Preaching to the masses

Many lovers of art and history around the world mourned the recent fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral. “We lost a teacher,” is their cry. I heard someone fittingly point out that today we construct church buildings to house our teachers, but the Notre Dame was the teacher. This is true in the sense that during the Dark Ages when the Cathedral was built, the majority of the public was illiterate. People had to learn with pictures or with the spoken word. Art was often used to teach those who could not read.

Today we are dealing with a different kind of illiteracy, ignorance of Who is God. Yes, people do and can read books, but what are they reading the most? Their social media.

So, how do we reach them? Do we continue the same methods we have used for the past 50 years, and then scratch our heads and wonder why it’s not as effective as it used to be?  Well, if the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expect different results, are we insane?

From Genesis to Revelation we observe that God is always coming down from Heaven to the people. From coming down to walk with Adam and Eve in the garden (Gen. 2), to Jesus coming to earth to die for our sins, and even in the future when the new heaven and the new earth descend (Rev. 21). Therefore, as His instruments with the mission of making disciples, what are we to do? Do we continue to expect them to come to us looking for Jesus, inviting the unsaved to a worship service that they won’t even understand because they don’t have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them? Or, should we go to them?

Yes, first and foremost, we go to the unsaved by building one-on-one redemptive relationships with our unsaved neighbors, coworkers, and classmates.

When Jesus came to earth He was able to personally interact with some. We thank the Lord for the friendships we have formed with our neighbors and others in the community. A few even agreed to study the Bible together with us!

However, Jesus also preached to the masses. How can we preach to the masses in today’s context? Maybe inviting people to church or special meetings worked in the past, but is that the most effective method today?

At our church, we do continue to canvas once a month with the goal of reaching every house in our municipality of Pilar with an invitation flyer once every five years. We still hand out tracts, but it has its limits.

One method to reach beyond our personal circles of influence that is actually working is social media. We know social media can reach the masses, and so we are using it to preach to the masses. Taking advantage of the algorithms of Facebook and Instagram, we publish “micro” sermons throughout the week. Our goal is to point people’s thoughts to God through His Word, presented in a modern way. The message has not changed, but the method has.   

Social media is often the first contact someone will have with our church, whether they are searching for something or one of their contacts shared one of our posts. We present God’s Word in a variety of ways – Bible verses, quotes, clips from sermons, and links to articles. (We try to stick with the 80/20 rule – 80% teaching/encouragement and only 20% church announcements.) Through our interaction, they feel like they “know” us before they ever decide to visit our church. We see anywhere from one to five visitors each service because they follow us on social media.

They walked through the front door. Now, what happens? This is the vital point that cannot be missed:

If our visitors do not experience a welcoming, friendly atmosphere of a disciple-making culture that cares about people’s souls, they will not come back.

In other words, I can sit in my office all week long and create amazing content for social media, but if we are not discipling our people during the 167 hours per week that they are outside of the worship service, they will not minister to the visitors during the one hour they show up on Sunday morning. And it must come from the church people, not just the pastor and his wife. Believe me, we know.

Following Jesus’ example, here’s how we try to invest our time in making disciples:

time diagram

Yet another challenge (No ice buckets required!)

ice-bucket-challengeNo doubt you are aware of the Ice Bucket Challenge videos spreading through the internet like wildfire. The purpose of these videos is to raise awareness and funds for a disease called ALS.  Before this social media phenomenon began, many of the participants and viewers of the videos probably never even knew what this cruel disease is all about. I did, because my own sister passed away four years ago from ALS. That’s why I am glad my husband and children responded to their challenges, though they realize the momentary discomfort of being deluged with ice water is nothing compared to suffering from the disease.

As Christians, however, we need to raise awareness for another disease that is even worse than ALS. It’s an infirmity that attacks your heart, then your mind, and finally your body. It causes you to do things that hurt yourself and others. Lastly, it causes an awful, drawn-out death where you feel like you are burning with a fever you’ve never felt before. This horrific disease is called sin.  Sadly, I must tell you that I have this disease. Thankfully, when I was a teenager someone told me about the cure found in Jesus Christ and I no longer have to fear dying from this malady!  My husband and I are so grateful for what Jesus did to save us from this eternal death, that we can’t help but share His cure with others.  That is precisely why we are in Argentina.

evangelize

Those who support us on the mission field don’t need to make a video of themselves throwing ice water on their head, nor do they need to be publicly challenged on social media. They respond to the Lord’s leading in their life, praying for us and quietly write out their check and place it in the offering plate or the mail box. For you, we are grateful.

Faith Promise (1)

There may be others out there who do not give to missions and do not share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others. I challenge you, Christian, to start doing both!

go ye

“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

I could tell you that you have 24 hours to complete this challenge, but instead I will say that this ought to be a part of your 24/7 daily life.  Every day, ask God for a divine appointment [God bringing someone into your life who needs to hear this news] to share His cure for this disease called sin. As you begin to share Christ either through giving out a tract, sharing your personal testimony or giving the Gospel with those who are dying and going to Hell, you will begin to have a burden to do more.  You will want to give to missions and even go on mission trips because you love your Savior, Jesus Christ.

make-disciples

By His grace alone,

~Amy