Mark D. Roberts

Mark D. Roberts


Practical Questions and Answers About the Missional Church

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Part 16 of series: The Mission of God and the Missional Church
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1. “I could get pretty excited about being a part of God’s mission in the world. But, frankly, I’m overwhelmed already. I’ve got way too much to do right now. What should I do?”
For most of us, involvement in the mission of Christ will alter our life priorities. If we are going to invest our time and energy in God’s work, we can’t continue to do all of the other things we have been doing. We’ll need to make new choices in light of new values.
This process of reevaluation happens best in a community of Christians who are asking the same kinds of questions as you are. Question #1 would be a great discussion starter in a small group. In time, God will make his priorities for your life clear as you seek his will together with other believers.
That last sentence is so important. As a Christian, you have acknowledged Jesus as Lord and are committed to seek his will for your life. You live now under the reign of God. God will guide you into a new way of living as you seek him. In addition to sharing your quest for guidance with other believers, I’d urge you to ask God directly. The Holy Spirit dwells within you, not only to empower you for mission, but to make clear where in God’s mission you belong.
Beware of the tendency, however, to get overly involved in worthy Christian causes without giving up other activities. Well-meaning believers can exhaust themselves by taking on more than God intends for them at one time.
2. “Even though you talk about ‘just being honest,’ I’m still not comfortable with the idea of sharing my faith with others. What would you suggest to help me get started?”
Years ago someone admitted to me, “Evangelism is such a pain. It just makes me feel guilty. I wish I didn’t have to think about it.” As I reflected upon his confession, I framed a simple model for getting started in sharing Christ. I called it the “P.A.I.N.S. of Evangelism.” If evangelism is such a pain, then let’s go with that idea! You can begin to share your faith with others by doing the following:
Prayer. Since evangelism is primarily God’s work, begin by praying. Confess your hesitations and fears to God. Ask him to give you courage. Ask for a wide open door to share your faith with someone. Pray for those in your life who don’t know the Lord. If you pray faithfully, God will use you. (We could almost stop here, but a “P” model for faith-sharing wouldn’t be too compelling!)
Availability. If you are available, God will use you. As you pray, tell the Lord that you are open to be used to share the good news. Then, as you go about your normal business, remain available. God will sometimes give you a chance to share when you least expect it.
Invitation. Don’t panic! I’m not using the word “invitation” in the technical sense, to describe what Billy Graham does after delivering an evangelistic message. Rather, I’m encouraging you to invite people to gatherings where they will hear the good news. You may feel insecure about your ability to summarize the gospel message, but you can certainly invite a friend to church, or to a Promise Keepers gathering, or to a women’s Bible study, or to a retreat, and so forth. I have seen many tongue-tied Christians help lead a friend to Christ simply by inviting that friend to a place where someone else does most of the talking about Jesus.
Neighborliness. Scripture teaches you to love your neighbor as yourself. If you keep this in mind, God will open up opportunities for you to speak easily about Jesus. Moreover, your love will pave the way for a open-minded hearing of what you have to say.
Sharing. When God opens a door, walk through it. In an honest and humble way, simply share with people your faith in Christ. You don’t have to preach. You don’t have to pretend to be the Bible Answer Man. Simply explain what Jesus means to you and how he has enabled you to be reconciled to God. As you share, the Spirit will help you.



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real live preacher

posted September 13, 2007 at 10:34 am


I describe my own life here. If I’m so wrapped up in my American life of work, money, children, possessions, etc. So much so that a serious Christian mission seems beyond me, then my mistake was made back down the road a ways. I never should have let myself become that busy.



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ChrisB

posted September 13, 2007 at 1:07 pm


I’m so glad you followed “invitation” with “sharing.” Too many believers today think they’ve fulfilled their duty to their neighbor’s soul when they’ve asked him to church or a concert. I don’t want to denigrate inviting people to church — if they hear the gospel there, great! But we should all be able to articulate the gospel to those who need to hear it.



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ChrisK

posted September 13, 2007 at 3:51 pm


Please forgive my naiveness as a non-Christian, but just who are you looking for in evangelism? (Just because I’m a paranoid agnostic doesn’t mean you’re really not out to get me:-) I mean, let’s say you’re a good evangelical Christian in a student dormitory, and you know there’s a couple Jews in one room, a few atheists down the hall, a Muslim on the second floor, a couple Catholics, and a few LDS kids somewhere else, plus a couple guys that are going to another Presby church you know of in another town. Would you start with one group or another? Would you say, “Boy, I have my work cut out for me here!”? Or would you totally not even think about a preference of whom to start with first?
I’m sincerely curious. Thank you, my Christian friends here.



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Mark D. Roberts

posted September 14, 2007 at 1:39 am


ChrisK: I envision a society in which I, as a Christian, might share my faith with all of the above, in no particular order or priority, but as we got to know each other and talked about our lives. I would expect to here from others their beliefs as well. In the context of open, two-way conversation, we’d all be challenged to learn, grow, stretch, clarify, perhaps even to change some fundamental beliefs. We’d also learn to understand each other better and to offer mutual respect. I know this sounds idealistic, but I’ve experienced this very thing in many situations. Among my college roommates, for example, I talked pretty openly about my faith. I don’t think any were offended. In the end, one out of ten decided to become a Christian. The others, including two Jews, remained as they were. Yet we were good friends in spite of, and in some ways because of, our differences.



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ChrisK

posted September 14, 2007 at 6:56 am


Mark, good answer, especially re: “In the context of open, two-way conversation, we’d all be challenged to learn, grow, stretch, clarify, perhaps even to change some fundamental beliefs. We’d also learn to understand each other better and to offer mutual respect.”
I do think that’s an idealistic concept of “evangelism,” but well worth working towards as the model. To me you’re recommending a respectful exchange of core ideals. In that way, I suppose even an atheist in the conversation too is an evangelical—bringing his or her ideals to the table to share, and having those ideasl possibly being taken up by others.
Thank you.



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HenryH

posted September 14, 2007 at 4:48 pm


ChrisK said: “In that way, I suppose even an atheist in the conversation too is an evangelical—bringing his or her ideals to the table to share, and having those ideals possibly being taken up by others.”
I think this is important. Everyone has a “faith” in the sense that they believe something, whether that happens to be belief in one or more gods or belief in the absence of god(s) or even the belief that we’re all gods. Likewise, everyone is evangelistic in the sense that they would be happy if everyone else saw things the same way they see them. We’re all convinced of the truth of our beliefs and falsity of others (recognizing that most of use have at least some doubts).
One of the incredible benefits of a society that allows religious freedom is the ability to have the sort of respectful exchange of ideas without fear of physical, emotional, or mental violence. Sadly, not everyone (on any side of this) is willing to have these two-way discussions. Their goal is to convince and that’s the end of it. Sadly (further), the church has not always been a shining example of how this should work. I personally have failed and will almost certainly fail again and for that I’m sorry.
Yet while the compassion of the messenger can make the message more or less effective, it doesn’t change the truth underlying the message. If you (ChrisK) are right in what you believe, they you SHOULD convince us of it and if you care about us at all, you will do all you can towards that end. If, on the other hand, Christian beliefs are true, then Christians SHOULD do everything they can to convince you (and everyone else) of it.
I’m not sure what the point is that I’m trying to make. I sometimes get the feeling, though, that people who don’t want these respectful, two-way, exchanges of ideas are afraid their beliefs cannot stand up to the forum. To be honest, I think that’s why proselytizing is outlawed in so many countries.

HHH



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Jimmy Kinnaird

posted September 14, 2007 at 7:48 pm


Thanks for taking the time to produce an acrostic that helps process action steps in opening up a conversation. I myself experiment every day with the receptivity of people to myself and to the gospel using an acrostic FIRE. F is for Friend. I am making a friend, so I will ask questions and view them as a friend. I is important question. I like to ask them “What is the most important thing that has ever happened to you?” I really want to know what they value as important in thier life. Sometimes it’s Christ other times it is family or job or whatever is valuable to them. R is religious question, and E is eternal question. I have a full explanation on my site, but I really do like what you have done with this. It keeps reminding us to connect with others, even if it is a PAIN.



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at better than blank

posted September 22, 2007 at 1:28 am

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