Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A "Smash" Hit for Evangelism

I was watching a show last night on NBC called "Smash." The premise of the show is to follow the characters who are involved in some form or fashion with the making of a Broadway Musical. Lots of singing and dancing and of course, drama.
I have a background in drama. I have written a play that has been performed over a dozen times (though not on Broadway just yet) and I have been fortunate to be producer, director and actor in many others. I love singing and I love acting, as sometimes the part allows me to be the real cut-up that I am. So naturally, this TV show has held my interest.
There are things that have happened so far this season that I do not like. There is a homosexual man who went on a date and they have been shown kissing and embracing, and lying in bed either covered or clothed. I'm not a homophobe, but in the bible God says it is wrong, so it is wrong. Period. see Leviticus 18:22
There have also been some other situations, such as one of the writers who is married having an affair with one of the actors who is married. Last night it was brought to an end, with both deciding that their marriages were worth more. I applaud the writers for showing how an affair can hurt relationships, and from the previews of next weeks episode, I think there is more fallout to come from this even though it is over.
Sooooo ... by now you're thinking, "Pastor, why do you watch such shows?"
Well, good question.
#1 ... I still love watching quality talent in singing and acting.
#2 ... Sometimes you can still learn something that can help you reach the world today.
Our world is so different today than it used to be. There are a lot more situations in the world that are dragging it downward. Internet porn, hatred against another man because of his religion, open homosexuality and sanctioning of their marriages among many others.
A lot of it I don't understand. But some of it I do.
I have a very colorful history in my past. I have been many places and done many things that I definitely am not proud of. But it has allowed me to understand what some people are going through in their lives.
I used to drink quite a bit, (though I was never a mean drunk, thank goodness), I had a love of drugs, especially "uppers" and marijuana. I also lived with two lesbians for quite some time and have several convictions on my record, both here and abroad. I've ridden with motorcycle gangs and the Buncombe county sheriff dept recognizes my name.
I'm not proud of this, but it has given me a perspective that many others simply don't have. People want to reach others who are not saved. But often times we try to reach them with the way that we would try to reach any other person who was brought up in church.
So many times you see the words, "Jesus Saves" written on churches, billboards and signs across our land. Yet this is probably the poorest excuse at an attempt of witnessing that can be done. People look at that and it means nothing. Jesus Saves. SO WHAT! I do when I shop at most larger chain stores, or at least that is what they tell me on the receipt. So to the world this is useless, Jesus saves, they save, their situation around them is no better. Big whoop.
When people see druggies, prostitutes and homosexuals they want to bash them. If you constantly get in someone's face and tell them how bad they are, the only thing they probably want to do is either walk away or bash your face in. And truthfully, I don't blame them. If anyone had gotten in my face like I've seen others do who are "witnessing", I probably would still be doing some really hard time.
Read the four gospels in the bible, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and watch how Jesus handled communicating with these people. He sat down and talked with them. Had meals with them. The only part of the confrontation in that situation was the religious "Do-Gooder's" who didn't get what Jesus was up to.
I'm not saying go out and whore yourself, shoot up some coke, or smoke a substance, but I am saying at least learn what makes these people tick. If you don't understand their way of thinking, read. Watch some shows that accurately portray that situation. Do more than just watch what is happening on the screen. Listen to what they are saying. Realize what makes them tick. Then you'll know what you can say to them to make them change their mind.
And if you've been there, go back. I walk up to some old buddies and something usually gets pulled out of their pocket and offered to me. Then I tell them about another high that I've found, that is everlasting and won't land them in jail. Some people say, "well, I could never go back around that crowd, the temptation would be too much." Okay, you're either a new Christian, which you do need to take some time to grow in your faith, or you've turned into a Sunday Christian and you have no solid substance to your beliefs that you espouse in your Sunday School class or Small Group study.
Grow Up! Grow Strong, then go back and share with the world how they can change their lives. Those people will remember you from back then, and hopefully see the change in you now, and they will want what you have. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
And if you don't know about that situation, but have a desire to reach out to them, not just bash them, then learn where they are coming from. Read, watch and observe. Sit and talk to them. Get to know them. Find out what lead them to the place where they are now. THEN you will have opportunities to witness to them.
Then you can reach people for Christ.
One World changed by reaching One Person at a time. That is how evangelism can be done every day.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Do you hear what I hear?

I want everyone to think about something for a few minutes.
When you go to church and hear the preacher give his sermon, what are you listening for?
(1) Words of Encouragment
(2) Nice words that neither hurt nor help, they just take up the hour service.
(3) Admonishments that make you feel about 2 feet tall
(4) Encouragements for how to live your life in a godly fashion and corrections for things that we humans find ourselves doing that we shouldn't.

I hope you answered number 4.

Let's look at the other 3 first.

(1) Words of Encouragment
I used to attend a church where the preacher once said that he would never deliver a "hell, fire and damnation" sermon because people didn't want to hear that anymore. Well, people might not want to hear it. The Pharisees and Saducees didn't want to hear what Jesus had to say to them. But he did it anyway. Sure, a pastor should lift up his congregation and assure them that can live a godly life. But when all you do is constantly preach "prosperity" all the time, sooner or later people are going to be hungry for more. That is what happened to me and my wife, and that is why we left our former church.

(2) Nice words that neither hurt nor help, they just take up the hour service.
These are the services where everyone sits, half nod off and when the choir sings the invitation hymn, everyone gathers their things and prepares to sprint for the door.
Watch the number of churches in decline today and in almost every one of them you'll find this scenario. People used to attend church "because that is what you were supposed to do, especially here in the south." No one does this anymore, except maybe a few senior adults who aren't dead or in the nursing homes. People want to attend something where they feel that they are making good use of their time, i. e. learning something!

(3) Admonishments that make you feel about 2 feet tall
You don't have to brow beat a person to get your message through. Yes, point out the errors in their ways and show them what they need to do to correct it, but don't beat someone down to the point that they feel that they will never measure up. If this is all anyone ever hears, they won't keep coming for long!

And now for the rest of the story!

(4) Encouragements for how to live your life in a godly fashion and corrections for things that we humans find ourselves doing that we shouldn't.

We all want someone to tell us that we are doing a great job. We want a "pat on the back" at some point in our lives. That is our human nature. But we also need to know how not to get on the wrong path in life, and if we find ourselves there, we need to know how to get back to God.
Sermons need to be well rounded so that the congregation can grow in their spiritual and daily walk right now. Pastors need to listen to what is going on around them and address the issues that the congregation and the world around them is facing.
This is why an "in person" preacher is so much better than a TV preacher. They don't know what is going on locally and inside your church. You need someone who you can go to on a personal basis for counseling and prayer (not sending 5 bucks for a prayer cloth to some greedy person).
Then you can learn and grow in your knowledge of the bible and in what God would have you do with your life.
That is what makes a church prosper!