In this issue:
Fan into Flame: Recovering the Work of Evangelism
Opportunities: Fall Action Groups Final
Resources: Book Note: The Lordship of Jesus Christ by Vern Poythress
Monthly Resource: Link to archive
Fan into Flame: Recovering the Work of Evangelism
The work of evangelism on the part of God’s people has fallen on hard times, and church leaders are at least partially to blame.
This is so for two reasons. First, somewhere around the early ‘80s churches began to exchange Jesus’ “go/tell” model of disciple-making for a “come/see” approach. Instead of the church taking the Gospel to the world on its turf, we began trying to lure the world to ours, using as bait various forms, settings, formats, and programs that our unbelieving neighbors would find agreeable. We took Paul’s claim to be “all things to all people” – which he meant as a key to a “go/tell” way of life – and applied it to our morning worship and other aspects of the life of the church. In the process, we sent a message to church members that whatever “evangelism” needed to be done would be taken care of by the worship band and pastor.
Naturally, and with a sign of relief, the people of God complied.
Second, church leaders have not fulfilled the instruction of Jesus and Paul to do the work of evangelism themselves, other than what comes through preaching or counseling. Jesus said every shepherd should seek lost sheep and bring them into the fold (Jn. 10.16), and Paul instructed Timothy, and all those who have the ministry of the Word, to fulfilltheir ministriesby doing the work of an evangelist (2 Tim. 4.5). Most pastors and church leaders are not serving as examples of lifestyle evangelism, and the people of God are faithfully following in their steps.
A church that evangelizes the lost will only do so behind shepherds who seek the lost and fulfill their ministries in consistent works of witness-bearing in the community.
Join us this fall for our Church Outreach Action Group and learn how you and your church can resume this important aspect of your call (see on).
Opportunities: Fall Action Groups
OK, so this fall we will offer two Action Groups for pastors and church leaders. An Action Group is made up of men who gather online once a month for 7-9 months for study, discussion, prayer, friend-making, and Kingdom action. We provide the resources to seek the Word of God, then we come together online monthly to teach and encourage one another, pray, and to prepare for taking action in our own ministry spheres.
The two Action Groups scheduled for this fall are:
- The Outreach Church: Discovering the work of evangelism and how to get your whole church involved. This Action Group will meet on the third Wednesday of every month, September-May, at 4:00 pm Eastern.
- The Disciplined Life: Fill the time of your life with Biblical disciplines for seeking the Kingdom of God. The Disciplined Life Action Group will meet on the third Thursday of every month, September-May, at 4:00 pm Eastern.
Resources: The Lordship of Christ by Vern Poythress
(Crossway, 2016, $19.99)
Vern Poythress has written a concise, accessible, and thorough introduction to Christian worldview in this excellent study of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The book is divided into five parts: The Call to Serve Christ, Resources for Serving Christ, Areas of Service, Traps to Avoid, and an important appendix on “Two Kingdoms Theology.
Dr. Poythress begins his argument for a Christian worldview by calling believers to “radical” discipleship. Since Jesus is Lord of all, all of our lives, and all the times in which we live, come under the purview of His rule and reign. A Christian is one who has heard the call of Christ to follow Him and has yielded every himself or herself, in every area of life, for obedient service to the Savior and King. Redeemed, forgiven, and born again, Christians now follow Jesus into radical newness in their lives and times.
This quickly leads Dr. Poythress to a discussion of the Christian worldview, in which he presents the broad outline of Reformed thinking on this subject, and cites and reviews key source materials for improving our vision and practice in this area. He shows how the Christian worldview contrasts with contemporary unbelieving thought and practice, at the same time warning believers against compromise, even as he affirms the common grace of God in the many good gifts to be found in the unbelieving world. Living the Christian worldview is a call to true spirituality, rooting in our Christian theological heritage, and benefiting from the work of such contemporary thinkers as John Frame. We are called to serve Christ in every area of life. Every legitimate vocation is an arena for serving the Lord, and Dr. Poythress surveys various disciplines – politics, science, art, education, work, and so forth – following the instruction of 19th century theologian and statesman, Abraham Kuyper, to show the difference a Christian worldview can make in these areas.
The final section of the book warns against various traps that Christians can fall into, including the trap of motivation (Why are we seeking a Christian worldview?), the trap of doctrine (wrong, or right and proud of it), and traps that we can expect to encounter in various arenas of life, including our views of the second coming of Christ. His guidance here can be of help in being aware of these pitfalls and steering clear of them before they become a problem.
The appendix on “Two Kingdoms Theology” is very helpful in sorting out the debates that continue under this rubric, and, at the same time, pointing the way to greater unity on the part of all believers.
This is one of the best brief introductions to the Lordship of Jesus and the Christian worldview that issues from that doctrine. The Lordship of Christ is a thoroughly Biblical study, with a minimum of references beyond the Scriptures. The references he does provide point the way to additional study in this area. Dr. Poythress’ book would provide a useful review for pastors and an accessible resource for training and further study for lay leaders and church members.
Monthly Resource: Resource Archives
Here’s a link to our Pastor to Pastor monthly resources on pastoral theology. We are working our way through several of these as we continue preparing new resources for the fall. All monthly resources are available as free PDF downloads for you and your church leaders.
And while you’re at the website, watch the video on Personal Discipleship Inventory, download the assessment tool, and have a look at the state of your own Christian worldview.
Have a great summer.
To learn more about the ministry of the Word of God, and other areas of pastoral ministry, order our handbook for pastoral ministry Fan into Flamefrom our online store (click here). Here you’ll find excellent tools to review and improve your own work as a shepherd in God’s flock. Visit our bookstore to discover other resources for helping you improve your ministry of the Word.
We’re happy to provide Pastor to Pastor and other online resources at no charge. If this ministry is helpful to you, please consider joining those who support our work financially. It’s easy to give to The Fellowship of Ailbe, and all gifts are, of course, tax-deductible. You can click here to donate online through credit card or PayPal, or send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Dr., Essex Junction, VT 05452.
You can download this month’s devotional, The Ministry of the Word, by clicking here.