Your 50% in the work of Evangelism

Steven Furtick blogs about not putting unnecessary burdens on ourselves while sharing the gospel.

He calls it “Your 50%”.

Essentially, Furtick calls us to remember that

  • We are called to bear witness to our faith.
  • God is responsible for calling people to respond in faith.

The proclamation of the gospel message through word and deed is our part.

The changing of the heart towards repentance is God’s part.

I’ve heard some teaching in the past that puts the whole burden on us:

  • If you don’t share, and they die in hell, it’s your fault.
  • If you don’t communicate the gospel exactly right, they are not converted.
  • If you don’t share the gospel from the right starting point, they are not converted.

Those might be extreme examples, but people carry that guilt.  In my conferences, I run into a lot of them.

We need to remember

Furtick concludes with

It’s good to feel the weight of people’s souls.

It’s motivating to your 50%.

But it’s bad to carry around the weight of their will.

That’s coveting their 50%.

And it will load a weight of guilt upon you that you were never meant to bear. Jesus wants to bear their guilt. If they don’t believe, they will bear it.

For your own sake, don’t take something that’s not yours to carry.

The Nudge of the Holy Spirit

Have you ever felt that Spirit-led nudge that pulls you to talk or pray with a stranger about their spiritual life?

This kind of nudge is more than an intuition.  It’s the voice of God inviting you to join Him in His redemptive work.

It’s God speaking to you through the Holy Spirit.

I think it starts off as a feeling of

“there is something to do, but I’m afraid of taking that step.”

“I’m not sure this is of the Lord, so I’ll just go on with my life.”

This kind of nudge grows heavier.  It is a sense of intense spiritual heaviness that God is underlining this person for you.

The longer you reflect on it, that feeling moves to

“I think I have to do something and I better do it now.”

The Spirit of God is inviting you to participate in the work of drawing a person to Jesus.

You might call it a prompting, a leading, a nudge, but it clearly seems to be “not you.”

Examples of that Nudge:

My friend Jimmy felt this kind of nudge when he noticed a man standing outside the door of a drugstore.  He simply had to engage the man in a conversation.  It led to a conversation that helped that man move forward in his journey to faith.

Pastor Richard White felt this kind of nudge to talk with a man who’s car had broken down on the side of the road. (See this video Can Pastors Find Time for Evangelism?)

Remember Phillip in Acts 8:26ff, when he was wandering on the desert road, felt that Spirit given nudge to approach a stranger on the roadway (the Ethiopian Eunuch? – Read Phillip and the Ethiopian Eunuch).

I felt that nudge to go to the swimming pool and there I found my neighbor.  He started a conversation with me about his spiritual life.

Describing the experience

Have you felt that nudge?

How would you describe that?

30 Days of Prayer: Day 12 – The mystery of conversion

This entry is part 12 of 23 in the series 30 Days of Prayer

Mystery of Christian Conversion“Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.” – Mark 4:27

How does the seed grow?

I remember science projects I did in elementary school to make seeds sprout.

We played with the variables of soil, light, water, and even gravity (by using a record player) to see what might happen.

I recall the wonder and marvel that the seeds sprouted.

My children have repeated similar experiments with guandu and papaya seeds, and I got joy at watching their excitement over the shoots peaking out from the soil.

Watching a seed actually sprout and turn into something else provokes awe in my spirit at the great marvel of God’s design.

Scientists can probably describe

  • the mechanics of how a seed grows,
  • the right elements that contribute to helping a seed spout
  • how a seed shoots forth it’s roots
  • how genetics help it turn into the right plant,
  • how the chemical interactions with water, soil, and light make the seed sprout.

But the inner workings remain a mystery of wonder to me that seeds sprout and change into something beautiful.

Even without my attention, my care, seeds grow once they are activated.

Silently.

Mysteriously.

Over time.

Transforming into what they were designed to become.

The mystery of Christian conversion

As evangelists, we sow the seed of the word, but God makes it grow.

How the individual seed grows in the life of the person who receives it remains the mysterious work of the Holy Spirit.

How did you come to surrender your life to Christ?

Can you remember a day or even a particular moment?  You had come to place in your life where the invitation to follow Christ became irresistible and you surrendered your life.

Or maybe it was more of a gradual awareness and personal ownership.  You grew up surrounded by Christians, in a Christian environment, and somewhere along the way, you owned your own faith.

Either way, your conversion and surrender to Christ was at the end of a quest, a journey, a path of spiritual restlessness and need that led you to see your need for Christ.

A seed had been planted.

The journey began.

Eventually, it led to your conversion.

That mysterious inward journey is the Holy Spirit drawing you faith: “Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.”

That journey is unique

That seed cast by the evangelist or sower fell on the unique soil of your life:

  • the circumstances of your life at the time,
  • the people of spiritual influence around you,
  • your own background, upbringing, and personality.

These elements all make for a totally unique and mysterious process of conversion under the sovereign guidance of the Holy Spirit.

The genuine conversion experience is a work of the Holy Spirit unique to each individual.

We can’t restrict conversion to following a formula.  There is no on/off conversion switch.

There is a mystery of the journey that we must acknowledge.

Today’s Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank You for helping me place my faith in You as my Lord and Savior.

I eventually saw my need for You.  Thank You for that drawing work of the Holy Spirit, bringing me to the place where I have found forgiveness, longing, and a peace that passes understanding.

I thank You for the circumstances that led me to surrender my life into the joy of following You, those trials and inner questions that helped me see my need for you.

Thank You for the people who influenced me to follow You: for their conversations with me, their patient answering of my questions, their trustworthy representation of a Christ follower.

I pray for my friends today that you would help the seeds that have been planted in their life to sprout.

Amen.

Today’s Action

Take some time to day to journal about your journey to faith in Christ.

  1. What circumstances in your life helped you see your need for Christ?
  2. Who were people of significant influence in your journey and what did they do to have that significance?
  3. What was in your upbringing and background that helped you see your need for Christ?

Spend some time writing out your answers.

Image Source: Morguefile.

Links in the Chain Video

One of the greatest insights for my personal evangelism is the realization of the role of the Holy Spirit in Evangelism.

The Holy Spirit is the divine agent the Father uses to draw people to Jesus.

The Holy Spirit Prepares the Way by creating spiritual thirst.  Along the way, various events and conversations form Links in the Chain of Conversion.

To help explain this concept, I’ve started using a little macaroni tool that seems to capture this in a vivid illustration that people remember.

Experiencing a Christian Conversion

Last night, I watched a deeply powerful film.

faithlikepotatoesFaith Like Potatoes

The story is based on the book of the same name about a real-life South African farmer named Angus Buchan.  Buchan accepted Jesus at a moment of crisis and began experiencing miracles, ranging from sudden rain putting out a wildfire to reviving a woman struck by lightning.

(Note: There is a death scene of a child that might be too graphic for some people.)

The Conversion Story

His character is developed from the beginning as the self-made man, broken by anger, rage, failure, and fear.

In one scene, he’s drowning his sorrows in alcohol that he vomits on an acquaintance.  In another, he assaults and punches a driver who cuts him off.

A friend invites his wife to breakfast at a church.

He doesn’t want to go and is angered over the issue of wearing a tie, but he goes at her insistence.

He goes to the breakfast, where a stranger invites him to church on Sunday.

For reasons not explained in the film, he attends church the next day, hears the testimony of someone’s life change by following Jesus, and the pastor gives a simple invitation to surrender one’s life to Jesus.

During that testimony and invitation, flashbacks from Buchan’s childhood are shown, where a missionary is telling the young Buchan about the Lord.

Those seeds of faith from his childhood, the present circumstances in his life, and the working of the Holy Spirit come together in a moment where Buchan responds to the invitation and offers his life to the Lord.

Here is a trailer:

Feed Readers, see the video trailer: Trailer from Faith Like Potatoes

Conversion in the film Flywheel

I saw a similar film last year, Flywheel (see my review) where the central character undergoes a conversion experience that was deeply powerful as well.

The story line reveals the struggles of the main character and all the circumstances that the Holy Spirit uses to bring this man to the place of surrendering his life to Jesus Christ.

The main character is a liar, a cheat, and morally bankrupt.  His marriage is falling apart, bills are stacking up, bank threatening to foreclose, and his own son doesn’t want to be like him.

One night, flipping through the TV channels, he hears a preacher who says the right words that speak deep to his heart.

“You are in this mess because of the decisions you made.”

On top of all other circumstances, this one line hits the man deep in the heart.  He turns off the TV, kneels on the floor, and invites Christ into his life with his own prayer.

The uniqueness of the mystery of Christian Conversion

Different seeds, different circumstances, different personalities, different portrayals of the experience of Christian conversion.

I think of my own conversion experience.

Different seeds planted early in life, different circumstances, situation, and so on.

The Holy Spirit, as the author of the story of my life, wove together the different elements to bring me to a place where I decided to follow Jesus.

In my case, I wanted to know God.

In my search and discovery, I learned that to know God, I needed to start following Jesus.

My conversion experience was driven by a thirst to know who God is.

I started following Jesus so that I could start to know God.

Different story, different need, different life situation.

Neither character, nor myself prayed a “repeat after me” prayer formula.

Their conversion was real, though the action of their responses was entirely different.

  • One character stood up and walked forward.
  • One character kneels and prays on his own, in his own words.
  • I remember saying, “I’m going to follow Jesus.”  I don’t remember praying, because I didn’t know what that was.

The genuine conversion experience is a work of the Holy Spirit unique in each individual.

We can’t restrict conversion to following a formula.  The act of praying can make an X marks the spot type of surrender, but the prayer itself is not a formula.  (See my thoughts at The Mystery of Christian Conversion).

God is the one who works conversion in the human heart.

As evangelists, preachers, and individuals who call people to start following Jesus, we can offer to pray with them, we can help them pray, but we are to help them respond to what God is doing in their heart.

Praying is one form of response to God’s awakening.

In the coming posts next week, I’ll tie this into:

  • Postmodern Evangelism: Find Your Story
  • Postmodern Evangelism: Discover Their story.
  • Postmodern Evangelism: Connect to God’s story.

To keep the articles readable and short, they are spread out over a few days.  Grab the RSS feed to get new articles automatically.

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