How to Win Saints and Influence Pagans, Lesson 1

I know the title of this post is silly, but I like to keep my tongue firmly planted in cheek at all times. My final assignment for evangelism and apologetics was to create a three-part sermon series on e & a. I chose the above title for my assignment, but this lesson 1 is not what I wrote for the class.

Lesson 1: Minimize the amount of time you spend in church.

“What, what did she say?” I know you’re thinking, so I’ll say it again. If you want to really share the Gospel, minimize the amount of time you spend at church.

I don’t mean walk away from the Church or refuse to be a member of a church; I firmly believe those actions will do more harm than good in the long run. What I mean is to be very intentional about the time you spend at church as well as the time you spend away from it.

Think about it, by and large, who is in church week in and week out? Christians. When we pour all of our time into church activities and serving at church, we are saying “no” to spending our time and resources with people who are not part of the church. As my friend Josh likes to say, “When you say ‘yes’ to something, you’re saying ‘no’ to something else.” A lot of the people we know and love will never walk through the doors of a church, no matter how good the service is. Are we prepared to meet people where they are at and minister there, even if they never come to our church?

Serving at church is good; I believe we need to use our gifts to edify the body of Christ. Perhaps our level of serving at church needs to be examined, though. As I walked through my class, I realized how easy it is to have blinders on to the world outside of our church walls. Even churches that are extremely evangelistic, ironically, can keep us from taking personal responsibility for being salt and light.

If you don’t have time to have relationships–real ones–with people outside of the church, it’s bad. If you’re at church so much that you have no clue what people outside the church are seeing, hearing, thinking, and asking about God, it’s very bad.  If your serving at church is a smokescreen that allows you to avoid following the Great Commission personally, it’s a tragedy. All three of the above scenarios are very common.

I think about what kind of pastor I will be one day a lot. It’s easy to be idealistic at this point, but I truly hope to challenge people to minister beyond the church walls. I often wonder if God is calling me to work outside of the church, just so I can minister outside of the church walls.

I hope to be the kind of pastor who expects church members to rest from church activity, so that they can spend time in the world. I echo Jesus’ prayer on the night he was betrayed:

“I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one [while they remain in the world]…As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.”

Bottom line…to be light, you need to remain connected where there is darkness. I hear God saying that he’ll be with us in that darkness [“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”], so let’s get going already!

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