Gospel Links for Gospel Culture (11/30)
“Gospel Links for Gospel Culture” is a weekly round-up of content to encourage you in your faith and ministry.
Scarlet and Brandon Hiltibidal:
We don’t travel. We don’t really even leave our house much unless we need to pick up some fro yo or queso. We stand united in our philosophy that going places for any reason at any time is almost always not as good as not doing that.
So, flying fourteen hours to China to adopt our daughter was perhaps the farthest outside our comfort zone we have ever been, and that is without even factoring in all of the challenges our little girl actually brought with her.
Christ neither commands nor likes that, any more than a woman enjoys flowers given to her by her husband just because it is required. Rote dutifulness deceives external religionists, but it should not deceive you. You can walk a long way in the dress shoes of externalism, but they will fall apart when climbing mountains. Think how martyrdom itself can be without love: “If I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing” (1 Cor 13:3). No, we look for heart, not mere dutifulness, as we seek to determine the meaning of love.
So, which is it? Is love emotion or action?
A missionary to another country may analyze the culture and begin to understand the people’s fears and hopes, but at some point, the missionary has to open his or her mouth and speak. And not only speak, but also live in a way that stands apart from the wider society, so that their call to a counter-cultural life is embodied. Effective ministry may begin with cultural analysis, but it never ends there. Whatever challenges we face, we are called to live and minister in faith, not to bemoan or decry the mission field God has set before us.
There are many remarkable things here. The healing, of course, is extraordinary. The fact that Jesus broke the social norm is beautiful. The simple act of touching this man who had not felt physical contact in who knows how long is astounding. So as you consider those various aspects of the encounter, consider also this:
Jesus did not have to touch the man in order to meet the need of the man.
I’m sure every pastor wants to see more evangelism—and not just by the professional staff and unusually gifted. We want to see ordinary church people—stay-at-home parents and students, executives and retirees, mechanics and musicians, talking to their friends, co-workers, and family members about Jesus. So why aren’t they? Could it be that some of them simply don’t know how? They talk to non-Christians every day, but they have no idea how to turn daily conversations into gospel conversations.
And pastors, that’s where we can help. We need to do more than encourage and exhort our people to have gospel conversations. We need to teach them how. Below are six ways I do this in my own congregation. None of them requires elaborate programs, specialized staff, or additional meetings. Each simply requires you, as pastor or leader, to be intentional.
The Gospel Project’s editorial team contributed to this post. Photo: Pixabay