“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Spn and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20
Mt. Arbel is called “The Mountain” by those in and around Galilee because it is, by far, the biggest mountain in the area. The views are astounding as you can see into a huge portion of the Promised Land from it’s rocky heights. Being from Colorado, a state very familiar with large mountains, I was surprised at how high this particular mountain was.
Although the Bible doesn’t specify which mountain Jesus and his disciples were on there is a very good chance it could have been this astounding mountain in Galilee.
As I stood upon it’s windy heights with 200 other ministry leaders committed to advancing the Gospel, listening to this very passage being taught by a great Bible teacher from Austrailia, I was deeply impacted. I could only imagine the 11 disciples looking down at the Sea of Galilee and remembering all the lessons Jesus had taught them on it’s waters and shores.
I couldn’t help but imagine them hearing Jesus’ command for them to make disciples “of all nations” and being filled with trepidation. What lay beyond the Golan heights, beyond the ancient city of Dan, beyond the borders of the Promised Land, lived the dangerous, pagan worshipping Gentiles.
I too scanned the horizon that day. I began to think and wonder how the training and tools from Dare 2 Share might be used by God to impact the world.
These last several days in Israel have been very encouraging. Many of these international leaders have heard of Dare 2 Share and a surprising number of them have/are using our evangelism training and outreach tools already. Pray God continues to open doors to partner with our brothers and sisters from around the world in our last few days here.
What about you? What is beyond the horizon for you? It may be dangerous, but, Jesus goes with you. And if you stay dependent on him Jesus will accomplish amazing things through you…just like he did with those eleven disciples.
“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it.” Matthew 1618
On our trip to Israel we just went to what has been known for thousands of years as “The Gates of Hell”. This large cave located in a beautiful and somewhat remote part of Caesarea Philppi was the location that Jesus took his disciples just before he “set his face toward Jerusalem” and worked his way toward his passion and crucifixion.
This area of Israel is somewhere that no decent Jew would ever want to be associated with publicly. It was a place that was rumored to be the mouth of hell where demons and evil spirits would make their way out from the abyss into the earthly realm. It has also been a place where babies have been sacrificed, all sorts of sexual rituals practiced and a place of pagan worship, specifically of the god Pan.
So why in the world would Jesus pick this dark place as a place to challenge his disciples? Why would Jesus use this scary looking cave as an illustration?
Actually, I cannot think of a better and more powerful illustration. This cave is built at the base of a huge cliff. So when Jesus says, “On this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” the disciples see in front of them a very visceral analogy…this large cliff and, at it’s base, a giant cave.
Jesus goes right to the very gates of hell to build his church on the rock. He goes right into the midst of the worst of the worst, the most pagan, depraved and deprived, to build his kingdom.
What’s the lesson for us? We are to reach the bad, the broken, the bullied and the bullies with the hope that only Jesus can offer. We are to, just like Jesus and the disciples, go right to the gates of hell to be used by Jesus to build his church.
This trip to Israel is impacting me with illustrations like this at every turn. Pray that God continues to use it in my life in a powerful way over the next several days.
“Immediately Jesus made the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves becauuse the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw hm walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost’ they said and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them, ‘Take couage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ ‘Lord, if it’s you’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’ ‘Come’ he said.” Matthew 14:22-29
It was wild, weird and wonderful to be on the Sea of Galilee with 200 other ministry leaders from 55 countries today. We went into the middle of the body of water (which is surprisingly small by the way), tied our two boats together and heard a great talk from Don Roscoe on Jesus’ interactions with the beautiful and tempestuous body of water.
We found out the storms come suddenly and powerfully on the Sea of Galilee. In 1990 there was one storm that send ten foot high waves into the city of Tiberious and caused significant damage this ancient and beautiful town.
I discovered all about the region of the demoniac (whom Jesus healed), the significance of what it meant to go to “the other side” of the lake (which represented leaving the Jewish culture into the pagan world of the Romans) and how Jesus lived Capernaum, which had a view of the Jews (on the Tiberius side of the lake) and, now modern Kursi (which was filled with paganism.)
Sonlife veteran, Don Roscoe, then shared with us something that really ministered deeply to my heart regarding Jesus walking on the water. He told us that when the disciples freaked out because they thought Jesus was a ghost (many considered this lake haunted) and told them “Take courage it is I” that “it is I” could be translated “I am.”
That’s when Peter jumped out of the boat. Nobody else got the connection. But when this rugged fisherman heard Jesus’ words he hurtled over the edge of the boat and began walking on water.
The same lesson for me is the same lesson for you in this passage: Are we willing to jump out of our comfort boat into what Jesus has called us to? Do we really believe he is the Great I AM?
Let us, like Peter, truly believe that he is I AM and jump out of the boat. Let us, unlike Peter, keep our eyes fixed on Jesus instead of the waves that are raging around us.
Okay, I’ve never heard of anybody literally punting a baby (and I hope I never do!) But I’ve seen countless Christians do a spiritual equivalent of this with those they’ve led to Jesus. And, to be honest, I’ve been guilty of it myself from time to time.
When someone puts their faith in Jesus they are spiritual babies who’ve been “born again” into the family of God through faith in Jesus Christ (John 3:3-16.) And this is when we need to do our best to help these newborns grow spiritually by getting them connected to a healthy, vibrant church. Here (at church), spiritually mature Christians can get these new believers the truth of God’s Word to help them grow, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good”1 Peter 2:2-3.
The church is the spiritual incubator for newborns to receive the spiritual food, nurturing and warmth they need to grow into healthy followers of Jesus. The following passage reminds us of the church’s central role to helping spiritual babies grow into mature believers:
“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”Ephesians 4:11-15
The body of Christ is essential to enable the growth of spiritual babies into all God wants them to become. There is no plan B.
So, when you lead someone to Jesus make sure you do your best to then lead that newborn to a church where they can grow spiritually. If we don’t then we are, spiritually speaking, punting the baby.
Currently there are about 12,000 Starbucks stores across the United States.* These 12,000 stores are strategically located in high end strip malls, busy corners and Target Store entrances. They are designed to draw us in and give us the coffee (and snacks and atmosphere and, did I say coffee?) we love.
Starbucks has done the best job of any coffee company in existence of penetrating the market and saturating the nation. Their green and white circle sign of deliciousness draws us weary travelers in like a bee to a honey flavored Frappuccino (is there such a drink? Just wait and I’m sure there will be!)
So how can Starbucks saturate the physical cravings of decaffeinated Americans and the church cannot satisfy the spiritual thirst of Americans with the living water? After all, there are only 12,000 Starbucks coffee shops in the United States and there are over 300,000 Protestant churches! That’s right! We outnumber Starbucks by 25 to 1!
So, with this as a backdrop, here’s what Starbucks can teach the Church when it comes to evangelism:
1. Train more “Baristas” to serve excellent drinks consistently.
Too many times the pastor is the only Barista in the church. You have to go to church to get served the good news. Of course the pastors should be sharing the Gospel in their sermons but the primary job of the pastor according to Ephesians 4:11,12 is to “equip God’s people for works of service.” Part of this is equipping their congregations to share the Gospel with their friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, classmates and teammates.
Do you have a plan to train your people to share the Gospel? Check out Dare 2 Share’s two free faith-sharing mobile apps to help you do just that! You can also check out our brand new adult small group curriculum that will help you “gospelize” your entire congregation!
2. Only buy the best beans.
Starbucks takes great care to buy the best. We need to make sure we are serving the best Gospel! As Paul wrote to the Galatian believers, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed” Galatians 1:6-8.
Too many times too many churches preach a “gospel” which is no gospel at all. It is a works based “turn, try, cry” gospel which robs the cross of it’s power and make salvation about what we do for Jesus instead of what Jesus has done for us. This kind of Gospel is accursed and will leave a bitter aftertaste in the soul’s of the thirsty sinner.
Preach a #SolaFide, faith alone in Christ alone message of hope and redemption through the finished work of Christ and the empty tomb. This too-good-to-be-true message is too good and true too. It is the kind of message sinners will line up for like customers in a busy Starbucks on a Monday morning.
3. Focus on the thirstiest demographic.
Young people are more likely to trust in Jesus than older people. Of course that doesn’t mean that we forsake the older for the younger but if we are serious about saturating a community with the hope of Jesus Christ then we need to put our best drinks forward with the children, teens and twenty somethings.
At Dare 2 Share we are seeking to mobilize 30,000 Gospel Advancing ministries (churches, youth groups, etc) which will saturate entire communities in teen-centric Gospel conversations. Why 30,000? Because according to the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute if you can get 10% of a demographic 100% committed toward a vision, cause or set of values they will inevitably influence the other 90% (Source: July 26th, 2011 Edition of Science Daily.) Because there are 300,000(ish) churches in America our goal is to get 30,000 of them who will choose to be Gospel Advancing with the young people in their community. For more information about what it takes to join this growing movement click here.
4. Create an above-and-beyond culture of love in your store.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42-47
There will people line out the door of the early church (so to speak since, technically, they had no buildings!) Why? Because of the good news message and the good news people! There was such an attractive setting of love, hope and selflessness that people were drawn into their numbers daily!
5. Stay connected to Headquarters to get the latest and greatest.
Starbucks stores stay tuned to HQ to get the latest drinks, designs, campaigns, etc. Usually this works out really well for every store in the field. But once in awhile even Starbucks stumbles with their ideas (#RaceTogether).
Our HQ (aka “heaven”) never stumbles with the latest and greatest initiatives. We must continually be communicating with our heavenly Father to get the wisdom we need to run these initiatives with prudence, precision and power! Our access to God through prayer is what creates this line of communication.
Sure there are more ways in which Starbucks can teach us about evangelism (personalized drinks, clean stores, friendly service, etc) but these five stand out to me. May these ideas spur you on to saturating your community with a lot of good news lattes.
Here’s a sermon that I preached at First Baptist Raytown last Sunday called “Whatever it takes!” It’s based on Mark 2:1-11 and the four men who did whatever it took to get their paralytic friend to Jesus…even chopping through a roof! As a former roofer (8 years of my life) this passage takes on a special significance to me because of the danger involved in their courageous act of faith. Watch this sermon and determine, like these four friends, to do whatever it takes to get your friend to Jesus!
There have been a handful of books I have read in my life where I have inwardly cheered from beginning to end. Mission Drift was one of them. Peter Greer and Chris Horst do a masterful job of challenging Christian churches, charities and universities to keep the Gospel at their core no matter what.
Using examples from real life (like the mission drift of Harvard and Yale, both of which started as Gospel-centered schools) these two excellent authors chronicle the temptations that come from not obsessively focusing on the core distinctives of being a truly Christian organization. They speak frankly about their own temptations to compromise their message for potential donations to the ministry, Hope International, they work for personally. They also share how they overcame those temptations to stand even stronger on their ministry’s Gospel convictions.
This book is also chalk full of ideas, best practices and examples of how effective “mission true” organizations have kept true to their Christian core over years and even decades. These brands of organization are obsessively focused on the truth of the good news of Jesus. As Winston Churchill once said, “A fanatic is someone who won’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.” In the same way mission true organizations are fanatics for the Gospel message and take precautions to make sure their focus will stay that way for years to come.
I would HIGHLY recommend this book for…
-Church leadership teams (because, yes, even in the church it’s easy to forsake our Gospel focus)
-Board members and executive teams of Christian based non-profit organizations that are focused on serving the physical and spiritual needs of the less fortunate (because it can be tempting to forsake or downplay our Christian distinctives for the sake of donations.)
-Board members and exec teams of Christian ministries that are all about advancing the message and mission of Jesus (because, as this book shows, even purely Gospel focused ministries can drift from their current core convictions if they don’t take safeguards for the future! In Mission Drift you can see how the YMCA became “The Y” and abandoned their deep roots in the faith.)
-Leaders, board members and faculty of Christian colleges and universities (which, sadly, can easily drift into theological liberalism if not intensely guarded.)
This is the kind of book you’ll want to buy for entire boards and leadership teams to read. It’s that important.
As Hebrews 2:1 reminds us, “So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it.”
If you are serious about your church, charity or university staying anchored to it’s Gospel core, getting, reading and applying the truths in Mission Drift is a must.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
The last words of Jesus were a roadmap to global transformation. He gave his disciples the mission of taking the good news across the street (Jerusalem and Judea), across the tracks (Samaria) and across the world!
That same urgent mission of saturating the planet with the gospel is alive and well today. The baton of responsibility to accomplish this great cause, THE Cause, has been handed down through the ages and now resides firmly in our hands.
Just where were the disciples commanded to go with the gospel and how does it specifically apply to us? Let’s break down this 2,000 year old quest into three bite sized pieces. Here are the three places we need to go to with the Gospel…
Across the street…
“you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea…”
Jerusalem and Judea were the stomping grounds of the early disciples and the early church. Jerusalem was ground zero for their spiritual activities until the action center for mission mobilization moved from Jerusalem (mostly Jewish) to Antioch (Jews and Gentiles) in Acts 12:25-13:3.)
Even the broader province of Judea was only 55 miles by about 25 miles or so. The disciples had traversed from city to city in this region toward the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Luke 10:1 says, “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.” Because they were in twos there were thirty six groups that saturated the region of Judea with the good news of Jesus.
Before the ascension of Jesus into heaven he commissioned his disciples to make sure everyone, starting in this very region, understood the totality of the good news of salvation by faith alone in him based on his finished work on the cross! This global mission began with a local focus, saturating their community, their city, their people and their region with the Gospel message.
What does this mean for us? I’m convinced that “Jerusalem“, for us, starts with our neighbors, co-workers, classmates and friends then cascades out to our city and state! We need to be witnesses to the people who are within our reach. We, too, need to start by reaching those within our own “stomping grounds” with the hope of Jesus Christ.
Across the tracks
“you will be my witnesses…in Samaria….”
To many of the Jews at this time Samaria was off limits. They considered the Samaritan people compromising half breeds (half Jew/half Gentile) and did their best to avoid them. That’s why the Samaritan woman was shocked when Jesus talked to her in John 4:7-9. But Jesus shattered the racial prejudices of his time with a simple question and a powerful extension of grace to this promiscuous and curious Samaritan woman.
Jesus calls his disciples to do the same by taking the good news to Samaria. But, as my friend Derwin Gray pointed out to me, it took a persecution (Acts 8:1) to get the disciples out of Jerusalem and into Samaria. It took Acts 8:1 for them to take Acts 1:8 seriously.
What’s it going to take for us? Yes, we need to reach our own communities but we also need to go “across the tracks” in some way to share the Gospel with those we aren’t like and may not normally like. Racial prejudice, economic separation, etc are roadblocks that must be obliterated in light of the cross and empty tomb. Jesus died to obliterate them (Ephesians 2:14) and calls us to walk in the new reality he died to create.
I thank God for a church in the suburbs that reached across the tracks to the tough part of the inner city to reach my family for Jesus! The members of this church had a heart for their own “Jerusalem” but were willing to reach into their version of “Samaria” (my hood) with the message of Jesus!
Are you reaching across the tracks in your city in some way? Are you building relationships, serving the broken and sharing Jesus in your version of Samaria?
Across the world
“you will be my witnesses…to the ends of the earth.”
You can do this in three ways: Pray, Give and Go! I encourage you to do all three! Pray for global missions in your family prayers! Pray for the persecuted church! Pray for the Gospel to saturate unreached people groups! Pray for missionaries!
Give financially specifically toward global missions! Make it part of your pattern and passion! This will keep missions on your radar and give you a bigger heart for God’s global plan.
As my friend Dave Gibson always says, “If you have a heart to reach America for Christ you maybe have 5% of God’s heart because his heart is for the world!”
And, finally, GO! Go on a short-term, evangelistically-focused mission trip and watch God break your heart for the lost. Some of you may even be called to go full-time into missions. This is a huge and amazing privilege and I am convinced there is no higher privilege than to take the good news to the ends of the earth. We need to re-heroize missionaries in the church, especially to the next generation.
So let’s get going. Let’s take the gospel of Jesus across the street, across the tracks and across the world!