(This is part 6 of a series of posts that draw applications from my novella, The RADIUS Initiative. It’s a Jack Bauer-style, action-packed book! You can purchase the book here for only $7.99.) No. I’m not against church buildings! But I’d like to express an observation you might find intriguing. An observation of the effects church facilities may […]Continue reading
(This is part 5 of a series of posts that draw applications from my novella, The RADIUS Initiative. It’s a Jack Bauer-style, action-packed book! You can purchase the book here for only $7.99.) The Gospel Lived Out The gospel is a statement of fact, but it’s also a movement of action. They cannot be separated. Christ eagerly met […]Continue reading
Have you heard of massive fires that started with just one spark? I have. I want to introduce you to a spark that will cause an extravagant blazing fire in your town. When we stop to think clearly about who God is and His purpose is for His Church, we should begin to ponder something […]Continue reading
(This is part 7 of a series of posts that draw applications from my novella, The RADIUS Initiative. It’s a Jack Bauer-style, action-packed book! You can purchase the book here for only $7.99.)
The Head of the Church spent His time on earth seeking out people in order to lovingly meet all their needs. Almost all His sermons were preached in places other than the temple (on the sides of hills, from boats, from mountain tops, etc.). He was in the villages and cities meeting people, healing their diseases and forgiving their sins. He sacrificed His right to be served in order to serve sacrificially (Matt. 20:28).
There’s quite a commonality between the people inside today’s worship facility and the people who need to be reached: we’re all people. That’s right—the church is not a building, but a people. So why do we tend to limit the measure of success by inviting people to a building? Instead of asking, “What will it take to pack out our building on Sunday morning,” this movement (The RADIUS Initiative) challenges each church to ask, “What will it take to get our people out to spread the gospel to the lost around us.”
What would it take for a Christian to realize his or her surroundings? What will it take for you to look out the window and see who is in your circle? What will it take to build relationships with employees of your bank or your local grocery store? What will it take to get to know the owner of your favorite restaurant? What will it take to show Christ’s sacrificial love to the homeless in your city? What will it take to reach children in that apartment complex down the road from where you worship?
What will it take to send off a group of Christians to use their gifts and talents to meet the needs of people in a third world country? What would it take to reach your own neighbors for Christ next door to your home? What will it take to plant a church in a town that is desperate for authentic Christianity?
What will it take for your church to form teams to minister directly to pregnant teens, drug addicts, and drop outs? What will it take to reach out to those kids who are being recruited by gang members? What will it take to form a bond between the believers of your church and the victims of sex trafficking in your town?
What will it take? How much money? How much time? How would you adjust your priority list and schedule? How would your church adjust its budget?
Question: Would you be interested in joining a movement that creates a radius from your church to where the lost are?
(This is part 3 of a series of posts that draw applications from my novella, The RADIUS Initiative. It’s a Jack Bauer-style, action-packed book! You can purchase the book here for only $7.99.)
How is a Person Saved?
So Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead. That is a statement of fact. But what must one do with this truth in order to be saved from sin and obtain everlasting life? Paul uses the word “believe” in verse 2. Let’s look at a book of the Bible that was written for the purpose of telling the whole world how to be saved from sin and obtain everlasting life. That is the Gospel of John. Check this out:
“Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you many believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
John 20:30-31 makes the purpose of his book clear: that the world would believe in Jesus for everlasting life. John proves in his gospel that Jesus is the Son of God by recalling the miracles Jesus performed. He emphasized the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. And he states what one must do with this gospel in order to be saved: believe. In fact, John uses that one word—believe—98 times throughout his book to portray what one must do to be saved.
It is the same word translated from the original language of the New Testament (Greek) as is the word faith. Believe and faith are synonymous in the New Testament. In order for a person to be saved from sin and have everlasting life, he must believe in Jesus. Jesus paid for the entire penalty of sin for each person by dying on the cross and rising from the dead. Each person must believe in Jesus, alone, to be saved from his sin.
It’s Not Jesus and…
The gospel is a statement of fact: Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead. Each person must believe in Jesus Christ, alone, to be saved from sin. The word alone is important. We are not told by John’s Gospel to believe in Jesus and our good works, or Jesus and our baptism, or Jesus and our commitments in order to be saved. We are told to believe in Jesus. That’s it.
I love to persuade people that they can believe in Jesus alone for their salvation from sin. I was sitting across from Damon at my favorite Chinese restaurant (I love Chinese food!). When asked what he was believing in to get to heaven, Damon replied that he believed in God and was trying to be a good person.
I asked him if he believed Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, and he said he did. Then I asked, “If we were to believe in our good works alone, what would that say about the death of Christ?” He thought for a minute and replied, “It seems we would be saying that His death was useless.” I agreed.
Then I asked, “If we were to believe in Christ plus our good works (like trying to be a good person), what would that say about His death?” Again, Damon sat and thought for a moment. Suddenly, it was as if that light bulb flashed above his head. He replied, “If I were to believe in Christ plus my good works, then I am saying that His death on the cross was not good enough to save me!”
I agreed. So I finished with this question, “What if we were told to believe in Christ, alone?” Damon sat back in his chair, and his face grew a bit somber. He said, “Chad, I get it, now. All this time, I have been believing in Christ plus my good works to get me to heaven. I have been telling God that His Son’s death was not good enough to save me—that I needed to help out.” Damon became a Christian that day.
Either Christ paid it all, or He didn’t pay at all. But before He hung His head and breathed His last, He said, “It is finished.” Another way to translate that sentence is PAID IN FULL. In order for one to be saved from sin, he must believe in Christ, alone.
Tomorrow’s Post: How Do I Best Share the Gospel?
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(My 1st novella, The RADIUS Initiative, is an action-packed, Jack Bauer-style story purposed to inspire Christians to move out with the gospel. The next few posts are applications drawn from the story. I am praying for you that, as you read, these posts will spark a revolution in your church toward real evangelism!)
What is The RADIUS Initiative?
Perhaps you haven’t seen it in the news, but there is a storm hitting every city in the world right now. There are rescuers available, but it is frightening to report that many rescuers seem unaware that these storms exist and that their destruction is real. Many rescuers would rather remain in the comfort of their living rooms with their televisions tuned in to their favorite reality shows. I was once this kind of rescuer until I looked out my window.
My friends, I invite you to turn your chair and look out the window with me now. Please notice what is outside. To your best ability (If you’re like me you will need help from the Spirit to do this.) try to see through the thick sheets of rain at the children hunkered down in the corner of their attics. See the people being washed away in their cars and trucks. Hear them cry out for someone to save them. They cry and wait for someone, anyone to answer them. Find them. Can you see them?
Now get up and walk into the storm to where these children are. Yes, you will get wet, and will probably get hit by flying debris. But someone must reach them. Now look back from where you just came. Do you see the line from your window to the one at your side crying out for salvation? That is your radius. Now that you know this line you can work it by meeting the needs of the one crying for help. You are in the storm—a rescuer on active duty—saving lives. The proclamation is simple: each local church needs to work its radius. More lines are waiting to be drawn.
What is The RADIUS Initiative?
The radius of a circle is the length of the line from the center to any point on its edge. Many of us have yet to notice, but every local church, every family, and every individual has a circle around them. Some have small circles; others have circles that are quite large.
The circle is filled with schools, businesses, neighborhoods, trailer parks—people. Each church must recognize its radius within that circle: the line extended from the center to where the lost are. For our purpose, it doesn’t matter how long that line is, but every local church should know this line well. Every Christian family should know this line well, and every believing individual should, too. Yet, many do not.
Many churches have several lines from their windows extending out into the storm, and they work them frequently and effectively. Some of their lines extend far into other countries. They see much fruit for the Kingdom from their efforts. But unfortunately, many other churches have no lines at all. Many churches would best be described as a simple dot.
The RADIUS Initiative is purposed to change that mindset to one that seeks to fulfill the purpose of actively spreading the gospel: that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead (1 Cor. 15:1-5) and meeting the many needs of the lost through the love of Christ that the gospel portrays. This book is not written to condemn but to motivate each local church to follow in obedience to our Lord by recognizing what He creates—the radius, and then be active in working that line. The purpose of The RADIUS Initiative is to add lines to the simple dot.
RADIUS is a philosophy. It’s not a program; it’s a way of life. It’s not a specific activity or single event; it’s a motivation to action—a movement. It asks the question, “What will it take for our local church to move out into the community to spread the gospel?” It is a biblically-based philosophy of evangelism to motivate the body of Christ to become well trained to effectively spread the gospel to the lost.
To elaborate, I’ve made an acronym of the word RADIUS. The RADIUS Initiative seeks to motivate each local church to realize, ask, determine, invest, utilize, and see. It is determined to persuade each church to:
Realize their surroundings. The church is not a building, but a people. So, instead of asking, “What will it take to pack out our building on Sunday morning,” let’s ask, “What will it take to get our people to spread the gospel to the lost around us.”
Ask God to rise up more laborers. He is the Lord of the harvest. We are told in Matthew 9:38 to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. The population of the lost is huge, and their needs are just as big. Ask God to provide more and more laborers!
Determine to obey. We are commanded to take the gospel to the lost. Spreading His Good News to the world is primary in following Christ.
Invest in their radius. Building relationships with people in their area and the world is the best way to provide opportunities to share the gospel. Get involved with people. Know their public. Know their radius well.
Utilize their training. Get training and use it! Here are two great resources: Child Evangelism Fellowship, Inc. and EvanTell, Inc. Both organizations provide top-notch training and materials to believers in churches to effectively share the gospel with children and their families.
See God work. God blesses obedience. He wants the lost to trust Jesus. He will bless the efforts of spreading the gospel to them. We obey, and then watch Him work!
I will elaborate on these 6 items in tomorrow’s post. It is my prayer that as you read them, you will be inspired to follow Christ, our Savior, into the storm to spread His gospel to the lost in your circle and beyond. May Jesus Christ be honored as we, His Church, rise up on the earth and spread His gospel to the nations!
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(I’m on a sweet vacation with my bride, Melissa! So I’ve asked a couple of my peeps to guest post for me. Today is my good friend, Jason Hess. He’s the pastor at Southway Community Church in Houston, TX. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and his blog.)
I first heard about a new TV series that was set to premiere on ABC called GCB about a month ago. Then, I began to see ads for this show and, like I had anticipated, it painted Christians in a less-than-favorable light.
In fact, the show’s title and premise is based off of a fictional-yet-based-on-real-life book also entitled “GCB.” The author of the book based her account on real life encounters, if not real-live stereotypes, she had while living in a large Texas city (Dallas).
Now the title cannot be explained fully well here…because this is a Christian blog. But let’s just say that ABC decided to change the name from GCB (Good Christian B—–s) to Good Christian….Belles. The premise of the show is to largely lampoon a stereotype of Christians in the big city. While on the outside the majority of the characters have the veneer of being nice and professing belief in God, their actions are nothing of the sort.
Why talk about this show? Because we can have two reactions to it.
1. We can (understandably) get mad and protest, saying things like “that’s not true of us. They don’t know us. How can people make a show about us and not get to know us?” And to be fair, all of those things are true. I watched the first 10 minutes of the show last week and was repulsed by the actions of the “Good Christians” as the show portrayed them. But here’s the problem–one that we need to overcome as we seek to bring good news of Jesus to a world who needs Him–not “Good Christians.”
2. Let’s be on the advance and live out our faith in life-giving, affirming ways that show the greatness of God, not the vastness of our own hypocrisy. Let’s be known more for who we are for, rather than what we are against. Let’s make sure more and more that our lip service and our lifestyles are matching one another rather than contradicting one another. And for those who would ask what we think of stuff like “GCB?”
Peter tells us:
13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. 1 Peter 3:13-17 ESV
May God bless those involved with GCB to interact and encounter GCB/S: Good Christian Brothers and Sisters.
Question: What is your usual reaction to shows like Good Christian Belles? What do you think about 1 Peter 3:13-17?
Journey to Freedom is like a tank of pure oxygen delivered to men who’ve been buried alive. – Nate Larkin, founder of Samson Society
Click the pic and get the book that challenges men to pursue biblical, authentic fellowship with one another. Journey to Freedom: The Pursuit of Authentic Fellowship among Men (Also available in all ebook formats.)
I’ve been thinking a lot about vision casting for my team at Child Evangelism Fellowship in Houston, TX. As I’ve been reading other material on this, I came across a statement made by Michael Hyatt (you can follow his great blog here): If your vision doesn’t scare you, it’s not big enough.
That statement scared me. So I stopped trying to figure out what I want for CEF Houston and began to pray about what God wants.
This is a great process for me. Having read one of Hyatt’s blog posts about vision casting, I decided to follow his advice and prayerfully create a vision statement for our Houston chapter.
I wrote it as if it was already happening. And my dream for CEF Houston is big. It does make me nervous. In a way, I don’t feel in control–but that’s right where He wants me. I must rely on Him. This is His ministry, and I believe He wants children and their families to trust in His Son for salvation!
So, below is my vision statement. It’s my daily prayer requests for us. Would you join me in praying through this?
And why don’t you take a shot at creating a vision statement for your job, personal life, family, church, etc.
Child Evangelism Fellowship of Greater Houston is the city’s leading method of reaching children and their families for Christ and plugging them into Bible-teaching churches.
- We have 20 ongoing Good News Clubs in each of the 24 Houston-area ISDs. That’s 480 clubs.
- The Good News Club ministry reaches 24,000 children for Christ each year. This number is growing.
- We are widely known as the city’s most effective youth mission-training organization that reaches children with the gospel every summer.
- We train 2,000 Christian teens to do 5-Day Clubs in greater Houston every summer.
- The 5-Day Club Summer Missions Program reaches 50,000 children for Christ each year. Apartment complexes, daycare centers, and youth pastors are knocking on our front door.
- The total number of children being reached by our partnered churches is 74,000 each year. This number is growing.
- CEF Houston has a team of 30 Senior Ministry Coordinators, 10 trainers, 1 Event Coordinator, 1 Fundraising Coordinator, and 2 Executive Assistants.
- People beg to become part of our team.
- CEF Houston is listed as the #1 States-side evangelistic ministry among Christian magazines and journals.
- We have an annual budget exceeding $5 million.
Question: What is your vision?
“I couldn’t put it down!” – Glenda, California
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The children’s ministry in your church suffers because of a lack of qualified teachers.
You’re the new CEO of a company trying to persuade you’re team to go in a different direction.
The community business group you’ve joined is purposed to fulfill a great need, but the group seems to be settled on having Wednesday lunches and nothing else.
Churches need it. Schools need it. Families need it. But many fail at it. I’m talking about the art of gathering and leading a group to serve your worthy cause.
As the director for Child Evangelism Fellowship of Houston, TX, I raise funds, go to dozens of meetings each week, manage employees, hire new ones, and much more. But the most important part of my job, and one of my favorite things to do, is to cast a vision and inspire others to follow it.
Have you ever had trouble rallying troops to get involved in your worthy cause? If you’re like the rest of us, you probably have. But I’ve got good news for you. Here are 5 ways you can implement right now that could boost your efforts. I’ve been seeking to master these 5 items, and it’s working very well. I hope and pray it works for you, too.
1. Believe that people need to serve a worthy cause. I believe we were created to serve something bigger than ourselves, and I’m convinced people want and need this. If you don’t believe me, just read your newsfeed on Facebook. Many of the posts I see are by people who have given themselves to a movement, whether it is political, spiritual, or social.
Choose to believe that many people are willing and eager to invest emotion, dollars, voices, and time in something they feel is worthy enough.
2. Purpose in your heart to inspire and not to guilt. As the leader of a cause, it’s easy to implement guilt-ridden tactics on those who, for whatever reason, choose to not get involved. After all, your cause is the most important in all the world, right? But there’s a major hang-up with using guilt-ridden tactics to gain a following. Guilt suppresses.
First of all, it suppresses people from following you. Guilt pushes many people away. Even the most vital causes in this world, like evangelism–which is my passion, suffer critically when guilt is used to get people involved.
Secondly, even if you do bring in a few people, guilt suppresses creativity. It stifles enthusiasm. Who wants a bunch of low-esteemed people to spread a worthy cause? Not me.
3. Watch your language! Use positive words when motivating people to move. Even when you must show the need, use words that inspire.
For example, if the need is to feed starving children in a 3rd world country, you could say, “You are a bunch of wealthy people who buy things that bring you pleasure while innocent children die of hunger.” Or instead, you could use words that help your future followers imagine what your vision would look like if fulfilled. You could say, “Imagine with me our dollars and man-power saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of children each year by providing for their basic needs!”
Words have meaning. Use them wisely.
4. Practice your follow-through. No, I’m not talking about your golf swing. Henry Ford said, “You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” Follow-through is vital to gathering people to get involved with your cause. When they see that you’ve completed tasks, then they are inspired by your dedication and commitment.
Personally, I’m a great starter but lousy at follow-through. I have to work extra hard at it. I also surround myself with people who are great at following through with tasks that fulfill the dream. If the dream is worthy enough, follow through. Do whatever it takes.
5. Move courageously. You can’t lead someone to a place you’ve never been. You can’t gather a following if you are not involved in your cause already. Think of it this way: every fantastic thing that has happened throughout history began with someone taking the first step. Be the one to champion your cause!
My personal cause is evangelism. In my church, in my family, and in my area of influence, I must be the one to champion this. If I expect to inspire others to overcome fear and share the lifesaving gospel, I recognize my role of courageously moving out.
My passion in life is to inspire and train Christians to tell the world about Christ. What’s your cause?
Question: I want to learn from you. What are other successful ways that inspire people to move?
Have you ever sat in deep thought about what God really, really wants from you? I thought about God this morning. (Novel idea…I know.)
In 2006, Barna listed quite a troubling and sad statistic: More than half of all adults (54%) believe that if a person is generally good, or does enough good things for others during their life, they will earn a place in Heaven. Should this stat light a fire under us to move out with the gospel?
What would it take to inspire us to come to the point where we say, “I’m ready to do whatever it takes to bring the lifesaving gospel to people”?
Since our daughter, Kristina, was diagnosed with cancer in August, 2010, God began to bring us to the point of being willing to do whatever it takes to share the lifesaving gospel to children and their families. It’s no wonder He had me join Child Evangelism Fellowship at the same time we learned of our daughter’s deathly disease. I’d do anything to save her life.
Then there’s our heavenly Father. He saw my deathly disease. And He was willing to do whatever it took to save me. He even went so far as to send His only Son to suffer and die due to this deathly disease. He died in my place. He took my “cancer” and put it on Himself.
He did whatever it took.
So there’s that statistic listed above. Most people believe God didn’t do enough for them. They believe Jesus’ payment for their deathly disease was insufficient. They think they must add to it, or completely ignore it in order to be saved from their disease of sin.
Who wants to tell God He didn’t do enough?
Anyone wanna take a stab at that?
“God, You tried. Good effort on Your part, but it just wasn’t good enough. Jesus didn’t really have to die, because I’m gonna put forth the effort that covers all my deathly sin. You’ll see.”
Truth is…God did do what it took, and it is sufficient.
Question is…should we come to the point where we are ready to do whatever it takes to share this lifesaving truth with those 54%? (Most likely more than that now.)
Ask yourself this question: If your daughter was diagnosed with cancer, wouldn’t you wanna save her life?
Question: If you knew of a simple method of sharing the gospel with anyone, anywhere, and at any time, would you be more likely to do it? Slap me some feedback below!
WANNA LEARN HOW to share the gospel clearly and effectively to anyone, anywhere, at any time? Contact EvanTell right away at 800.947.7359, or at www.EvanTell.org!
WANNA LEARN HOW your church can adopt an elementary public school to bring the gospel to children on their campus? Contact Child Evangelism Fellowship immediately at 800.748.7710, or at www.CEFOnline.com!