Friday, July 10, 2009

Home Bible Study Groups: Prioritizing The Savior Or Service First?

Q: Christian, which should come first, worship, Bible study, small group fellowship, or personal evangelism as we serve the Lord?
I'm kind of tired and it is getting late here in Dallas, but I'll try to be somewhat clear as I muse outloud here. I personally love this question above and I need to ask myself this regularly. I believe that our vertical worship of Christ must come first and thought we could discuss this a little. Now can you list any verses here (at the bottom) that make the answer to this question very clear or will basically refute this kind of thinking?

I believe that personal and mass evangelism; yes, both are to be the natural outgrowth of us sowing to the Spirit in all those other areas. We have a best Friend and we act like it because we love Him.

All discipleship should also be an outgrowth of time spent with Jesus alone and with His body. Our vertical relationship must come before our horizontal service. Duh.

Are you currently more like a Mary type of person or a Martha type of person? Admittedly, there have been times in my past experience with Jesus where I have gotten so distracted by all the busyness and have inadvertently become like a workaholic for God. I was basically ineffective in all my witnessing efforts for Jesus. Has that ever happened to you?

Hey gang, I know of course.. that you more than likely are already seeking the Lord daily and are pretty well-fed to boot huh.

I know that I feel so grateful inside and I merely want to stir up your pure thinking even more along these lines, to get some kind of edification and discussion going here. It just motivates me all the more!

I was just noticing the words of the Apostle Paul today dealing with serving. He said, "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord" (Rom. 12:11). Now, I really like that order here and I've found that I have had a really hard time with serving the Lord in any way if I am not first fervent in spirit due to a lifestyle of full-on worship and fellowship with other on-fire growing Christians.

How about you?

So, what say you this regard?

Maybe you desire to tactfully cast a net ..or a well baited hook.. in every opportunity you can without being pushy.. like in your neighborhood, or with relatives, or with coworkers, or with fellow students ..or politely with your social network connections?

I say we all boldly enlarge our circles of love for the purpose of including new and old friends for God's Kingdom! Your involvement with effective Spirit-led personal evangelism is vital! This stuff is for you and for me! Yes, it is God's will for every Christian, for every home Bible study group and for every local church. Paul said, "Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God" (2 Cor.5:18-20, nkjv).

When the church and home groups lose their evangelistic edge, the sentence is spiritual stagnation and death for many. No amount of study, acts of serving, sharing, or serving will save the church's future vision when then no longer include this ministry of personal evangelism. They will soon get inverted eyeballs, when there is a needy world desperate for our magnificent Message. This is the first priority for all Christian leaders. Jesus has reconciled us to Himself and privileged us to be a part of His world-changing enterprise so to speak, so we must all pray and do our part in going to tell others what He wants them to hear …from a basis of strength in Him.

Although we can use a wide variety of evangelistic methods and righteous bait if you will, our duty as leaders is to understand and teach those principles from God's Word that never change and are most suitable for our particular home group and church.

Sometimes people can become very defensive or angry when they feel guilty and are under conviction. Some of us were the same way, shortly before receiving Christ. They say you can always tell when someone casts a brick into a pack of dogs.. it's the one that yelps that got hit. You know people aren't literal dogs, but we can all yelp real loud and throw a fit when the Spirit is directly dealing with us (if they do yelp, let it be due to the truth in love spoken, and not be due to your callous insensitivity). Who wants to give up their beloved idols all alone ..until we clearly see what is offered to us by Christ and how much better it really is?

Witnesses shouldn't ever take it personal when they are mocked or attacked. It often takes some time for family, relatives, coworkers and friends to accept the idea of God changing them. Each home group can work as a team in prayerfully sowing seeds, in planting truth, in watering the seeds, in cultivate to get the weeds out with open people and then when the time is right, we reap.

To prepare for personal evangelism like say ..from the home.. to prepare to lead in this type of initiative overt evangelism.. to get empowered for any type of evangelism for that mattery, nothing helps more than to have regular, to-the-point, Christ-centered, non-gossipy prayer meetings where you earnestly call out to the Lord for His guidance and confidence. We pray for open doors, for prepared hearts, for favor, for the scales on the eyes to be removed, for God's wisdom, for real anointing, for genuine love and for a harvest. God wants to add to the church.. through you obeying Him!

Then after praying together (and possible fasting if the Spirit leads you to), simply set a time and just go for it together. New believers can team up with humble experienced saints.

Go out there where the lost people are! It could be in the park, a skate ramp, or near any major event in your city where they will come together. Now go do your homework and get the permits if you'll need them to set up a table or whatever your plan involves. We always want to do things respecting the laws and city authorities, but the important part is getting started. Fear of failure and rejection must be overcome. It's a real joy; an exciting adventure!

Remember.. collectively and individually.. we never want to depend upon ourselves and witness in our own ingenuity or power. Jesus said, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life" (Jn. 6:63). Unlike many TV preachers, speak Christ's words in a non-spooky or religious way. I've found that most unbelievers don't have a problem with Jesus at all. It's typically Christians or ministries they have a problem with.

Think back on how was it the Spirit using the Scripture as Saints read it to me ..and this truth will impacted anyone if they choose not to have a hard, cold, closed heart?

Do you remember the day when the Holy Spirit shined His light into your heart and showed you that you were a needy sinner? Were you a party animal just like I was?

Man, I was taken to a home Bible study group up the coast near Newport Beach and was hearings some sweet songs sung ..with a bunch of Spirit-filled, middle aged and elderly ladies when it happened to me.

Like me for the longest time, you probably thought that you were simply an "okay person," but suddenly you felt all convicted inside …of your sin and wickedness. You were also probably overwhelmed by God's love as He wooed you to Himself.

That conviction wasn't ever an ugly feeling to me condemnation is. But it's far better than that. God know how we need to be convinced. Yes, perhaps the gentle Holy Spirit brought about that radical regeneration change in you with Bible stories you together were going over.

Where you changed the first time you heard the Gospel? Some people are, but others need to be witnessed to several times as Christians keep on praying for them. Jesus said, "'Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit'" (Jn. 3:5–6). Being raised in a non-Bible teaching church, this passage made a difference in my life.

Yes, it was literally the Holy Spirit who brought about the work of conversion in you and me—free of charge.

And then it was the Holy Spirit who gave you and me that inner assurance that we are truly believers. It's plays out just like it says in Romans 8:16, "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God."

Perhaps you are already a fan of devotions, prayer and of small-group evangelism.. and are now wanting to hear more on this important subject? More importantly… perhaps you somehow accidentally landed on this blog and are wondering what I am even talking about.. and aren't even sure if you are a real Christian in the first place.

Do you need some more instruction with this fishing stuff?

Here's Some Classic Suggested Reading…

A. The Master Plan of Evangelism, R. Coleman
B. The Universe Next Door, Sire
C. Say It With Love, Hendricks
D. Out of the Salt Shaker and Into the World, Pippert
E. Evidence That Demands a Verdict, McDowell
F. Encounter; Face to Face with Jesus, Heitzig
G. Christianity: The Faith That Makes Sense, McCallum
H. The Death of Truth, McCallum
I. A Passion for the Gospel, Greg Laurie with Chuck Swindoll
J. The Claims of Christ, Chuck Smith, Sr.
K. Witnessing Without Fear, Bright
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