How to approach evangelism with different cultures, faiths, and worldviews

The United States is a melting pot of cultures and worldviews. Migration brings thousands of Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists to cities all around the country every year. This trend continues while agnosticism, atheism and apathy marks the worldview of many Americans.

For Western Christians, being a witness for Christ in a religiously plural society is no longer an international missionary challenge. In the midst of a melting pot of faiths, Christians must learn how to adapt in their evangelistic efforts.

The first-generation Muslim immigrants who frequent your local park have different assumptions about issues of sin and salvation than those of the postmodern college student who works at your local coffee shop.

Christians in such a diverse context must learn to show how the gospel speaks to each of these differing worldviews. Evangelistic adaptability can be developed in the following four ways:

Listen to the person’s story.
Whatever religious context you face in evangelism, listening is crucial. Listening conveys a person’s value as one who is uniquely made in the image of God. Asking good questions helps one understand two major issues: what is most important to the person (the object of their devotion) and the story that person tells themself in order to explain reality.

Ask questions about the person’s hometown or country, family, cultural holidays, hobbies, passions, and future goals. For example, you may say “Tell me the story behind one of your festivals or holidays.” A natural follow-up question might be, “How do you live out your faith? Tell me about your devotional life.”

A concrete type of question is often better than a theoretical one such as, “What do you believe about God?” Listen intently to how the person describes their views of God, humanity and the stories embedded in their devotional practices. You are not only listening for cognitive beliefs. Religious traditions, experiences and societal values communicate just as much about a person’s worldview as does their intellectual beliefs and convictions. You can then naturally begin sharing your own story of meeting Jesus and then share the story of Jesus.

Remember the essentials. 
In order to share the story of Jesus (i.e., the gospel), it is often natural to introduce it by sharing your own story of how you became a follower of Jesus. When sharing the gospel, keep in mind some essential elements, such as God, creation, sin, Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, and the need for repentance and faith. The four-fold model of the Bible’s grand narrative as creation, fall, redemption, and restoration is also helpful. Another approach is to answer the following four questions in your gospel presentation: Who is Jesus? What has Jesus done? Why is Jesus important or the only way? How should we respond?

The ideal evangelistic encounter will include all of these elements. Do not be discouraged if you are only able to share aspects of the gospel in conversations with lost people. Any attempt at sharing Christ is not a vain activity. However, these essential elements can serve as foundational components for any contextualized gospel conversation.

Respond to their story with the story of Jesus. 
Once you have given a genuine ear to listen and learn about the other person, keep in mind what you learned as you speak about the story of the gospel. Responding to their story with the story of Jesus.

For example, if the person shares that their family is the most important thing in the world to them, it can be helpful to include Abraham’s story of how God used his descendants to spread the good news of salvation and bless all the families of the world. Perhaps the festival that is important to them has aspects of the gospel embedded within it. Use those elements to connect them to the gospel.

For example, the Hindu festival Diwali is about light conquering the dark. You can highlight the fact that Jesus calls himself the light of the world. You are not claiming that Jesus is the fulfillment of their festival. Instead, you are taking a familiar concept (light vs. dark) and connecting it to the biblical message, i.e., the truth.

Contextualizing the gospel is not making the gospel more relevant. The gospel already is relevant. Our job is to share the gospel with the nations here, there, and everywhere. We do this best when we listen well and then apply the gospel to what we learn about a person. However, this is difficult to do in the first conversation. That is why there is one more principle for learning adaptability.

Walk alongside them moving forward. 
If possible, do not just share Christ with a person one time. Follow up with them. Evangelism should not be a one-and-done approach. Jesus called us to make disciples, which involves investing time in people.

As long as an individual is willing to talk, continue to process the gospel with them. We describe this as “walking” because it is a process, and it is a relationship that is moving in a direction toward faith in Christ.

People who have very little exposure to a biblical worldview, such as Hindus and Muslims, need time to process everything. This involves getting them in the Scriptures as much as possible. Let the Holy Spirit speak to their hearts, as you share the Word of God. Let them see how Christ is truly alive and working in your own life. Help them meet other believers and witness the love of God in the body of Christ.

We also describe this as “walking alongside” because we are not in a position of authority over them. You are letting the Word of God serve as the authority as you continue to listen and learn about the person. Walking alongside others is how we can best learn to apply the gospel in a variety of cultural settings.

Contextualization in gospel ministry is best learned in relationships with people. Listen to them, remember the revealed faith, apply the gospel to their life, and walk alongside them towards Christ.

For more information on how to share Christ cross culturally, develop an Acts 1:8 paradigm, or build Great Commissions Pathways for you Church, contact John Barnett, KBC Missions Strategist, on the Missions Mobilization Team. Email: [email protected] Text or Call: 502-654-3385. We Are Stronger Together!

Prayer: Reaching the Nations Next Door!

The mission of advancing the gospel is the great work of the church, and prayer is the engine that moves it. As God brings the nations to America, he continues to open the eyes of believers to see the unreached and least reached people across our state. Of the 200,000 plus foreign-born and their children living in Kentucky, over 160 unique people groups have been identified. We need more intentional prayer and intimacy with Christ, producing more heartfelt evangelism by believers among the lost. Here are three ways focused prayer can empower the church:

Prayer lifts our eyes to the Harvest field.

In Luke 10:2, Jesus said, “The Harvest is Plentiful, but the workers are few. Pray earnestly for the Lord to send out laborers into his Harvest.” As you discover and pray for various unreached people groups in Kentucky, our prayer is that your eyes will be open to the lostness that exists in your community, across Kentucky and beyond.

Prayer opens the doors for the gospel to advance.

Spiritual work requires spiritual power, and united biblical prayer opens doors to share Christ in our communities (Acts 4:23-33). As God’s people faithfully pray for the lost, unbelievers are convicted of their sin and become more receptive and open to the gospel.

As the pandemic began, our mission team was praying for opportunities to share gospel with our Muslim neighbors. That very night, my Muslim friend, Ibrahim, sent a message asking if I could share about Christ (Jesus) with his neighbor, Fatima, who had a dream about Jesus! I never thought that one of my Muslim friends would ask me to share Christ with another Muslim! After meeting with my wife and I, Fatima is now a follower of Christ! Prayer connects us with people who are open to the gospel, lead us to the right place at the right time, and empowers the church to fulfill the Great Commission.

Prayer provides a challenge toward engagement.
When believers experience Christ in intimacy through prayer, our desires begin to align with God’s. Thus, developing a burden for the lost, but also a passion to share the good news of Jesus Christ.

When the church prays, God’s people move closer towards God’s heart for the nations. May God raise us up to advance his kingdom, as we fall on our knees in prayer.

We are here to serve you and your church as you seek to fulfill the Great Commission. For further assistance, email, text or call John Barnett, KBC Missions Strategist, at [email protected] or 502-654-3385.

KY Churches Focus on SENDING Rather Than Seating

Our God is a sending God.  Nearly every time He speaks to someone in scripture, He is sending them on a mission.  From Abraham to Moses to Paul, to us, God’s people are always being sent into the world on mission.  He sent His best and only son into the world to save us.  Jesus is referred to as “sent” forty seven times in the New Testament.   Clearly, God is a sender by nature.  Jesus sent the apostles, and He has sent us.  After His resurrection, Jesus passed on this responsibility to His disciples:  “As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you” (John 20:21).

In “Gaining by Losing”, J.D. Greear challenges us to recognize that in healthy growing churches, sending capacity is more important than seating capacity.  Many churches think their primary problems are about declining baptism numbers and poor attendance. When often times, they are evidence that the church has drifted from it’s primary vision to SEND members out on mission. 

A church that is sending equips members to demonstrate the gospel every day in their workplaces, neighborhoods, and schools and be prepared to give an answer to those in our community who ask them to “give the reason for the hope that they have”  (1 Peter 3:15).

What is SENDING?  The act of enlisting, equipping and mobilizing believers to engage the world with the gospel through:

  • local community ministry
  • short term missions
  • church planting efforts
  • disaster relief work
  • vocational ministry
  • long-term missionary service

Below is a list of Kentucky’s top ten churches, in terms of missions participation. Each of the churches has earned recognition because they had a greater percentage of their worship attendance participating in missions this year than they did the previous.

  1. Turner Ridge, Falmouth – pastor Dale Beighle
  2. First, Inez – pastor Casey Carver
  3. Finchville, Finchville – pastor David Ladner
  4. Hartford, Hartford – pastor Jason Bratcher
  5. Kelly, Hopkinsville – pastor Joshua Powell
  6. Island Creek, Manchester – pastor George Grigsby
  7. Oak Grove 2, Eubank – pastor David Gambrel
  8. Deane, Millstone – pastor Chris Dool
  9. Muldraugh Hill, Lebanon – pastor Billy Compton
  10.  Flat Rock, Orlando – pastor Gregory Burton

Let’s reach our communities, nation and world with the gospel by placing our focus on SENDING, rather than seating.    

The Joy of Giving Yourself for Others and for Christ

C. S. Lewis wrote in his book Mere Christianity, “Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours.”

Volunteers with Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief give themselves away for the good of others and the sake of Christ when disasters strike. They have discovered the joy that is found in giving all that we are and have for Christ.

Listen to these testimonies about how they are giving for the sake of Christ through disaster relief:

“We volunteer to help the victims clean up after the disaster in order to speak to their heart.” (Mike Bastin – Pleasant View Baptist Church)

“God uses us, DR volunteers, at a time when hope seems gone.” (Carolyn Gray – Zion’s Cause Baptist Church)

“Disaster Relief opens up doors to people for the Gospel.” (Tom Garrity – Jeffersontown Baptist Church)

“Disaster Relief gives our volunteers a way to show victims of a disaster that God loves them.” (David Bayes – Liberty Mills Baptist Church)

“God uses the love He placed in DR workers, to help people in their time of trouble. Making the DR workers a living Bible.” (Jerry and Andy Cable – Campton Baptist Church)

 “Disaster Relief allows us to demonstrate the unconditional love of Christ to people that have found themselves overwhelmed by circumstances beyond their control. Sharing the Gospel is always much more effective after sharing God’s love.”   (Roger Whitehead – Grayson First Baptist Church)

“Disaster relief is the mirror that reveals the love of God.” (Sammy Hammons – Kirksville Baptist Church)

“Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief allows us to work through the brokenness and point those we are able to serve back to a loving God through His Son, The Lord Jesus Christ.” (Bob Brame – Hickory Grove Baptist Church)

“In the midst of disasters, most people, even those previously resistant to the Gospel, realize they are not in control of their current or future circumstances.  Disaster Relief volunteers come alongside them to help carry their burdens while sharing the Love and hope that is found in Jesus Christ.” (Keith Stinson – First Baptist Church of Richmond)

“The word Kentucky draws Attention (Famous Kentucky Fried Chicken). Kentucky Baptist DR gold shirts draws Curiosity. Curiosity draws conversations. Conversations open doors. BOOM! Opportunity to Share Jesus.” (Janice Gaines – Hamlet Baptist Church)

“In one week of DR I get to share the Gospel more than in a whole year at home with my regular routines.” (Gordon Hayworth – Fairdale First Baptist Church)

“Ian Sterling was saved at one of our Kentucky Baptist disaster responses to Bay Minette, Alabama. Ian was an American Red Cross volunteer and shared how he had observed our volunteers being the church and this drew him to Christ.” (Larry and Elaine Koch – Redemption Hill Baptist Church)

Is God calling you to give of yourself to bring help, healing, and hope when disasters strike?

Find out how you can give and get involved during times of disaster for the sake of the Gospel at www.kybaptist.org/dr .

The Cooperative Program is more than Money!

When I think of Kentucky Baptist, one word that rises to the top is generosity. Kentucky Baptist are generous people, who have a vision to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to all people everywhere.  I do not take for granted the compassionate prayers, the personal commitment, and the financial sacrifice that Kentucky Baptist make to support missions and ministry efforts in our state, nation, and world. As a former IMB missionary from Kentucky and member of the Missions Mobilization Team, I am thankful for the faithful generosity of Kentucky Baptist in their passionate support of missions through the Cooperative Program.

As stated on the SBC.net website, The Cooperative Program (CP) is the financial fuel for reaching every person for Jesus Christ in every town, every city, every state, and every nation. Since its inception in 1925, the CP has been the primary way Southern Baptists “do” the work of ministry together both locally and globally. Standing on the firm ground of the Great Commission, the CP is a powerful tool that has galvanized the missionary zeal of our denomination for the past 95 years.

The Cooperative Program is far more than money or a funding system for missions and ministry. It has been an effective means of bringing the gospel to those who have never heard of Jesus. In a time when the many people are skeptical of institutional structures, the theological conviction and purpose driving the CP must be elevated above and beyond the tool itself. The tool is wonderful, but the vision of reaching Kentucky and the world for Christ is greater. Missiology is not methodology; it is applied theology.

Through Cooperative Program giving, the Lord allows us not only to partner in fulfilling the Great Commission, but also to fulfill a vision that is greater than ourselves. Each church plays a vital role in discovering the lost, making disciples, and strengthening and planting churches both locally and globally. Collectively, we can accelerate not only authentic gospel impact, but also sustainable gospel witness.  Here is what the Lord has taught me, through the faithful CP giving of our Kentucky Baptist:  

  1. It is Beyond me: I obey God by giving my tithe to our local church. My tithe, combined with the tithes of fellow members, enables our church to reach our community and to live on mission.
  2. It is Beyond us: Our church partners with thousands of others across Kentucky to support missions and ministry statewide through the Cooperative Program. Together, we equipped people to welcome and share Christ with refugee families from more than 10 countries, started a Bible institute to equip International pastors across KY, and partnered with International Churches to make discipleships among unreached people.
  3. It is Beyond Kentucky: As KBC churches partner with 46,000+ Southern Baptist churches, our CP giving sends thousands of missionaries across North America to reach people for Christ and Plant urgently needed new churches. Together, we helped Send City missionaries in Chicago, Cincinnati, Salt Lake City, and New York share Christ and plant churches
  4. It is Beyond the USA: Our CP giving sends thousands of missionaries around the world to share Christ and plant churches among unreached and unengaged people groups. Last year, CP giving helped over 3600 workers plant 12,368 churches and see 89,325 new believers! South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Central Asia are only a few of the locations KBC churches are with IMB workers around the world!

The strength of the CP is that it allows all Southern Baptist’s churches to prioritize, elevate, and participate in the Great Commission, by partnering together to make Jesus known Here, There, and Everywhere. This is why I am thankful for Kentucky Baptist generosity, and I proud to serve KBC churches as they seek to reach Kentucky and the world for Christ. We are stronger together!

If I can help you develop, share, or equip your church on the impact of cooperative program, please contact me: John Barnett, KBC Missions Strategist, email: [email protected] or call: 502-654-3385

Simple Lessons for The Called

“Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.” – General Colin Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State

If I could break down all I have learned to share with a next generation of those called by God, I would offer these simplified lessons:

  1. Maintain integrity.  “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the perversity of the treacherous destroys them” (Proverbs 11:3).
  2. Preach the Word.  Handle the Living Word of God accurately and herald the unchanging truth of God with conviction. “Preach the message, be ready whether it is convenient or not, reprove, rebuke, exhort with complete patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2).
  3. Offer application not just information when you preach and teach, because God desires transformation. Jesus said in Matthew 7:24, “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them may be compared to a wise man who built his house upon the rock.”
  4. Be willing to engage in strategic innovation without compromising God’s unchanging message in an age where things are changing faster than anytime in human history. This is the heart of what the apostle Paul is sharing in 1 Corinthians 9: 22-23 when he proclaims, “To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.”
  5. Help people to navigate truth in a time of instant information. Wisdom is more than an accumulation of information, and discernment is vital in this age of information overload. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 offers us incredible wisdom, “But test all things.  Hold on to what is good.”
  6. Love the flock. Being an effective leader means nothing if you do not genuinely care about those God has entrusted to you. “Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God, and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness” 9! Peter 5:2).
  7. Awaken a passion in followers of Christ to study the word. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6).
  8. Seek to inspire the church to be filled with a deep love for our Lord that is more than an intellectual knowledge.  Jeremiah 29:13 reminds us of this truth, “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.”
  9. Maintain a balance in worship that keeps the Word of God elevated but does not devalue music, prayer, giving, the ordinances, and fellowship as essential elements of genuine worship. May we worship as taught in Colossians 3:16-17, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and exhorting one another with all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, all with grace in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
  10. Learn to work with people and to build unity in the family of faith. “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, urge you to live worthily of the calling of which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, putting up with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3).

Hard Places, Hard Times!

SUPPORTING GOSPEL WORK IN OPPRESSED PLACES AND DURING TURBULENT TIMES!

“14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 15 For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16 to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? 17 For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.” (2 Corinthians 2:14-17)

The Apostle Paul not only understood that the Great Commission belongs to the local church, but also that “sending churches” must pray, encourage, and partner with their “sent ones.” As Kentucky Baptist Churches, we have the joy of supporting and partnering with IMB missionaries around the world, through our Cooperative Program Giving and Lottie Moon Christmas Offerings. However, the Great Commission is more than simply our giving, it includes our willingness to have gospel partnerships in hard places, among hard people, and during hard times. The spread of the gospel faces challenges because people are battling their own personal sin and pride in the face of the “offense” of the gospel. In addition to the challenge of human sinfulness and depravity, sometimes the gospel runs up against challenging settings. Christians in places of religious freedom still carry the biblical burden to take the gospel into higher security or closed settings. The Great Commission is not an option clause, but a command from our living Lord, Jesus Christ. The ultimate goal for these difficult settings is to see the Holy Spirit establish a long-term, doctrinally sound, multiplying church presence for the glory of God.

If we are to partner in a high security location, we must first build and maintain a relationship with a committed missionary who resides in the difficult place or among the difficult people. Workers in hostile areas live with spiritual oppression as a constant companion, much like a tumor that cannot be removed. A good partner carefully considers the spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical challenges that exist in this particular setting.

God can use you and your church to not only preserve the wellbeing of your missionary partner, but also play a critical role in fulfilling the Great Commission by doing three critical things:

Pray
We must pray for our missionaries, but beyond that, they need to know we are praying for them. Ask them for specific requests and then follow up to see how the Lord worked. Find out their specific cultural challenges and commit to pray for them. Paul asked his friends to pray for him, and he gave them specific prayer requests.

Encourage
We must also encourage our missionaries. These are real people who have real interests, hobbies, preferences, etc. Do not forget that they have a favorite genre of music, a sports team they keep up with, jokes they enjoy, frustrations as a parent, concerns as a spouse, and a thousand other facets that make them human. Treat them the same way you treat other friends. Talk with them about their interests, fears, joys, and sorrows.

When neglected, the humanity of our missionaries is what often takes them off of the field. When cared for, the humanity of our missionaries is often what makes them the most effective. People who live in spiritual oppression are looking for someone who is living out hope. Ask your church members, how can we play a part in ongoing encouragement to our field personnel? Find ways, be practical and be consistent.

Go
The Bible is overflowing with commands, reasons, and motivations to go, serve and spread the gospel with your physical presence. It is not only important for some of us to go to difficult places long-term, but also for others to go to these places short-term in order to help our missionaries by encouraging and supporting them. Due to the travel restrictions caused by the current pandemic, you might consider “going” on virtual mission trip, which is an excellent way to pray, encourage, and connect with workers in hard places!  But as you go either physically or virtually, go for the benefit of your spiritual partners and the lost, not to fulfill your own dreams. There is a specific danger present in any type of mission trip that makes it about the individuals going instead of supporting strategy of the workers living on the field.

Also, be realistic about the results you will see during your time in a difficult area, or during your time of virtual trip. In many of these places, the work is long and often times they have yet to see the “harvest.” Radical Prayer, persistence, and patience in working the soil is required. The Lord is free to work in any way that He desires, but those who “go” must keep in mind that they might not see a massive turning to the Lord on their first trip.

As you partner with missionaries in difficult and possibly hostile locations, you are part of bringing unreached and unengaged people to the throne room of God. There are many places you could go or ways you can participate in fulfilling the Great Commission, but the greatest blessing is to go and serve where the Lord calls you. The work is large, the challenges are daunting, the need is overwhelming, but the eternal value of even one soul is worth every bit of effort we can summon. Remember the words of the Lord Himself in Luke 10:2, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest.”

The Missions Mobilization Team is here to serve you and your church as you seek to fulfill the Great Commission. Even during the pandemic, we can help you Discover the Opportunities, Develop a Strategy, and Equip your Church to Pray, Encourage, Go! Whether you are just getting started or needing to start a new, our team can help you take the next step. Email John Barnett, KBC Missions Strategist, at [email protected] or call 502-654-3385.

Being Prepared

Hurricane Laura slammed Louisiana last Thursday as a deadly Category 4 storm. In Lake Charles, roofs were peeled off, buildings ripped apart, and lampposts scattered like twigs. This storm reminded us again that disasters come and can catch us unprepared for the devastation left behind. Being prepared increases our ability to survive and to respond effectively to help those affected.

The wisdom writer in Ecclesiastes 10:10 declared, “If the ax is dull, and one does not sharpen its edge, then one must exert more strength, however the advantage of wisdom is that it brings success.”  Preparing the edge by sharpening the blade will enable the tool to be more effective, just as training helps believers to serve more effectively in response to the survivors of disasters. 

Top ten reasons to be trained in disaster relief:

  1. Training prepares us in our understanding of disasters and the needs that arise in times of disaster.
  2. Training enables us to respond in appropriate and effective ways in times of disaster.
  3. Training prepares us to understand our role as part of a disaster team.  Emergency Managers often list untrained volunteers as one of their greatest problems in times of disaster.
  4. Training enables us to sharpen our abilities, in order to be an asset not a hindrance in the response. Spontaneous volunteers typically lack familiarity with situational assessments and incident management.  Because of this, they usually end up being in the way, rather than providing meaningful help.
  5. Training helps us to understand hazards and safety concerns in disaster areas. Untrained volunteers are much more likely to be injured in disaster response as they are unaware of risk factors.
  6. Training prepares us to understand in a deeper way some of the trauma of disaster victims that we might be able to offer appropriate compassion.
  7. Training prepares the hands to be ready to serve effectively. Becoming trained enables you to respond with appropriate skills and right resources.
  8. Training prepares the head by giving us needed knowledge that prepares our readiness. Untrained volunteers are often unprepared to work long, stressful days in austere and rugged living conditions.
  9. Training and relating to a known disaster response group enables better security in disaster areas.  Untrained volunteers create atmospheres where scam artists, who seek to prey on hurting and vulnerable people, can get access into disaster settings under the guise of being a volunteer.
  10. But the greatest reason to train is that God deserves our very best in all that we do and to achieve the best requires discipline, effort, and knowledge.

Disasters will come.  Therefore, let me encourage you, be prepared to serve by being trained.  Victims deserve that, and even more importantly, God deserves that.

Upcoming Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief trainings are scheduled for:

September 12, 2020 at Calvary Baptist Church in Glasgow

January 9, 2021 at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville

February 6, 2021 at Harlan Baptist Church

March 20, 2021 at First Baptist Church of Murray

April 10, 2021 at Red House Baptist Church in Richmond

You can learn how to become connected and register for training through Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief at http://www.kybaptist.org/dr .

Prayer, The Church, and Christ’s Commission!

4 Reasons Why Prayer Empowers the Church on Missions!

“What we need in China is more workers. The harvest is very great, the laborers, oh! so few. Why does the Southern Baptist church lag behind in this great work?” – Lottie Moon, November 1, 1873, Tungchow

One of the greatest resources the church has for advancing the gospel is the ability to come before God in prayer and plead for what is already on His heart, the growth of His kingdom in the world. As we learn from scripture, in James 5:16, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” When we wonder if prayer accomplishes anything, the book James encourages us not only is prayer powerful, but it is effective. James reminds us that prayer is not a waste of time, and that it pleases God to use the prayers of His people to accomplish his will!

Lottie Moon was not only a missionary, but also a revolutionary for global missions. As a teacher called to share the Gospel in China, Lottie Moon’s life offers believers a compelling narrative with powerful lessons. Her story of conviction, persistence, and courage to spread the Gospel throughout late nineteenth-century Northern China helped shape Southern Baptists’ global work for the Kingdom of God. Lottie understood the power and purpose of prayer, and the vital role it plays in every church’s call to fulfill the Great Commission.

Lottie Moon, November 11, 1878, Pingtu

“Oh! That my words could be as a trumpet call, stirring the hearts of my brethren and sisters to pray, to labor, to give themselves to this people. … We are now, a very, very few feeble workers, scattering the grain broadcast according as time and strength permit. God will give the harvest; doubt it not. But the laborers are so few. Where we have four, we should have not less than one hundred. Are these wild words? They would not seem so were the church of God awake to her high privilege and her weighty responsibilities.”

With that in view, here are four reasons why churches must pray for missions.

1. Jesus taught his disciples to how pray for missions and modeled it as he trained them.

Early in his training of the disciples, Jesus taught them how to pray (Matt. 6:9-13). Then, after facing the challenges of ministry, the disciples came back to Jesus and asked him to teach them how to pray. He brought them back to the same prayer in which the petitioner first cries out, “Your kingdom come” (Luke 11:2).

Later, Jesus would model how spiritual battles, to accomplish the Father’s mission, would only be won by faith through prayer as he cried out “not my will, but yours, be done” in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:42).

Before Jesus sent out the seventy-two, he pointed their faces toward heaven and said, “Pray earnestly for the Lord of the harvest to send our laborers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2). Therefore, as we go to share Christ and fulfill the Great Commission, before community engagement even occurs, we must begin with prayer, and it must be an integral part of our daily lives! The church must never lose sight of the fact that training disciples to pray is the first step in bringing the gospel to the mission field. 

2. Prayer moves the heart of the church toward the heart of God for his mission.

After Jesus sent the disciples to the places he planned to visit and told them to pray that God would send workers into the harvest field (Luke 10:1-2), he said “Go! I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves” (Luke 10:3). They became part of the answer to their own prayer!

As IMB missionaries in Africa, my wife and I were blessed to lead a church planting team that saw the Lord do a mighty work, and prayer was an intentional part of the foundation. The Ugandan believers would gather weekly for early morning prayer and all-night prayer gatherings were not uncommon. In these times, God did something extraordinary, more powerful than any small group meeting or corporate worship experience. It was through prayer and fasting that God unified our hearts for lostness and gave us a church planting vision to reach Kampala for Christ. Out of these churches, missionaries were sent, church planters birthed, and a church’s heart was shaped for the kingdom.

During those days, God thought us how he uses prayer to shape the hearts of his people. Church, in order for us to have the boldness of Acts 4 and the clear direction of Acts 16, we must be on our knees asking God to open a door for His word! Through prayer, God reminds us of the powerful truth that He did not create us to live for Him, but instead, He created us to live with Him! Prayer requires us to totally submit to God’s sovereign plan for both the nations and our neighbors. Missions in the New Normal is Missions in the New Testament (Acts 4:12, 23-37). God will change our hearts, and he will open a door for His Word.

3. Prayer opens the doors in the world for the gospel to advance.

In Colossians 4:3-4, Paul asks the church, “Pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ”. Prayer opens opportunities for the gospel to be shared that previously seemed closed, even in the midst of a pandemic!

In prayer, the impossible becomes practical. Like when Peter was imprisoned in Acts 12, the church was praying and God released Peter, opening the iron gate leading into the city (Acts 12:10)In that experience, Peter realized that nothing would hold back the kingdom of God from advancing as the church prayed.

It is prayer that helps us connect with people who are open to the gospel. It is prayer that leads us to the right place at the right time to take the steps that only God could orchestrate. Prayer connects the church to the activity of God who is empowering his people to advance the message of his kingdom.

4. Prayer empowers the message of those going to share the gospel clearly and without fear.

Without prayer, fear will rule the hearts of those sharing the gospel. Paul knew his own need for courage to proclaim the gospel. In Ephesians 6:19-20, Paul asked the church, “Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel. . .Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”

Paul faced his own timidity and overcame his fears through the prayers of the church. Through corporate prayer we realize no one is alone, and we strive together through the power of the Holy Spirit. When the church prays, the Holy Spirit increases the spiritual fervor of the body that affects all its parts.

It is imperative that a church prays and engages in the spiritual work of kingdom advancement. When the church prays, Christians begin to get a clearer glimpse of the mission. It is by prayer that God’s people move closer toward the heart of God for the world. It is by prayer that fears about sharing the gospel are defeated.

The mission and vision of God has not changed. It is by God’s marvelous design and for his magnificent Glory, that he calls his bride to fervently pray for missions. In these uncertain times, the church is being tempted to lose her first love, turn against one another, and vision-drift away from Christ’s Great Commission. Pastors, church leaders, missionaries, and members, we must be a people who are quick to repent and fervent in our prayers, lest the Lord may come and remove our lampstand!

The mission mobilization team is here to serve you and your church, as you seek to fulfill the Great Commission! Please feel free to contact me, John Barnett (KBC Missions Strategist), by email [email protected] or text/call 502-654-3385. I will be happy to serve you or connect you to someone who can. The Lord is Good.

“The man who mobilizes the Christian church to pray will make the greatest contribution to world evangelization in history.”-Andrew Murray

Standing Ready

Disasters come whether one is prepared or not, and tragically most churches fail to prepare for disaster events in their community.

As Stephen Cyros declared, “Remember, when disaster strikes, the time to prepare has passed.”

Be prepared as a church by:

  1. Encouraging the need for preparation. Church leaders can lead in providing disaster preparation information that includes safety, first-aid, needed supplies, and evacuation or shelter instructions to those in our churches. People who are prepared have increased survivability in times of disaster.
  2. Assessing the greatest and most likely disaster threats for your community.
  3. Examining the church property to determine if there are ways to minimize loss and to improve the church’s ability to withstand a disaster event.
  4. Ensuring that the membership understands evacuation or sheltering plans if a disaster occurs while the church is gathered.
  5. Devising a plan to check on church members in the aftermath of disasters. Focus a priority on the most vulnerable in your family of faith such as the elderly, those with disabilities, single mothers, and those with health issues. This could be a great ministry for deacons or other church ministry groups.
  6. Developing a ministry plan for the church in the aftermath of disasters. Often churches miss opportunities to meet real needs and to have life-changing impact with families in the aftermath of disasters because they have not planned for a disaster. Crisis events open doors for the Gospel as people are seeking help and answers. God has placed the church in communities to be His hands and voice, but we need to think about how we can best help survivors in the aftermath of a disaster.
  7. Connecting with other churches in your community and other organizations to discuss how to prepare and respond to disasters. Most County Emergency Managers would welcome churches who genuinely want to help, and who have a plan to meet vital needs. We can always do more together than any of us can do alone.
  8. Being prepared to pivot the focus of the church in the aftermath of a disaster. The day after a disaster strikes your community is probably not the time to begin a new ministry, but the church demonstrates a lack of compassion and awareness if it does not pivot from the routine and put priority focus on responding to the loss that disasters bring. In the aftermath of disasters, the church needs to show the Gospel in action.

The Scripture gives a great word for the church as we seek to prepare for times of disaster in Proverbs 27:12,

“The prudent see danger and take refuge,
    but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.”