On Sunday, P.J. Smyth presented his 2016 "Outward Living Plan" to encourage us to make friends, build relationships with our co-workers, acquaintances and neighbors.
Step 1: Make Genuine Friends with Unbelievers
- Think relatives, neighbors, colleagues, those with shared interests in your current rhythm of life. God has placed you!
- Prioritize a few people and make it your aim to become a brilliant friend.
- Pray for them.
No friends? Think about rhythms of life:
a) Gym, hairdresser, out walking, etc.
b) Hobby: running club / walking club / dog / kids sports team
c) Meals: 21 per week
Step 2: Naturally Engage on Spiritual Things
- Let these friends know you are a Christian, in a natural, unforced way.
- Live an attractive, authentic life, not perfect, but not high maintenance.
- Be honest about your struggles: don’t hold out Christianity as a self-improvement scheme. Share how your faith helps you.
- Listen to your friend’s problems; maybe offer to pray for them.
- Ask about their faith, and just listen. You might say, “Are you a person of faith? What does that look like for you?” If they say, “I don’t believe in God” say, “Tell me more about that” Don’t show disapproval if you disagree with what they believe. Ask questions and listen with interest. This is what friends do! It is also an expression of love, respect and humility, and it will help you understand them better. It may also mean that in due course they are more open to hearing your view of faith.
Step 3: Draw people into your church community
- Informally socially, or more formally socially, e.g., interest groups (book club, sport)
- Can freeload on others’ friendships. Fish as a team.
Step 4: Personal and Public Proclamation
- Personal: Prepare and use personal tools:
a) Personal testimony: 30 sec and 3 min versions. Keep it real. Share how your faith helps you; e.g., stress, fear, drivenness.
b) Learn 2-4 ways to frame the Gospel
c) A stash of resources to give: “This helped me.”, “I would be interested to see what you think of this.”
- Public: Think what’s first: Social action or Introducing God course? Sunday? Particular preacher or series?
Our 2016 Goals
- Invite at least one unbeliever to our Easter Service. (i.e. “A tradition we have is to go to church on Easter and then eat together, and we would love you to join us.”, “Kids have a blast.”, “We’ve got this new pommie pastor who I am still working out; would love your perspective.”)
- Have a couple of friendships developing nicely by the fall. This gives our church a chance to gear up in a few areas.
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December 1 2015 at 3:06 pm 1 Comments
Covenant Life members: This week the first issue of Missio Dei will appear in your inbox. The Missio Dei is a new online newsletter produced quarterly by a team of church members and Missions Department staff. The title comes from a Latin phrase meaning “mission of God." As Timothy Tennent explains, “Mission is first and foremost about God and His redemptive purposes and initiatives in the world…To put it plainly, mission is far more about God and who He is than about us and what we do.”
Amazingly, though mission begins and ends with God, He calls us to be part of His mission in the world. In each issue of Missio Dei you will find stories about people in our church who are joining God in His mission, both locally and globally.
Some missions demand the elite training and courage of "the few ... the proud ... the Marines." Fortunately for us, God calls and empowers all of his followers to join His mission. We hope the Missio Dei will both inspire and encourage you to play your part. And no matter how big or small that part might be, we look forward to the day when we can tell your story in Missio Dei!
First issue of The Missio Dei HERE.
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November 24 2015 at 2:59 pm 0 Comments
This January we are once again holding the Introducing God course. On Sunday, we enjoyed Sharon Harvey's testimony of how God transformed her life through the last session of Introducing God.
"I can't begin describing my Introducing God experience without first sharing a bit about my personal spiritual journey. I grew up believing that success depended on my own efforts. I was hard on myself when I failed, and even when I did succeed, my life felt empty. I was never satisfied, and I felt I needed to be perfect all the time. Gradually, I began to think my hard work defined my self-worth, and I started seeking other people’s approval to fill that emptiness. I reached a low point after college, and questions in the back of my mind began to surface. What is all this hard work for and what is my purpose? I had grown up hearing my cousin speak about God, but I had always been indifferent. However, God, in his mercy and grace, used this weak point in my life to persuade me to learn more about Him.
With the encouragement of a friend and now a precious sister in Christ, Hannah Stogsdill, I started attending Sunday sermons at Covenant Life Church. Introducing God happened to be starting their Spring 2013 class around the same time, and Hannah invited me to attend the course with her. During the next 9 weeks, I witnessed God's transforming power, heard countless testimonies, and learned more about God's merciful and forgiving nature. Most of all, I came to experience Christ's love through the thoughtful conversations, questions, and care of my discussion group. As I grew closer to Hannah and these brothers and sisters, I also grew closer to the Lord. I learned through them that Jesus Christ sacrificed his perfect life on the cross for a sinner like me. I didn’t need to earn God’s love. He loves me unconditionally, and he was calling me to satisfy all my needs and desires in Him. The emptiness I felt in my life started to be filled. A few months after taking the course, I had proclaimed my trust and faith in my Lord and Savior.
The Lord used these godly brothers and sisters, some of whom have become my best friends, to be salt and light in my life, and it is with joy and thanksgiving that I can now be a witness to others of God's saving power. I would like to invite you now to join me in serving in this ministry to be a witness to others and to be a part of God's great commission to make disciples. God's plans are bigger than our own, and He may just use you to transform another person's life like he used many others to transform mine. And if you are not a Christian, I encourage you to attend. Not only will this course challenge your own beliefs and give you a fresh perspective on Christianity, it will also give you lifelong friends and a heart for the Lord."
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October 27 2015 at 9:58 am 1 Comments
Recently I read a blog post by Trevin Wax about Tim Keller's thoughts on the secularization of the American culture. Interestingly, Keller says the number of devout Christians is actually growing but the biggest change in the culture is the disappearance of nominal Christianity. The culture's nominal Christian majority has functioned as an umbrella protecting Christianity. Now this big majority is disappearing and leaving a polarization of the secular and the devout. Keller’s thoughts on this are insightful as always, and you can read the full article here. What I want to add to this conversation is what it means in regards to reaching the culture with the gospel. Here are a few points.
1. We will have to demonstrate our love to the lost by crossing greater distances.
Our Lord was a friend of sinners, and we ought to follow him in this. Our love today will have to cross seemingly greater barriers and distances than before. If we are going to show the love of Christ to those who do not know it, then it will mean going to people who are very different from us. It’s hard being around people who don’t think like you or share your values, and the differences between Christians and non-Christians are greater than ever in this country. Crossing these social barriers is hard but also a great opportunity to show the love of Christ to others, because without the love of Christ there really is no reason to go outside our own cozy network of people.
2. We will have to be bold.
It takes boldness and confidence to stand in the midst of those who are different than you or to stand up for something you believe is right. There will be many opportunities for this. It is not easy being a Christian, and as we stand out hopefully it will not be because of outdated wardrobes. Hopefully while the world dismisses certain things as cooky, they will also see something of the love, peace, joy, and hope that Christ promised to his people. The new contrast in culture may present a greater opportunity than ever for the hope of the gospel to shine forth. We should be confident of that.
3. We need to be articulate in our explanations of the faith.
Trite answers will not convince. A great number of people in the culture do not believe in God and their whole view of life orbits around a different center. We need to have well thought out and winsome answers to questions that come up. We should also remember differences on ethical or political topics are more superficial issues. These topics help us understand a person's view of the world, and we should dig deeper into their ultimate hope or purpose for life and the basis of their beliefs. Most people today are not religious nor are they philosophers, and so their views on life come together more like a set of random tweets than a coherent and connected system of beliefs. There are often large gaps in their views that a Christian worldview makes sense of. Christians should work hard for good solid explanations for the fundamental issues of life.
4. We should be in it for the long haul.
People don’t change their view of life very quickly. It takes time. If someone has never heard of Jesus or belief in God then they will probably have a lot of questions they want answered before changing their minds. We should embrace this as a part of reaching others, and we should not be discouraged if it takes a long time. People give up witnessing because they think it should be quick and easy. It's not. Convincing others about Christ more than likely will take a lot of time and conversation. If we genuinely love the people we are trying to reach this isn’t bad or hard. We can enjoy the process just as Jesus seemed to enjoy his company. And that is truly sharing the love of Christ.
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October 20 2015 at 2:18 pm 0 Comments
Did you miss Peter Giglio's video testimony on Sunday? Check it out here. It's encouraging to hear how God is using the basketball outreach he started to build relationships among teens here in our community.
Have an idea for your own outreach in our community? Apply for a Go Grant that could provide funds to help get your idea off the ground!
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October 6 2015 at 11:32 am 3 Comments
A couple weeks ago we recieved this encouraging story about how God can use simple acts of kindness to provide opportunities to advance the gospel. We want to thank Donna Banks for providing an encouraging example of being faithful in caring for others in our community and for sharing how God is at work.
This morning as I was driving in a steady rain on the way to Shady Grove Hospital, I came across a group of teens (possibly Indian or Pakistani) standing on the sidewalk in front of a disabled car along Snouffer School Road. The car had flashers on, so I pulled in front of it and asked if they needed to use a cell phone or some other assistance. They said that their Dad was in the car and all they wanted to do was push the car backward about 50 feet to get it off the main road. I told them I would block the traffic with my car so they could do that (people could still drive around us). Anyway, I did and it all worked out. They were able to push the car into a free parking spot (God plans everything).
Because of the rain and the crisis I was not able to meet the Dad but I said, "God bless you" to the young people.
This afternoon, amazingly, a man came up to me and asked if I was the lady who had helped them. I confirmed that I was. He said, "It may seem like a little thing to you, but it was a big thing to me. People were passing by all the time and did not stop. Why did you stop?" I told him that I am a Christian and as God has shown me so much love I want to show others His love too. I gave him one of my cards with my contact information and told him to contact me if he had any needs (and I wrote down the name of our church on the back).
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