Archive for August, 2011

Our culture has changed dramatically in the last generation. As a young preacher I heard stories that men of God would go door to door down a street in their city, and 10, 20 or maybe even 50 people would pray to receive Christ. Oh, how wonderful it would be to have experienced that kind of openness to the gospel. Even, 26 years ago when I started in the ministry, you could still do door to door evangelism. Myself, and others would knock on 100 doors a day meeting people and sharing the gospel when possible. Today people don’t want to be bothered by strangers (nor do I), they won’t even open the door or they live in gated communities. Today’s culture poses new challenges to spreading of the gospel. In order to penetrate today’s lostness riverwoods adopted an additional strategy “Creative Evangelism”.

I have adopted the mind-set, “Do whatever it takes to get the word of God to people”. The scriptures say (Matt 10:16) “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So, be shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.” At riverwoods church we are serious about getting the gospel to people. In fact we are using creative ways to get them to come to us. In the last two months we have seen over 70 public decisions regarding Christ. The great thing is that almost all of these people making decisions have no church context.

In July we sponsored a FREE Bass Tournament. We gave away $9,000 in prize money and the fishermen didn’t have to pay an entry fee. This year we had our largest attendance to date, 195 boats, which means almost 400 fishermen, plus families. We did require them to attend a pre-tournament meeting which was held on Friday night before the tournament on Saturday. During the pre-tournament meeting we fed the fishermen a simple meal, had a worship service where the gospel was presented, and held a tournament rules meeting. During the service 56 men publicly made a decision for Christ. The next day we held the tournament and it was a great time. Many of the fishermen say it is the best tournament they fish. We have even been contacted about other decisions since the tournament, isn’t it wonderful how the word continues to bear fruit. This year before the meeting we held, campone17, a youth camp about becoming fishers of men based on Jesus’ word in (Mark1:17) “…follow me & I will make you fishers of men.” A sister church, GCC of Olive Branch, MS brought their youth to the camp and then on Friday and Saturday helped us with the tournament.

In August, riverwoods Eddyville hosted a mud truck drag race event much like the free bass tournament, where the competitors get to race for free and received the largest prize money of the year. Just for your information the racers are a little tougher and rougher than the fishing crowd. During the worship service we had people mocking and jeering our worship team. I simply confronted this behavior and let them know that if they raced, they had to sit down, be respectful and remain throughout the meeting. Men started taking their hats off, some worshiped, some didn’t, but they all paid close attention while I preached the gospel. Attendance was just a little over 100 and 14 people prayed to receive Christ. Some of our people were a little scared when I confronted the improper behavior, but I told them; ‘Sometimes you just have to get in the fire and snatch them out’.

Reaching people with the gospel takes a lot of work and costs a lot of money, but, the rewards are worth the effort. I love reaching people with the gospel even if it means I have to do “Creative Evangelism”.

After talking with a friend today it became a reality that we need to be careful how we invest our time. This friend has been very involved for years in something he enjoys, is passionate about and given up a lot of time to participate in. In our conversations he has communicated a desire to use this activity to touch people with the gospel. We have a joint venture together this year around this activity, for the purpose that others will hear the gospel. This event is a litmus test for his future involvement with this activity. Simply stated; he wants to make sure he spends his time making a difference for the kingdom of God. If he does not see the movement of God in people he plans on finding more productive soil in which to spend time and plant seed.

We can find a lot of places to spend our time, but the secret is having discernment about maximizing our time. The problem in our culture is not finding somewhere to volunteer, serve or get involved. The issue is discerning the best places to get involved. The busier life gets it becomes more important it to say yes to the right things and most important understanding which opportunities where we must say, NO! Opportunities abound! Many of them are good and worthy of support. When it comes to giving our time we need a clear discernment from God to determine the best over the good. Understanding your purpose will help you to determine where to spend your time.

I believe the first consideration when looking for a place to invest your time is the local church. God instituted the church, it is not a man made organization but a God made organism for reaching, making and maturing believers. Scripture says “Jesus loved the church and gave himself for it.” Don’t try to convince others or yourself about your commitment to, love for, or devotion and inspiration concerning Christ if you are not fully invested in a local church. This is the tool God has created to expand His kingdom.

So, as you’re considering options to invest your time, please seek the Holy Spirit for discernment and divine opportunities.