Internet was just a crude academic network and nobody had even heard of email. Now I often sit in my pajamas and have conversations with people across the globe.

In addition, you can get on a plane and within a few hours fly to almost anywhere in the world, and that means there’s even less of an excuse for not being involved in foreign missions, even if just for the short-term. The times, they are a-changing, and they’ll keep right on a-changing whether we want them to or not.

And that’s why at Saddleback, any time a new tool becomes available, we embrace it. Before the world wide web, there was Gopher, and Saddleback used it. And we’ve used the web, Facebook, Twitter, and every other major social media tool since.

Our message must never change, but the way we deliver that message must be constantly updated to reach each new generation.

In other words, our message of transformation must never change while the transformation of our presentation should be continual, adapting to the new languages of our culture.

Consider this: the word contemporary literally means with temporariness. By nature, nothing contemporary is meant to last forever! It is only effective for a while and only relevant in that particular moment – which what makes it contemporary.

What is considered contemporary and relevant in the next 10 years will inevitably appear dated and tired in 20 years. As a pastor, I’ve watched churches adopt many contemporary styles in worship, programming, architecture, music, and evangelism. That’s okay, as long as the biblical message is unchanged.

But whatever is in style now will inevitably be out of style soon, and the cycles of change are getting shorter and shorter, aided by technology and the media. New styles and preferences, like fashions, are always emerging.

Let me give you a word of advice. Never attach your church to a single style – you’ll soon be passé, and outdated. One of the secret strengths of Saddleback Church is that we’re constantly adapting; we’ve changed styles of worship, programming, and outreach many, many times in the last 36 years, and we’ll continue to do so because the world keeps changing.

The only way to stay relevant is to anchor your ministry to unchanging truths and eternal purposes but be willing to continually adapt how you communicate those truths and purposes.

In 36 years at Saddleback, we’ve never had a planned, organized visitation program. Yet, we’ve baptized over 47,000 people! Our church has grown simply by inviting one person at a time, friends from work, from school, and from the neighborhood, and from social networks.

Our members are constantly on mission to bring their friends and neighbors to our weekend services, where we reach out to non-believers – particularly those who have no real church background – by singing songs they can embrace, by voicing prayers that help them relate, and by preaching messages they understand. We make Christianity available on an introductory level to any visitor to Saddleback.

You might wonder if we attract these visitors by watering down the Gospel, but we don’t; we simply communicate it in ways that non-believers understand! Jesus drew enormous crowds (called multitudes) without compromising the message. He was clear, practical, loving, and he presented his timeless message in a contemporary fashion.

Lost people have a need for meaning, a need for purpose, a need for forgiveness, a need for love. They want to know how to make right decisions, how to protect their family, how to handle suffering, and how to have hope in our world. These are all issues we have answers for, yet millions are ignoring the message of Christ because we insist on communicating in ways that make little sense anymore.

In a sense, we’ve made the Gospel too difficult for a changing culture to understand. Let me give you this analogy: Imagine a missionary going overseas and saying, “I’m here to share the Good News, but first you have to learn to speak my language, learn my customs, and sing my style of music.” You can immediately see why this strategy would fail!

Yet, we do that all the time in a culture that is in radical flux. If we want to reach people in the current century, we must start thinking differently. I believe the most overlooked requirement in the church is to have spiritually mature members – members who unselfishly limit their own preferences of what they think a church should look like in order to reach lost people for Christ. As Jesus said in Luke 5:38, “New wine must be poured into new wineskins!”

Here’s a simple tradition to break in the 21st century: stop thinking of the church as an institution. Emerging generations are desperately looking for community. You and I may know that the church is a community, but emerging generations have never seen it that way. They’ve seen a list of rules, not a loving community. This is a prime example of an opportunity to restate the eternal truths of the Bible in a fresh, contemporary way.

Emerging generations are also focused on the experiential, and that means we have to adjust the way we teach and preach because most traditional churches focus almost exclusively on the intellect. In the 21st century church, we not only want people to know about God, we also want them to actually encounter God.

Of course, this means rather than preaching simply for information, we should also preach for action. Our message is not meant to just inform, but to transform the lives of those in our congregation. In almost every single sermon I preach every point has a verb in it – something to do. What are you going to do now that you know this godly truth?

Why do I do it this way? Because God says, “Be doers of the word, not hearers only,” and our entirePurpose Driven process at Saddleback is designed to move people, not only into intimacy with God, but also into service for him, where they’ll experience a deep and broader faith in the midst of community and ministry.

Since planting Saddleback, spiritual seekers have changed a lot. In the first place, there are a whole lot more of them! There are seekers everywhere! I’ve never seen more people so hungry to discover and develop the spiritual dimension of their lives. That’s why there’s such a big interest in Eastern thought, New Age practices, mysticism, and the transcendent.

Today seekers are hungry for symbols and metaphors and experiences and stories that reveal the greatness of God. Because seekers are constantly changing, we must be sensitive to them like Jesus was, be willing to meet them on their own turf, and speak to them in ways they understand.

Remember: the world changes but the Word doesn’t. To be effective in ministry we must learn to live with the tension between those two.

My prayer is that God will use you the way he used David, as described in Acts 13:36, to serve God’s purpose in your generation. We need churches that are both Purpose Driven and post-modern; timeless and timely at the same time! May God use you greatly and may you fulfill his purpose for your life.


Learn more about your church’s unique purpose through Auxano’s Vision Framing process. Connect with one of our navigators today to find out more.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The Idea of Evangelism Makes Me Uncomfortable

I often meet Christians who are uncomfortable with the idea of evangelism. Whenever I dig down to the root of the discomfort, I encounter issues related to the nature of truth, what it means to follow Jesus, and the role of worship. Here’s a fictional example of how this kind of conversation usually goes…

Christian: I know we’re supposed to tell people about Jesus, but I don’t like the idea of pressing someone to come to my way of thinking. When I talk to people of other faiths, I don’t want to come across looking like I think my religion is better than theirs.

Evangelist: But even when you don’t try to persuade someone to become a Christian, you still think your religion is better, don’t you?

Christian: How is that?

Evangelist: The very fact that you’re a Christian means you must think Christianity is superior to other religions. If you don’t think Christianity is better than Buddhism in any way, then why are you a Christian? And the reverse is true too. If you’re talking to a Buddhist, for example, surely they would think Buddhism to be superior. If you don’t think your religion is best, why not convert to whatever religion is best? You should always be kind and civil, but make no mistake… Both of you think you’re right and both of you think the other is wrong.

Christian: So it’s okay to believe Christianity is superior?

Evangelist: There’s a difference between believing your religion is superior and having a superior attitude.

Christian: The minute you think your faith is better than someone else’s, you start down the path of having a superior attitude.

Evangelist: Sometimes. But what’s the alternative?

Christian: What if we said no religion is superior? What if we said all religions are on equal footing?

Evangelist: Believing no religion is better than another is itself a belief. You don’t lose the attitude of superiority by saying no religion is superior. You get even more reason to feel superior. Now you’re standing over against all the religions of the world, saying none is better than another.

Christian: I guess when it comes down to it, there’s no way around it. I do think Christianity is better. But evangelism still doesn’t sit well with me.

Evangelist: That’s because you’re thinking of Christianity as if it’s a preference. Like having a favorite color or something. Trying to push your favorite color on someone else would make anyone uncomfortable. But at the end of the day, we don’t believe the gospel because it’s helpful. Or because it’s prettier. Or because it’s our upbringing. We believe the gospel because it’s trueNot just a preference, but true. Truth about the way the world works.

Christian: I still think we look bad when we tell people they should become Christians.

Evangelist: Then what do we do with the Jesus’ final instructions? “Go and make disciples of all nations.” What do we do with Jesus’ prediction that the world would hate those who follow Him? What do we do with Jesus saying His disciples would be fishers of men?

Christian: But it seems so arrogant to proselytize.

Evangelist: We don’t proselytize. We evangelize. Proselytism is about getting someone to change from one religion to another. Evangelism is proclaiming the evangel – the gospel. It’s an announcement about the way the world is. Then we call people to bring their lives in line with that reality.

Christian: But it still seems arrogant.

Evangelist: Frankly, I think it’s more arrogant to be against evangelism. Whoever says we should just keep our faith to ourselves and not evangelize – they’re really saying we ought to follow their instructions and not King Jesus. That is the height of arrogance, if you ask me.

Christian: So I guess we ought to just grit our teeth and do evangelism because Jesus said so.

Evangelist: No, not at all. You see, failure to evangelize is a worship problem. The New Testament picture of evangelism is not that we share Jesus with gritted teeth. It’s a picture of lips and hearts overflowing with worship. Whenever you are completely taken with something or someone, you can’t help but talk about it. Love can’t stop talking about the beloved. Fix the worship problem, and evangelism starts coming naturally. So remember, we evangelize because the gospel is true and eternity hangs in the balance. But most importantly, we evangelize because we love Jesus and want others to know the joy of loving Jesus too.

Read more from Trevin here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Trevin Wax

Trevin Wax

My name is Trevin Wax. I am a follower of Jesus Christ. My wife is Corina, and we have two children: Timothy (7) and Julia (3). Currently, I serve the church by working at LifeWay Christian Resources as managing editor of The Gospel Project, a gospel-centered small group curriculum for all ages that focuses on the grand narrative of Scripture. I have been blogging regularly at Kingdom People since October 2006. I frequently contribute articles to other publications, such as Christianity Today. I also enjoy traveling and speaking at different churches and conferences. My first book, Holy Subversion: Allegiance to Christ in an Age of Rivals, was published by Crossway Books in January 2010. (Click here for excerpts and more information.) My second book, Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope(Moody Publishers) was released in April 2011.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
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Is Your Children’s Ministry More Than Fun?

One of the hidden treasures that the “Prince of Preachers,” Charles Spurgeon, left the church was a little book titled Come Ye Children. In it, Spurgeon contended earnestly that one of the most important tasks given to a parent, teacher, or minister is teaching kids the gospel. Spurgeon writes:

There must be doctrine, solid, sound, gospel doctrine to constitute real feeding. When you have a joint on the table, then ring the dinner-bell; but the bell feeds nobody if no provender is served up. Getting children to meet in the morning and the afternoon is a waste of their steps and yours if you do not set before them soul-saving, soul sustaining truth. Feed the lambs; you need not pipe to them, nor put garlands round their necks; but do feed them.

As a parent, teacher, or minister, teaching your kids the gospel is the most important task you have. So, what is your plan? Just like kids grow physically in proportion to the food they eat and emotional support they receive, they grow spiritually in a similar manner. Are you intentionally feeding your kids the gospel? It is estimated that pastors have 104 hours a year with kids in their ministry, while parents have 8,736 hours a year.

By the end of 2014, will your kids know the gospel?

Help The Kids Understand The Gospel!

According to our kid’s team at LifeWay there are several foundational truths that should be established as the support structure of a child’s faith development—including God, Jesus, Bible, Creation, Family, Self, Church, Community and World, The Holy Spirit, and Salvation (These are charted out in Learning as They Grow). In other words, understanding these biblical concepts is vital to the spiritual development of the next generation. How are we doing with our children? Can our children answer questions such as:

  • What is sin?
  • Who is Jesus?
  • What did Jesus do?
  • Why do you and I need Jesus to save us?
  • How do we receive the salvation that Jesus offers?

It is important that we be careful with our precious children. We do not want to walk them into making a decision to follow Christ without an intentional plan for walking with them down the road of discipleship. Our ministry to children will be measured by disciples, not decisions. In the video below, Trevin Wax offers some practical suggestions on teaching your children the gospel.

TrevinWayGospelProjectforChildren

  1. Repetition is essential.
  2. Choose your language carefully.
  3. Don’t underestimate your kids’ understanding.

So, what are we teaching our children? Are we teaching morals, or the gospel? In that same little book, Spurgeon writes, “…the gospel produces the best morality in all the world.” As we teach our children the gospel, we teach them how to live as disciples.

Point The Kids To Jesus!

Trevin and I both serve as editors for The Gospel Project, a Christ-centered Bible study resource that presents the gospel story of redemption through every major Bible event. Our desire is that kids not only know all the Bible stories, but know the Bible story. We pray that kids would not see Jesus as part of the Bible story, but as the point of the Bible story. Not long ago we heard this story from a pastor in Oklahoma:

One night we were going over the story of Passover. It was such a natural transition to a gospel presentation that I was vibrating with excitement—they were going to hear a clear presentation of the grace of God in Jesus Christ! That night three kids gave their life to Jesus. The next week two more gave their lives to Jesus. The week after, those kids were bringing others to hear the gospel, and those kids were turning over their lives too.

No matter how you do it, or what material you use (unashamedly, I want you to use The Gospel Project) make sure you clearly and consistently communicate the good news of Jesus through your children’s ministry. Make sure you have an intentional plan to disciple your little ones. This is your most important task if you are a parent, teacher, or minister.

Read more from Ed here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He serves as interim pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

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lindaransonjacobs — 10/22/14 12:13 pm

A few years back I was leading a DC4K (DivorceCare for Kids) group at a church in NC. We were meeting in the spring and over Easter. The kids in our group had so much fun as they healed and connected with each other and when Easter came along I didn't hesitate to tell them the story of Easter. One little kindergartner was in our group. I didn't think he had listened to what was said but the next year when Easter rolled around he proceeded to tell his mother the entire Easter story. This was a family that didn't attend church. When his mom asked how he knew so much about the real Easter he said, "Miss Linda told us about it last year." Kids want to know the truth and they can handle hearing the gospel, especially hurting children of divorce. Thank you for validating what I believe. Linda Ranson Jacobs Blog.dc4k.org

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

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Measuring Ministry Progress in Your Church, Part 4: Gospel Articulation

Last week when I wheeled my son in his pram, down our steep driveway, I was super careful. I wasn’t taking any chances – I had precious cargo and I would do everything in my power to concentrate and carefully bring him down the hill.

We ought to treat the gospel like precious cargo. With God’s help it must be guarded, and passed down, entirely unchanged, from one generation to the next.

“Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” 2 Timothy 1:14

Sadly, as Philip Jensen has explained, the gospel can be all too easily lost. He explains how this often happens in a 4-generation process:

  1. The gospel is accepted.
  2. The gospel is assumed.
  3. The gospel is confused.
  4. The gospel is lost.

“The generation that assumes the gospel is the generation most responsible for the loss of the gospel”.

It’s too easy to assume the gospel – to assume that people know the gospel, to assume that when you encourage people to ‘share the gospel with your friends’ that people know what it is and can explain it to others. It’s too easy to assume that they have believed it for themselves.

The gospel is too precious and powerful to simply be assumed. This is why measuring gospel articulation is so important, and an important indicator of church health. Let me explain.

The importance of gospel articulation

Being able to articulate the gospel demonstrates 2 important things:

  1. You know the gospel. This doesn’t mean you’re saved necessarily, but it does mean that you know everything necessary in order to be saved.
  2. You are able to explain the gospel to others. Again, this is meaningless (and dangerous) if you haven’t accepted the gospel. But if people have accepted the gospel, and can also explain the gospel, they are powerfully equipped to do their role (and let the Holy Spirit do His) in bringing dead people to life.

How to measure gospel articulation

I think it would be very beneficial to meet up with members of your church, and ask them the question:

“What is the gospel?”

While there’s no ‘right answer’, there are core elements that must be included for the gospel to be the gospel. If these are missing, or if extra elements are added, you are able to care for these people, and help them to have a clear understanding of the

The benefits of measuring gospel articulation

I think having a better understanding of how many people in the church can articulate the gospel is helpful in a number of ways:

  1. It helps pastors get a better sense of who is unconverted. Not a perfect sense, but a better sense. On this topic, Mark Dever’s talk ‘False Conversions: The Suicide of the Church‘ is essential listening.
  2. It helps pastors know who might be serving in order to get God’s love (not in response to God’s love).
  3. It helps pastors avoid challenging people to live in response to the gospel, who don’t yet get the gospel.
  4. It stops pastors encouraging or enabling evangelism by unbelievers.
  5. It enables pastors to encourage people who don’t know the gospel, to explore it further.

Wise words from Spurgeon:

“Do not number your fishes before they are broiled; nor count your converts before you have tested and tried them. This process may make your work somewhat slow; but then, brethren, it will be sure. Do your work steadily and well, so that those who come after you may not have to say that it was far more trouble to them to clear the church of those who ought never to have been admitted than it was to you to admit them.”

If you’d like to equip people in your church to know and share the gospel, allow me to recommend the best book I’ve read on evangelism.

Read previous posts in this series: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3.

Read more from Steve here.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steve Kryger

Steve Kryger

I don’t deserve it, but I’ve been redeemed by Jesus. I can’t begin to express how thankful I am for all God has done for me, and it’s my privilege to serve Him. I am the Executive Pastor at Church by the Bridge in Kirribilli, Australia. Prior to serving at Church by the Bridge, I worked as a marketing manager in Canberra, as well as a social media specialist.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

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Three Implications of Understanding New Testament Worship

What is worship?

More specifically, what does it mean to worship? Is there a right way or a wrong way to do it?

Is it singing, clapping and/or raising your hands at your local church on Sunday… or is there something more to it than that?

The question of what worship is is extremely important. Far too many arguments have been had over what is and is not a legitimate form of worship. Preferences can too easily become elevated to precepts if we’re not carefully grounding our understanding of worship in what we see in the Bible.

Worship is singing… but not only singing.

Many Christians today understand worship as singing. When we talk about Sunday morning, we refer to congregational singing as “worship.” When we say, “I really enjoyed the worship,” we almost always mean “I really enjoyed the music.”

This isn’t entirely wrong… it’s just incomplete. There are clear examples of singing as worship found in Scripture (see Ex. 15:1, 21; Num. 21:17; Judges 5:3; 2 Sam. 22:50; Psa. 5:11; 7:17; 9:2, 11; 18:49; 33:3; 1 Cor. 14:15, 26; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). We’re admonished to sing to the Lord and to encourage one another with hymns and spiritual songs.

So singing, biblically, is a part of worship.

However, we must be careful not to equate worship with singing and music.

The word “worship” at its most basic level means to ascribe worth. This is helpful to keep in mind, especially when you consider the words translated as “worship.” The two most commonly used words in Hebrew and Greek that we often translate as “worship” (ḥā·wā[h] and proskyneō) refer to bowing or kneeling down, both to God and to men.

They describe an act of reverential deference.

This is the important thing to understand, then, about worship. It’s not merely about singing, it’s about reverence—it’s about having a biblical fear of the Lord.

At its most basic level, then, you could define worship as the humbling of yourself before the One who is your better.

This, naturally, has serious implications.

Worship is not primarily about how you feel.

First, if worship is about humbling yourself before God, we have to consider the place of our feelings. Many today seem to equate fired up feelings with genuine affection for the Lord. The louder the music, the higher the hands are raised, the more our hearts must be inclined toward God… right?

But this understanding places too much emphasis on feelings. We must always remember that while emotional expressiveness can be a sign of genuine affection, “Nothing can be certainly known of the nature of religious affections by this, that they much dispose persons with their mouths to praise and glorify God,” as Jonathan Edwards puts it so well in Religious Affections.

His point is simple: people can fervently praise God with their mouths and still be far off from Him. This is much the same warning Paul gives when he tells the Corinthians that you can have a great outward show, but without love, it’s worthless (cf. 1 Cor. 13:1-3).

Is it any wonder that Jeremiah reminds us not to put too much stock in our feelings (Jer. 17:9)?

Worship is what you do every moment of every day.

Second, in the Old Testament, particularly once the nation of Israel is established, there’s a definite connection between place and worship. God’s people were to worship in a specific place (first the Tabernacle, then the Temple). This was the meeting place between God and His people. At the Temple, God’s people would offer sacrifices for the forgiveness of sin, peace offerings to God, and numerous other offerings and acts of service.

It can be tempting to take the imagery of the Temple worship and place it upon the local church. However, the New Testament doesn’t allow for this. Instead, starting with Jesus, the New Testament presents a definite shift away from “place and time” worship to “every moment, everywhere” worship.

In his discussion with the woman at the well, Jesus tells her:

Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:21-24, emphasis added)

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1)

Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. (Hebrews 13:15-16)

While I’ve only included a few brief examples, the general thrust of the New Testament, while never neglecting the importance of believers gathering together in corporate worship (1 Cor. 14:25), drastically broadens our understanding of what worshipping God truly is. It’s not a matter of getting together on Sunday, singing songs, giving money, listening to a sermon and heading home for the rest of the week to do whatever we want.

Every moment of every day is to be an act of worship to God.

This brings us to the most serious implication of the New Testament understanding of worship: our need for the gospel.

The gospel perfects our worship.

On our best days, our efforts are half-hearted, our motives conflicted. The flesh is constantly at war with the spirit… it’s no wonder Martin Luther said that Christians are all simultaneously sinners and saints (see Rom 7). If our worship were up to us alone, we’d be utterly lost. None of it would be pleasing and acceptable to God.

But this is where the good news of the gospel aids us in our worship—Jesus is the perfect worshipper. In His incarnation, He obeyed every command of God without flaw or failure. His devotion is unwaivering.

He gives us His perfect worship to cover our imperfect offerings of songs, service and sacrifice.

The gospel gives us reason to stand before the throne of grace, imperfect as we are, because we have an Advocate there who has completed the work for us, one who appeals to us to rely on Him increasingly to purify our motives, and perfect our worship (cf. Heb. 4:16).

That’s what biblical worship looks like. Don’t settle for a substitute.

 Read more from Aaron here.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aaron Armstrong

Aaron Armstrong

Aaron is the author of Awaiting a Savior: The Gospel, the New Creation, and the End of Poverty (Cruciform Press, 2011). He is a writer, serves as an itinerant preacher throughout southern Ontario, Canada, and blogs daily at Blogging Theologically.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

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Know Your Culture, Connect to Your Culture: Lecrae Raps the Gospel in One Minute

The missional visionary is also a cultural architect. One of Auxano’s primary assertions is that each church has a unique culture. You’ve got to know your community to reach your community.

Nowhere is that more evident that when dealing with the current young generations. Jonathan Parnell of Desiring God Ministries recently sat down with Lecrae to talk about his latest album, Gravity, which just won Best Gospel Album at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards. Here Lacrae raps the gospel in one minute:

Lecrae gets it – and connects to a young generation.

What about your church? How are you listening in order to understand the surrounding culture?

Read more from Jonathan here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jonathan Parnell

Jonathan Parnell (@jonathanparnell) is a content strategist at Desiring God. He lives in the Twin Cities with his wife, Melissa, and their three children: Elizabeth, Hannah, and Micah.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

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Don’t Bury the Lead; Preach the Gospel

There is an old adage in journalism that tells writers, “don’t bury the lead.” This refers to placing the most important and attention grabbing elements of a story in the body of an article instead of at the beginning where they belong. As a result, the reader loses interest because no one wants to read through secondary points of information to eventually get to the main point.

I’m learning that this principle should also hold true in our lives and in the ministry of our churches. Far too often we bury the lead in our communication and present people with things that aren’t of utmost importance to either them or us with the result that we waste their time and lose their interest.

In our daily interactions with the people around us, we often spend so much time talking about the weather, the game, or last night’s episode of (fill in the blank) that we never get to what really matters. If all that your coworkers or classmates know about you after weeks, months, or even years of being around you is your ideal outside temperature, you have buried the lead.

In the church, it feels like we often bury the lead when it comes to the most important thing we have to communicate: the gospel. We have the most compelling story available on planet earth. Yet we often hide it beneath a mound of secondary matters that don’t really matter in comparison. Pastors, God’s design for sex is not the most interesting and attention grabbing thing you have to say. God’s plan for parenting is not the most pressing issue of our day. The bold, unashamed, and fresh proclamation of the gospel is. If you are so busy preaching about what people should do that you don’t have time to preach about what Christ has done, you have buried the lead.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that small talk shouldn’t be a part of our conversations. And I’m not saying that we shouldn’t give people a vision for the full life Christ has come to give us by applying biblical principles.

But I am saying that there should never be a question in people’s minds about what matters most to us-and therefore to them.

Read more from Steven here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steven Furtick

Steven Furtick

Pastor Steven Furtick is the lead pastor of Elevation Church. He and his wife, Holly, founded Elevation in 2006 with seven other families. Pastor Steven holds a Master of Divinity degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also the New York Times Best Selling author of Crash the Chatterbox, Greater, and Sun Stand Still. Pastor Steven and Holly live in the Charlotte area with their two sons, Elijah and Graham, and daughter, Abbey.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.