Friday, October 28, 2016

How to Reach your Neighbors, Part 6 of 6

Image by Andrew Lamb

What would it look like if your care group was all people from your neighborhood? What a powerful community that would be to partner together to reach a neighborhood together.

If that is not your current reality, what if you partnered with a few key families in your neighborhood to do a Neighborhood Watch Program. Some in your neighborhood won’t come to a neighborhood gathering unless there is a purpose higher than “just getting together”. The Watch Program could be that very thing.

Our family recently asked another BCC family down the street to join us to helping to get together a Neighborhood Watch informational meeting. We also asked another family in our neighborhood to help. We had a great turn out and while we were there, a group decided to plan a neighborhood block party. Both events have tied our neighborhood relationally together and give believing families entry ways into the gospel. We printed off a google map of the neighborhood and now have it posted in our kitchen to remind us homeowners’ names and to remind us to pray for them.

I have materials available for you like flyers, invites, etc. Let me know if you need anything!

Take Care, 
Ben D.

Friday, October 21, 2016

How to Reach Your Neighbors, Part 5 of 6

Here are some more thoughts for you on ways to apply my previous posts on evangelism. I’ve often heard care group leaders say they’d like to have a way for their care group to do a service project of some kind. Here are are two ideas for you to consider that can lead to not just physical work but gospel proclamation as well (Note: if you are not in a care group, keep reading, and you can adapt this idea for you.)

1. Make meals together (indirect servant evangelism)
Get together and make freezer meals together for our benevolence ministry. BCC often gets calls from those in our community who are in financial need. The looks on their faces are priceless when they come to our offices to get a financial gift and discover that we have a meal or two for them as well. These meals are also used for those inside the church when needed. Let me know if you need recipe ideas as others at BCC have gathered to do this in the past.

2. Neighborhood Service Project (direct servant evangelism)
Recently, our youth group went door to door in Washington asking homeowners if they wanted help with their leaves. They tried to engage in conversations about church and spiritual things as well. Why can't a care group do this? “We all don’t live in the same town?” No worries! Pick one care group household and do this in their neighborhood. Picture the care group raking and pulling weeds while the care group neighbor connects relationally with their neighbor. Even if a neighbor turns down the help, the care group neighbor gets another chance to interact with unsaved neighbors. Bring along some flyers about BCC and put them on the doors of those not home with a note from the care group neighbor. Hand out flyers to those who you serve.

Questions to ask your neighbors during this outreach assuming as you interact you discover they don’t have a church home:
Hi, I’m _____, your neighbor and my church small group are out looking to serve the neighborhood by helping with yard work free of charge. Can we start raking some leaves for you? Maybe cut branches or week anything? Yes? Okay, we’ll get started! And here are some cookies we baked for you, too.

1. Do you? So you obviously know now that I go to church, do you go or did you go growing up?
2. Why? Let me ask you this, do you think going to church is important in these times? Why or why not?
3. Why I do! Some might say the church is outdated, but I go as a response to what God did for me by sending His Son to pay for my sins. I accepted His offer to pay for my sins, so I go to church as way to show my thankfulness and love for God.
4. Would you? If I told you that you could attend a church and not feel judged or out of place, would you go?
5. More info? Could I give you a flyer with more about my church and some links to the sermons?

Are you considering this and fall or spring doesn’t work for your care group schedule—meaning when y’all are available there isn't much need for yard work in your neighborhood? How about:
-wheeling a hose reel and cleaning supplies and offer to wash cars during the summer?
-sending out a scout team (the local care group household) and asking what needs are in the neighborhood and fulfilling those needs on a Saturday as a group? Maybe some needs you hear are indoors or at a local park? 
-singing Christmas Carols from the street while the care group neighbor goes to the door with cookies?
-partnering with the American Red Cross to give away and install free smoke detectors (an existing program)?

Not in a care group? Modify these ideas and take some BCCers with you!

Take care,
Ben D. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

How to Reach Your Neighbors, 4 of 6

How can a Christian use Halloween to build relationships in their neighborhood that lead to sharing the gospel? Here are some ideas...

First thing first. Here is what John Piper, former pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minnesota, said when asked about his perspective on Halloween:
"It's kind of one of those questions of, 'Do you see Christ against culture, Christ in culture, or Christ over culture?’ I would guess that at our church there would be people from one end of the perspective to the other. That is, some who would say, 'We don't want anything to do with that demonic holiday! Why would you even be involved with that at all?' And others who would have their children dress up as a butterfly and go knocking on doors and say, "Trick or treat!" And then in the middle would be people who do counter events, like a thing at the church where you dress up like biblical characters and have a great time.

I would hope that all Christians would think biblically and carefully about any holiday, any event, and how they might be salt and light in it. And if they feel like this can be of value to the kids in some way, to teach them—if it can be an innocent way of enjoying God's grace and teaching lessons—so be it. I'm willing to run the risk of connection to worldliness in order to be biblically faithful in witness. The same thing with Christmas and birthdays and Easter and worshipping on Sunday. All of these things have pagan connections.

I want to be loose and broad and give freedom to believers to find their way to be most effective. So I respect those who are renouncing it as too connected with evil, and I respect those who say, 'No, let's redeem it and penetrate it and use it.’"

The Davidson household has chosen to engage in Halloween in our neighborhood. We are okay if you disagree. We won’t judge you for not engaging in Halloween. I think Piper serves us well to say that there is liberty here for believers.

Below, I’ll share what we have done to try to develop personal relationships during Halloween night. It is a difficult tension between:
1. Kids wanting to go fast and hit as many houses as possible.
2. Casey and I wanting to introduce ourselves to parents and kids and make a connection.

To help with this tension, we have done a few things to help slow down the evening. 
1. We have put out hot water and hot chocolate packets. We sit out in the garage with the door open to hand out candy and invite people in to get some hot chocolate. 
2. We hang a white sheet in the back of the garage and project a movie on it like “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” 

Both of these options allow for the child to be put at ease watching the movie or making hot chocolate while you try to make a connection with a neighbor. Introduce yourself. Ask if they live in the neighborhood and where? How long? What brought them to your neighborhood? Try to make a connection and an excuse to connect with them in the future, so you can further the relationship (i.e. “Sound like you know a lot about computers. I’ll have to keep that in mind next time my computer acts up!”) Always look for that next point of connection.

There is a story of a Christian who asked his new, non-believing neighbor if he could borrow a shovel. The non-believing neighbor gladly obliged. This interaction was the first of many the Christian neighbor initiated. Later, after the non-believing neighbor came to Christ via the Christian sharing the gospel, the new believer realized something—the Christian neighbor already owned a shovel.

Always look for a point of connection.

More soon. Take care...
Pastor Ben

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

How to Reach Your Neighbors, 3 of 6

Continuing from my first two posts, as we remember the gospel, here is another reason why all believers are called to joyfully share God’s plan of redemption with the lost world: a love for the Lord. 

Have you ever considered this? Evangelism is a way we are able to express our love for God in a way we won’t be able to in heaven. What a joy that He allows us to do that! What a joy to do that as a part of our purpose in life--to glorify God! 
The goal of a believer’s life is to glorify God. Everything exists for His glory!

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 
(1 Corinthians 10:31) 

So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 
(2 Corinthians 5:9) 

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
(Romans 11:36) 

Our salvation is for His glory!
he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:5-6)
God is glorified in the gospel. It is the believer’s great joy to glorify God by sharing Him with others. Who was instrumental in your receiving Christ? Who in your life is not saved? Write a name down right now and start/continue to pray for them.

Now that we have laid groundwork for why believers should want to tell others about the gospel, my next posts will be some ideas in which to do so. One method is using the holiday of Halloween in redemptive way.

More soon. Take care...
Pastor Ben

Monday, October 10, 2016

How to Reach Your Neighbors, 2 of 6

Continuing from my first post, as we remember the gospel, here is another reason why all believers are called to joyfully share God’s plan of redemption with the lost world: a love for those who do not yet know Christ.

What does a love for the unsaved look like? It means being willing to lovingly and graciously be willing to offend. According to the Scriptures, the unsaved will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might (2 Thessalonians 1:9). The anguish of the rich man is real (Luke 16:23-24).

Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Meditate with deep solemnity upon the fate of the lost sinner…when you get up early to go to the place where you commune with God, cast an eye toward Sodom and see the smoke thereof going up like the smoke of a furnace. Shun all views of future punishment which would make it appear less terrible, and so take off the edge of your anxiety to save immortals from the quenchless flame.” from Lectures to my Students

Our love for the lost means building relationships, showing grace, loving people, loving their families, sacrificing time and resources to care for them, etc., but we won’t find a painless way to communicate to a person that the wrath of God is upon them. We must love them enough to tell them the truth.

Mark Dever writes, “One thing I have noticed that has declined over the years is a willingness to offend people over the gospel. I have been to many seminars on contextualization, and I’m not opposed to it, but I don’t agree with us translating the gospel in such a way that an unbeliever is not offended. We want to translate the gospel into understandable language, but it doesn’t mean translating the gospel in a way that our hearers will like.”

I’m not saying the indication of your faithfulness is how much you offend people, but I am saying that there is no painless way to tell someone that they’re under the wrath of God. We have to understand what conversion is. Biblically, while we are to persuade, our first duty is to be faithful to present the same good news that God has given to us. God’s Spirit will convert. We can’t make conversions. I think knowing this will make us better evangelists.

More soon. Take care,
Pastor Ben 

Friday, October 7, 2016

How to Reach Your Neighbors, 1 of 6

It is certainly a privilege to be the first writer on the Bethany Community Church blog.

They say that if you want a sure fire way to guilt your congregation, talk about prayer or evangelism. My hope is that my part of these blog posts on evangelism will not heap any guilt on you, but instead, what you read will motivate you to see the joy of reaching your neighbors for Christ. Additionally, I hope to give you some good ideas for how to reach your neighbors. The thoughts in my posts are from a recent men's breakfast and adapted from Pastor Mark Dever, and at times, I am not sure what is from Dever and what are my thoughts. Let's assume if you are reading good stuff, it was from Dever.

Consider the following statement: The more you meditate on the gospel, the easier evangelism will become to you. I certainly agree. The fault of many posts on evangelism is to motivate the church to evangelism through guilt with statements like “God has done so much for you; will you do much for Him?"

A better motivator is the gospel itself! Mark Dever says, “The gospel is the very heart of what we’ve been called to do. The more I study the gospel, the more I become excited about talking about it.”

We should ask ourselves, "Why do I at times struggle with sharing the gospel with the unsaved world?"
Possible answers are:We don’t remember the gospel. (Romans 6:23) We struggle with a fleshly desire to not think of others before ourselves. (Philippians 2:3-5) Remembering the gospel, here is one reason why all believers are called to joyfully share God’s plan of redemption with the lost world: a desire to be obedient.

God’s call to evangelize is clear: 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:18-20)

Paul writes of the call and obligation to evangelize: 1I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. (Romans 9:1-3)

Of this passage, Mark Dever says, “This passage is a clear call to us. Our silence is not a matter of neutrality. You need to tell yourself that. Our silence is a matter of guilt and sin. Obedience is…a biblical reason to evangelize.”

Do I wait until I feel like being obedient to evangelize? To evangelize is to be obedient. Don’t wait for your feelings. Work at them, but don’t wait for them.

More soon. Take care...
Pastor Ben