May 2017

North Carolina Missions Offering: Do you have eyes to see?

May 31 2017 by Chad Austin, BSC Communications

Do you have eyes to see the hungry, the sick and the hurting?
 
When we have eyes to see as Jesus did, we will see the world as it really is: broken, hurting and lost. And we’ll be compelled to make a difference.
 
“Eyes to See” is the theme of this year’s North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO). The annual offering supports a variety of ministries that respond to physical and spiritual needs in North Carolina, across the country and around the world.
 
The theme is based on John 4:35b, where Jesus said to His disciples: “Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” (NKJV).
 
Generally received in September of each year, the NCMO supports the 17 different ministries of N.C. Baptist Men, also known as Baptists on Mission, as well as church planting, mission camps, associational projects and missions mobilization projects. The goal for this year’s offering is $2.1 million.
 
Thanks to the generous support of the NCMO by N.C. Baptists, lives are being transformed by the power of the gospel. Each year, numerous individuals come to faith in Christ through the ministries supported by this special offering.
 
“As North Carolina Baptists, we have to see opportunities and needs before us and respond accordingly,” said Richard Brunson, executive director of Baptists on Mission. “But we can’t do it alone. We need each other.”
 
Helping meet physical needs is a great way to build bridges to the gospel, and many of the ministries of Baptists on Mission do just that. In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, scores of Baptists on Mission’s disaster relief volunteers from across the state came together to help those impacted by the storm.
 
By helping repair and rebuild victims’ homes, volunteers had opportunities to share the love of Christ in both word and deed. To date, more than 60 victims of Hurricane Matthew have placed their faith in Christ.
 
And Baptists on Mission has committed to continue ministering to those in need, with an ambitious goal of rebuilding up to 1,000 homes in eastern North Carolina in the coming years. Support of NCMO is what makes ministries like disaster relief possible.
 
Support of NCMO also helps get more people engaged and involved in missions through short-term projects and a variety of national and international partnerships.
 
Baptists on Mission operates two mission camps located in Red Springs and Shelby, which give local churches an opportunity to engage in community missions projects. Baptists on Mission also has a number of missions partnerships designed to mobilize individuals and churches for service through short-term missions trips.
 
Each year, thousands of volunteers serve with ministry partners all across the
United States in places like the Appalachian coalfields, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, the Rocky Mountain states and Vermont. Volunteer teams also serve in other places around the world, such as Armenia, Cuba, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Kenya and Romania.
 
The NCMO is also vital to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSC) church planting efforts. The convention’s team of church planting consultants provides training, coaching and additional support to church planters, equipping them to reach their communities for Christ. By giving to the NCMO, you help plant churches that make disciples of Jesus Christ.
 
“People see what they are prepared to see,” said Mark Gray, who leads the state convention’s Church Planting Team. “We will only reach the 5.8 million who are lost in North Carolina if we learn to see them like Jesus.”
 
NCMO also supports missions on the local level. Each year, a portion of the offering is designated for the 77 local Baptist associations across North Carolina for a variety of missions and ministry efforts.
 
God has equipped each believer with unique talents, skills and abilities that can be utilized for missions and ministry. But before we can respond, we have to see people the same way Jesus did.
 
And when we have eyes to see people as Jesus did, we are moved to action.
 
The NCMO supports many ministries around our state and world. Together we can reap a harvest through your faithful prayers and generous support of this offering.
 

5/31/2017 9:46:02 AM by Chad Austin, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



Tips to young women in ministry

May 26 2017 by Melissa Meredith

God in His graciousness brought many wise women into my life when I started my first ministry position a few years ago. They cheered me on not because I was anyone special, but because they had run a little farther in the race and were familiar with the joys, the stumbling blocks and the perseverance needed for a young woman in her first years of ministry.

Melissa Meredith


Some came alongside me and ran in the next lane, equipping and investing in me one coffee date at a time. Others sat in the bleachers and prayed over me and my ministry. Still others came for a season to lift my arms up when I grew weary.
 
But all of them cheered above the roar of the crowd, amid the arrows of spiritual warfare and the silence of waiting, and helped me to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus.
 
By no means have I “arrived” in ministry or leadership. But I have learned a few lessons along the way, and maybe somewhere out there is a young woman in her first years of ministry who needs someone to stand up and cheer, pound their feet on the bleachers and remind her of the goal, the stakes and the prize that awaits her at the finish line.
 
Here are a few “cheers” from one young woman in ministry to another:
 

Buy a bookshelf (and fill it)

When I graduated from seminary, I made the mistake of setting aside books for longer than “I’m-just-going-to-catch-my-breath.” I became aware that my spirit was becoming prideful and my heart unteachable. The senior pastor of the church I was serving at the time challenged his staff to read 16 books within the next year. As I read books on leadership, ministry to women and discipleship, God continued to prune my spirit and I learned a valuable lesson: Always keep a teachable heart and a humble spirit. Keep reading, learning and growing.
 

Find your prayer warriors (and be honest)

A pastor’s wife encouraged me to find a small band of prayer warriors, to meet with them regularly and be honest with them about how they could pray for me. It required confidentiality, trust and vulnerability. As I write this, I know that I have three gray-haired women of valor who are lifting me and my ministry to God’s throne. And it has been through these three saints that God has taught me about the strength of a mustard seed, the peace that comes from resting in God and how to develop a prayer life. Find women who will be faithful to pray for you.
 

Keep the Sabbath day (and prepare for it)

I become more aware of how crucial God’s command is to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy with each year in ministry. I’m more aware of the battle of flesh and spirit. But when I was starting out, I found myself ministering to women on Sunday – and loving it – but knowing I needed to become intentional about observing the Sabbath myself. It took prayer, counsel, preparation, rescheduling and a lot of self-control. Fridays became the time when I laid down my work and rested. Practice this spiritual discipline until it is like a well-oiled machine in your life. It is a gift from God to you and your ministry that teaches obedience, protects you from burnout and equips you, in part, for every good work.
 

Invest in a few good women (and make it a lifestyle)

“Who is investing in you, and who are you investing in?” one of my cheerleaders asked. She encouraged me to adopt the invested life. As you lead, look around you for a few good women who are faithful, available and teachable. Meet with them regularly, share life with them, disciple them and teach them how to be disciple-makers themselves. I’ve adopted this lifestyle – this invested life – and I will say that, aside from my personal time with the Lord each day, nothing gets my feet moving and my heart pumping like seeing a sister I’ve walked with turn around and invest in others. Invest in a few, and make disciples one woman at a time.
 
Perhaps, too, these words from Hebrews in the Message translation may kindle a flame in your heart to keep running the race set before you:
 
Do you see what this means – all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running – and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, Who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how He did it. Because He never lost sight of where He was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God – He could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now He’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility He plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (Hebrews 12:1-3, MSG)
 
Know there is a fellow co-laborer cheering you on!
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Melissa Meredith is the director of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Horner Homemaking House and a 2013 graduate of the seminary with a master of divinity with a concentration in women’s studies. This column is adapted from the seminary’s Biblical Woman website, biblicalwoman.com.)
 

5/26/2017 6:18:10 AM by Melissa Meredith | with 0 comments



More than watching a movie

May 25 2017 by John Weaver

Am I the only one who thought I was a martial arts expert after watching the movie Karate Kid and seeing the intense instruction that “Daniel-san” received from Mr. Miyagi?
 
I saw the movie when it came out on the big screen in 1984. Sadly, my new knowledge did not make me a “black belt,” especially since all the other kids I went to school with saw the same movie I did.

John Weaver


Just watching a movie will never make me an expert in any particular field, although I might temporarily act like I am.
 
Watching a movie like Cool Running, for example, may give me a new interest in bobsledding and Jamaican winter Olympic sports, but actually thinking about going down a mountain of curving walls of ice at high speed in a fiberglass eggshell quickly brings me back to a sensible reality.
 
Some people, akin to watching a movie, love to hear what the pastor, Bible teacher or missionary shares but that’s often as far as they tend to get involved.
 
God’s Word clearly teaches us that following Christ is not at all a spectator sport. Being “like” Jesus Christ requires us to have and practice consistent faith – which is directly correlated to “action.”
 
Sitting in a theater (congregation) and watching others live out “our faith” misses the mark. We’re not here on this earth to just watch movies about the Light of the world, but we’re commanded to go out and be the light of the world.
 
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says,” the Bible tells us in James 1:22-25. “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it – not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – John Weaver is a Christian life coach and pastor of Morse Mill Baptist Church in Dittmer, Mo.)
 

5/25/2017 11:02:09 AM by John Weaver | with 0 comments



When a good man stumbles

May 24 2017 by Jeff Struecker

It’s frustrating when you break a tool from your workshop. Most of us have been working away diligently in the backyard only to have a tool break when we needed it most. The frustration is even greater when you never imagined it would break on you.
 
Deep in the back of our mind we all know that any tool can fail at any time. But often we use the same tool repeatedly and subconsciously start to believe it will never let us down.

Jeff Struecker


This is just a subtle example of what happens when a “good man” stumbles.
 
The term “good man” I’m using here doesn’t mean perfect. We all know there is no such thing as a perfect man apart from Jesus Christ, the only perfect man who ever lived. We are all sinners in need of a Savior. He, according to Hebrews 4:15, never stumbled in his faith or ever committed a sin.
 
The term “good man” I’m referring to is a guy who generally delivers in a specific situation. Maybe it’s a baseball player who never drops a fly ball. Maybe it’s the guy at work who never shows up late or your neighbor who always mows his lawn on Saturday mornings.
 
When that ballplayer drops the easy fly ball, everybody in the crowd moans. Any ballplayer can miss the fly ball but when this guy misses it’s highly unusual. If your coworker shows up 30 minutes late to work, it’s probably going to get your attention. If you wake up next Saturday morning and the neighbor isn’t mowing his lawn, it’s going to make you wonder what’s wrong with your neighbor.
 
Likewise, when a good man stumbles, it catches our attention. We’re caught off-guard and often not sure what to say. That’s a natural response. However, what’s the appropriate response?
 
The obvious answer is to go help him up. When your coworker is running 30 minutes late to work, stop him at break and ask if anything is wrong or if there is anything you can do for him. It shows your coworker that you care. When your neighbor didn’t mow his lawn on Saturday morning, why don’t you find out if there’s anything you can do for him? Go knock on his door and ask if you can mow the lawn for him.
 
When a good man stumbles just a little bit it hurts us all because we all believe in the good man. We all want to see the good man get back up, brush himself off and restore what he lost when he stumbled.
 
There’s a brief example of this in Luke 23:26. Jesus has been sentenced to death. Crucifixion is the method that the Roman government will use to execute Him. This was a notoriously painful process. If you were to read between the lines in this verse, Jesus had been brutally beaten. The good man who did nothing wrong was sentenced to die for our mistakes (Isaiah 53:5).
 
After the beating, Jesus was forced to carry his own means of execution up a hill to the outskirts of town. This cross would have been large, heavy, rough-cut wood. Somewhere along this route Jesus stumbled. He no longer had the strength to carry the wooden cross to the top of Mount Calvary.
 
The Roman executioners were not about to give Him any mercy. They weren’t willing to slow down the pace of Jesus’ execution. They grabbed a man in the crowd by the name of Simon and forced him to carry Jesus’ cross.
 
Imagine that you’re one of Jesus’ followers. You have believed Him to be the Son of God. You have staked your life on the claims that He’s making as God’s anointed. Maybe you and I can get a small glimpse at the shock Jesus’ disciples would have experienced when they watched their Savior stumble under the weight of that cross. When they saw this good man stumble it must have been devastating.
 
Notice, none of Jesus’ disciples ran over to help Him. They were terrified for their own lives and ran away instead of running to help their Savior. That’s why the Roman guards had to force an unknown man to carry Jesus’ cross.
 
When you see a good man stumble, rush over to help him up. When you stumble, be willing to lean on somebody to help you get back up and get on your feet. It’s part of the common human condition – we all have stumbled in the past and will stumble again in the future. We all need somebody like Simon to be there when we can’t bear the weight anymore.
 
If you have stumbled and made a big mess of your life, it’s not too late for you. This is the very reason Jesus was willing to carry His cross in the first place. His death and resurrection make it possible for sinful men and women to be made right with God through repentance of their sins and faith in Jesus Christ. Only when people surrender their lives to Him can they stand before a holy God.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Jeff Struecker is the pastor for leadership and teaching at Calvary Baptist Church, church.calvaryministries.com, in Columbus, Ga. Struecker is a retired Army Ranger, online at jeffstruecker.com, who has served as a chaplain and pastor since 2000 and authored five books. This column is adapted from The Christian Index, christianindex.com, newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention. Used with permission.)
 

5/24/2017 12:48:28 PM by Jeff Struecker | with 0 comments



No parking

May 23 2017 by David Jeremiah

Have you pulled to the side of the road and parked your life?
 
We can park at any age. Some people lose interest and motivation even in the prime of life. But consider Hosea 10:9: “The Lord says, ‘You have made no progress whatsoever’” (NLT). In John 8:37, Jesus lamented: “My teaching makes no progress among you” (NET).

David Jeremiah


But the apostle Paul commended the Philippians, saying, “I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith” (Philippians 1:25). And he told Timothy, “Meditate on these things ... that your progress may be evident to all” (1 Timothy 4:15).
 
Is your progress evident to all? Are you more excited than ever about the Lord? Learning new things from His Word? Growing in faith? Launching out into new areas of ministry? Tackling new projects for His glory?
 
2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
 
As Christians, the glory of God soaks into our lives and makes us phosphorescent, glow-in-the-dark people. As we progress in our Christian experience, we become increasingly productive, ever more fruitful and more deeply appreciative of the abundant life we have in Christ.
 
Remember these “no parking” principles:
 

Hit the road with enthusiasm

Sometimes we should intentionally put some pep into our step. It works! It’s an application of faith. When we’re filled with the Holy Spirit, we’ll be enthusiastic people. We have to remind ourselves to tackle each day knowing that it’s the day He has made for our joy.
 
What a difference it makes when we tackle life with enthusiasm!
 

Hold key scriptures in your mind

For the Christian, our enthusiasm is fueled by the truths of God’s Word. Find a scripture each morning as a motto for the day. Here are some of my favorites: “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in. … I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. … Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say, rejoice! … As the Father has sent Me, I also send you. … Be filled with the Spirit.”
 
There once was a man who wrote out a verse every morning on a card – whatever verse the Lord gave him – and he put that card in his shirt pocket and carried it close to his heart all day. He’d often think of it or take the card out and read it during the day so the truths would be held in his mind from morning until bedtime. He called it “Shirt Pocket Therapy.”
 
I call it staying “fueled up” for the trip.
 

Go to work for the Lord each day

Realize that God has a plan for His children and He allocates our work for us day by day. The Lord told Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).
 
Every day is a gift to be used for the Master’s use.
 
You may feel tired or be disabled. Perhaps you think you’re behind the times and modern technology has passed you by. Maybe you’ve had some hard blows and you’ve given up on life.
 
Don’t stop! Don’t park! When God is finished with you on earth, He’ll take you to heaven. But until then, stay in gear.
 
I like the story of a 90-year-old who decided to join a group from his church for a missions trip to India. His buddy came to him in distress, saying, “You shouldn’t try a trip like this. I might not see you again.”
 
“Maybe not,” replied the man, suitcase in hand. “You may be dead when I get back!”
 
That’s the spirit!
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Jeremiah is pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, Calif., and founder and host of Turning Point for God. For more information on Turning Point, visit DavidJeremiah.org. This column has been approved by Turning Point for redistribution in Baptist state newspapers; for other reprint requests, contact Myrna Davis at mdavis@turningpointonline.org.)

5/23/2017 10:05:47 AM by David Jeremiah | with 0 comments



Why we plant churches

May 22 2017 by Dennis Conner

We face the enormous challenge here in Illinois of a mission field that is not just large geographically, it is also inhabited by a wide variety of people. People from all over the world call our state home.
 
Additionally, every ethnic group in Illinois has generational distinctions among them that are reflected in differing worldviews, communication styles and values. While that may be obvious in Chicago, it’s just as true in countless unincorporated rural regions of our state.

Dennis Conner


Church planting offers us the opportunity to see a wide variety of peoples won to Christ, to grow in Christ-likeness and to mature as disciples in community as God has designed.
 
Throughout Illinois, we have people groups who do not have ready access to the gospel. They do not have a group of believers with whom they have enough in common to develop relationships of trust and understanding that are essential to hearing the gospel and responding in faith. They do not have a community of believers with enough in common to urge one another on to love and good deeds.
 
In suburban West Chicago, we have a church plant that is evangelizing and discipling Zomi people who have come to the U.S. as refugees. Having come to these shores from Burma as a result of religious and ethnic persecution, Zomis are hearing and responding to the gospel through the work of a Zomi church planter, Kam Sen.
 
Kam Sen understands the values, needs and concerns of his Zomi kinsmen because their experience is his experience. He understands how to communicate biblical truth in ways that connect with them. And he knows how to lead them to maturity as disciples.
 
In southern Illinois, meanwhile, there are young and middle-aged adults who may not value all the expectations of attire and conduct that may be part of the culture of established churches in their area. They may not know all the theological vocabulary that is sometimes common in churches with a long history. The long, deep and beneficial relationships among people in older churches can be impenetrable circles to unchurched people.
 
While older, established churches continue their fruitful ministries of evangelism and discipleship, planting new churches allows us to engage, evangelize and disciple people who feel disconnected from the cultural distinctions of the established church.
 
Church planting holds for us the greatest opportunity to see the various peoples in Illinois have the opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel and to grow as followers of Jesus along with other disciples.
 
Whether new or old, our churches are the only biblically defined, God-ordained, Jesus-headed and Holy Spirit-organized place for spiritual growth and maturity to happen.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Dennis Conner directs church planting efforts of the Illinois Baptist State Association in northeast Illinois. This article is adapted from the Illinois Baptist ibonline.ibsa.org, the IBSA’s newsjournal. Used with permission.)

5/22/2017 1:46:23 PM by Dennis Conner | with 0 comments



More than good deeds

May 19 2017 by Diana Davis

Have you noticed? “Doing good” is in style.
 
It may be called “paying it forward” or community service. Clubs do it to help their community. Universities or businesses may encourage students or employees to do it. Fundraisers, marathons and events support worthy causes. Corporations often donate chunks of cash to charities. Volunteering may even enhance college entry or job resumes. People like those who “give back.”

Diana Davis


“Good deeds” may be trending, but doing good in Jesus’ name is ongoing. For Christians, there’s nothing “random” about acts of kindness.
 
Christians are called to do good with a purpose: to point others to Jesus and ultimately to share Him with those who don’t know Him. The goal of our community project, ministry group or mission trip is not to enhance our own reputation; it’s much bigger and more eternal than that.
 
So you give food to the hungry or help neighbors during disaster in Jesus’ name. You intentionally share Jesus with someone at the gym while you lift weights. You help plant a church so more people can know Him. You personally represent Jesus through your community involvement. Instead of observing what a great person you are, people notice what a great God you serve.
 
The church is the only organization in the world with a specific charge to be evangelistic in everything we do. “[W]e are Christ’s ambassadors,” scripture tells us. “God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’” (2 Corinthians 5:20 NLT).
 
Summertime is a great time for your church or small group to get missional with the intention of sharing Jesus. Try some of these fresh ideas:
 
– Add monthly, quarterly or ongoing mission projects to your small group or Sunday School class. Our class “adopted” a low-income nursing home to send pen pal notes and do occasional hands-on projects.
 
– Add hands-on ministry to your women’s group meetings. We added an hour to the weekday classes and mission groups for ministry teams to serve our community. Attendance mushroomed.
 
– Plan a summer outreach project. For example, Olive Baptist in Pensacola, Fla., has a plan to knock on every door within a few blocks of the church to personally invite neighbors to worship. The Florida Baptist Convention challenged churches to have beach baptisms. Hundreds were baptized publicly, and many onlookers were pointed to Jesus.
 
So our “pay it forward” becomes “pay it upward” and our “random acts of kindness” are never random. They’re purposeful. A lost world outside our church doors needs to see and hear God’s plan for their lives. We must continually keep Christ as our goal in missions – for all people to know Him and call Him Lord.
 
And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17 NLT).
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Davis is online at dianadavis.org. Her newest book, co-written with her daughter Autumn Wall, Across the Street and Around the World, New Hope Publishers, is a resource for missions ideas for churches, small groups and individuals.)
 

5/19/2017 12:00:35 PM by Diana Davis | with 0 comments



What’s your handicap?

May 18 2017 by Randy Covington

I ruptured my Achilles tendon while playing racquetball a few months ago, requiring a surgical procedure to reattach the tendon. Now I find myself temporarily handicapped.
 
For someone who is very active, it’s hard to adjust to this reality. It takes much longer in the morning to get ready for work. I can’t drive, so I’m dependent upon my wife to drive me wherever I go. I can’t carry anything because my hands are occupied with crutches or a scooter. And with spring in the air, everybody else is outside enjoying the sunshine while I’m largely confined to the house. I don’t like being handicapped!

Randy Covington


My convalescence has given me lots of time to think about the limitations of any handicap. I have known some permanently handicapped people who have adjusted well to their handicap and I have a great deal of respect for them.
 
But it has also become apparent to me that oftentimes we create our own limitations, or handicaps, that unnecessarily restrict what we are able to achieve. Our Christian journey, for example, can be hampered by self-imposed handicaps.
 
Just as there are exercises to enhance our physical ability to perform at optimal efficiency, there are spiritual exercises that allow us to pursue a fruitful and abundant spiritual life.
 
Prayer is an exercise offering us constant interaction with the Creator of the universe. Daily study of the Word of God prepares us to relate to a world that is out of touch with God. Fellowship and being part of a group of committed believers such as the church is essential to personal growth and learning to live in accordance with the will of the Father.
 
These are some of the most important spiritual disciplines to a healthy spiritual life in service to God. So, think for a moment of anything you may be choosing to ignore that is seriously handicapping your ability to be all that God wants you to be. Let’s be proactive in maintaining healthy spiritual disciplines in order that we might know the pleasure of God in our lives.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Randy Covington is executive director of the Alaska Baptist Convention. This article is adapted from the Alaska Baptist Milepost.)
 

5/18/2017 9:41:48 AM by Randy Covington | with 0 comments



Workplace evangelism abroad begins here

May 17 2017 by Sebastian Traeger

I’ve had the privilege lately of seeing an increasing number of people at all stages of life express interest in joining the global mission of God through the International Mission Board. Many wonder how they can be preparing to go.
 
On one level, it’s very simple: current faithfulness in your assignments is the greatest predictor of future fruitfulness. So, faithfully serve where you are.
 
One critical arena of faithfulness is your evangelistic witness. Being a faithful evangelist in the workplace doesn’t mean having Bible verses at your desk or preaching in the break room. Some Christians seem to think they’re not being a faithful witness at work unless they’re sharing the gospel all the time. But that’s not true. Being faithful starts with performing your job to the best of your ability to the glory of God.
 
That said, work can open doors to sharing the gospel, and we should be ready for opportunities when they happen.
 
Evangelism can be really hard. But it’s helpful to remember that we’re not the first generation to encounter challenges with it. When has it ever been easy to tell people about a guy named Jesus ... who really was fully God and fully man ... who really did live a perfect life ... who really was crucified ... and who really did rise from the grave and ascend into heaven?
 
It may be difficult, but it’s important for every Christian to participate in God’s plan for making disciples.
 
God has placed each of us in the location where we are and He has given us the relationships we have for a specific reason. We need to consider how to be good stewards of these gifts. Our jobs represent assignments given by the King. In these assignments, we are Christ’s ambassadors, entrusted with the good news of the gospel.
 
Here are four ways to provoke gospel conversations with people at work:
 

1. How we speak

The easiest way to identify yourself as a Christian is with your words.
 
The people you work with should know you are a Christian, that your faith is central to you, and that you attend church gatherings regularly.
 
Don’t operate in stealth mode. When someone asks how your weekend was, go beyond the standard response of “Good, how about you?” Tell them about church or how you shared life with church friends. It is increasingly rare to meet Christians in the workplace. Letting others know you’re a Christian makes you available to weaker believers and sets an example to non-believers.
 
We should also use words to encourage and build up. Go out of your way to compliment people on the work they’re doing. Let them know you appreciate them. Be specific and thoughtful.
 
Conversely, we must be conscious of the temptation to join in grumbling and gossiping. These patterns of speech are often normal in the workplace. As Christians, we are not normal – our citizenship is with another world. You may feel the magnetic pull daily to unload all of your cynical thoughts, but don’t give in.
 
Finally, use questions well. Questions are a great way to condition yourself not to be self-focused and self-absorbed. They draw people out, and they tend to cause people to ask you questions back. Something as simple as, “What are you reading?” can give great insight into a coworker’s life and worldview.
 

2. How we work

Work with excellence. When you make your faith known, you’re effectively volunteering to hold a giant microscope up over your head. Expect to be quietly scrutinized.
 
Our work should be done in a way that reflects the creativity, purpose and goodness of God. We should take pride in our work as image bearers and representatives of our King. But we need to expand the definition of doing good beyond just the notion of job performance and skill to include words like faithful, honest and servant-hearted. The content of our lives at work should reinforce, not undermine, the content of the gospel message we share.
 

3. How we relate

Although we don’t want our coworkers to be “projects,” we do want to be proactive and strategic about the relationships we build with coworkers in order to break through the professional boundaries that can form.
 
You can do this by using meals – particularly lunch – strategically. Getting away from the office and the usual office banter is very helpful.
 
Along the same lines, consider having a colleague and his or her family over to your home for a meal. In helpful ways, people are different outside the office and often more open to sharing their backgrounds, history and life story. In addition, it’s a powerful gesture of friendship that provides a window into another aspect of your life.
 
In Thom Rainer’s book, The Unchurched Next Door, he shares the following statistic: 82 percent of the unchurched are at least “somewhat likely” to attend church if they are invited. In other words, more than eight out of ten of the unchurched said they would come to church if they were invited. When was the last time you invited a colleague to church?
 

4. How we live

Our life patterns can commend the gospel by:

  • Being someone who speaks in ways that honor your spouse and your family.
  • Being a faithful, conscientious parent.
  • Being the one to take the lead to serve a colleague in need and perhaps organizing others to do the same.
  • Visiting a colleague in the hospital.
  • Learning the names of a colleague’s spouse and children and asking about them.

 
These kinds of actions should be the pattern of our lives. They can powerfully provoke others to ask questions and open doors for us to share the good news of Christ.
 

Evangelism equals proclamation of the gospel

While these four suggestions may provoke gospel interactions, we must ultimately proclaim the gospel if we are to go from being a Christian to an evangelist. A faithful witness commends the gospel, and God’s Word saves.
 
Ultimately, it’s not you or your ability to answer questions in the most dazzling, persuasive way that will bring about new life in Christ. It’s the gospel and the Holy Spirit breathing new life into your coworker who hears its message. Clearly speak the gospel and leave it to God to do the work. Make it clear the gospel requires a response, and Christ is the only way to salvation.
 
Developing these patterns of faithfulness will grow your love for the lost. This is the heart of the missionary – to meet them at their point of need with the hope of the gospel.
 
For more information and articles go to imb.org.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Sebastian Traeger is IMB’s executive vice president. He previously worked in business and technology where he started, led, and built several companies. He is the coauthor of The Gospel at Work, which unpacks the powerful way the gospel can transform a person’s work.)
 

5/17/2017 2:21:20 PM by Sebastian Traeger | with 0 comments



21 ways to be a part of VBS

May 16 2017 by Cheryl Markland

Vacation Bible School (VBS) is a significant way your church can open the door to the surrounding community. You may think VBS is for only for children and not for you, but VBS is most successful when the church embraces it as a total church ministry.

Galactic Starveyors is the main LifeWay Christian Resources Vacation Bible School theme this year.


Here are ways you can help in sharing the work of VBS.
 
1. Pray before VBS for the leaders, children and their families.
2. Pray for good weather and good health for teachers and their families.
3. Pray for receptive hearts for the children who may be hearing the gospel for the first time.
4. Distribute flyers and posters in your neighborhood and invite your neighbors with children.
5. Transport children to VBS.
6. Offer to drive the church van to pick up children whose parents may be working.
7. Help fund VBS through a special offering or gift.
8. Donate children’s snacks or sponsor a special treat for the teachers’ lounge. This is a great ministry for a Sunday School class or small group.
9. If your church orders VBS t-shirts, manage the order and distribution of shirts.
10. Cut out materials for leaders.
11. Shop for VBS supplies.
12. Help with decorating classrooms or the worship center.
13. Be a greeter/escort for VBS guests who need to find classrooms.
14. Collect and maintain VBS attendance records.
15. Be a department runner, helping teachers with last-minute supplies or copies.
16. Help plan or clean up after a teacher training event or parent night.
17. Invite unchurched families to Sunday School or a small group meeting.
18. Add your name to the substitute teacher list.
19. Pray for children who make professions of faith.
20. Pray for the families who need to hear the message of Christ and those from your church who will make this happen.
21. Pray for the Holy Spirit to continue His work in the life of your church and children’s ministry when VBS is over.
 
Think VBS is not for you? Will you prayerfully think again?
 
God has a place for you in this wonderful ministry. Just pick one and get started!
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Cheryl Markland is senior consultant for childhood evangelism and discipleship at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Contact her at cmarkland@ncbaptist.org or (800) 395-5102, ext. 5645. Visit lifeway.com for VBS materials.)  
 

5/16/2017 11:54:13 AM by Cheryl Markland | with 0 comments



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