Friday, January 23, 2015

Book Review – All For Jesus

Winston Churchill once declared, “Study history, study history. In history lie all the secrets of statecraft.” The same may be said of church-craft as well. The study of Christ’s bride and her history will bring clarity and conviction in regards to the church’s present situation. All For Jesus, written by authors Robert L. Niklaus, John S. Sawin, and Samuel J. Stoesz, considers the work of God in the Christian and Missionary Alliance from 1873 until 1987. A wealth of knowledge from the past, ideas for today, and insight for the future is contained in this work.

The work is divided into four main sections which represent four periods in the history of The Christian and Missionary Alliance: Part One, Formulation, 1873-1881; Part Two, Formation, 1881-1912; Part Three, Redirection, 1912-1936; and Part Four, Acceleration 1936-1987. Highlights from each chapter in each of the four periods will be offered...

In the book’s Introduction, it is suggested that the reason for A. B. Simpson’s success, and the ensuing success of The Christian and Missionary Alliance, is primarily due to the gracious providence of God. The details that emerge over the following four sections give ample evidence of that truth. Truly, God deserves the glory for the work of the many godly men and women who helped propel this one-time alliance into the force for God’s kingdom that it has become.

Part One, entitled Formulation, deals with the pre-twentieth century years between 1873 and 1881. Beginning with the first chapter, The Louisville Experience, the authors begin a fairly detailed account of founder Simpson’s life and ministry. From 1873 until 1879 Simpson pastored in Louisville where ecumenicism and evangelism became two of his appreciated qualities. Just short of six years of ministry in Kentucky, Simpson would take a new direction.

Chapter Two provides a flashback into the earlier years of Simpson’s life in southwestern Ontario where he decided to pursue the ministry and where he met his wife, Margaret. He pastored in Hamilton, Ontario for eight years before leaving for Louisville.

Chapter 2 foundation years 1843 to 1873 Simpson grew up in southwestern Ontario as part of a strict religious family he had a crisis of health and a crisis of faith he decided to pursue the ministry – Simpson met his wife Margaret and became a successful preacher at Knox Presbyterian church in Hamilton after eight years of ministry he decides to leave Hamilton for Louisville

Chapter Three, The New York Pastorate, deals with the years he would move and work in New York City. This period, from 1879 through 1881, Simpson emphasized evangelism; evangelism in North America and a passion for evangelism to the ends of the earth. These years saw Simpson begin a missionary magazine, become convinced of divine healing, experience healing himself, and commit to see the gospel shared overseas. Part One finishes with Simpson resigning his pulpit in New York.

Part Two, chapters Four through Seven, leads the reader through the turn of the century and encompasses the years between 1881 and 1912. It titles the chapters The Gospel Tabernacle; The Two Alliances; The Missionary Explosion; and Changes, Crises, and Convictions.

Chapter Four regards Simpson’s endeavours at the Gospel Tabernacle where many of The Christian and Missionary Alliance’s long-running initiatives would begin. With the creation of this church also came the creation of evangelistic tent meetings, small group gatherings, a healing home, a missionary training college, a convention, and an orphanage. This work could not be locally contained, and it spilled over the border into Canada.

The Two Alliances, chapter Five, deals with four years beginning with 1886. It details the initiation of the two alliances which would later be joined to generate The Christian and Missionary Alliance. The Evangelical Missionary Alliance would be an organization focused on obedience to the Great Commission and in Simpson’s eyes, would speed up the day of the Lord’s return. The Christian Alliance would be a parent organization that would support the missionary effort. It would operate in North America, and give testimony to certain truths while encouraging like-minded believers to put truth into action and was to be a fellowship, and not a denomination.

The end of the nineteenth century is covered in Chapter Six. At this time, three churches identified officially with the Christian alliance: one in New York, one in Toronto, and one in Peterborough. These early churches would spearhead a missionary movement that would contribute to the provision of and for fifty-four missionaries in 1891 and thousands more in the years to come.

The final chapter of Part Two discusses the amalgamation of the two alliances in 1897, introduced in Chapter Six. It describes the continued growth of the fellowship in North America which was a result of, among other things, the steady advance of evangelism at home. Similarly, missionary work around the world continued to expand with missionaries penetrating Asian and South American countries. The charismatic movement, with its divisive teaching on tongues, was another issue the fellowship of growing churches had to deal with.

Part Three, labelled Redirection by the authors, deals with the early twentieth century and includes both World War 1 and the Great Depression. The next three chapters pertain to the working of God and God’s people in the years leading up to World War II.

The eighth chapter’s title indicates coming changes: Question of Succession. These years, 1912-1919 would see a new president take over for patriarch A. B. Simpson and would also see the passing of the man of God. World War I would impact the movement financially, resulting in a shortage of funds for the training institutes at home. However, work in the missionary fields forged ahead as churches committed to resourcing missionary work despite shortages. Paul Rader, arguably the Alliance’s greatest promoter, would become vice-president and the president after Simpson.

The years from 1919 to 1926 are summarized in Chapter Nine. President Rader would begin many new and different evangelistic strategies including the Tabernacle Strategy which saw cheap building quickly erected in order to hold evangelistic outreach. Rader was a controversial leader who was replaced by Frederic Senft when the former resigned.
Chapter 9 19-26

The years of the Great Depression saw another change in leadership with Harry Shuman becoming president at the death of Shuman. As with all institutions during this era, the depression caused financial distress for the Alliance. Once again, however, almost in denial of the reality, the Alliance’s work oversea continued even in light of the cash-strapped situation in North America. Shuman would lead the fellowship through these tumultuous years with an eye for the future. This chapter finishes Part Three.

With a nod to the world around it, Part Four is entitled Acceleration and encompasses the pre-war years, beginning in 1937, and finishes in the year 1987. Chapters Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen deal with an era of great change and great opportunity for The Christian and Missionary Alliance.

Before the second Great War, the Alliance’s jubilee celebration would occur in 1937. Chapter Eight details a fellowship of believers committed to seeing the gospel spread to the corners of the earth through evangelism. This commitment would be sorely tested in the coming years of conflict. Missionary endeavours and workers would experience, as a result of World War II, persecutions and martyrdoms, trials and tribulations, imprisonments and expulsions. Despite the varied difficulties, the work of the Alliance continued and was quickly restarted where it stopped in the years after the war. President Shuman, well into his seventies, would step down from his position as president in 1954.

Chapter Twelve deals with the presidency of Harry Turner who would oversee the Alliance through the years in which North American church growth would become a major emphasis. President Nathan Bailey, elected in 1960, would see this trend continue. He would also see the emergence of A. W. Tozer, an Alliance man whose influence would rival that of founder A. B. Simpson, primarily through his writing and preaching. Missionary work came under increasing pressure, usually due to regime changes in countries where work was already present. Countries such as Zaire, Indonesia, Guinea, and Viet Nam would be areas of concern for Alliance missionaries. And, in 1974, The Christian and Missionary Alliance would become the denomination that most people considered them to be.

The final years dealt with in this book, 1975 through 1987, are covered in Chapter Thirteen. This chapter reports of the forming of the Alliance World Fellowship and the benefits this brought to worldwide fellowship of Alliance churches. It also discusses the formation of the non-profit relief agency CAMA Services which delivered aid to people in need across the globe. This period saw continued growth in North American congregations as well as developing churches in the urban explosion that continues to this day. In 1978, The Canadian contingent chose to become autonomous thereby paving the way for the creation of The Canadian Christian and Missionary Alliance.

This book was very interesting and equally informative. Having this insight in The Christian and Missionary Alliance cannot help but make one better suited to work in and with the institutions and individuals of this worldwide fellowship. The lessons reach beyond just this denomination, but help one appreciate and grow in one’s outlook and understanding of the global church. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Two Thousand and Fourteen’s Top Book

Before I tell you my choice for top book of 2014, let me share with you a couple of honourable mentions.

Honourable Mentions:

Books from the Building Healthy Churches series:
  • Church Elders: How to Shepherd God's People Like Jesus by Jeramie Rinne 
  • Sound Doctrine: How a Church Grows in the Love and Holiness of God by Bobby Jamieson
  • Expositional Preaching: How We Speak God's Word Today by David Helm
  • Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus by J. Mack Stiles

I found these books extremely helpful. They are concise, well-written, and deal with subject matter that I find particularly important. The various authors are clearly passionate about their particular topic. And their passion is matched by their competency. Get your hands on all the books from this series and you will not be disappointed.

A Brief Theology of Sport by Lincoln Harvey:
Another short and well-written book on a topic that is dear to my heart. This read was eye-opening and heart-filling for a one-time athlete wannabe theologian like myself. I really appreciate the authors approach and hope this book encourages more discussion on this topic.

The Deliberate Church by Mark Dever and Paul Alexander:
I really appreciate Mark Dever and his ministry with 9Marks. This books articulates a philosophy of ministry that reflects much of what I think church should be about. I’m greatly encouraged having read this book.

Books on preaching from the Old Testament:
  • Jesus on Every Page by David Murray
  • Is Jesus in the Old Testament? by Ian M. Duguid
  • Joshua: No Falling Words by Dale Ralph Davis

I the summer of 2014, I had my first opportunity to preach a series from the Old Testament. I was thoroughly stretched by the task, and thoroughly enjoyed the whole process. These three books were invaluable to me and left a lasting impression. Whether you preach or not, these were great reads.

The English Language’s master wordsmith:
  • The Tempest by William Shakespeare
  • King Lear by William Shakespeare
  • Othello by William Shakespeare
  • Henry V by William Shakespeare
  • Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare
  • The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
  • As You Like It by William Shakespeare
  • Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

As your eyes return to their normal position, having rolled back into your skull, and after you pick yourself up from the fetal position that bad memories from highschool English class forced you in to, let me suggest to you that Shakespeare is indeed one of the greats. And, if you’re willing, reading a play or two just might leave you pleasantly surprised. I’m looking forward to more of these in 2015.

The Ortlunds and my top two books of 2014:
  • Edwards on the Christian Life by Dane Ortlund
  • The Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Jesus by Ray Ortlund

This is called keeping it in the family. I cannot say enough about these two books by Ray Ortlund and his son Dane. The Gospel is a heart-warming and soul-stirring look at the gospel and the impact it can have on a church, on the church’s members, and on those the church comes in contact with. Not much more than 100 pages, this book is nevertheless a heavyweight. Readable and memorable, The Gospel left me convicted and convinced; convicted by my lack of gospel-ness and convinced that the gospel can overcome that very shortcoming. Ray writes about the gospel in such a way that Jesus indeed looks beautiful. Get this book. Read it. And then pass it on. Edwards on the Christian Life was a book that I anticipated reading when I first heard it would be added to the Theologians on the Christian Life series. When I finally got my hands on it my expectations were resoundingly surpassed. What a book! If Jonathan Edwards is the theological juggernaut that people suggest – and I believe he is, and if we all should be reading him – and I believe we should, than I cannot think of a better place
to start than this gem. I am no Edwards expert, but I have read several of his “must read” volumes and Dane Ortlund’s book brought much clarity to my understanding of this great theologian and his teaching. And yet, this book would be very accessible and encouraging to those who have never read Edwards. I think I spent as much time writing in the margins and underlining passages as I did actually reading the book. Dane’s style is a pleasure to read and he left me wanting to read more of Edwards. These are two great books for 2014. Now, if I had to choose between the two, I’d tip my hat to the younger of the two Ortlunds. And I'm quite certain Ortlund the elder would approve of that decision. But I suggest you get a copy of both books and let the Ortlunds and their books edify.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Year’s Worth of Reading

I try, for sundry reasons, to annually record and report what the past year held for me in terms of reading. Of these many reasons, two are very significant to me. First, it is my way of holding myself to account. I want to be a reader…a literary person as C. S. Lewis would say. Keeping track of the pages I have turned and the volumes I have finished is a way for me to take stock of my reading. Secondly, I hope it is an encouragement to you. An encouragement to read more, and to read more often.

I read less this year than I have in the past few. The main reason for less reading and less books was more preaching and more preparing to preach. I preached far more in 2014 than I anticipated. And this preaching took a toll on my free time and was a regular intellectual withdraw that left the mental reserves lower than they might have been otherwise. Note, however, that this was a trade I gladly made and one I would gladly make again. But between duties at home, duties in the classroom, and duties at the church, I just didn’t read like I had in years past.

Nevertheless, I still flipped plenty of pages and find myself contentedly reminiscing over the list of books I share below.

The first list, in no particular order, are the non-fiction books I greedily grappled with last year. A substantial amount of my reading was either preaching related or ordination related. There are a lot of good ones below, most of which I would gladly recommend. Again, here they are in no particular order:

Edwards on the Christian Life by Dane Ortlund
A Brief Theology of Sport by Lincoln Harvey
Surprised by Hope by N. T. Wright
Shakespeare's Hamlet by Leland Ryke
The Self Life and the Christ Life by A. B. Simpson
The Fourfold Gospel by A. B. Simpson
The Cross of Christ by A. B. Simpson
Church Elders: How to Shepherd God's People Like Jesus by Jeramie Rinne
Sound Doctrine: How a Church Grows in the Love and Holiness of God by Bobby Jamieson
Expositional Preaching: How We Speak God's Word Today by David Helm
Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus by J. Mack Stiles
The Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Christ by Ray Ortlund
The Cross and Christian Ministry by D. A. Carson
The Deliberate Church by Mark Dever and Paul Alexander
Joshua: No Falling Words by Dale Ralph Davis
God in the Whirlwind by David Wells
Five Points by John Piper
Victorious Christian Living by Alan Redpath
Jesus on Every Page by David Murray
Is Jesus in the Old Testament? By Ian M. Duguid
Preaching the Word - Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon by R. Kent Hughes
Taking God at His Word by Kevin DeYoung
The Final Days of Jesus by Andreas Kostenberger and Justin Taylor
It Is Well by Mark Dever and Michael Lawrence
Christianity and Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen
PNTC - The Letters to the Colossians and to Philemon by Douglas Moo
The Godly Man's Picture by Thomas Watson
Gospel-Centered Teaching by Trevin Wax
Creature of the Word by Chandler, Geiger, and Patterson
What’s Your Worldview by James Anderson
How People Change by Lane and Tripp
Death by Living by N. D. Wilson

Though I do not read near as much fiction, I still found time to read several of the Bard’s plays as well as a couple novels by McCarthy and Faulkner. I had set the goal to read a Shakespearean play a month, but fell short as you can see:

The Tempest by William Shakespeare
King Lear by William Shakespeare
Othello by William Shakespeare
Henry V by William Shakespeare
Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare
The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
As You Like It by William Shakespeare
Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
Child of God by Cormac McCarthy
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

Overall, I consider it a gracious gift of God that I have both the opportunity to read books and the availability of books to read. I’m looking forward to another year with my nose buried in a bunch of books.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Book Review: Evangelism by J. Mack Stiles

Book Review - Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus by J. Mack Stiles

Few words give rise to more fear and trepidation among Christian as the word evangelism. Fear of sharing one’s faith, or fear of making an unattractive gospel presentation, is common in churches. The irony of a word associated with “good news” eliciting so much angst makes one wonder if we have veered off the track somewhere. Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus addresses the topic of evangelism and its author, J. Mack Stiles, clearly understands the problematic nature of this topic and the need for clear, biblical teaching on it.

The overarching purpose of this book is hinted at when one consider the series it is a part of: the Crossway Books published 9Marks Building Healthy Churches series. Evangelism is a book that addresses the need for biblical evangelism as an integral component of a healthy church.

More specifically, Stiles writes about “biblical evangelism” (17), and “more than that, [the book is] also about developing a culture of evangelism” (18). The author is concerned about teaching the reader what biblical evangelism is and he believes that it includes implementing and encouraging a culture of evangelism within the church. Stiles further expounds on this issue with teaching on healthy evangelistic platforms as well as “basic principles that shape the actual practice of sharing our faith” (19).

Chapter one concerns itself with important definitions of evangelism, the gospel, and biblical conversion. These definitions provide the foundation for the rest of the author’s discussion of this topic. Evangelism, “teaching the gospel with the aim to persuade” (26), is thoroughly explained. Teaching the gospel–“the joyful message from God that leads to salvation” (33)–is the means of evangelism. And, the goal is biblical conversion which occurs when we “repent, place genuine faith in Jesus, and walk with him” (38).

Chapter two’s content is made obvious with its title: A Culture of Evangelism. Stiles initiates this discussion with a polemic against both programmatic evangelism and pragmatic evangelism. The antidote for these unbiblical methods of sharing the faith is an approach that the author sees as “communal and personal: a culture of evangelism” (47). In the chapter we read that a culture of evangelism, though hard to succinctly and exhaustively define, is a culture that: is motivated by love for Jesus and his gospel (48), is confident in the gospel (49), understands the danger of entertainment (50), sees people clearly (51), pulls together as one (53), has people teaching one another (53), models evangelism (55), celebrates when people share their faith (56), knows how to affirm and celebrate new life (57), does ministry even when it is risky and dangerous (58), and understands that the church is the chosen and best method of evangelism (60).

The importance of the church as God’s plan for evangelism is the sole concern of chapter three. Stiles seeks clarity for the reader by defining the church and arguing that the church is “God’s great plan for evangelism” (100) and the way we can best implement God’s great plan is by developing and nurturing a culture of evangelism in Christ’s body. In fact, Stiles argues that all churches have a culture of evangelism and that the difference from church to church is in the health of that culture. This chapter deals with evangelism at the corporate level.

Chapter four considers the individual Christian within a healthy culture of evangelism. Stiles indicates that believers must be “intentional evangelists” (79) with the context of a church’s evangelistic culture. Stiles elucidates how individual Christians become intentional evangelists: by preparing our hearts, mind, and feet (84); by understanding a gospel-shaped way of life (88); by slaying our assumptions (90); by perceiving evangelism as a discipline (94); by praying (96); by giving leadership in evangelism (97).

Finally, in chapter five Stiles addresses the actual sharing of our faith. The author purports the best instructions we receive on sharing our faith come through the New Testaments illustration of Christians as ambassadors. Stiles indicates the significance of conversations and displays what these might look like. He instructs that an ambassador must be bold, clear, and deliver the message while trusting Christ for the response. Stiles finishes with a call for ambassadors to not lose heart.

On a practical level, I found Stiles’ book edifying, enriching, and encouraging with both myself and the church in mind. His faith-filled optimism and clear biblical teaching is both informative at the head level and motivating at the heart level. His practical wisdom won from real-life experiences was also helpful.

I have noticed a greater awareness in my life for opportunities to share the gospel and find myself less apprehensive than I once was. For those two reasons alone I am thankful for this book. This book is an easy-to-read and hard-to-put-down volume on evangelism that will benefit both leaders and members of churches.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Book Review: Church Elders: How to Shepherd People Like Jesus by Jaramie Rinne

Much time, money, and energy is expended in North America by well-intentioned people who desire to live a healthy lifestyle. Many spend their hours, hard-earned cash, and strength, while eating healthy foods, so as to reach and maintain one lofty goal: health. Church Elders: How to Shepherd People Like Jesus is a book that is also concerned with health. However, author Jeramie Rinne is not concerned so much with healthy individuals, but rather with healthy churches. This book’s inclusion in the 9Marks Building Healthy Churches series, published by Crossway books, make the book’s purpose obvious. The book’s title makes it clear that the author believes church elders are part of what makes a church healthy.
More specifically, Rinne believes that a proper understanding of biblical church leadership among both the leadership and the congregation will promote vitality in the local church. Thus, Rinne provides a “concise, biblical job description for elders” which is “an easy-to-read, inspiring summary of the elder task” (15). The author hopes to instruct the church on biblical eldership, instill a desire in men to pursue the office of elder, and inspire any men whom God may be calling to vocational eldership to consider this great privilege in ernest.
The author, Jeramie Rinne, is the Senior Pastor of South Shore Baptist Church and studied church eldership when he became a full-time pastor (elder). He graduated from Wheaton College in 1993 with a B.A. Bible and Ancient Languages and followed this degree with a Master’s of Divinity from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in 1996. Rinne’s passion for church leaders and congregations is apparent in the pages of this book.
In chapter one, the author initiates his attempt to provide a proper understanding of eldership, which will lead to healthy churches, by listing six qualifications of elders. These qualifications are gathered from the New Testament. Rinne invites the reader to consider the following marks of an elder: the desire to be an elder (1 Tim. 3:1, 1 Pet. 5:2), godly character (1 Tim. 3:2-3, Titus 1:7-8), the ability to teach (1 Tim. 3:2, Titus 1:9), leading one’s own family well (1 Tim 3:4-5), being male (1 Tim 2:12, Eph. 5:22-6:4), and being an established believer (1 Tim. 3:6).
Chapter two describes the overarching responsibilities of elders with the job description of “shepherding church members toward greater Christ-like maturity” (102). Elders have as their goal seeing the image of Jesus in their congregation and understanding the means to this end being investment in their lives. Thus, elders are more like shepherds and less like trustees.
The emphasis of chapter 3 centers on sound teaching; elders accomplish their tasks through teaching the Word. The author recognizes there are many different scenarios in which teaching occurs–from one-on-one discipling to small group leadership to preaching to the congregation–but he insists that biblical teaching is integral to shepherding God’s people.
Rinne uses the fourth chapter to expound on another duty of elders/shepherds: tracking down stray members/sheep. While explaining the duty of searching for lost sheep, the author also describes five different types of strayers: sinning sheep, wandering sheep, limping sheep, fighting sheep, and biting sheep. With each of these types of people he includes some ideas for how the church elder might help.
Lead Without Lording, the title of the fifth chapter, indicates the direction the author moves. Rinne wrestles with two ideas that are often in tension. The first, confident leadership, often seems to clash with the second, gentleness. According to the author, an elder should lead confidently but with being a bully, without being arrogant, and without domineering. In fact, a “Jesus-shaped humility gives [the elders] a moral authority to which the church willingly defers” (103-4).
Chapter six introduces the issue of polity: a church is to be lead by a plurality of elders. The life of the elders is a mirrored microcosm of the life of the church. The author demonstrates the plurality of eldership present in the early church with a brief survey. He follows this up with a brief apologetic for multiple elders.
Much of the preceding chapters are about doing eldership; chapter seven is about being an elder. Rinne calls elders to model maturity. Elders should live lives that the church can imitate and should encourage congregants to do so. God uses elders who have a “well-tended life” (105). Eldership is not for those who have finally arrived, but rather it is a call to a deeper and more profound imitation of Christ.
The importance of prayer is the focus of the eighth chapter. The author produces arguments for the necessity of prayer and also includes what a “prayer-soaked elder ministry” (113) should look like. This includes public prayer, presbyter prayer (praying at elders meetings), personal prayer (praying with members), and private prayer. In praying for their sheep, elders are joining with the Great Shepherd, Jesus, who is currently praying for his people (Heb. 7:25).
In concluding this book, Rinne reminds the elder and potential elder the eternal ramifications of being an elder. On a serious note, the author warns the reader that an elder will give an account for his stewardship of this office: elders will “answer to the Groom for how [they] treat his bride” (122). Secondly, the author reminds the reader that there is an unfading reward for those who faithfully shepherd God’s flock.
Church Elders is a book that challenges me on a very personal level. As someone who has been in that office and continues to aspire to that office, I found ample opportunities in the pages of the book to question my own character and calling. In particular, the love a shepherd has for his sheep and the sacrifices he is prepared to make for them, as they are compellingly presented in the book, cause me to re-evaluate my own life in light of what biblical eldership is.
On a practical note, this book offers many helpful suggestions on the day-to-day aspects of being an elder. It offers ideas that the author has formulated from his experience leading the church. The suggestions are powerful because they are attainable and they come with a persuasive, urgent plea from the author. The author is serious about this topic and his gravity is coupled with a great joy. Both the seriousness of the calling and the enjoyment of the office as expressed by the author are contagious. I found this very edifying.
Finally, this book strengthened many philosophical positions that I already held. I hold to a view of church leadership that is very close to the one espoused by the author. The book did not challenge my beliefs, but rather bulwarked them.

Church Elders strength is its content and its conciseness. The book is very accessible and very readable. It is relatively short in length and the style is informal. That being said, its message is very important and the author covers a surprisingly significant amount of material considering the size of the volume.

Friday, August 15, 2014

80 Tweetable Quotes from Evangelism by J. Mack Stiles

Here is another collection of Tweetable quoted from another book in Crossway/9Marks' series called Building Healthy Churches. This one, Evangelism by J. Mack Stiles, was simply excellent. This was a much needed and timely read for me. This process of collecting Tweetables is a great way for me to review a book and quickly remind myself what it was all about. I hope these are useful for you as well. Enjoy.

  1. “Usually the wrong ideas [of evangelism] are based on marketing principles or on human understanding about how to argue someone into the kingdom.” (18)
  2. “Much of our problem with evangelism is that we don’t have a big enough view of the church.” (19)
  3. “I believe that God loves the world and has a wonderful plan for evangelism: his church.” (19)
  4. “There is much room for humility when it comes to evangelism.” (23)
  5. “There is no formula that dictates how god must work in evangelism.” (23)
  6. “I…will take people practising evangelism as best they can over those who forgo evangelism until they have the perfect practice.” (23)
  7. “…the Bible never uses results to guide or justify evangelistic practice.” (24)
  8. “…when we set out to practice evangelism, we must start with biblical foundations.” (24)
  9. “We must look to [biblical foundations] to shape, guard, and inform how we share our faith rather than looking for a way to gain maximum impact.” (24)
  10. “Sadly, what often informs our evangelistic practices is the world…business…self-help section…rather than Scripture.” (25)
  11. “…people trade biblical principles for worldly desires and our evangelistic practices get twisted.” (25)
  12. “Evangelism is teaching the gospel with the aim to persuade.” (26)
  13. “…many churches offer a costless, comfortable, and benefit-giving “gospel” that is found nowhere in Scripture.” (28)
  14. “Jesus was engaging, but he never entertained…” (28)
  15. History of modern evangelism: “The high-pressure sales job has been replaced by the soft sell of self-help.” (28)
  16. “First, there is no evangelism without words.” (29)
  17. “J. I. Packer…says that Paul’s method of evangelism was primarily a teaching method.” (30)
  18. “Great things happen when we can teach the gospel.” (30)
  19. “Being able to teach the gospel benefits our spiritual lives as it makes sure we are living according to gospel themes.” (30)
  20. “If you do not know how to teach the gospel, you may not truly understand it.” (30)
  21. “…remember that the gospel must be taught before someone can become a Christian.” (31)
  22. “We make the gospel too small by thinking it only “gets us saved,” that it is a sort of fire insurance…” (32)”
  23. “…the gospel becomes both the door of salvation and the pattern for life.” (32)
  24. “Additions to the gospel, however good or good-hearted, corrupt the gospel.” (33)
  25. “The hope in evangelism is that we so steep ourselves in gospel truth and gospel living…that the gospel can’t help but come out of us.” (34)
  26. “…we don’t just lay out gospel facts academically or haphazardly. We have an aim or direction in our gospel teaching.” (35)
  27. “…no one is born a Christian…all Christians are converts.” (36)
  28. “…just as we cannot produce conversion, neither can we produce genuine faith.” (37)
  29. “We aren’t persuaded in a biblical sense unless we repent, place genuine faith in Jesus, and walk with him.” (38)
  30. “Unbiblical evangelism is a method of assisted suicide for a church…” (39)
  31. “…if you ask most normal people what hinders their evangelism, the vast majority will tell you it’s fear.” (42)
  32. “Evangelize with believing friends who will pull you along.” (42)
  33. “…since I believe in the church as the engine of evangelism, we need to develop cultures of evangelism in our local churches…” (42)
  34. “It just makes sense to share our faith alongside friends.” (43)
  35. “…usually when we think of evangelism in community, we think of evangelistic programs, which is not the same.” (43)
  36. As opposed to evangelistic programs, “most people come to faith through… [familiar] Christians intentionally talking about the gospel.” (45)
  37. “A strict diet of evangelistic programs produces malnourished evangelism.” (46)
  38. “…programs can often make us feel as if we’ve done evangelism, when we haven’t.” (46)
  39. “I yearn for a culture of evangelism that never trades confidence n the gospel for confidence in techniques, personalities, or entertainment gimmicks.” (49)
  40. “In a culture of evangelism, we don’t mistake entertainment for ministry, or ministry for entertainment.” (51)
  41. “We need a culture of evangelism that never sacrifices to the idolatry of entertainment…” (51)
  42. “When Paul says that we should see people through the eyes of Christ, he means for us to have a gospel view of people.” (52)
  43. “…in a culture of evangelism, most of all we’re mindful of what people can become: new creations in Christ…” (53)
  44. “…I long for a culture that remembers what people can become through the gospel.” (53)
  45. “I would happily trade all the pizzazz of stunning speakers, mind-blowing music, and…popular…pageants for a culture of evangelism…” (55)
  46. “In a culture of evangelism, people carefully teach one another how to share their faith in a biblical way.” (55)
  47. “The practice of celebrating evangelistic efforts is…hugely important in developing a culture of evangelism.” (57)
  48. “I yearn to be in a church where even evangelistic attempts are championed.” (57)
  49. “Even if an evangelistic effort doesn’t lead to a gospel conversation, evangelistic failure is better than not trying evangelism at all.” (57)
  50. “I long for a culture of evangelism that is risky in the sense that we’re confronting culture.” (59)
  51. “I long for a church that understands that it…is the chosen and best method of evangelism.” (60)
  52. “I long for a church that disarms with love, not entertainment…” (60)
  53. “I long for a church that…lives out countercultural confidence in the power of the gospel.” (60)
  54. “…if you are part of a healthy church that has a culture of evangelism, you are part of the greatest way of evangelism ever known.” (63)
  55. “…a culture of evangelism is grassroots, not top-down.” (65)
  56. “In a culture of evangelism, people understand the main task of the church is to be the church.” (65)
  57. “The question is not, “Do we have a culture of evangelism?” but “Is our culture of evangelism sick or healthy?”” (67)
  58. “Every Christian should know what makes a church a church.” (70)
  59. “In a culture of evangelism, people who love Jesus work together as instruments in the grand symphony of God’s work.” (81)
  60. “…in a maturing culture of evangelism, people trust God to do something bigger than what they see with physical eyes.” (81)
  61. “Sometimes we unwittingly motivate congregations with blunt instruments such as guilt.” (85)
  62. “[Churches] must use their gatherings to regularly rehearse and think through the gospel…” (85)
  63. “It is easy to go from a welcoming church to become a church that jettisons the gospel in its desire to be “friendly.”” (87)
  64. “Unfortunately, many churches fall into…heresy when their main concern becomes the non-Christian rather than fidelity to the gospel.” (87)
  65. “The quickest route to heresy and error is “relevant” evangelism.” (87)
  66. “Good-hearted motivations that try to shape the church for the needs of man and not the glory of god are the death of biblical churches.” (87)
  67. “…churches are called to concentrate on God, while individuals are called to be sensitive to seekers.” (87)
  68. “…trying to live a moral life is impossible. Living a gospel life is a gift from God.” (89)
  69. “If we live gospel-centered lives, we will find ourselves sharing the gospel.” (90)
  70. “If you are bored with the gospel, you need to take a deep look at the sin of your heart.” (91)
  71. “…if the gospel does not resonate in your heart, check and see that you are truly converted.” (91)
  72. “We don’t know whom God is calling to himself. Praying for others keeps us mindful of that.” (96)
  73. “Besides teaching and modeling, one of the most important things leaders can do is just talk about evangelism.” (97)
  74. “We must deliver the message regardless of the discomfort produced, effort required, and shame endured.” (101)
  75. “Ambassadors exist to deliver messages.” (101)
  76. “It’s my sense that boldness is the most needed element for evangelism for the Christian community.” (106)
  77. “The Bible calls us to remember those who have been brave and faithful, and to follow their example.” (107)
  78. “…I’m convinced that sharing our faith, regardless of the response, is a key to spiritual health for the individual and for the community.” (112)
  79. “Evangelism is bigger than what we see.” (114)
  80. “Sometimes God lets us see tired people transformed into people filled with light. That’s a glorious thing…” (114)