Evangelism http://ministrytodaymag.com/outreach/evangelism Wed, 04 May 2016 07:50:33 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb 12 Stumbling Blocks to the Gospel for This Generation http://ministrytodaymag.com/outreach/evangelism/22837-12-stumbling-blocks-to-the-gospel-for-this-generation http://ministrytodaymag.com/outreach/evangelism/22837-12-stumbling-blocks-to-the-gospel-for-this-generation

I preach in a lot of different places, have been involved in evangelism and have overseen a local church for more than three decades. I have often found that it is not the gospel that turns people off, but the people carrying the gospel who turn them off.

It is my opinion that church leadership should remove as many unnecessary stumbling blocks as possible so that as many as possible can be saved.

The following 12 points are based on conversations I have had with millennial leaders as well as the average person on the street:

1. An overemphasis on money – I have been in some services in which the offering took more than 30 minutes, and it was not a special service but the norm. In other services, it was common to collect three offerings or more! This gives new people the impression that the church leadership is more concerned with collecting money than in preaching the gospel.

This also leaves the church open to suspicion regarding their motives. I believe money and stewardship should be taught regularly, and at times fundraising should be a focal point for in church gatherings, but it should never consistently rival the time given to preaching and teaching the Word of God.

2. The opulent lifestyle of the leadership – In many cases, the lavish lifestyle of the pastor and top leaders is a huge stumbling block for the gospel. I believe God wants His children blessed, but the pastor and leaders should model a lifestyle of simplicity and not extravagance especially if they lead churches in poor communities. The apostles Peter and Paul both stated that greed should not be a trait of church elders (1 Pet. 5:2; 1 Tim. 3:3.)

3. Scandals – In this day and age, any fool can post something scandalous on social media about a church or leader that has no basis in the truth. These are things we cannot always avoid; hence, this is why you should not be quick to believe what people post about others! However, when leaders don't have proper boundaries in their finances and personal life, they tend to cross the line in both.

These are the ones that are ripe for a public scandal. Since the huge televangelist scandals of the 1980s to the present, scandals give the unbeliever another excuse not to repent and believe the gospel. Every leader should be careful what they text, email, post and say in public and private. They should also have a strong interior life in which they walk in the fear of the Lord, which enables all of us to depart from evil (Prov. 16:6).

4. Duplicitous behavior. When children of believers and or the unsaved witness ungodly behavior from their co-workers, employees, neighbors and friends who claim to be Christians, it is a huge stumbling block to the gospel.

5. Religious titles – Many millennials in certain communities are turned off by the excessive use of elaborate religious hierarchical titles. In some religious settings, every body has a title like bishop, apostle, doctor, reverend and archbishop. Young people are especially turned off by the need for this kind of identification for self-validation.

6. Religious language – People in this generation are not as religious as the previous generation and feel disconnected when a believer constantly uses religious language in everyday communication. We have to learn to communicate using the "language of Babylon" if we are going to make strong connections with this generation. We have to teach believers how to "think biblically but speak secularly" if the gospel is going to make inroads in culture.

7. Religious images of power – Vestiges of authority and power in the church turn off many young people. They more easily relate to down-to-Earth, transparent leadership. When they see thrones on a church stage in which leaders are elevated above the congregation with pastors preaching (down) at the congregation, it gives them the wrong impression of leadership and is a quick turnoff.

8. Religious behavior – Sometimes in church the people have so many protocols, traditions and rituals, it scares new people into thinking they have to become religious robots in order to believe. We need to show the world the difference between being religious (which does not save or sanctify a person) and having a relationship with the Lord Jesus.

9. Territorial emphasis over kingdom focus – Many are turned off to the gospel when they see leadership merely focused on their own agenda and building programs and not for the good of their community. God called us to serve our communities not just build larger church buildings.

10. Programs over people – Many people are turned off to the gospel when they see the church focus more on events and programs than on relating one on one to people.

11. Triumphalism – Many young people are turned off to triumphalist prayers and pronouncements about taking cities and nations back for God. They feel called to serve their community but not to take it over by force. We in the church have to be careful with the kind of language we use to communicate our vision.

12. No community and authenticity – What people crave for the most is community. Everyone needs to feel loved and to belong to an entity greater than him or herself. Part of the call of the church is to assimilate new believers into the visible body of Christ through relationships and discipleship. When people come to the church and only experience program based Christianity, they will eventually leave and look for a real community in which to belong. {eoa}

Joseph Mattera is an internationally known author, futurist, interpreter of culture and activist/theologian whose mission is to influence leaders who influence nations. He leads several organizations, including The United States Coalition of Apostolic Leaders (uscal.us). He also has a blog on Charisma magazine called "The Pulse." To order one of his books or to subscribe to his weekly newsletter, go to josephmattera.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Joseph Mattera) Evangelism Mon, 02 May 2016 18:00:00 -0400
A Modern-Day Joseph: How God Moved on the Front Lines http://ministrytodaymag.com/outreach/evangelism/22799-a-modern-day-joseph-how-god-moved-on-the-front-lines http://ministrytodaymag.com/outreach/evangelism/22799-a-modern-day-joseph-how-god-moved-on-the-front-lines

I was with my family, whom I hadn't seen in 13 weeks, and was soon to graduate from the Marine Corps boot camp in San Diego, California, when a man walked up and thanked me for helping his son return to the Lord.

While in the service, I found myself witnessing in many non-traditional forms. I led a prayer group at boot camp and marched recruits to chapel services, all as a previously burned-out youth pastor with plans to become a chaplain.

Later, while I was training for deployment to Iraq as a field radio operator, a close friend of mine gave me the call sign "Preach," which stuck. The call sign was a term of endearment as well as a fresh reminder of God's call on my life. I was amazed to experience firsthand the fulfillment of the prophecies in Joel 2:28-29 and Acts 2:17-19.

Wherever I went, I witnessed God speaking to men and women in uniform. He even spoke in dreams to fellow infantrymen while they were on training operations in the field leading up to deployment.

During my 2007-2008 deployment to Iraq, word spread that I interpreted dreams, so Marines would come to me and tell me their dreams. Like Joseph and Daniel in the Bible, I told them that it is God who interprets dreams and mysteries, wanting to give credit to whom credit is due (Genesis 40:8; Daniel 2:27-30). I offered Scripture to support the interpretation I sensed from the Holy Spirit, encouraged them to spend time with Jesus, and gave them reading material.

I was humbled as I saw God communicate with those literally on the front lines for our nation. During one conversation with a spiritually hungry Marine, I shared personal experiences of things I had seen God accomplish and then asked him if he wanted more of God. He said yes, so we prayed together and he was marvelously baptized with the Holy Spirit. I cried because I felt that in my spiritually dry state I was unworthy to be part of such an experience.

In 2009, I had the privilege of watching a fellow sergeant in my platoon be baptized in water. He was possibly the first Christian in hundreds of years to be baptized in the Helmand River Valley of Afghanistan. Though we were surrounded by darkness and hatred in a combat environment, God's Spirit was moving on people, bringing His light.

One time we escorted the battalion chaplain to officiate field memorial services for fallen Marines. While returning to base, one of the first remote controlled improvised explosive devices (IEDs) detonated in our area of operation. Thankfully it detonated prematurely, but right in front of my platoon. (Up until this time, the IEDs we encountered were pressure plate detonations.) I looked back at the chaplain and his assistant in my truck and said, "Sir, God is watching out for us."

God is talking to our men and women in uniform in direct and wonderfully supernatural ways. And He has placed incredible chaplains and other Christians in uniform with them to be part of the harvest within our military and to plant seeds of faith (1 Corinthians 3:5-8). Some of my fellow service members committed their lives to Christ even after deployment, during their transition to the civilian world. The seeds had taken root.

RELATED: "5 ways to Survive (Even Thrive) Through a Deployment"

Pray for our sons and daughters in uniform to overcome the challenges they face daily. Pray for the ongoing outpouring of the Spirit upon them, especially as they return from serving and need support and healing. {eoa}

Serving in the Marine Corps from 2006-2011, Jared Laskey was the personal radio operator to the battalion commander of the 2nd Battalion 8th Marines. Some of his unit's missions are recorded in the movies To Hell and Back Again and The Hornet's Nest. He has also co-written a book called Veronica's Hero, soon to be published with Lulu Publishing.

The original article was printed in the March/April 2016 issue of The Message magazine.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Jared Laskey) Evangelism Fri, 22 Apr 2016 21:00:00 -0400
Amplifying Evangelism: Unplugging the Tools That We Turned Into Rules http://ministrytodaymag.com/outreach/evangelism/22715-amplifying-evangelism-unplugging-the-tools-that-we-turned-into-rules http://ministrytodaymag.com/outreach/evangelism/22715-amplifying-evangelism-unplugging-the-tools-that-we-turned-into-rules

As I look back on my life, especially being born into an Irish (nominal) Catholic home in New York City, I firmly believe that I am a Christian today because of a chain events that were set in motion by the sovereignty and providence of God. Let me explain.

One day my sister received an invitation to attend a small church over in a place called Westbury although we lived in the poorer part of town called Levittown. Can you guess the mode of transportation that took my sister from our house to the church? The church's bus ministry. Because the church had a heart to see people come to know Christ, they implemented the church bus ministry as a tool to accomplish that goal. This tool proved to be effective in my sister's life.

About a year or so from the time my sister started attending this church, I noticed something different about my sister. I (and my mom) could see that God was changing her. This sparked an interest in my mom to go back to church, and my mother decided to visit a church renewal service where someone prayed with her to trust and receive Christ.

We moved to Florida and my mother encouraged me—no, it was more like forced me—to go to a student ministry camp. While at the camp, I heard the gospel and responded to Christ through repentance and faith.

In just about three short years God used a bus ministry, a renewal service, and a student ministry camp to bring my sister, my mother, and me to Christ.

So, I'm a firm believer in evangelistic tools.

Or to state it another way, I'm a firm believer in using tools to increase evangelistic effectiveness. I'm also a firm believer the effectiveness of evangelistic tools should be evaluated from time-to-time. That said, I'm afraid many of our present tools have become less effective.

The Move From Effective Tools to Ineffective Rules

The reality is that we often associate evangelistic effectiveness with evangelistic tools. I've spoken to numerous churches and groups struggling with plateau and stagnation. When I ask them what they can do to increase their evangelistic endeavors, they almost always resort to evangelistic methods.

Some say they need to purchase radio time; some say they need to hold another revival; some suggest they need to resurrect the 'ole' bus ministry; some believe an intentional focus needs to be placed back on Sunday school; some suggest pulling out a blank canvas pad in hopes of writing the next successful evangelistic track; and some continue to propose a change in music, a renovation of the building, or a change in style so that people will be more comfortable inviting others to a more contemporary place to hear the gospel.

In brief, the answers suggest they equate evangelism with evangelistic tools.

Most people who have been in church for a while have either been impacted greatly by a specific tool or have seen the positive impact divinely generated by such tools.

Nevertheless, when we equate evangelism with tools, we expose how we have turned our tools into rules.

When we turn our tools into rules, we minimize the essence of evangelism and weaken our overall evangelistic effectiveness. There are at least three ways people turn evangelistic tools into evangelistic rules.

First, people who turn tools into rules say, "I have to have this in order to do that."

When people believe they must have a specific tool to effectively evangelize, they idolize the tool. The tool itself becomes like a golden calf. Believers must remember that it's not the tool that has the power, but the Spirit of God working through both the person and the tool.

For years people have seemingly turned the latest effective evangelistic track, book, or training into the latest infomercial for evangelism. Promoters of evangelistic products promise to increase evangelistic effectiveness if you use their track, read this book, or attend that training. They speak as though everything is a game-changer in evangelism. While some products or concepts (tools) are helpful, I am not naïve enough to believe all of them are game-changers.

The truth is that the only game-changer in evangelistic effectiveness rests in one person telling another person how Jesus has radically changed their life. Reliance on a tool can result in a less effective effort.

Ed Stetzer is the executive producer of LifeWay Research. For the original article, visit edstetzer.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Ed Stetzer) Evangelism Tue, 29 Mar 2016 18:00:00 -0400
Marketplace Ministry: Doing the Greatest Work on Earth http://ministrytodaymag.com/outreach/evangelism/22613-doing-the-greatest-work-on-earth http://ministrytodaymag.com/outreach/evangelism/22613-doing-the-greatest-work-on-earth

Could it be that the man or woman available to God can partner with Him in the marketplace, bringing heaven to Earth the other six days a week?

God's plans for people in the workplace are greater than we imagine. All work devoted to God is holy. Customer service representative or CEO, musician or mayor, principal or pastor, we all have the privilege to shine brightly in our daily assignments, transforming society. Yet something holds us back.

Most people settle for a life at work that is far less rewarding than what is possible. Believing that work is anything less than sacred reduces our lives to a daily grind filled with struggle. But what if we are all called to do the greatest work on Earth in daily life?

"And wherever He entered, into villages, cities, or the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and pleaded with Him that they might touch even the fringe of His garment. And as many as touched Him were healed" (Mark 6:56).

Jesus met the needs of people in the marketplace as well as in the temple with healing and solutions that transformed lives and impacted society—we are to do the same and more.

Our society is comprised of seven spheres where people are divinely positioned with skill, a desire to serve and a natural place from which to influence the world. These spheres—business, government, education, family, arts, media and religion—are simply the lanes in which we work, live, play and have the opportunity to be the church in everyday life.

But most are content to point people to church buildings and Christian programs to get a touch of Jesus from the professionals. We are held hostage to the lie that our work doesn't matter to God, that paid preachers are the only ones actually doing God's work.

Mike Bickle, director at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City (IHOPKC), believes the church has missed it when it comes to revealing God's heart for believers in the marketplace.

"It is time for pastors in the body of Christ to address the lie that has hindered many who work in schools, at city hall or businesses," Bickle says. "The lie is that their work is not a ministry calling to build up the kingdom of God. It's time to bless what these marketplace men and women have been doing to serve God in a significant way. They are faithful believers and vessels of God's kingdom purposes; their work is precious and valuable in God's sight."

For the man or woman who has a holy calling to teach, legislate, create, entertain or do business, it's time to settle five questions lurking in the hearts of believers on their way to work Monday morning.

1) Does my work matter to God?
2) How can I be a godly influence at work without being weird?
3) How does God provide divine direction and solutions for practical problems and dilemmas at work?
4) How can I partner with God to transform society beyond my offerings at church?
5) Should I quit my job and go into ministry?

I have discovered answers to these questions through prayer and life experience, so I make it my aim to continue to share some of my own journey to illustrate how this can work out in daily life.

God's Care for Our Work

From selling tickets in a movie theater at age 16 to building a corporate learning center to leading a global marketplace prayer initiative, I have learned how much God wants to be involved in our daily work.

I can only imagine what church folks thought of the preacher's kid working at the movie theater. But I prayed for that job, and God opened the door. I felt His presence and pleasure over me as I showed up on time, completed my duties and learned how to deal with all kinds of people.

I learned that my work at the movie theater mattered to God. He was with me and used that first job to help shape the person I would become.

Work isn't a necessary evil. It's a divine invitation to grow as believers and make a difference in the world. God loves to show up in the mundane of life with His mercy and miracles. As leaders, it's important we teach people to expect God at work, to invite Him in and to trust His leadership.

Now, let's fast-forward a few decades.

The Strangest Secret for Success

I sat in a faculty meeting listening to the academic dean talk about the new year as I scribbled a desperate prayer on a legal tablet. I loved teaching business, but my heart ached for more of God, more opportunity and more challenge.

Should I leave the college for full-time work in the church? Was I wasting my gifts and talents in a "secular" job? Could I become and do more for God in the ministry?

I soon realized I was asking the wrong questions. I was reaching people every day I would never see at church. I prayed for my students. Co-workers came to me for help with their problems. God gave me creative ideas in the classroom. I began to understand I was serving others in my work as a pastor or priest (1 Pet. 2:9). He was showing me the transformational value and holiness of work in a dramatic way.

Within two weeks of my scribbled prayer, I had the beginning of a divine answer staring me in the face. The adage "be careful what you pray for" crossed my mind as the magnitude of the opportunity unfolded.

The college leadership asked me to create a corporate training center as part of the university to serve local businesses. It was an incredible opportunity that led to a unique collaboration between education, industry and the community that people came from around the world to experience.

It was amazing to see God touch lives, influence careers and build up the economy as we trained more than 150,000 participants in the next 12 years. We had never worked harder, cried louder or rejoiced more as we watched God show up. In my home, in the car, on the fly, in the board room and deep in the night, I cried out to God for guidance because I knew He was listening and speaking. We all felt we were on a holy assignment, and heaven came to Earth a little every day in the form of practical plans, burgeoning contracts, resolving of conflicts and creative solutions birthed in prayer and carried out in excellence.

God had given me a living laboratory to learn what it meant to work from the place of prayer. It's the strangest secret for success.

Forerunners in the Marketplace

Things were going well, and life was better than ever. Then I felt a divine nudge.

My husband, Rick, and I decided to visit the International House of Prayer in the summer of 2006. I had never seen anything like it, people from all over the world gathering in 24/7 prayer.

I was delighted to discover that they also had a ministry to people like me working in the marketplace who valued prayer. It was like connecting with a family you never knew you had.

We felt God was inviting us to help prepare the way for what He wants to do in the marketplace, bringing transformation in the various spheres of society through ordinary men and women. What followed was a series of events that led to our relocating from Texas to Kansas City, joining the ministry team and leading the marketplace arm of IHOPKC.

Our move meant leaving everything we'd built in the past 24 years and, more importantly, our aging dads. But God confirmed it through our house selling within four hours of placing a For Sale sign in the yard and, more significantly to us, the blessings of our fathers. I'd love to say everything worked out exactly as planned, but the best stuff in God never does; His plan is always greater.

Today, I am privileged to lead 7M-pact, a community of forerunners in the marketplace, men and women from all spheres of society who are changing the world at work. Each Monday, those of us in Kansas City gather in the Global Prayer Room for a prayer meeting at 6 a.m. Marketplace believers join from all over the globe by live Web stream in corporate prayer. We also host conferences and webinars and publish resources to inspire and equip. We are honored to be part of a growing global movement of believers who are using their lives to make a difference at work.

7M-pact is an expression of IHOPKC, serving the broader body of Christ all over the world to impact the seven spheres of society through the marketplace.

There have been times throughout history when we as believers must expand our paradigm to embrace what God is doing

Pastor and Experiencing God author Henry Blackaby believes strongly in God's activity in the workplace.

"God is marshalling His people in the workplace as never before in history," Blackaby says. "God is up to something. The next spiritual awakening could take place in the marketplace."

Something is happening among believers all over the world. There is a yearning in their hearts for more. God is awakening men and women to see His purpose in their work.

The problem is, many in the workplace never hear teaching on the holiness of work and the role of the marketplace priest. As ministry leaders, we can help marketplace believers understand their spiritual significance in the workplace. They need to know they are in the perfect place to be a world changer as a part of God's plan right where they are.

You'll remember in history that Martin Luther codified and nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church, questioning the practice of paid indulgences to the church to absolve the common man of sin at a time when history was ripe for reformation. It changed the world.

The good news is that we are not subject to the restrictions in church history that existed in the days prior to the Reformation; but we do have modern-day paradigms that we have allowed to strangle the witness of those in the marketplace.

Today, it's a Martin Luther moment in history, when the church has the opportunity to embrace a new theology of work.  


Linda Fields is the founder and CEO of 7M-pact (7M-pact.org) IMPACT Your Sphere of INFLUENCE: Bringing God's Presence in the Workplace, Find Your Why Forward and other resources.



5 Proclamations for Christians at Work

1) Work matters: All work is holy, and my work matters to God.
I believe God cares about work and is present in my work. I am hopeful about and thankful for the calling I have in my workplace assignment. I accept this calling as a holy assignment (Prov. 29:18).

2) Prayer works: I will pray and engage with the holy in my work.
I will ask God for spiritual insights and blueprints for my work. I will also pray with others for the marketplace in my city to be transformed.

3) I have the power to bless: I am a priest bringing blessing in the marketplace.
I will look for opportunities to bring God's presence to those in my spheres of influence. I will bless the individuals I encounter as small congregations spanning cubicles, companies and communities. I will seek to hear from God at work, carry out my work as holy and bring transformation in my workplace (1 Pet. 2:9).

4) I will embrace community: I will participate in and honor community with other like-minded believers to transform our world. I will seek out believers in gatherings such as small-group studies face to face or in online groups or conferences and to hear from others and share testimonies, building up a community to do the work on the front lines of society together (Eccl. 4:9-10, 12).

5) I will run hard after God: I am on the journey with God! As a believer in the marketplace, I am going on a journey to know my God and do great exploits with Him. I will run after Him, desiring to know my God better. I trust Him to empower me to do the exploits He has for me to bring heaven to Earth in my work (Dan. 11:32-33).

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webmaster@strang.com (Linda Fields) Evangelism Thu, 10 Mar 2016 22:00:00 -0500
3 Big Ideas to Help You Prepare for Easter http://ministrytodaymag.com/outreach/evangelism/22583-3-big-ideas-to-help-you-prepare-for-easter http://ministrytodaymag.com/outreach/evangelism/22583-3-big-ideas-to-help-you-prepare-for-easter

Easter is only about six weeks away. March 27 will arguably carry the greatest potential to reach the unchurched for Jesus over any other weekend the rest of the year.

Are you ready?

Practical questions to help you prepare:

1. What do you want to improve upon from last Easter?

2. Do you have the right people at the planning table?

3. What will your service times be?

4. What are the additional expenses for your Easter weekend?

5. Is your creative team well under way preparing worship, video, and other service elements?

6. Do you need any additional special musicians or singers? Special equipment?

7. How will you advertise?

8. How will you leverage social media?

9. How will you inspire your congregation to invite their friends?

10. What is your plan for fervent prayer for salvations?

11. How will you follow up with first-time visitors?

12. What is your follow-up plan for new Christians?

13. What is the topic or sermon series immediately following Easter?

Here are three big ideas to help you have a strong Easter:

Culturally Sensitive

This does not infer political positioning; it's about an awareness of current culture. What are the problems, events, stresses and social impacts that are on people's minds? How can you make the gospel relevant to the unchurched? Don't preach to Christians who could deliver the message themselves, in a language that only Christians can understand. Speak to those who are disenfranchised from the church or far from God.

Biblically Bold

Don't be timid when it comes to the message. People want to know what you believe, and they want to know you believe it! I'm not suggesting to preach louder because it's Easter. It is important, however, that you speak with conviction from your heart. Be bold. Sin is sin and eternity is a really long time. Heaven is just a much better choice! It's an amazing gift. People desperately need Jesus and you get to help lead the way.

Relationally Warm

People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. To be blunt, if your Easter guests are turned off by grumpy ushers, a messy and understaffed nursery, and cold cheap coffee, they won't hear one word of your message—and you won't see them until next Easter. It's important that your actions communicate that your guests are important. Let them know they matter. Talk with them, pray with them, laugh with them, and serve them well! Be real, be yourself, and put intentional effort into loving people!

Pray

I trust this is helpful to you but we all know that nothing trumps the power of prayer. You just can't start praying too early for God to do a great work on Easter!

Dan Reiland is the executive pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as executive pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as vice president of leadership and church development at INJOY.

For the original article, visit danreiland.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Dan Reiland) Evangelism Thu, 11 Feb 2016 13:00:00 -0500
How Much Does Evangelism Cost? http://ministrytodaymag.com/outreach/evangelism/22524-how-much-does-evangelism-cost http://ministrytodaymag.com/outreach/evangelism/22524-how-much-does-evangelism-cost

I believe one of the reasons so few churches engage in outreach is because they ask the wrong question. Too often, the first question asked is, "How much will it cost?" The right question is, "Who will it reach?"

How much is a soul worth? If you spend $100 on a Facebook ad that reaches one unbeliever for Christ, is it worth it?

If your church gets serious about developing a comprehensive evangelism strategy, it will cost money! With this in mind, let me share some insights about financing your strategy, based upon my experiences as Saddleback grew from four members to well over 20,000.

First, money spent on evangelism is never an "expense;" it's always an investment. The people you reach will more than repay the cost you invested to reach them. Before we held the first service of Saddleback, the people in our small home Bible study went about $6,500 in debt preparing for that service. Where did we get the money? We used our personal credit cards! We believed the offerings of the people we reached for Christ would eventually enable everyone to be paid back.

One of the "miracles" of our dress rehearsal service was that a man who had not attended our home Bible study came to that first service gave a check for a thousand dollars when we took the offering. After it was over, the woman in charge of counting the offering came up and showed me the check. I said, "This is going to work!" Sure enough, we paid everyone back within four months. (Please note: I'm not advocating that your church use credit cards to finance it! I'm just trying to illustrate how willing we were to pay the cost of reaching people for Christ.)

Often when finances get tight in a church, the first thing cut is the evangelism and advertising budget. That is the last thing you should cut. It is the source of new blood and life for your church.

Second, people give to vision, not to need.  If "need" motivated people to give, every church would have plenty of money. It is not the neediest institutions that attract contributions, but those with the greatest vision. Churches that are making the most of what they've got attract more gifts. That's why Jesus said, "It is always true that those who have, get more, and those who have little, soon lose even that" (Luke 19:26, LB).

If your church is constantly short on cash, check out your vision. Is it clear? Is it being communicated effectively? Money flows to God-given, Holy Spirit-inspired ideas. Churches with money problems really have a vision problem.

Third, when you spend nickels and dimes on evangelism, you get nickel and dime results. Do you remember the story about the time Jesus told Peter to go find money in a fish's mouth in order to pay the Roman taxes? In Matthew 17:27 (NIV) Jesus told Peter, "... go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin."

I believe there is an important lesson in that story: The coin was in the mouth of the fish! If you'll focus on fishing (evangelism), God will pay your bills!

Fourth, remember that "God's work done God's way will not lack God's support." This was the famous motto of the great missionary strategist, Hudson Taylor.

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times best-seller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

For the original article, visit pastors.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Rick Warren ) Evangelism Tue, 19 Jan 2016 13:00:00 -0500
9 Reasons Christians Don't Evangelize http://ministrytodaymag.com/outreach/evangelism/22392-9-reasons-christians-don-t-evangelize http://ministrytodaymag.com/outreach/evangelism/22392-9-reasons-christians-don-t-evangelize

I've been a professor of evangelism for almost 20 years. Over the years, I've continually considered and asked why most believers never do evangelism.

Here are nine of the reasons I've discovered, given in no particular order:

1. Many don't know what "evangelism" is. When doing church consulting, I ask believers to rate the evangelism in their church. It's not uncommon for me to hear answers like, "We send a lot of people on mission trips" or "we minister to the homeless downtown." Both of these ministries are significant (and would likely contribute to evangelism), but they're not evangelism unless the gospel message is proclaimed.

2. We have few evangelistic role models. Two men in my life modeled evangelism for me. In both cases, seldom was I with either man without his sharing the gospel with somebody. When I ask my students today about their models though, many have none.

3. Some church members aren't convinced about lostness. I encourage you to consider doing an anonymous theological survey of your church. I will not be surprised if you find folks who believe that good people might go to heaven apart from a relationship with Christ. Folks who believe that way see no need to do evangelism.

4. Some churches have provided no evangelism training. I am still surprised by the number of churches that have no intentional, strategic plan to help Christ followers do evangelism. Ideally, of course, believers will naturally talk about Jesus, but even passionate people sometimes need direction and equipping.

5. Fear of the unknown halts our efforts. You've probably heard fears expressed. "He might not listen to me." "What if doing this costs me my friend?" "She might ask me questions I can't answer. ... " "They might reject what I say." Most of these fears, I believe, are more perceived than real in North American culture, but perception matters.

6. We've "gotten over" our salvation. In some ways, this issue is the focus of my book, Nobodies for Jesus. When Jesus becomes routine to us—that is, our passion for Him has settled into mediocrity—we won't readily tell others about Him.

7. Pastors aren't taking the lead in evangelism. I cannot recall ever seeing a strongly evangelistic church led by a non-evangelistic pastor. The pastor who evangelizes regularly will speak more of his evangelistic experiences, challenge his church with more passion to evangelize, and assure his church provides evangelistic training.

8. We don't really know many lost people anyway. Many church members are so cocooned in the church world that they couldn't list several names of non-believers they know well. If our whole world revolves around hanging out with Christians, we're not likely to do evangelism.

9. We don't care about non-believers. I don't think we can avoid this possibility. If we truly believe that people need a personal relationship with Jesus, but we still keep that message to ourselves, how can we conclude otherwise?

What reasons would you add?

Be sure to check out Dr. Lawless' daily blog posts at www.chucklawless.com. Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on both Twitter and Facebook.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Chuck Lawless ) Evangelism Tue, 01 Dec 2015 22:00:00 -0500
The Motive Behind Your Great Commission Mission http://ministrytodaymag.com/outreach/evangelism/22209-the-motive-behind-your-great-commission-mission http://ministrytodaymag.com/outreach/evangelism/22209-the-motive-behind-your-great-commission-mission

God has given every believer, in every one of our churches, a mission—to go into the world and share the Good News about Jesus. Why? Why should we care enough about the people around us to tell them about how to get to heaven?

This can be a difficult concept to teach our congregations. How do we motivate them to take the Good News and share it with others? Here is something that might help.

The Bible—in 2 Corinthians 5:14—says: "For the love of Christ compels us" (NKJV). Our love for Jesus motivates us to fulfill our mission.

Everybody matters to God. God has never made a person that he didn't love. God made some people that I don't love, and God has made a lot of people that I don't even like.

But God loves them. The most despicable person you can imagine is still loved by God. And because God cares, we must care.

I once watched a televised interview with Jane Roe—of the famous Roe v. Wade abortion case. During the interview, she shared that she had become a believer in Jesus Christ. As she told her story, you could hear how her heart had been softened and she'd become a warm, caring, loving individual.

It dawned on me that one person who showed love and attention and shared the Good News with her—one loving relationship—in Jane Roe's life did what all the protests in the world had failed to do and that was to change her mind.

You don't change people by protests. You change them by love. Society is changed one life at a time. God has put specific people in your life that he expects you to share the Good News with. You're the only Christian some people know.

If the members of your congregation don't share the Good News, who will?

God will hold us responsible for the lives of the people he has put in our path to tell the Good News. Not just family, friends, and relatives, but all the people we come into contact with.

That might scare some of your church members."The Holy Sprit doesn't want you to be afraid of people but to be wise and strong and to love them and enjoy being with them. If you will stir up this inner power, you will never be afraid to tell others about our Lord." That Living Bible paraphrase from 2 Tim. 1:7-8 says the antidote to fear is love. The reason your church members don't share the Good News is that they don't love people enough to want to get them into heaven. If they loved them enough, they'd want to tell them the Good News.

If one of my kids were in a burning building, I wouldn't care how big the flames were—I'd go in after them. I wouldn't care if I got hurt. I wouldn't care if other people said I was crazy. I'd still go in! I'd grab my child and bring him out. I may be singed and burned. Then people would say, "You were brave!"  No, I wasn't brave or courageous or crazy. I was motivated by love.

When we finally love our family members enough, we'll have the courage to tell them about Jesus. It's not like we're trying to give them cancer! It's not like we're trying to sell them swampland in Florida or get them involved in some racket or scheme or con job. We're telling them the greatest news in the world—about forgiveness of the past, power and purpose in the present, and a home in heaven in the future. We can't get that deal anywhere else.

Many people in our congregations wonder how they should go about sharing their faith. You do it two ways: you've got to show it and share it.

Remember "show and tell" from your school days? That's what God wants us to do. He wants us to help others visualize it with our lives and verbalize it with our mouths.

If you've ever served on a jury or watched a case on television, you know that the number one tool of a defense attorney is to discredit the credibility of the witness. If he can do that, then the case is thrown out.

We've seen this over and over again. The witness turns out to be a drug addict or we discover he's lied in two previous experiences or he has the same problem himself.

Don't you think Satan is trying to do that with our members? He wants to discredit our lifestyle so other people will say, "If that's a Christian, forget it."

We can actually keep people out of heaven by the way we live. The fact is—you're being watched by your boss, your neighbors, your employees, your children, your relatives. Every conversation you have, every action you have, every word you speak has eternal implications.

That's an awesome responsibility!

I shudder thinking that one day someone might use my life as an excuse for saying no to Jesus. "I've seen how Warren lives. If that's a Christian, then forget it." I shudder to think of standing before God one day and explaining that somebody went to hell because of my example.

We need to show God's love and live in a way that brings credit to God's name. How we live is influencing where people will spend their eternity—heaven or hell.

I need to show the message, and I need to tell it. Colossians 4:5 says, "Make the most of your chances to tell others the Good News" (LB).

Some people say, "I don't need to tell people. My witness is my life."  Do you realize what an ego trip that is? Even Jesus had to tell them how to be saved and He was perfect.

They may not know why you're good. We say, "My witness is my life." That means you just walk in the room and people look at you and automatically fall on their face and repent and accept Christ. I doubt it!  We've got to tell them.

Our mission is the same mission regardless of where we are in the world. It is to invite people into God's family. I challenge you to challenge your church to get serious about sharing the Good News with the people God has put in their life.

Ask them, "Is anybody going to be in heaven because of you?"

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church. The Purpose Driven Church was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Rick Warren ) Evangelism Fri, 02 Oct 2015 18:00:00 -0400
Kenneth Copeland: 'They'll Never Be the Same' http://ministrytodaymag.com/outreach/evangelism/22067-kenneth-copeland-they-ll-never-be-the-same http://ministrytodaymag.com/outreach/evangelism/22067-kenneth-copeland-they-ll-never-be-the-same

Editorial note from Steve Strang: Kenneth Copeland's ministry began a few years before Charisma and by the time I wrote a cover story on his ministry in 1979 he was considered a successful up-and-coming ministry. His teaching on faith influenced me; I share that in the article.

In 1981, I was privileged to travel with him on his first international meeting to the Philippines. Although he received a prophecy that 50,000 would be saved, a total of only 34,000 people attended the eight-night crusade. Writing that was difficult because I couldn't ignore the obvious discrepancy; but, I also had great respect for Copeland's ministry. It's interesting to reread the article below after all these years, considering how it was prophesied that Copeland would be changed through the Manila trip. I believe he was.

In spite of what some might think was a critical report, Copeland and I have remained friends through the years and my respect for him has grown as I've seen the stability of his ministry and its great impact on the body of Christ.  

The article below originally appeared in the June 1981 issue of Charisma magazine. Begin reading here:

Kenneth Copeland wrote his supporters early this year that he was "expecting to win in excess of 50,000 people to Jesus" during his eight-day crusade in Manila in February.

It was to be the first major overseas crusade for Copeland's tremendously successful, though sometimes controversial, faith-teaching ministry.

In the past decade, Copeland has become one of America's foremost Bible teachers because of his special gift of helping people understand who they are in Christ, and how to exercise the faith God has given them as believers.

Each year, tens of thousands attend his twice-monthly Victory Crusades in major cities across America. The faithful pour millions of dollars into his ministry, supporting his daily 15-minute radio program, his weekly hour-long television program, buying his books, records and tapes by the thousands and reading his monthly publication, The Believers' Voice of Victory.

Copeland teaches that Christ redeemed man from the curse of the law which means, among other things, that all believers can live in divine health and can enjoy prosperity.

Copeland believes what he teaches. He is vigorous and looks younger than his 43 years. And he enjoys a comfortable lifestyle which includes flying to his meetings in America in his private jet (which is more economical and saves more time, he points out, than flying his large crusade team on commercial airlines).

But critics call his teachings "Cadillac prosperity." It's something that will work only in America because it is a prosperous nation. But what about the rest of the world? It won't work in third-world nations, they say.

I was invited to cover the eight-day crusade in Manila as a journalist. Copeland's staff members were excited about the meetings scheduled for the imposing Araneta Coliseum, site of Muhammad Ali's 1975 "Thrilla in Manila" boxing match, as well as one of the places where Pope John Paul II would celebrate mass during his historic visit to the Philippines only a few days after Copeland's visit.

They told me Copeland's meetings would be the greatest meetings ever in the Orient, the beginning of the greatest revival in the Philippines. So I went, my curiosity aroused, hoping for a good story.

I had written once about Copeland in Charisma (June, 1979). I have read his books, listened to his tapes and been influenced by his ministry. I wondered how he would be received in a non-American environment.

What I saw was an interesting blending—and clashing—of two cultures. But I saw that the Word of God works in Manila as well as Miami, as well in Luzon as in Los Angeles.

Copeland's ministry (after a slow start) was well received by the Filipinos who eagerly grasped—some for the first time—the faith message that they have authority as believers.

Many testified they'd never be the same. Copeland's message gave them something to hold on to after he left. In faith, I am sure, the Philippine Islands will never be the same because of the seeds of faith that were planted.

While the Filipinos changed and grew because of the faith message, I watched—close-up—a change in Copeland and his ministry team. They were deeply moved by what they experienced in Manila. And as Copeland's director of publications George Pearsons told me, Copeland's ministry will never be the same either.

Interestingly, this is what Oral Roberts prophesied several months before the Manila crusade. He was at a Kenneth Hagin camp meeting in Tulsa where Copeland had been ministering on "change."

Roberts then rose and prophesied over Copeland: "The word 'change' that you used tonight over and over 'you're going to be changed. You're going to be changed. You won't be the same,' you were speaking to yourself."

"You didn't choose to go to Manila," Roberts continued. "Forces came together and called you. The Spirit called you through these people and you said, 'Me, go to Manila?' Yes. The Spirit is speaking to you but we must envelope you with the very anointing and power of God or you won't come back. Something is going to happen over there. I'm burning up with it ... ."

Then Roberts asked Kenneth Hagin and T. L. Osborne to pray over Copeland, which they did, finally sensing a "break­ing" of the thing Roberts said he felt in his spirit needed to be broken.

Copeland responded, "I commit, in the name of Jesus, that I will not withdraw from any man, beast, nor devil. And I re-declare we will win a minimum of 50,000 souls to Jesus in eight days. The nation of Manila (sic) will come to the Lord and be broken to its knees in repentance ... ."

Copeland had been feeling the Lord wanted him to minister overseas, but he didn't know how. He sought out Lester Sumrall of South Bend, Indiana, who has had great success overseas as well as in America. Copeland and his wife, Gloria, went to South Bend and after ministering in Sumrall's church asked to be anointed for overseas ministry.

Sumrall anointed him, then prophesied over him. Copeland meanwhile went down "under the power."

A few months later when Sumrall was in Manila, he rented the Araneta Coli­seum and arranged for the Copeland meetings to be sponsored by Bethel Tem­ple, a great church in downtown Manila. Bethel Temple founded by Sumrall back in the early 1950s, is pastored now by Lester's nephew David Sumrall. Later, Lester Sumrall organized a tour of 225 Christians—including me—who accompanied Copeland to the meetings.

Meanwhile, Copeland raised $140,000 from his USA supporters and got his thousands of people to promise to pray for the meetings. In a letter to his donors Copeland repeated the prophecy he made at the camp meeting that the eight-day crusade would result in more than 50,000 people finding Christ.

He sent Associate Billy Rash to Manila two months ahead of time. Rash sent back reports of a woman who had been blind for years receiving her sight in a meeting they held in Manila. He told Copeland to expect even greater things.

By the afternoon before the crusade began, Copeland told me his faith was even stronger. There would be 50,000 saved not in eight days, but in the first two nights alone.

The Copelands went to Manila a day early, because their friend Dr. James E. Johnny Johnson, former Un­der-Secretary of the Navy in the Nixon administration, had arranged an audience with Ferdinand Marcos, president of the Philippines (Johnson had been sta­tioned at one time at Subic Bay outside Manila, and was personal friends with President Marcos).

They talked with Marcos for 45 min­utes about various things—especially the new Reagan administration which had been in office just a few days. Then John­son asked the President if Copeland could pray for him.

Copeland told President Marcos, "I believe the greatest thing we can do for you is to pray that God will sustain you in your high office and enable you to admin­ister it as God's gift."

Interestingly, Copeland didn't share in the meetings about his visit with Marcos. It was too personal, Copeland said.

The 225 English-speaking people on the tour paid $1,500 each to be a part of the crusade. The group did some sight­seeing, stopping overnight in Tokyo on the way over, and in Honolulu on the way back. But mainly they came to Manila to help Copeland minister.

Most of the people were Americans. The rest were from Canada, New Zealand, Scotland and Australia.

Many in the group were ministers and wives, who took opportunities to preach in various parts of the Philippines. Oth­ers went into the slums of Manila to hand out thousands of small fliers in English by Kenneth Copeland on topics like "Prayer That Brings Results."

One group of ministers—Ed Dufresne, Happy Caldwell, Wylie Tomlinson, Sam Carr, Jerry Wright, Bill Grein and Jerry Curtis—went to various parts of Manila including a place called Tondo, trans­lated meaning "where the garbage is laid."

The tour members who visited the poverty-stricken areas or who ministered to the Filipinos said they were deeply moved by the experience. Many said they'd never be the same. Most said they wanted to come back.

But others on the tour spent their days shopping, taking bus tours to points of interest in Manila or attending two daily teaching sessions at Manila Bethel Tem­ple held in conjunction with the Cope­land Victory Crusade. Gloria Copeland taught each morning on healing; Lester Sumrall taught each afternoon on faith.

When asked to hand out tracts or min­ister in Manila's slums, some in the tour group declined, saying they preferred to get "the teachings," an attitude that irri­tated the ones who had been touched by the need for ministry in Manila.

Every morning at breakfast, I'd pick up the latest stories about what the tour members were doing. My favorite was from an attractive middle-aged American lady who spent several days sunning at a Filipino resort for the very rich several hours north of Manila on the China Sea. She had some connections with the fam­ily of the first president of the Philip­pines. This family was her host at the resort.

She met there a handsome young de­scendent of the former president, whom she felt should be a future president of the Philippines. She asked if she could anoint him with oil. She told me later she felt like Samuel sent by God to anoint Saul for kingship.

Copeland asked to meet with the tour group in the Manila Hilton where we stayed the afternoon before the meetings began.

"We didn't put together this tour for sightseeing," Copeland told them. "This is a team to witness and pray and to bring the power of God to bear on what will come about." Then, he and Gloria, along with Lester Sumrall, laid hands on each of us to impart—as Copeland put it—"the same anointing to heal the sick and perform miracles that he had." As he touched us, several people went down "under the power."

Then, Sumrall interpreted a message in tongues: "These meetings are of Me, saith the Lord. I will bless them. You shall bless the Filipino people and cause faith to raise up."

A woman from Jacksonville, Florida, stood and said, "We love you Kenneth and Gloria. We're standing with you; you won't be ashamed of us. We believe we're standing on the brink of destiny."

A few hours later, some may have won­dered if she was right.

The 225 tour members were ushered that evening to the front center section of the mammoth 370,000 square-foot coliseum designed to seat 24,000. Many had expected the place to be packed. After all, more than 400,000 leaflets had been dis­tributed. There had been announce­ments on Manila television stations.

And, a large ad that morning in the leading Manila newspaper advertised the meetings with a headline that read: "Je­sus is Lord of the Philippines. Kenneth Copeland Victory Crusade. Feb. 1-8, 7:00 p.m. Araneta Coliseum, Quezon City, Philippines. Preaching. Music. Miracles. The public is invited. All seats free ... ."

But the place wasn't full that night. There were only 4,183 by actual count at the gates by the coliseum superintend­ent.

Copeland told me later he was stunned at the poor turnout.

After all, previous meetings had drawn tens of thousands dating back to the early 1950s. For example, in 1955, Oral Roberts held meetings in which 40,000 people re­portedly attended every night for six weeks. Local radio stations carried daily reports and then President Magsaysay reportedly told Roberts the only answer for the Philippines was Christ.

Three years earlier, in 1952, Lester Sumrall had held his first great meeting in Rizal Stadium sponsored by Youth for Christ. Hundreds were saved that year.

Out of these huge meetings many Full Gospel churches like Sumrall's Bethel Temple were started.

Later, men like Rex Humbard, Ernest Angsley and Jimmy Swaggart drew tens of thousands when they went to Manila. Ironically Swaggart supporters were handing out fliers promoting Swaggart meetings to be held six weeks later as people left Copeland's services.

But Copeland's initial service was any­thing but a success. The arena was 84 percent empty. His prophecy of seeing 50,000 won to Christ in two days was ob­viously wrong. What now?

If Copeland was disappointed, it didn't show. He sang several upbeat songs with his band backing him up, and told the Filipinos the meetings were "a love gift from your brothers and sisters in the United States" (which brought applause).

He thanked the Filipino people for "re­leasing your faith, along with the body of Christ in the United States concerning the release of the hostages" in Iran, only two weeks before.

Then he prayed for the nation and gov­ernment of the Philippines, interceding for President Marcos, his wife and high government officials. Copeland preached that night a powerful message on "Jesus the Jubilee," from Luke 4.

"Jesus was telling the sick people they did not have to be sick any longer. He was telling the blind they did not have to be blind anymore," Copeland said. "To the brokenhearted He was saying, 'You don't have to be brokenhearted.' To the cap­tives He was saying, 'I've come to set you free.' The Jubilee has come and His name is Jesus!"

After preaching for 45 minutes, Cope­land seemed unsure how to end the serv­ice. Seriously ill people already had been brought to the front of the coliseum to be prayed for.

Then, like Kathryn Kuhlman used to do at her miracle services, Copeland be­gan calling out illnesses and healings: A ruptured right eardrum is healed; a bad throat is better; someone's back is healed; lungs are being healed. So are nerves.

Copeland asked those who had been healed to come forward.

No one responded.

Copeland then asked the people to be­gin praising God.

He finally asked the tour members to spread out in the crowd and pray for people.

The tour members were eager. They spread among the Filipinos and began praying in groups of two or three. A few began casting out demons and shouting at illnesses.

One 6-foot, 200-pound American preacher pounded with one hand on the back of a 5-foot Filipino man, while waving the other hand wildly over his head.

Minutes passed as these mini-healing services took place throughout the coli­seum. Copeland seemed awkward. Fi­nally, he said "no one get nervous. We're just going to follow God."

Just then, someone rolled an ema­ciated-looking 30-year-old Filipino man to the edge of the platform. Copeland leaned over the edge of the platform, laid his hand on the head of the man and shouted, "In Jesus' name, be healed!"

The man slowly pushed himself to the edge of the high-back wooden wheel­chair, braced himself with both arms and laboriously raised himself. He took four or five halting steps forward and caught himself on the edge of the platform.

The crowd went wild. People began praising the Lord, yelling and clapping.

But it was obvious the man was expe­riencing excruciating pain. Before the man collapsed, Copeland rebuked pain, and let him return to his wheelchair.

When Copeland asked Gloria and Sumrall to form three healing lines in front of the platform it looked as if half the crowd came forward for healing.

After everyone was prayed for, Cope­land led those who wanted to be saved in a sinner's prayer, prayed for marriages to be restored, and prayed for the unem­ployed to find jobs. Everyone applauded. (Unemployment is a problem in the Phil­ippines where the average daily wage is the equivalent to $4 a day.)

Then, to the strains of "How Great Thou Art," the meeting abruptly ended. Copeland hurried to a waiting car.

Meanwhile, I had worked my way through the crowd to the man in the wheelchair. His name was Romeo R. Pakingan and he had been operated on three times for malignant tumors. He told me through an interpreter the doctors hadn't given him long to live, but he believed he had been healed.

Later in the week I saw him in the meetings again still in his wheelchair. There was no obvious indication of healing.

I had watched the faces of the people as Copeland prayed for Mr. Pakingan, ex­tending their hands toward him to show their faith. They strained to join their faith with Copeland's, wanting so much to see a miracle happen, wanting so much to see the man be healed.

If the people were disappointed, they weren't half as much as Copeland.

Copeland told me en route back to America that he was discouraged after that first meeting. He had been advised by many not to offend cultural sensitivi­ties and felt he could not be himself.

He said his ministry differs from other American evangelists who rented the Araneta. Yet a platform, complete with cen­ter ramp, had been built so the miracle cases could be paraded before the admir­ing crowd as some evangelists like to do.

That isn't his style. So Copeland se­questered himself in his hotel room and sought God on what to do. The next night the long ramp was gone.

"I really admire him for sticking with it after such a dismal start," said David Sumrall, pastor of Bethel Temple who drove Copeland back to the hotel after that first service.

"He didn't say anything negative about how he felt," Sumrall said. "But I saw his face. I could see how low he was. A lesser man would have given up and gone home right then. He saw he had to change. He did the things he felt he had to do. It took a big man to do that."

If there weren't enough problems al­ready, David Sumrall began getting neg­ative comments about the tour members' behavior in the meeting. Apparently they were not sensitive to the Filipino culture.

Some Filipinos resented that the for­eigners were ushered to positions of honor front and center in the coliseum, while the Filipinos had to sit in the grand­stands behind them. Others said the tour members were too rough when they prayed for people the night before. A few had pushed over the smaller Filipinos in their zeal to lay hands on them or to see them "go down under the power."

David Sumrall asked to talk to the tour members the next day. "These are a gentle people who love to love and love to be loved," he said. "Speak gently to them and with the love of God. Reach out. Peo­ple respond to love. It is still the same in any language. Just smiling under the anointing will cause burdens to break. Mingle with the people. Get in the middle of them."

His talk seemed to work. The tour members quit sitting together. They be­came more aware they were guests in an­other country. They developed a rapport with the Filipinos. By the final night, hundreds of Filipinos crowded the bus stop outside the coliseum to wave goodbye to their new friends as they were taken back to the hotel.

Filipinos are generally pro-American. President Marcos is one of the United States' greatest allies in the Orient.

They wear American-style casual clothes. They listen to American music and watch American television reruns. When I was there, the big rage was disco dancing—something John Travolta made popular over here a few years ago.

English is a major second language taught to all Filipino students in second­ary school. Almost all commerce, and all street signs or products in stores are in English.

However, this proud nation has nine major languages and 90 dialects al­though the government is trying to make Tagalog the national language. The sen­sitive evangelist understands and does not try to force American culture, cus­toms or language on the people.

But Copeland's meetings were held en­tirely in English, except for songs he sang in Tagalog. I couldn't understand why the meetings were not translated—especially when Lester Sumrall told me this was the first evangelistic crusade con­ducted in Manila without an interpreter. Maybe it was because each meeting was televised for possible rebroadcast in the United States.

Even though most of the people who came to the meetings could understand English, Sumrall told me at least 10 per­cent of the people could understand nothing that was said. Another large per­centage couldn't speak English well enough to understand much of what was said.

When I tried to interview Filipinos, I had difficulty communicating unless I was with an interpreter who spoke Tagalog.

(Interestingly, en route back to the United States, Copeland told me of an un­confirmed report he received from Billy Rash, his associate. Rash said a woman told him that her elderly mother who spoke no English understood none of the service until Copeland began to preach, then she understood everything per­fectly. "That's just like the Day of Pente­cost," Copeland said.

Copeland told me that story sitting in Narita Airport outside Tokyo waiting for a connecting flight. Dressed casually in white slacks and a blue knit shirt, Cope­land admitted he felt weary after the eight-day crusade—like air let out of a balloon.

Seated in a Japan Airlines waiting area, Copeland and Gloria shared their feelings about the crusade.

"I found out I had to believe God for things I didn't know I'd have to believe God for," Copeland said, lightly tapping the plastic arm of his chair for emphasis.

"I had to just lock myself up in prayer and find out what God wanted me to do. And, I had to fight discouragement over the size of the crowds. But then I saw that God was bringing together a nucleus of 2,000 or so who were there every night. I saw that they were taking the Word and that it will last, and that they will take it all over the islands.

"Finally, I got with the program and flowed with what the Spirit of God was doing," Copeland said.

The breakthrough Copeland was refer­ring to seemed to come the night he sang, "He Is Lord," in Tagalog. Then, another night he sang in English "God Bless the Philippines" (to the tune of 'God Bless America," with a few word changes). Simple gestures, both of them. But they had the same emotional impact that John Kennedy's did when he stood at the wall separating East and West Germany and said "Eich Bin Ein Berliner" (I am a Ber­liner) in the early 1960s.

Copeland was saying, in essence, "I am a Filipino."

As the days passed Copeland discov­ered that in spite of language barriers and cultural barriers he could minister the Word as much as he does in the United States.

"We thought it would be different than ministering at home," he said. "But the Lord had us do here what we do at home, and that is just teach the Word. It was exciting to see the way the people received it."

Copeland told me he thought the most important thing he did in the Philippines was to plant an "indestructible seed."

"The people were ready for the Word," he said. "We gave them a heavier Word than I expected. I believe it was the seed to a great revival in the Philippines that will eventually break out like it did in In­donesia a few years ago."

Copeland seemed to understand that something else had happened.

"The testimonies of the people were so wonderful," he said. "Almost every­one referred to something they'd been taught."

Copeland was referring to Saturday night when Gloria stood in front of the platform and interviewed people who said they were healed. It was an exciting time. The people were eager to hear of mira­cles. They cheered and praised God for each person, even for the ones whose healing was not made clear, but who seemed to only want to express their de­votion to the Lord.

When the testimonies began, I paid particularly close attention. I'd been watching for the miracles that all of us wanted to see. I had interviewed people on stretchers; people with seriously im­paired vision; people in wheelchairs. From what the people told me, no "miracles" had taken place (although many said they were somewhat improved, or that they believed in faith they were healed.)

As a Christian I believe healings must be accepted by faith. But as a journalist, I wanted healings I could document for this report.

Of the 25 people whom Gloria inter­viewed that night, three Americans said they had been healed of head colds or pressure in the head. Another American was healed of an inflamed knee. And three people—two Filipinos and one Ameri­can— were healed, they said, of emo­tional or nervous disorders.

There were several testimonies of healings of the eyes. One 89-year-old blind woman testified in Tagolog how she could see light for the first time in years. The crowd applauded time after time, al­though we foreigners didn't know what she said until it was translated into Eng­lish. It made us know what it felt like to not understand the language being spoken.

Another testimony was from a young Filipino girl whom I had inter­viewed two nights before, after she en­thusiastically claimed a miracle healing for congenital cataracts when Copeland touched her in the healing line. She told Gloria how much improved her vision was.

Three others said they broke or lost their glasses after claiming healing for nearsightedness or astigmatism. None said specifically they were healed, but each said they had no headaches, and they implied their eyes were healed.

Some of the healing testimonies were more specific—like the lady with only one kidney who had no kidney pain for the first time in years. Or the man who said he was healed of heart disease and ulcers.

Several people said Copeland had given a word of knowledge that they would be healed. One lady said she was healed of arthritis, and swung her arm over her head to prove it. Another was partially paralyzed when Copeland called out her healing. She said she stood to claim that healing.

As the people recited accounts of their healings I noticed comments about how the Lord had given them faith to claim their healings.

One lady said that the Lord "taught me healing comes from the moment you be­lieve."

But a young Filipino man who worked for the telephone company may have summed it up best: "I've been serving the Lord many years, but this is the only time I've really learned to have faith and to use it to reverse the power of Satan."

Later in Narita Airport, Gloria said those testimonies were the most important. "We feel like if we go into a place and leave the Word of God, then the people can stand on the Word themselves after we're gone."

One other thing seemed to emerge from the meeting. The times in which the Spirit of God moved in the strongest way was when the people ministered to each other.

Several times Copeland had the people lay hands on the person next to them and pray for salvation, healing or victory over the devil. Once he had the entire crowd pray four times for each of the people in front, in back and on each side of them.

Copeland and Gloria were both im­pressed with the openness of the Filipi­nos and how uninhibited they were in worship. Part of this is the influence, Copeland believes, of the Roman Catho­lic church (80 percent of all Filipinos are Catholic).

"The Catholic background is excel­lent," Copeland said. "They are taught to expect miracles and they are very obedi­ent. If you show them something out of the Bible, they don't question it; they move on it. That gives the Spirit of God all kinds of lateral ways to move."

Copeland referred to the strong Cath­olic influence in Manila on Thursday night when he spontaneously prayed for God to bless the upcoming visit of Pope John Paul II about which all of Manila was talking.

His prayer was a beautiful intercession for the Lord to move through John Paul II—whom Copeland called a "man of God."

Why had he prayed for the Pope, I asked Copeland at Narita Airport.

"Obviously because God wants the Pope prayed for," Copeland answered. "There's so much criticism of the Pope. I wanted to show that you won't get anywhere crit­icizing. Besides, the Lord was teaching those people that they had the authority and had a right to pray for the Pope and that they were not subordinate to him.

"Many consider themselves so far in­ferior to the Pope or even a priest that they would never consider praying for him. It's almost as if they were to pray for God. I wanted them to see that their prayers for the Pope had meaning."

Then Gloria added, "Many of the peo­ple told us that now that they see who they are in Christ, they'll never be the same."

"That's just what Oral Roberts pro­phesied," Kenneth Copeland said.

It would be easy to end the article here. I have reported what happened, and I've left it up to the reader to draw his own conclusions.

But there is more that needs to be written. Therefore, here is my evaluation of what happened in Manila:

First, I believe Kenneth Copeland is a man of God. I believe he is doing what he believes God wants him to do. I respect that.

I also believe that despite the tremen­dous success of his ministry that God is forcing him to change.

Thus, the Manila meeting may have indeed been a watershed—not only for the Filipinos as was prophesied, (for they have been bombarded across the years by many American evangelists), but for Kenneth Copeland and his team.

Copeland prophesied there would be 50,000 souls saved during the campaign (later revising that to 50,000 the first two nights). But the coliseum superintend­ent told me the total count for the com­bined meetings was only 34,453.

Copeland explained after the trip that his "faith is still out for those people." He believes that the 50,000 have been or will be saved when you combine the ministry that went on among the various groups involved—the tour members, the mem­bers of Bethel Temple, the teams that went into various parts of Manila witness­ing and passing out tracts.

I can accept that because I understand operating in faith.

Yet that is not what was said ahead of time. It's easy to come back and say that seeds were planted. But they said they were going to reap the harvest—not plant seeds.

Because I believe Kenneth Copeland is a man of deep integrity, I know he will not try to alter facts to fit his theology. Instead, I believe what Oral Roberts pro­phesied will come to pass—Copeland will change.

I believe the Manila experience will deepen him, will give him new and greater insight into God's purpose for the universe.

I do not believe he will do as so many others have done—bend or discount the truth so he will come out smelling good. I believe the truth will do to him what it does eventually, to all men of God—make him free.

Those are my conclusions from Ma­nila. Time will prove, as it does with all prophecy, whether I am right or not.

In the meantime, keep your eye on Kenneth Copeland. God's not finished with him yet.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Steve Strang) Evangelism Wed, 05 Aug 2015 20:00:00 -0400
BILL BRIGHT: The Great Commission http://ministrytodaymag.com/outreach/evangelism/22060-bill-bright-the-great-commission http://ministrytodaymag.com/outreach/evangelism/22060-bill-bright-the-great-commission

This command known as the Great Commission motivated the apostles to turn the first-century world upside down and changed the course of history. And it applies to us as well as to them.

It is not wishful thinking to suggest that our 20-century world can be changed in the same sense that the first century-world was turned upside down. When individuals are chanted in sufficient number, homes and communities will be changed. Cities, states and nations of the world will feel the impact of the transformed lives of the men and women who have been introduced to Jesus Christ.

When John Wesley and his colleagues were raised up of God to preach the Good News of christ in England, they were confronted with a skeptical clergy and an immoral and spiritually decadent people. Yet within the lifetime of Wesley and many of his co-workers, England was so transformed by the power of God that many historians recorded the dramatic changes. William Green referred to England as one great sanctuary—a land of worship. Out of the great spiritual awakening in which hundreds of thousands of lives were transformed by the living Christ, England experienced a new spiritual birth.

I believe our nation can experi­ence today the same transforming grace of God that England experi­enced in Wesley's time, if Christians take the command of our Lord seri­ously.

But we must stop "playing church" while our world is aflame. We are like men who are straighten­ing pictures on the walls of a burning house. We are dealing with peripheral issues while it is the hearts of men that need to be changed. The problems of evil that are threatening to engulf humanity can be solved only in Jesus Christ, and He has commanded His disci­ples to go and tell His message everywhere.

There are three good reasons why we must go.

First, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, has commanded us to go.

Second, men are lost without Christ. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes unto the Father but by me."

That sounds narrow, doesn't it? But it is what Jesus said. Men are spiritually lost and helpless without Christ. The Bible says of Jesus, ... "there is no other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

The third reason why we should go is that the Holy Spirit has created a great hunger for Christ in the hearts of multitudes. Millions of people are waiting to receive Christ. Many Christians hesitate to believe this. But the Word of God and my experience have proved it to be true.

Some years ago I had the remarkable opportunity to substitute for the vice president of the United States at a speaking engagement which he was unable to fill because of an international emergency. I was invited to speak to a large student convention, attended by the top leaders of 133 colleges and universities. I spoke on the subject "Qualities of Leadership," using Jesus, the greatest leader the world has ever known, as my example.

When I finished, there was a standing ovation—not you may be sure, for the speaker, but for the One about whom I spoke. Scores of these students stood in line for almost an hour to express their appreciation, and many of them indicated their interest in knowing Christ personally. Several received Christ as their Savior as a result. Yes, men are hungry for God.

Yet, if you are typical of the majority of Christians today, you probably have never introduced anyone to Christ. You would like to do so, however, and you know in your heart that this is what God has called you to do. What is the problem?

It is largely twofold. First, the average Christian does not know how to live a victorious, vital Spirit-controlled life; and second, the average Christian does not know how to effectively communicate his faith in Christ to others.

I would like to share with you a scriptural formula that can change your life. I can assure you that, if you follow this formula, you will experience an abundant life and will be fruitful for God in a way that you have never before known.

First, be sure that you are committed to Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit. Millions of people who are active in the church are not sure that they are Christians. There are also thousands of guilt-ridden, carnal Christians who have become so frustrated and off-course that God can­not use them. In each case, there is a lack of faith or trust in God. Basically, the average Christian does not believe that God will do what He promises to do.

Second, pray in faith that God will guide you in developing your personal strategy. Ask God for an effective strategy to reach your immediate area of influence for Christ. You do not have to design your own strategy—you are simply discovering the plan that God has already designed!

Jesus was a perfect example. While on earth He discussed every major decision and turning point in His life with His heavenly Father. And remember, as you pray, expect God to provide both the strategy and the wisdom to implement it. Expectant faith pleases God.

Third, outline the plan God reveals in answer to your prayers. Make lists of specific people and groups in your life and develop a strategy to reach each one. Begin with your family. Remember that in your home—more than in any other place—your life will be your testimony. Trust God continually to fill you with His Spirit, so that your actions will bear witness to what Jesus has done in your life.

Plan how you can reach the people with whom you work. Seek out those you know are Christians, and ask them to join with you in evangelizing your office. In your church, make yourself available to your pastor.

Fourth, learn everything you can about how to accomplish your personal strategy. Take advantage of the training and materials available to learn the techniques of winning men to Christ, building them in the faith and sending them to the world with the Good News of God's love and forgiveness.

May I encourage you to write out your own personal strategy today. List people with whom God has impressed on your mind and heart to share Christ. This is spiritual addition. For spiritual multiplication, list people you would like to train how to experience and share the abundant life in Christ with others.

Finally—and this is an absolute must—give your attention to aggressive evangelism! Take the initiative in helping to fulfill the Great Commission where you live. Claim your relatives, friends, neighbors and business associates for Christ in prayer. Then, present His claims to them. Tell them of God's love and forgiveness, available through Jesus Christ. Give them opportunity to receive Him. Share your faith as a way of life—talk about Christ with everyone you meet.

Do you believe that if you follow this scriptural formula you will consistently have the privilege of introducing others to Christ through your witness? I can assure you that following it will enable you and every Christian to be fruitful for God as a way of life. This life on earth offers no other adventure that can compare to that of sharing Christ with others and building disciples for Christ and disciplers of men.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Bill Bright) Evangelism Mon, 03 Aug 2015 18:00:00 -0400