Monday, March 14, 2011

Relational Evangelism

Below is an outline of the sermon I preached yesterday at Leng Kwang Baptist Church (13 Mar 2011). The text used is Luke 5:27-39. 
Key verse: "Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them" (Luke 5:29).


Who is a Christian?
A Christian is a disciple-follower of Christ

Luke 5:27-28 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. "Follow me," Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.

A disciple is one whose following is
  • Active: “got up” (opp: passive)
  • Radical:  “left everything” (opp: half-hearted)
  • Personal: “followed him” (opp: teachings only)

NT Evangelism is Relational

Luke 5:29 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them.
  • Seeker-friendly: “a great banquet for Jesus” - hospitality involves seeker-friendly meals
  • Seeker- sensitive: “at his house” - a familiar & non-threatening environment
  • Seeker-focused: “tax collectors and others” - Levi's fishing ground/social network; “others”: ministry for non-members

Alpha is Relational Evangelism
A 15-session practical introduction to the Christian faith conducted over 10 weeks with a weekend away at week 6.
  • Key elements of Alpha

  1. Meals: to build relationship
  2. Talks: to proclaim Gospel of Kingdom
  3. Small groups: to answer objections and experience community
  4. Weekend Away: to experience Christ through the Holy Spirit


Objections to Alpha

Objection #1: Alpha focuses too much on outsiders (v.31)
Luke 5:30-32 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and 'sinners'?“ Jesus answered them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

“Church ministry should focus on members”: 90% or more of church budget focuses on members
  • Jesus’ reply (v.31): "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
  • Church is the only organisation that exists for non-members
  • Jesus’ mission: “To seek & save the lost.”
  • Our Commission: “Go and make disciples of all nations”

Objection #2: Alpha compromises the Gospel with party atmosphere
Luke 5:33-35 They said to him, "John's disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking."  Jesus answered, "Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? 35 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast."

“Alpha stresses feasting instead of fasting”: Saving soul is serious business
  • Jesus’ reply: "Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them?”
  • The Gospel of the Kingdom is Good News
  • Jesus compares the Kingdom of God is often compared to a wedding banquet, not funeral service
  • Wedding dinners are happy occasions
  • Kingdom of God is “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).

Objection #3: Alpha requires too much commitment & changes
Luke 5:36-39 He told them this parable: "No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, 'The old is better.'"

“The old is better” (v.39): Comfort zone—why risk changes?
  • Jesus’ reply (v.37-38): “new wine must be poured into new wineskins.”
  • New wine: new life of the Spirit needs new ways
  • Insanity: “Doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.”
  • Alpha requires new wineskins

  1. seeker-focused mindset
  2. seeker-friendly culture
  3. seeker-sensitive structure

Conclusion
  • Church is a fishing village (not an aquarium!)

Alpha is God’s net for harvesting
  • Alpha is for everyone

You can be a Mary: pray for someone
You can be an Andrew: invite someone
You can be a Martha: serve in hospitality team
You can be a Matthew: host a group
You can be a Paul: give the talks
You can be an Apollos: build up the new believers