Monday, 20 September 2010

Developing an Evangelistic Lifestyle

On Friday I had the privilege of being able to share with the UCCF North East team some thoughts on how we develop an evangelistic lifestyle, I'm going to post both sessions notes.

Developing an evangelistic lifestyle – session 1
What is an evangelistic lifestyle? An evangelistic lifestyle is simply that of a disciple living as their master did. Where a disciple of Jesus authentically lives out his or her developing, maturing discipleship in the context of, connected with, and engaged in the world around him or her. This is not anything it special it is normal discipleship!

Jesus’ friendship with ‘world’
“When I meet Jesus one day in heaven, one question I plan to ask is, ‘What about you was so attractive to worldly people?’ Why was Jesus on the guest list when secular parties were being planned?...What did Jesus have that caused local sinners to seek out his company?”
Tom Hovestol.

“How did he, the only perfect person in history, manage to attract the notoriously imperfect?”
Phillip Yancey.
From the following passages what were the characteristics of:
Jesus life
Luke 5:27-32
  • deliberately approaches Levi
  • doesn’t condemn him but calls him to be a disciple
  • Shares table fellowship – accepts him
  • Shares table fellowship with sinners
  • Is clear about power of the gospel to change anyone
Luke 19:1-10
  • Deliberately seeks out Zacchaeus
  • Happy to spend time in house of sinner
  • Comes to seek and save the lost

Pharisees
Luke 7:36-50

  • Separatist
  • Judgemental of others
  • Ministry doesn’t flow out of awareness of forgiveness

Matt 23:14-32

  • Trad/expectations make it hard to enter kingdom
  • Evangelistic zeal but making legalists/clones
  • Masters at loopholes not really truth seekers
  • Majoring on minors
  • Wear ministry as a disguise

The challenge is which one are we most like?

Jesus’ approach vs Our approach
1. Jesus took the initiative – he sought out sinners. We don’t, we can live in Christian rabbit warren.
2. Jesus went to where they were comfortable. We invite them to where we are comfortable
3. Jesus was authentically himself We are often insecure and fearful
4. Jesus valued and cared for people We can tend towards judgementalism
5. Jesus was motivated by love Mixed motives: guilt, grudging obedience...
6. Jesus lived in light of eternity We live in the light of the temporary
7. Jesus lived with integrity We live segmented lives

But is it normative for us?
1 Peter 2:11-12 – normal Christian living
• Exiles fight sin, replace sin, call sinners
• What is the arena in which they do that? “among the pagans”
• Peter acknowledges that they will criticise and slander you but some will see the change, the effect the gospel has, repent and put their faith in God.
• He then unpicks what gospel living looks like in society, in slavery and at home.

We see just such an evangelistic lifestyle in 1 Thessalonians as Paul looks back at his ministry:
1 Thessalonians 2:1-16 - What are the marks of an evangelistic lifestyle?
• Lived openly (calls Thess as witnesses)
• Lived before God
• Endures despite opposition
• Pure in motive
• Approved by and pleasing to God
• Like young children (6 didn’t throw weight around, insist on rights/status, but gentle and without presumption)
• Like a nursing mother (focus on care and love for children seen in giving of herself, sharing her life).
• “like a father”(10-12) It was dad’s job to educate and provide an example. Paul says you saw it and are witnesses and so is God(10). We lived the gospel in front of you, taught it to you, called, persuaded and challenged you as disciples, to “live lives worthy of God...”
• Presents the word of God which bears fruit.

We see the intensely relational nature of the gospel. It is lip and hip! But we also see that evangelism and commitment to the lost is not a guilt driven thing but a result of understanding the gospel, for Paul it is driven by grace and love. The gospel reconciles me to God and to people by grace, it makes us a reconciler of others as we live and think by grace.

Colossians 4:2-6
What does Paul ask for prayer for?
Open doors

Clear communication of the gospel

What does he call them to?
• Missional living - everything I do is mission, everything I do commends the gospel.
• Paul assumes they will be engaging with those outside the church, and not fleeting contact but living their lives out in front of them.
• In conversation our words are to be grace filled, winsome and loving, and seasoned with salt – that means relevant and worth something.

Missional living is the Biblical norm incarnate in Christ and lived out by his disciples flowing out of their growing understanding and appreciation of grace and into redeemed relationships.

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