Video: How do you know Christianity is the one true worldview

Ravi Zacharias of RZIM is one of my favorite apologists.

His Youtube video channel has over 2,000,000 views and I could spend a day watching each video.

The strength of his ministry is an apologetics and philosophy.  If that is your evangelism style, his material will help you.

Review of Beyond Belief by Patrick McElroy

Beyond Belief by Patrick McElroy is subtitled Live a Consistent, Spiritually Powerful life.beyondbelief3

From the back cover:

“a book about breaking free from a spiritually weak life to achieve the consistently powerful one that is available to every believer.

It’s a Bible Study 101 that guides reader to a greater revelation of God.”

Summary of Beyond Belief

The 66-page book is a simple explanation of basic Christian belief and it’s relevance to life today.  The chapters are short, with related Scriptures listed at the end of each.

It uses the basic gospel script of the sharing the Law and then the Gospel.

It covers other basic points such as the authority of Scripture, sovereignty of God, the person and work of the Holy Spirit, prayer, and so forth.

His goal within each chapter seems to want to build a case that the best spiritual life is one centered in a relationship with Christ.

In Chapter 9, he offers a roadmap on how to begin your spiritual life by inviting Christ into your heart.

Yielding to the work of the Holy Spirit in your life, available only to those who have received Christ as Savior and Lord, will change your life today, not just for eternity.

My take on Beyond Belief

Worldview Assumptions in Beyond Belief

The book can be used as a primer or a review in your basic discipleship work.    It assumes the reader has a biblical worldview and agrees with the authoritativeness of Scripture.

As a tool to use in evangelism, the biggest challenge will be the book’s generous use of Scripture.  The assumption of biblical authority runs through the text.

If the seeker reading the book doesn’t yet share that foundation of biblical authority, the proofs offered in the book may seem circular or insufficient.

They might say –- “the bible says it, ok.  So what?”

(Read about handing biblical illiteracy here under the header Seeds already planted)

To use Beyond Belief as a pre-Christian evangelism tool in small groups, the small group leader should be aware of how to handle alternative worldviews and help the seekers discover biblical authority.

Exclusivity of the Gospel in Beyond Belief

I appreciated the simplicity of how he treats the exclusivity of the gospel, and how he affirms that Jesus is the only way to salvation.   I share that belief so I had no problem with it’s presentation.

For my readers who don’t share that viewpoint, this book may seem too fundamentalist to your liking.

Overall reaction to McElroy’s Beyond Belief

The book is simple, short, and can likely be read in one sitting.

As a small group resource, I can see where it can be useful for those who grew up in a church and left and are reaching a season in their life where they are returning to their Christian roots, where there are still seeds of respect for Biblical authority.

Order your copy of Beyond Belief direct from Amazon.

Buy through the link and we’ll receive a few pennies commission to support our work.

The Rabbit and the Elephant Review

rabbitandelephantcoverToday, I’m participating in a blog book tour for The Rabbit and the Elephant: Why Small Is the New Big for Today’s Church Tony and Felicity Dale.

Others have published their entry ahead of me (see below), and a few others will follow behind.

The Rabbit and the Elephant

A movement of house churches is reaching the tipping point in North America.  Some claim it’s a second Reformation.

How could we change the world if our Christian faith began multiplying at a rapid pace — through a way of life that is explosive and transformational?

We can grow, can we reproduce?

pic_lg_dale_tonyx100Fleicity Dale

As Christians, we are the church—whether we meet in office buildings, college dorm rooms, coffee shops, factories, or homes—and the Holy Spirit uses us to expand that church to the far reaches of the globe.

By practicing “simple church,” we’ll find that a small gathering of friends loving Jesus together and reaching out to the community around them can help us to be the church, the way God intended.

The Rabbit and the Elephant Synopsis:

If you put two elephants in a room together and close the door, in 22 months you may get one baby elephant. But two rabbits together for the same amount of time will result in thousands of baby rabbits!

In The Rabbit and the Elephant, “micro church” planters Tony and Felicity Dale use the “rabbit” illustration to show the pace at which the Christian faith can (and should) be growing—through evangelism that is explosive and transformational. The Rabbit and the Elephant contains the key to 21st century evangelism—taking the Gospel to where the pain and the people are.

My take on the Rabbit and the Elephant

If you are familiar with Neil Cole (Organic Church: Growing Faith Where Life Happens and Organic Leadership: Leading Naturally Right Where You Are) you are likely familiar with the simple church movement.

This book by Tony and Felicity Dale adds to the body of literature about the house church / simple church  movement.

The Rabbit and Elephant can serve as a great introductory book for Christians looking into this model of church planting.  The entire book is written so that one can grab a good introductory level concept of what a house church might look like, how it might multiply, and how a house church can rapidly do the work of personal evangelism.

Overall, I found it to be an easy read, easily digestible, and full of personal stories that model what a house church might do, including some of the messiness of spectacular failures.

Because every house church is unique, The Rabbit and Elephant can’t get into every single detail or challenge presented by one house church, so the authors have to stay at a generic overview level.

But they do provide enough information that one could follow a few practical steps and launch a house church in their own area.

Included are some sample meeting outlines, a FAQ appendix, and a good review of common pitfalls in a simple church.

Worldview

The writers are well seeped in a charismatic worldview, which believes in the ongoing operation of the spiritual gifts and the realty of spiritual warfare.  They firmly believe in God’s miraculous activity and the guidance of the Holy Spirit about how and where to share the gospel.

I share their worldview, so much of this text and examples were easily digestable.  For those that don’t share that worldview (such as dispensational cessationists, or people who aren’t even aware of their worldview), some of the stories and principles may be a stretch, a sticking point, or even heretical in your worldview.

Yet the Dales are clear to say that not all simple churches share their worldview with regards to the spiritual gifts and spiritual warfare.

As another part of their worldview, there is a nice mixing of relational evangelism, which means their church meetings might have more non-believers than believers in them.  If this makes one uncomfortable, then this model of doing church might not work for you.

The best chapter in the Rabbit and the Elephant

Chapter 13, called Luke 10 Principles, outlines their entire church planting methodology.  This chapter alone is worth the price of the book, whether you want to plant a church or simply learn about small group expansions through networks.  In my estimation this chapter is the crux of the entire book so let me give you the basic outline.

1.  Trust God to provide the strategy and workers (Luke 10:1-2)

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.

The disciples were sent out as “church planting” teams and directed where to go.  The job of the disciples were to obey His instructions, and go to places where He was to visit.

The root of this is prayer.  They recommend prayer walking (webinar, resources) where you sense Jesus is sending you.

2.  Trust in God’s protection (Luke 10:3)

Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves

As you go places you may very well confront demonic powers (which exposes a worldview claim in the text).  We are to bind the strong man (Luke 11:21-22) and cooperate with God’s rescue.  Ed Silvoso writes much more about this in That None Should Perish.

3.  Trust God to provide Resources (Luke 10:4)

Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road

4.  Trust God to lead you to the Person of Peace (Luke 10:5)

When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you.

This is the most crucial insight into the methodology.  Look for the person of peace who will invite you into their home to start a house church within their social network.

This is a person who has some kind of reputation (good or bad) and has a wide circle of influence.  The church is usually started in that person’s home (p. 105).

New Testament examples would be Cornelius (Acts 10), or Lydia (Acts 16), or perhaps the woman at the well (John 4).

5.  Enjoy the Hospitality that God provides (Luke 10:7-8)

Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you.

Don’t move from home to home, but stay in the home of the person of peace.  House churches celebrate meals together as part of their practice.  Eating with people creates relationship.  At this point, you’ve only become a friend.  There has been no proclamation to this point.

6.  Trust God to Answer Your Prayers (Luke 10:9)

Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’

Look for opportunities to pray with and for people.  You’re looking for opportunity to bring people face to face with God’s activity.  Once you identify needs you can put your faith on the line and pray.

Then watch God respond.  In their experience, this often happens in connection with one of the spiritual gifts, such as prophecy or word of knowledge, as a demonstration of the kingdom of God.  When people experience the power of God in this way, word of mouth causes more people to gather to start studying and learning from God.

The Rabbit and the Elephant For Legacy Churches

They use the term Legacy churches to speak of what most of us think as church:  a gathering of believers in a building, led by one or more pastors, with a worship service that follows some kind of liturgy.  Mainline denominations, evangelical denominations, all of these have what we would consider traditional churches.

For legacy churches thinking about migrating to simple church, this book hints at such a transition, but doesn’t serve as a how to manual to make that transition.  It also doesn’t get into helping one re-frame their current way of doing church into this model.  It doesn’t get into issues like 501c3 status, record keeping, membership, articles of organization, paying a full time pastor, and stuff like that.

It doesn’t deal with some of the confessional theology of legacy churches (such as what are the marks of the church, Westminster confession of faith, ch 25.4).  I think this direction is outside the scope of the book.

However, legacy churches that want to expand their small group structure, this book can have a lot to say in terms of launching new small groups, and empowering people to launch small groups in their areas of influence.  The Luke 10 principles above are, I think, equally applicable there as well.

I also commend the Dales for not ripping the legacy churches as they present an alternative model.

Order your copy of The Rabbit and Elephant from Amazon. (affiliate link)

Related Resources

Other Reviews of The Rabbit and the Elephant

Drifting Away from the World

In They like Jesus, but not the Church, even Dan Kimball confesses that he made the same discovery at one point– no non-Christian relationships.

As I have given relational evangelism training seminars around the US and Latin America, the most common confession I hear from those who have walked with Christ for many years

I don’t have any unchurched friends.

The gradual change

For those with an adult conversion experience, they often notice that when they first come to faith, they have a lot of connections with unreached or unchurched people.

As their worldview changes with their new found faith, new relationships form in the church, values change, and social networks change.  It’s a natural process and one that is actually very helpful for discipleship.

Solitary Rowboat in Digby, NS

It’s a drifting away from the world.

But the obvious downside is that one may forget to maintain the prior relationships and is suddenly in the cocoon of

Doing church — committee meetings, bible studies, and other volunteer activities.

Busy life transitions — various seasons of life have time commitments that minimize our ability to preserve friendships.  The constant rush from one activity to the next.  Example: young kids growing older often leads to more extra activity to keep up with sports, music, or other clubs.  Parents move to chaperone and

Isolation through Technology — using computers, cell phones, iPods and iPhones, we connect with those we want to, no longer taking the time to even notice the people around us.  I notice this more and more when I’m in American airports watching people while waiting for my next flight.

The cocoon forms.

It’s natural and happens with nearly everyone.

Pastors included

When I was pastoring a local church, I found myself spending way too much time in the office — surrounded by church people, called by church people, and calling on church people for visitation.

My time not in the office was spent in the car shuffling family members from event to event, or doing supply runs for church events.

I eventually left that routine — to get out of the Christian Bubble.

If you are a pastor – where do you connect with unchurched or unreached people on a regular basis?

If you are not a pastor — what can you do to help your pastor spend time with unchurched or unreached people?

Let me ask you this:

Did you do the exercise in the prior entry Do you have any non-Christian Friendships?

If you have found yourself in the cocoon, how did it form in your life?

What steps can you take this week to get out?

Did Saint Francis of Assisi get it wrong?

One of my loyal readers (via RSS feed) wrote an interesting post:

Today, I had coffee with a friend of mine who said, “I don’t believe that it is my responsibility to share the gospel.” He just wanted to live his life in such a way that people would be attracted to that example and hopefully come to Christ.

I reminded him that for a Christian, the Bible teaches that sharing the gospel is not optional. Jesus commanded us to tell others about his death, burial and resurrection.

Who is to say that your life well lived will look any different than that example of a good atheist, Buddhist, Muslim or any other religion?

St. Francis of Assisi quote:

“Preach the gospel at all times and
when necessary use words.”

St. Francis of Assisi quote
(attributed to him, I’ve not seen documentation if it really was him).

But I’ve often wondered if Francis of Assisi got it right, or if we have so misused his words to justify our lack of communicating the gospel with words.

St. Francis of Assisi may be wrong

In the comments at the original post, I wrote:

One of the things I like to say is that St. Francis got it wrong.

In our culture today, meaning is determined by the meaning maker. In other words, meaning is implied in how I interpret your actions, unless you interpret your actions for me.

If none is given (just being silent), what separates one’s actions from that of a moral kind and loving atheist?

I think of art in a museum.

I look at it but apparently I’m supposed to figure out what it means.

I wish someone would tell me what those splotchs of seemingly random color smears are supposed to mean.

I wrote about this idea at “Is your outreach the same as evangelism?”

Does your behavior stand out?

If your actions are no different than another morally upright and well behaved person, what really makes you stand out?

Of course, we are the salt the the earth, and to let our light shine.

God will make our righteousness shine like the dawn, etc.

There is something to be said about our righteousness that is attractive.

That righteousness is revealed when we are under pressure — where people face the temptation to give in and fail — our righteousness shines like the dawn.  Our kindness is evident when the world has treated someone wrong and its unexpected.

But in our day to day life — is our moral behavior any different from the person in the next cubicle?  Does that alone make us stand out?

This is where I think St. Francis’ quote is misused.  Perhaps in his day, his extreme actions spoke louder than the culture which raised the curiosity factor into Saint Francis of Assisi’s life.

Clear Communication is Necessary

One of the clearest points I got out of Becoming a Contagious Christian, was the importance of clear communication.

Without an explanation of the resurrection of Christ and it’s application to you, what are people to believe?  That one can simply be good?

Ray Comfort’s Way of the Master approach is all based on Clear Communication.

It is our obedience to share our faith in Christ.

It is our duty and calling to speak of our relationship with Jesus.  The gospel is important and we want people to believe in the gospel as revealed in Scripture.  We don’t need to let people guess for themselves.

Servant evangelism offers a card with their actions that explain that they are doing their service as an active demonstration of the love of Jesus Christ.  The cards given usually don’t explain the gospel, but give an invitation to the church, and provide a contextual moment for a gospel conversation to occur if the Holy spirit is opening the door.

Coaching Corner

When has a non-Christian asked you why your behavior is different?

How did you answer that question?

What can you do to make sure your life is interpreted in light of the gospel?