A Good Friday Reminder – Jesus Changes Lives

Jesus changes lives.  If you need a fresh reminder, watch this tear jerker video of changed lives via Cardboard Testimonies

One challenge to shortening a personal testimony is to get at this core question:

What difference has Jesus made in your life?

As I watched this video below, I was struck by the power of the cross.  Real lives changed by a real Jesus.

This is what Jesus does.

Jesus transforms a life.

Jesus gives hope.

Jesus redeems the past.

On this Good Friday, remember afresh what the Lord has done for you.  Being a follower of Jesus is not simply agreement to some theological point.  It’s a living relationship with the God who can heal you, save you, and redeem you.

This Good Friday, remember the treasure we have.

 

Video Discussion Starter:Imperfect

God looks at the inside not the outside.  If you were to use this video as a conversation starter, what additional questions might you use?

Check out this video discussion starter and then I’ll share some possible ways to use this video:

(Feed Readers: You may need to click through to see the video)

How I could use this video

  • Show it at a youth group meeting.
  • Show it at a youth leaders training meeting.
  • Use it as a spring board to discuss “Game Face vs. the True You.”

One of my favorite youth retreat times when I was in high school was a Saturday night conversation in the dark.  We called it “Late Night Rap.”

The only light was fireplace or candles.  The youth were allowed only at late night rap, or in their own bed.  No wandering around.

The conversation had two rules:

  • What is said here, stays here.
  • You can take it as deep as you want, or keep it as shallow as you want.

We’d sit in the dark, laying on the floor, staring at the ceiling or gazing at the fire in the fireplace.  The setting contributed to the sacredness of the moment.

We had deep discussions.  Profound and life changing discussions.  Sometimes the conversations never went deep, but other times, kids brought forth their pain and received comfort from their peers, and biblical advice from youth leaders and friends.

When I was a youth pastor, I carried forth this event during our retreats two times year.   A video like this would make a great launching point for a very deep conversation among senior high teens.

ImperfectVideoImage

What kind of discussion points?

  • Where do you struggle with acceptance?
  • How do you strive to keep up appearances?
  • What imperfections do you wish you could hide or change?
  • If you could be or do differently, what would that look like?
  • If there was one imperfection you wish God would wipe away, what would it be?

As a leader, it’d be your job to keep the conversational boundaries and to bring biblical truth to light in the midst of the conversation.  This video would set up that invitation.

What other discussion points would you add?

If you were to use this video as a discussion starter, what additional questions might you use?

I invite you to add your question in the comments.  Don’t be afraid to be first.

 

 

Video: Reducing Life Transformation to Two Words

The power of Jesus to transform a life is dramatized in this short little film from JesusTattoo.org

As I minister often in developing nations and in first world nations, I encounter many people who believe powerful lies about themselves.

That they are:

  • Worthless
  • Useless
  • Weak
  • Addicted

Following Jesus can bring a change to all of that.  Jesus can bring healing to our life and transform these lies into powerful truth.

This is one of the benefits of the applying the gospel to our life.

Can you reduce life transformation into two words?

(Note: Feed Readers may need to click through to the article to see the video).

I’ve experienced this life transformation first hand.

The label that Jesus changed for me:

  • Aimless to Directed
  • No Purpose to Purpose
  • Unable to Love Correctly to Beloved
  • Ignorantly Lost to Gratefully Found.

JesusTattoo

What is the label that Jesus changed for you?  Can you fit that testimony on a piece of cardboard?

In my example above, you may have more than one label change in your life transformation

What was yours?

In the comment field, give a short summary (no more than 10 words) of the label transformation that Jesus worked in your life?

Gospel centered life change is the church’s work

From a pastor friend of mine:

“Two Amazing stories from church today…card from one Campus said, “the guy I used to buy drugs from came to church and got saved today.”

Report from another campus “I was on my way to buy heroin to kill myself tonight b/c I had no hope…saw the church…came in…gave my life to Jesus…found hope.”

I love the KING and HIS Kingdom!!!! Thank you church for being the church that helps people find hope in Christ.”

My pastor friend bragged on his church.  A good form of bragging.

I was excited for him.

Stories of life transformation is part of what propels me to help churches with their evangelism and hospitality.

Are you seeing life change?

Hearing conversion stories is exciting.

Being involved in a local church body where people are finding Jesus, experiencing redemption from their past, finding hope where they had none is a dream for me.  I want to be part of a church that is helping people find Jesus.

The power of the gospel in action is exciting.

Newcomers come to church where they can encounter hope as they learn about what it means to follow Jesus.

Transfers from other churches will stay in churches where the gospel is transforming lives.

Keep inviting your unsaved friends to church.  Help them to belong while they are searching and see how Jesus can change their life.

Your hospitality will play a role in people inviting friends to church.

Your hospitality will play a role in helping people come back to hear more of the gospel.

Don’t lose that vision

BuenasNuevasBaptism.jpgOver the years, I’ve talked with several churches that have lost this vision.  Their vision is survival, budget maintenance, or keeping the sheep well fed.  For them, it’s all about discipleship.  I don’t sense any excitement about the gospel’s power of redemption.

I have asked: “What would it take to see 10 adult baptisms this year?”

In those churches, I’ve seen sighs of hopelessness, objections, and even instant pessimism that it’s not possible.  They have lost the vision to reach people for Christ.

There is no excitement about what Jesus can do.

I wouldn’t want to stay involved in such a church.  Even if I came for a few weeks because the people were nice, I don’t think I’d stay long term if the church doesn’t have a compelling vision to reach the lost.

Hospitality is not the end.

I encounter many churches that believe hospitality ministry will fix their attendance problems.

That may be true short term, and I encourage churches to improve and fix their hospitality ministry.

Improving your welcome can help you increase the number of visitors who return to your church.

But hospitality is not the end.

  • If there is no manifestation of gospel power over the course of time, many people will move on.
  • If there is no excitement about people coming to know the Lord, some will move on.
  • If there is no offer of the gospel, those searching for hope may drop out or go somewhere else.

My pastor friend wrote:

Having a nice auditorium or cafe is great and people appreciate it, but it will never do what only the gospel with do.

Without having a culture of grace, the congregation often doesn’t feel free to invite people who need that grace.

So in turn they only invite other Christians and don’t have the opportunity for people to respond to the message.

We have worked hard on creating a culture of Belong,  Believe, Behave.

Our first objective is to get people to feel like they belong regardless of their past or present situations. Like Thomas, this gives Jesus the opportunity to show up to people.

A good welcome helps people come back.

But what my pastor friend is doing is helping people find faith in Jesus Christ.

That’s what I can be excited about.

Do you want to ramp up your hospitality?

I’ve taken several of the top articles on EvangelismCoach and turned them into a downloadable ebook that you can purchase, rather than spend hours digging through the over 1000 pages on this website.

It’s a shortcut to practical action steps.

If you are leading a hospitality committee looking at these issues, buy your copy of How to Welcome Church Visitors and get a head start.

 

Statistics on PC USA Membership Loss 2008

Since the PC USA is where I hold my ordination as pastor, these statistics are of interest to me, and I know that many of the EvangelismCoach.org subscribers are in that same tribe.

Source: PC(USA) – Presbyterian News Service – PC(USA) records steepest membership loss since reunion in 1983.

Membership in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) fell by 69,381 in 2008, the Office of the General Assembly (OGA) has announced in its annual statistical report, continuing a trend that began in the mid-1960s.

Total membership of the denomination is now 2,140,165.

According to the Research Services office of the General Assembly Council (GAC), the 2008 decline was the PC(USA)’s largest numerical and percentage net membership loss since Presbyterian reunion in 1983.

Almost 104,000 people joined the PC(USA) last year, but that good news was more than offset by the 34,101 Presbyterians who died, the 34,340 who were members of the 25 congregations that left the PC(USA) for other denominations, and the staggering 104,428 who were removed from the rolls by their sessions without apparently joining any other church.

Can a positive spin be put on this?   The General Assembly Stated Clerk announces

Parsons insisted that “Presbyterians can be evangelists!”

“But we often stumble over the words. Can we not challenge one another to be able to answer these basic questions,” he said. “Why do I believe in God? Why do I go to church? Why do I go to that particular church?”

Fewer congregations were dissolved in 2008 than in 2007 — 65 vs. 71 the previous year. And 40 new churches were organized last year, 23 more than the previous year. The PC(USA) currently comprises 10,751 congregations.

This suggests the need for

Eric Hoey, in an additional statement wrote:

In a June 18 statement, the Rev. Eric Hoey, the GAC’s director of Evangelism and Church Growth,  . . . . . attributed the large number of new members, in part, to the “Grow Christ’s Church Deep and Wide” initiative that came out of the 218th General Assembly (2008).

“Grow Christ’s Church Deep and Wide” created a groundswell of local and regional activity. The initiative challenged all levels of the church to acknowledge our decline and to commit to four areas of growth: evangelism, discipleship, servanthood and diversity,” Hoey said.

Presbyterian News Service has written a series of articles about congregations that are engaged in innovative outreach programs in order to Grow Christ’s Church Deep and Wide,’” he added.