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NEWS RELEASE Discipling Now
November 29, 2016
From the newsroom at Christian radio FM Woodbridge we have the following press release.
Parish to share the good news of Jesus to many
As you know press releases usually comprise of who, then what when where and why
It would seem to make sense to start this press release with Why but we will stick to the regular format. Because, the Who, is critical,
The who is you and me. Too easy. We invited Billy Graham but unfortunately his calendar is a bit full. In fact we have been handballing this role for too long. inviting other people to do this job for us over a very long period of time.
The reality is, the buck stops with us.
Although it should belong in the why, lets take a sneak peek at the reason why you and I are featured in this event.
Matthews Gospel, the final passage, the great commission
Matthew 28:16-20New International Version (NIV)
The Great Commission
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
That would be more than enough but there is more which we will come to later.
Everywhere, in church but mainly not in Church, Those in Church usually have an understanding of the great gift from God in Jesus, Larger churches may see more non believers walk in of the street. Some of who, may be invited by parishioners. It is relatively rare in my experience in this Parish so the good news has mostly to be spread outside these walls.
I doubt if we will have many takers for the street corner with soap box, probably fruit box in these parts. The logical place to start is within our circles of influence. I know that we usually avoid raising controversial matters with those close to us and discretion and diplomacy are required, more so, guidance from the Holy Spirit. Situations arise within families where life gets out of control. Those family members who share their concerns with us do not want to be told that they are going to hell, but no doubt would appreciate being told that they will be held in prayer or even an offer to pray with them apart from any other guidance we may offer. We know that God acts through the Word and the Spirit so some scripture may be appropriate.. Such situations can and will arise in all our spheres of influence, clubs, workplace and so on. Starting every day with the prayer that asks God to cross our paths with those to whom we can witness or reach to for God is a great start. It is amazing what follows.
That cat is out of the bag already also, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, Go’s gift to the world.
It is very straightforward for most Christians that the good news is the salvation that we have gained through Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross, that he has taken the sins of the world to himself. Humankind would appear to have been sacrifice focused since as early as people formed communities and wondered at the vagaries of nature, the capricious nature of life, lives that may be taken through accident, attack by animals, or other humans, lightning, earthquake, flood sickness and the list goes on. Most civilisations have had a culture of sacrifice usually to appease the gods and enable those living to have a fair chance of making it to beyond reproducing age before departing this world .But God for God, there can not be a more perfect sacrifice.
It is interesting that the majority opinion in the world at large when asked what is the essence of Christianity would answer, they have a great set of morals, everybody should learn that and the world would be a better place..
Many religions have good sets of moral guidance, but none other than Christianity has confronted the Devil and defeated him through the cross and the resurrection, death has been defeated, Christ does reign supreme over all creation.
There is more good news, as well as salvation and a great set of moral guidelines, what about answered prayer, what about the knowledge that as promised God will never leave us God is with us through thick and thin. It is like the marriage vows but there is no divorce with God. We might stray but god does not., The worst sinner can repent and ask God to save them and God remains faithful.
Healings, spiritual and phusical. Lost car keys, Guidance through life, nudging and prompting this way and that through lifecomplex obstacles and hurdles.
There is a lot of good news for sure.
The good news is that it is the job of the Holy Spirit. All we do is to assist the Spirit by passing on God’s word. Because God acts through God’s word and God’s spirit. I have no doubt that God could dispense with our help but Jesus made it clear that this is what he wants us to do. It is not just these words of Jesus that prompt us. We know of God’s intention made clear from Genesis onwards that it is God’s intention to bless humanity through the seed planted in Adam, and Eve. The covenant he made with Abraham, that all nations would be blessed through his offspring, that the messiah would come and be a savior for humanity and as Isaiah tells us, that every knee will bend , every head bow and every tongue confess Jesus to be Lord. We are part of God’s plan revealed in the bible and Jesus just made that absolutely clear so that we do not have to rely on deciphering the Old Testament and draw the conclusions therefrom.
There is another reason, another why. Jesus summarized the law and the prophets with the two great commandments, Love God first and love thy neighbor as thyself. That means don’t be selfish, that means that our response to Gods love is to share the good news. When we are gifted with such a priceless treasure as a relationship with Jesus which brings salvation and the other benefits we know, how can we sit on that and keep it to ourselves.
You are likely to be going to the training day on the 29th, next Saturday and I expect that one of the themes which comes through will be that of pathways and another theme, small steps. The pathways theme is very logical and straightforward.
There is a process in the formation of most Christians which may not begin at the same place but usually contains all the same elements. People are first engaged, engaged by other Christians, their interest is aroused, they develop relationships with Christians, they observe, question maybe aloud as to what it is that Christians treasure so much. The next step is witness, the sharing of that very thing, what it is that makes our faith so important to us. It may be how we came to Jesus,. It may be the before and after story, before Christ was at the Centre of our lives and the after. The difference that has made in our lives. Bill Hybel’s book Walk across the room suggests a statement of around one hundred words is adequate. A concise statement that does not confuse or sidetrack listeners with stories about miracles or visions, those things which are going to raise more questions than answers for a listener. Once interest is raised it is time to cut to the chase as they say, evangelise, tell the story of Jesus Triumph over evil, of how all are offered salvation through faith in Jesus,. The next step once people have started following Jesus is the establishment of their faith, helping new Christians to grow, through small groups, through having someone help them read the bible, perhaps being a bible reading partner, certainly a study guide at least.. the process continues as the traveler is established into maturity, Preaching is of course valuable in many of the stages and most so for the establishment process which is a point on the journey where people are well positioned to share the good news themselves. To help them do so. The final step is that of equipping, equipping people with the tools which help to help people at any stage of the process to take the next step. Having laid out that logical process, there is no secret that the most effective evangelisers are new Christians who are so enthusiastic in their new found faith that it is contagious with their peers. We need to wear our own enthusiasm on our sleeve also.
We talk about steps in the process, the book which Bishop Richard had clergy read prior to the clergy conference spoke of helping people take steps towards Jesus, not leaps, steps of whatever size was appropriate for the individual. None of us are expected to convert anyone in one session, We encounter people at somewhere along the spectrum between engaging and equipping and with the help of the Holy Spirit as to where they are and what we can offer them to assist on helping them take another step closer to the Lord. Knowing all the time that it is God’s spirit who convicts and it may take a number of encounters with different messengers who convey the appropriate message for their stage on the journey. We may think our efforts are inconsequential or ineffective, but every straw on the camel adds to the end result.
I pray for God’s blessing upon each one of us as we join with the Holy Spirit in the sharing of the best news in the universe. Amen