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Developing Our Culture of Evangelism (Mark Sermon 91)

Series: Mark

Developing Our Culture of Evangelism (Mark Sermon 91)

June 02, 2024 | Andy Davis
Mark 16:15-20
The Gospel, Evangelism

The Holy Spirit produces a dynamic culture of bold, loving evangelism in local churches leading to many conversions through prayer and obedience to Christ.

-Sermon Transcript-

As I mentioned in my sermon, for the second week, I'm going to focus on our responsibility as Christians to be witnesses for Christ to a lost and dying world. This comes clearly as you just heard, read at the end of Mark's Gospel, Mark 16: 15 -16, “He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.’”

I. Reviewing the Glorious Gospel of Mark

I consider this the greatest privilege that we have in this world, we are Christ's messengers. We are His ambassadors as though God Himself were making His appeal through us. We're urging lost people to be reconciled to God. It's fascinating that that theme is the very place that Mark ends his Gospel in verses 19 and 20. It says, "After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was taken up into heaven and He sat at the right hand of God," the place of ultimate power. As Jesus says in Matthew 28, "All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me." He's at the right hand of Almighty God.

Verse 20, "Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere and the Lord worked with them and confirmed His word by the signs that accompanied it." What a beautiful picture, almighty God working with these apostles in their work as evangelists, as messengers of the gospel. Continuing in that apostolic heritage, we have a work to do. We have a work to do in this geographical region. We have a work to do in this time in the 21st century. We're called to reach this region with the gospel.

The Scripture reading that I chose here also began at the beginning of the Gospel as Jesus goes out and says, "The time has come, the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the gospel." That was His message. Then it says in verse 16 through 18, "As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the lake for they were fishermen. 'Come follow me,' Jesus said, 'and I will make you to become fishers of men.' And at once they left their nets and followed Him."

That astonishing call that Jesus gave to them, He in fact through the Scripture gives to all of his disciples. We are all called to become fishers of men. We're called to be involved with Christ in the central work He came from heaven to earth to do. Now, what does that mean to be a fisher of men?  Peter and Andrew, James and John were all professional fishermen. They did most of their work by casting nets into the Sea of Galilee and then dragging them through the water forcefully. The fish were pulled by the net into the boat where they were collected.

In the same way, spiritually, Christ draws sinners from their paths of rebellion, from their way of life, independent of God. He draws them out of that lost path, that road that leads to destruction into the kingdom of God. He does it forcefully. Jesus said in John 6:44, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him and I will raise him up at the last day." The Greek word “draws” has an intrinsic force to it. God puts a spiritual force on sinners drawing them out of sin and out of Satan's dark kingdom into the Kingdom of Light; He draws them to Himself.  This sovereign grace that God exerts on lost people, sometimes called “irresistible grace” is 100% effective. Praise God. Jesus said earlier in that same chapter in John 6: 37-39, "All that the Father gives me will come to me." Ponder that. They haven't come yet but they're going to come. All of them.

"All that the Father gives me will come to me and whoever comes to me, I will never drive away. For I've come down from heaven not to do my own will but to do the will of Him who sent me. And this is the will of Him who sent me that I shall lose none of all that He has given me, but raise them up at the last day." It is a moral and spiritual impossibility for anyone to come to Christ apart from the Father drawing them. But on the other hand, it is a moral and spiritual impossibility for anyone whom the Father draws not to come. It is a moral and spiritual impossibility for any who come in faith to Christ to be lost on that final day, but they will all testify to their faith in Christ and celebrate with Him for all eternity.

Friends, we can't lose. 100% of the elect chosen in Christ, the Scripture tells us before the foundation of the world, will most certainly come to Christ. He won't lose any of them. They're all going to come. But no one can come unless the Father draws them, and that's where we come in. We are fishers of men and we exert force on people by words and by example.  We speak powerful words and those words put sinners in fear for their soul and put them in hope also for their soul. We speak words of fear, of condemnation and judgment and words of hope, of eternal heaven where there's no more death, mourning, crying or pain. We do all of that.

We put words of conviction in them and we speak the words of the Gospel which is the power of God for the salvation of anyone who believes. We speak those words and then we live them out in our lives. That life of faith becomes goads that provoke people to make that incredible change to cross over from death to life. That's what it means to be a fisher of men. We do evangelism and we are instrumental in harvesting souls by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Last week, I was running out of time, some of you may have noticed and I hurried through a whole bunch of applications. So now at the beginning of the sermon, I'm going to go through them again, but more slowly because I think it's just helpful to understand evangelism.

Mack Stiles' book I was leaning on gives us a definition of evangelism. I'll go back over it. Evangelism he says is teaching the Gospel with the aim to persuade. He says that there are four key aspects; teaching, gospel, aim and persuade. So first, teaching. Evangelism involves instruction. It involves teaching lost people. Words, concepts, theology, this is essential to evangelism. So, we explain doctrinal concepts.

Secondly, gospel. This gives the heading, the headings that we're going to be teaching that we've broken into four headings for years and we still have those same four, it's not going anywhere; God, man, Christ, response. These are the things we teach about.  We tell sinners about God, that there is a God who made heaven and earth. Because He made it, He is king over it and He has the right to rule it whatever way He chooses, and He has made laws by which we are to be governed. The Ten Commandments, two Great Commandments and other commandments besides, He has the right to do that, and He will judge the world based on those laws.

Man was created in the image of God, uniquely special in the image of God for a love relationship with God. Essential to that is that we love His kingly rule. Jesus said, "If you love me, you will obey me. To love me is to love me as a king." So we love his kingship. The problem is we have not loved His kingship, we have violated His laws. We have broken the Ten Commandments. We have broken the two Great Commandments, and we stand condemned by God the Judge. God the King is also God the Judge, therefore we are in infinite trouble.

Christ is God's son. He was born human. He lived a sinless life. He died an atoning death on the cross and on a third day God raised Him from the dead. He is king, He is sovereign and He must be obeyed. He is the Savior and if you trust in Him, you will be saved. That brings us to response. Jesus said it in Mark 1:15, "Repent and believe." That's what we must do. We must turn away from our sins and turn toward God. That's repentance.  We are to believe the good news that our sins are all forgiven through faith in Him that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Who believes in Him will live even though he dies. We're going to believe the good news. That's the gospel; God, man, Christ, response.

Thirdly, aim. Evangelism is purposeful. We have an aim, we have an intention. We have a purpose in this world and that purpose is captivated by Christ's mission. He said in John 6:38, "For I've come down from heaven not to do my own will, but to do the will of Him who sent me. And this is the will of Him who sent me that I shall lose none of all that He has given me.”  Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Luke 19:10, "The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." Many purpose statements all ending in the same way, Jesus came to save sinners. Our aim in evangelism must be that. We need to be purposeful in life. I'm alive for a purpose and part of that purpose is to glorify God by being active in evangelism.

We would then also be purposeful in all of our relationships. We don't think we have any accidental relationships, any accidental work relationships or neighborhood relationships or relationships in our families. There's no accidents. God put people in our lives and we have a purpose in those relationships. We know that everyone who lives is going to spend eternity either in heaven or hell. We don't believe in annihilation, we don't believe people will cease to exist at death. They will exist. They'll continue to exist either in heaven or hell. So we need to care about that and have an aim, a purpose of winning the lost. We need to have a purpose as individuals, but we need to have a purpose as a local church. Part of our purpose of being here is to seek and to save the lost.

Then fourthly, persuade. Evangelism is persuasion. We exert a force on people verbally, relationally, morally. We want to persuade them. We want to persuade them to repent, to turn to Christ. We use argumentation, we use proofs, we use passion even, we use persuasion. We might even use pleading. It should obviously matter to them or obviously matter to us and be obvious to them that it matters whether they accept our message or not. It's not like okay if they don't believe this, so we seek to persuade.

All of this, teaching the Gospel with the aim to persuade can only be effective by the power of the Holy Spirit. We can't do anything apart from the work of the Spirit. We will not evangelize apart from the Spirit, and we will not be effective in winning souls apart from the Spirit. We are completely dependent on the third person of the Trinity.

Spirit is the power of evangelism. Jesus said in John 20 on His resurrection night, that first night, He came through the door though the doors were locked, He came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." And then He said this, “'As the Father has sent me even so I am sending you.” And with that, He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone who sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.’" Or again in Luke 24:49, He told them, "Stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high." Or again in Acts 1:8, very familiar, "You'll receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in all Judea and Samaria and even in Jerusalem, and on all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

The Holy Spirit is the power of the advancing kingdom of God. The Father, before time began, made the Gospel plan. He made the plan of redemption. The Son executed that plan by His incarnation, by His sinless life, by His atoning death and by His resurrection from the dead. Then the Holy Spirit completes the plan by applying the blood of Jesus individually to sinners through their repentance and faith.  He works in sinners to believe the good news, and the Spirit works both sides of the equation. He works in us, the messengers, and then He works in the people getting them ready to hear that message. He's active every day. The Spirit's power comes upon us and we overcome our selfishness and our fear and our temporal perspectives and all those things that hinder us. He enables us to overcome those obstacles.

Then on the other side, He enables the sinners to overcome their pride and their lack of faith and all of those things that are hindering them from becoming Christians. The Holy Spirit's powerful. The Holy Spirit is just as good at His job as Jesus ever was at His. Praise God. That's why there's hundreds of millions of Christians alive today.  The Spirit is essential to salvation. The Spirit is active in every healthy church. He's active in this church.

"The Holy Spirit is just as good at His job as Jesus ever was at His. Praise God. That's why there's hundreds of millions of Christians alive today."

Our prayer as elders, our prayers of church, we developed the words of this prayer some time ago and we still think that it's valid what we're praying for. We are asking God for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit resulting in a durable culture of evangelism as demonstrated by persistent patterns of creative outreach and courageous witness to the lost around us leading to many conversions.  We want God to pour out His Spirit on our church. We don't want business as usual here at this church. We want the Holy Spirit to just evidently obviously move among us. We want Him to produce in us a durable culture of evangelism. We're going to talk about that in a moment, but a durable culture, not something we did for a little while in 2024, but I mean that's just who we are, permanently for years. That being put on display by persistent patterns of creative and courageous outreach, all those words have meaning. There's just a consistency among the members of this church to do creative, bold, interesting things to win the lost. Different in brothers and sisters and different in the callings that you have, but you're using courage, you're using creativity, you're being bold, you're reaching out.

The result of that is many conversions. People who come and become members of our church, they get baptized and they grow from being infant Christians to being mature Christians. They just come. Large numbers come and are part of our church as a result of the harvest of souls. That's what we're praying for.  I want to see God do that.

II. Praying for a Culture of Evangelism

What does this mean culture of evangelism? It's kind of the focus of this whole sermon. What is a culture of evangelism? Mack Stiles talks about it. It’s a local church's sense of shared community, a purpose to win the lost in our region. We're going to spur one another on toward evangelism. We're going to help each other, lean on each other, instruct each other, hold each other accountable, work with each other to win lost people in this region.

All over the world, missionaries know that every people group has a culture, so when you go there to win them to Christ, you learn not only their language but you learn their culture. What does that mean? It's just a manner of life. It's a way that they eat food, a way that they wear clothes, how they build buildings, their architecture, the way they connect with neighbors and with each other, the way they do government, the way they do economics.  It's the way they celebrate happy life occasions like births and weddings and graduations and things like that. That's their culture. So missionaries settle in. They learn what that culture is in that people group. Babies that are born in that people group grow up immersed in that culture and become part of it.  As a matter of course, that's what it means to be part of that people group. That cultural identification just comes on them. They're immersed in it. They inherit it. It's like the old question, "Does a fish know it's wet?" That's just the culture that they grow up in.

Then we bring that here to this church. We want that culture of evangelism to happen here so that people who come and attend here and become members here and are immersed in the life here five years later are much more evangelistic as a result. They're fruitful in evangelism because they are here. It’s a culture of evangelism. Mack Stiles talks about communal evangelism where it's a church-wide focus. We hold one another accountable. So someone says, "I want to do such and such." Say, "All right, I'll pray for you." Then next week, "Hey, did you do that?" That's holding each other accountable. We strengthen each other's mutual resolve. We learn from one another how people do various kinds of evangelism. We rejoice together in successes. We cry over failures too. We bond through shared difficult experiences and persecutions and other things that come because the more faithful any individual or church is in evangelism, the more Satan opposes and attacks. Persecution ramps up.  Anyone who desires to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. That's tied directly I think to this work of evangelism. 

Our church's culture would be shared ideas, shared language, shared behavior pattern, shared expectations, a culture motivated by love for Jesus and His gospel, a culture that's confident in the Gospel as the power of God for the salvation. We don't need gimmicks. We don't need techniques. We need the Gospel written here in the Bible. That's what we need. And the Holy Spirit and faithfulness, that's what we need.  The culture that understands the danger of this present evil age that we live in, materialism, entertainment, all the allures of this present age, a culture that sees people clearly with eyes of faith, not temporal eyes. You see people for what they really are, created in the image of God with eternal souls. A culture that pulls together as one, especially in prayer.  A culture in which we teach one another. What is the Gospel? What is our responsibility? What are some techniques of getting into conversations with people? New converts that we then see as a result of that, they're taught those things so then they become part of the labor force that goes out and wins lost people themselves.

Multiplication happens. A culture that models evangelism, a culture in which people who share their faith boldly are celebrated and honored and encouraged because of what they did and we learn from them. We also know how to affirm and celebrate converts, new life. We're thrilled when people come and get baptized and then we come and we welcome them into the family of God.  A culture that does ministry that feels risky and feels dangerous. A culture that understands that the church is the chosen and best method of evangelism. The church working together like this is better than individuals working separately.

A local church can and should have a culture of evangelism. People who come here become much more passionate, knowledgeable about evangelism, more active in it, more fruitful in it. The elders believe this is the single greatest area of growth for First Baptist Durham. This is what we need to do. If we're going to be healthier five years from now than we are now, this is the ... It's not the only area of growth. There are a lot of areas we can grow in, but this is the main one, we believe.

III. Preparation for Evangelism

There are two things that we can do for that. One of them is preparation. The other are actual pathways of going out and doing evangelism. So, preparation is what we do now.  I believe I'm doing some evangelism, actual doing evangelism right now because I've shared the Gospel and there may well be, I actually expect there are, lost people right now listening to my words. If you came in here this morning lost, you have heard the Gospel already. All you need to do is believe that and you will be saved, your sins will be forgiven. So I'm pleading with you to do that, to cross over from death to life, to believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior ,and you'll be forgiven.

But aside from that, what we're doing right now, what we can do in this building is preparation for evangelism. We get people ready to do it. We start by getting our hearts right and that's getting our priority structure right. The top priority must always be zeal for the glory of God. That's above the significance of human souls being one.  God's glory is above everything. So we start with zeal for the glory of God as in the Lord's Prayer. “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.” We start there. May God's name be hallowed. We think the biggest problem with lost people is they don't do that. They don't hallow God's name. They don't honor God's glory. That's the biggest problem is that God, that Christ are being robbed of their glory.

So we start with that mentality. It's always God first, the glory of God above all else. And that flows from the first and greatest commandment which is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. We do evangelism because we love God and because we want God to be glorified. It's a God-centered evangelism.

But then there's that second horizontal compassion for lost people, to love your neighbors as yourself. I believe one of the greatest reasons we don't evangelize is we lack genuine compassion for lost people. We don't see their spiritual plight and their terrible destination.  Look again at Mark 16:16, "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." Now, look at that word or think about it, condemned. Hearing Jesus say, "Depart from me, you who are cursed into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." Those words spoken about a person. Nothing can be more devastating than that, condemned.

Remember how Jesus described hell in Mark 9:48-49, as a place where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched and everyone will be salted with fire. It's eternal unquenchable fire, eternal conscious torment. Therefore, Paul had overwhelming compassion for lost people. "I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart for I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the lost among his Jewish countrymen." He had that yearning to see lost people saved.

Evangelism starts above all with a zeal for God's glory. Then secondly, with a deep compassion for the lost. Charles Spurgeon said this, "If you want to win souls for Christ, feel a solemn alarm about them. You cannot make them feel if you do not feel yourself. Believe their danger, believe their helplessness, believe that only Christ can save them, and talk to them as if you really meant it. The Holy Spirit will move them by first moving you. If you can rest without their being saved, they will rest too. But if you are filled with an agony for them, if you cannot bear that they should be lost, you will soon find that they are uneasy too."

"Evangelism starts above all with a zeal for God's glory."

Part of the culture of evangelism has to do with expectations. We prepare for evangelism by having expectations. What are they? Number one, that every member will evangelize. There's no one exempt. There's no one like, "Oh, I don't have that gift." I do believe there is an evangelistic gift, but I also think there's an evangelistic responsibility. You may not have the gift of hospitality but you are to be hospitable. Even if you don't have that unique gift, it's still something that you're called on to do.  The same thing with giving, I'm sure hoping none of you are saying, "I don't have the gift of giving and so I'm not going to give my tithes and offerings to the church." But then there are some that just have that gift, so it is with evangelism.

So number one, every member will evangelize. Number two, that God will go ahead of us and prepare good works of evangelism that we should walk in, that God's out actively setting things up for us.  What's so cool is that you have connections that no one else in the church does. To those lost people, you are the one person that God has positioned to win them to Christ. So number two, that God will prepare evangelistic opportunities regularly.

And then thirdly, that people will be converted. They actually will genuinely be saved. That's an expectation. In so many cases, you get what you really expect, especially when it comes to matters of faith. We have low expectations, we'll get low results. These three expectations, every member will evangelize, God will prepare evangelistic opportunities, and God will bring people to salvation, these are good, healthy expectations that line up with the Bible, don't they? They are reasonable expectations.

Spurgeon said, "A major reason Christians do not see conversions that they don't expect them." He was preaching a sermon on Acts 11:21, "The Lord's hand was with them and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord." What a great verse. Read it again. Acts 11:21, "The Lord's hand was with them and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord." What a great verse to pray for FBC.

This is what Spurgeon said, "If you want to see many converts, then expect them according to your faith so it'd be done unto you. Look out for them. Believe that God will bless every effort and go hunting to see where the converts are. Truly I say unto you, if you look not for conversions, neither shall you obtain them. But then blame not the Lord. You are not restricted in Him, but you are restricted in your own affections.”

Also, we prepare for evangelism by training. We train what the Gospel is. We train how to share it. So that's what we can do here at 414 Cleveland Street, Durham.  Here in this sermon right now, that's what's going on right now. We can do training. We can get people ready by doing good teaching and training.  Our church has been doing this for years. I said to the guys this morning, this probably is the 40th or 50th such sermon I preached over 25 years here. Some of you may have heard some of those before. There's just a yearning, and God's been faithful and is blessed, but we still have so much work to do. So we do training.  We have classroom trainings and BFL (Bible For Life) classes and Acts Wednesday evenings. We're going to do the “Go Team.” Training is going to be part of it. But we also need that practical on the job training, don't we? We learn best by doing.

I learned to do evangelism right away in my Christian life. I was 19 years old, a junior at MIT.  I was discipled by Campus Crusade for Christ and my mentor said, “Come, watch me evangelize." He had evangelistic opportunities. He told me to not say a word. Both of us were very happy about that. I didn't know what I was talking about. I had nothing to add and I was glad to not say anything.  But that's great training, isn't it? When the leaders lead out and say, "Follow me and just watch, just observe." Leaders need to lead. Elders need to do this. Elders need to set an example for the flock and go out and say, "Follow me as I follow Christ."

Then we need examples and testimonies. We need to celebrate little victories along the way, role models. We need the leaders like Jonathan in the days of the battles against the Philistines where he just goes out boldly and wins a battle. I mean, that's just Jonathan. I love him. He's got that boldness.

We need to hear testimonies of people being faithful. I had lunch with JD Greear, Pastor of Summit Church a few months ago, and I acknowledged that their church has been very fruitful in evangelism. They've seen a lot of people won to Christ. I said, "What would you say are some of the secrets at Summit Church?" And he said, "You become what you celebrate.”  They regularly have testimonies of evangelistic encounters that fan the flame of new endeavors. People get inspired. We'd love to see FBC members giving testimonies of evangelistic encounters, invite you up to the pulpit to share. “Oh, no, not that.” We might do it but by video or we could just do it second person. You could have an elder to come tell your story for you if you don't want to come in front of the whole church. But we need those stories.

You could think of a young mom that goes to a certain playground and she's never really been bold to share her faith, but God laid a particular woman that she's met with a number of times before on her heart, and she said something to her. It turns out that she wanted to have that kind of a spiritual conversation and they ended up meeting for Bible study. That kind of story can be motivational.  Or somebody in a workplace setting and say, "I had a coworker and we share the same office suite and we talk about all kinds of stuff, but I've never really shared that I'm a Christian or whatever, and I stepped out, invited him to church and he came."

Those testimonies can come along or a roommate, college roommates like, "I've had a roommate and we've had all kinds of conversations and she saw me studying the Bible and she made fun of me. But I invited her and I said, 'Would you like to study the Bible with me?' I was shocked but she actually agreed and we've had two times of meeting together." A college student sharing with her roommate.  Those are the kind of testimonies that can motivate the church. No hero stories, just simple faithfulness, people sharing their faith. If you're willing to be part of that, talk to the elders and say, "I actually have taken some steps." And either the elder can share your story or you can, but we'd love to have that.

We also have to have accountability. I mentioned it earlier in the message. But ask each other, "Who are you praying for?" The FBC had a ministry called “Who's Your One?” where you would zero in on one person and that lost person would be a focus. It wouldn't be the only person you'd share with, but that one person was going to become a prayer project and a focus.  Then you share with your home fellowship or with other friends here at FBC, "That person's my one." Then we hold them accountable. We join them in praying for that person. Say, "Did you get a chance to talk to them this week?" That kind of accountability.  Or within home fellowships asking one another, "Have you had a chance to share your faith this week?" That's just a regular kind of question that we ask each other. There's a kind of a positive peer pressure that that helps that's part of the culture of evangelism, that kind of accountability.

We also do organized outreaches. We have the “Go Teams” this summer, but we want to see this happening throughout the year and not just in the summer. We should be having regular outreaches. The thing you can do when you just go out and share your faith is contact evangelism. You can do door- to-door or you can do spiritual surveys to just talk to people on the street. That's what you can do.  You may think that's not that effective. You may think the one thing that we have in common with non-Christians is neither of us likes that very much. I understand that, but I don't know how else to go out and do practical evangelism training other than something like that. You can't go out and do workplace evangelism. Imagine if sixteen of your church friends showed up at your office and said they're here to help win you to Christ. It might be your last day on the job or at least at that job.

So, that's something you're on your own to do. But if you've gone out repeatedly doing street witnessing, sharing door to door, whatever, and you get used to the conversations you actually do have, but also the rejection, and there's lots of rejection, you get used to all that, then suddenly you find yourself in spiritual conversations at work. It's not as hard as you thought it was because you've been trained and you're ready.

 We do mercy ministries. We find ways to meet felt needs.  The Health Fair is coming up. That's one kind of very carefully organized thing that we do. The Caring Center is here every week. There are other Mercy Ministries that we want to start that we haven't even started yet. The thing about Mercy Ministries, you'll find a lot of non-Christian activists are involved in those kinds of Mercy Ministries too. Not for the same reasons, but you get involved with them and you become friends with them, and you're able to share the Gospel with some of them and the people you're seeking to minister to.

VBS is coming up. It's a great opportunity to invite kids to go and you can talk to their parents, too. It's a tremendous evangelistic opportunity for us as a church. And prayer, it's only by the power of the Spirit that we're going to go out. We're going to ask God to pour out His Spirit on us. We need to be together in prayer. And if you look at the “Go Team" card, some of those times are going to be prayer times.  Spurgeon said this, "There must be much prayer." I delight to be at prayer meetings where the brethren will not let the Lord go except He blessed them. When a brother prays, choking as he speaks, tears rolling down his cheeks as he pleads with God to have mercy on the sons of men, I am always certain that sinners are ordained to be blessed when I see saints thus compelled to plead with God for them.

In your closets alone, at your family altars, in your gatherings for prayer, it must be passionate and the hand of the Lord must and will be with you. Cry aloud and spare not, plead as if for your own lives and bring forth your strong arguments for only by prevailing with God will you be able to prevail with men.

And prayer walking, I've done this with a member of the church a couple of times and some others as well.. You just go out and can kind of trick yourself—“ I'm not going to talk to anyone about Christ. I'm just going to pray.” But then you find yourself in conversations. You see people and it's not that scary and you just talk. Sometimes you just walk and you can see how people live, what their homes look like. You can see their faces as you walk by and you're praying for them. All of these things are effective.

IV. Pathways of Evangelism

Now, concerning pathways for years, we've talked about different pathways, fields. First and foremost, you start with your own family. You have growing kids at home. Don't assume that they're hearing the Gospel. Pour the Gospel into them from infancy that they know the Gospel.  The greatest engine for conversion around the world is a Christian family by far. Don't make any assumptions. Pray for your children, pour the Gospel into them. And not just your children, you probably have unsaved relatives, maybe unsaved parents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins, family evangelism.

Secondly, your neighborhood. Use hospitality. We don't have neighborhoods like we used to. I grew up and kids were out playing kickball. It was a neighborhood and we knew each other. That's not so much anymore. I think electronic entertainment has destroyed neighborhood cohesiveness, but we still can know our neighbors. We still see each other.  The neighbors in my neighborhood have this thing when they walk, some of them. They'll walk, and they'll put their head down and their hand up like that. I'm reading the body language which is “I don't want to be so into myself that I don't wave to a neighbor, but I don't want to talk to anybody.” I understand that. There's that pulling in.

But we still see each other. There's opportunities there to build relationships, especially with new move-ins. People that move in, you can bring them some food or something like that. Then there's just that as you go in your life, you go to certain coffee shops, you go to certain restaurants, you make friendships, you connect with them, haircutting places, nail salons.  You ask God to make connections. “Help me to know someone's name.” You fly your flag as we've said, early and often. “I'm a Christian. I'm a follower of Christ. I go to such and such church. I’d love to talk to you more about Christ.”  Personal hobbies you have, gardening, bike riding, sports that you have or that your kids have. Music, sports leagues, different things, opportunities to connect with people.

Then workplace, for me, the workplace was one of the greatest places to do evangelism because you are in close proximity day after day with non-Christians who you know very well. You have the ability to know what's going on in their lives, maybe their spouse is in the hospital for surgery or maybe some other thing going on, and you can care in ways that no other coworker cares. The workplace is powerfully effective.

Mercy Ministries, as we've said, and bold initiatives. “Go Teams”, be active, pray for that, be involved in that and find out how you can do the things that God's called you to do. I want to say as I close, we've had for many months now a BFL class every week called Discovering Christ. I would urge you to come and learn how to use that simple tool to share Christ with a coworker or a neighbor. It's basically the Gospel of Mark reduced to great simplicity, a focus on the person of Christ, who He is, Christ's power to forgive sin, Christ's death on the cross and His resurrection, four sessions.  I would urge you to come and find out how to use it. But I would also urge you to bring someone to it because that's part of the purpose. So, we'll be running it throughout the summer. So, I urge you to do that. Please close with me in prayer.

Father, as we finish up the sermon time now and transition to the Lord's Supper, we thank you for the power of the Word of God. We thank you for the calling that you've given us to be faithful in evangelism. I pray, Lord, that you would help us to take these practical insights and exhortations to heart. Lord, would you please develop in us a passion for your glory and a passion for lost people, such as we have never seen before in the history of this church? We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

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