Archives For Evangelism

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“Follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” It is tragically easy for those of us in ministry to forget this, to get so wrapped up in nuances of theology and specific strategies that we no longer personally seek the lost. I came across this modern parable recently (from Pastor John Drescher) that poignantly drives that point home:

Now it came to pass that a group existed who called themselves fishermen. And lo, there were many fish in the waters all around. In fact, the whole area was surrounded by streams and lakes filled with fish. And the fish were hungry.

Week after week, month after month, and year after year, these who called themselves fishermen met in meetings and talked about their call to fish, the abundance of fish, and how they might go about fishing. Year after year they carefully defined what fishing means, defended fishing as an occupation, and declared that fishing is always to be a primary task of fishermen.

Continually, they searched for new and better methods of fishing and for new and better definitions of fishing. They created witty slogans and displayed them on big beautiful banners.

These fishermen built large, beautiful buildings called “Fishing Headquarters.” The plea was that everyone should be a fisherman and every fisherman should fish. One thing they didn’t do, however: They did not fish.

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When we think of a traveling preacher addressing a crowd, most of us conjure up an image like UNC’s (in)famous Pit Preacher. He stands up in the middle of a public space and loudly proclaims that everyone is going to hell because of their short skirts, rock music, and liberal politics. I imagine he thinks he’s “engaging the public square” with the gospel, much like Paul did in Acts 17.

I can’t speak to the Pit Preacher’s motives, but he’s certainly not the rightful heir to Paul in Acts 17. A quick look shows us that engaging the public square means something completely different. I see 5 insights for engaging people outside the Christian faith:

1. Grieve over idolatry (and do something about it).

When encountering idolatry in a culture, we tend to respond in one of two equally unbiblical extremes: either we share our culture’s idolatry, or we are so offended by it that we run away. But when Paul saw the idolatry of Athens for what it was, it broke his heart. And instead of running away from it in fear, he ran toward it in love.

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Acts 16 contains the stories of three people who were unlikely candidates for the growing Christian movement. There must have been dozens more people there who came to faith, but Luke (the author of Acts) chose to write about just three—a rich religious woman, a slave girl, and a jailor. Why these three?

That’s a question we should always ask when reading the Bible: Why did the author include this? In this case, Luke records these stories to drive home that the gospel really is for everybody. The three people in Philippi represent the three types of people we find all around us—and show us how can we engage them with the gospel.

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