Sunday, August 05, 2007

Releasing the Billy Graham in you

Today’s sermon by Mr Patrick Cheng of NECF to me was not so much of a sermon to the true sense of the word. He shared with us Billy Graham’s call to Christians to bring “the stadium” to the home through his organisation called Celebration Hope. It involves the evangelising of the gospel from the home, inviting family, friends and neighbours to share with them the good news of Jesus Christ, through videos and short testimonies. Training is offered, a structure given.

During my recent Christian Theology 1 lectures, my lecturer, Sherman, had questions about the structurisation, if there is such a word, of the spread of the gospel, through plans, strategies and targets. Is this the right way?

I don’t know. Can something as personal as giving of oneself to Christ be part of a plan, part of a strategy and worse still, part of a target, a number? I am sure Jesus, Paul and Peter had their plans and strategies, albeit not formalised, but I don’t think they have targets set. Do they?

I don’t know. The speaker said that the results of Celebration Hope worldwide over the past 5 years have been good, with every 2 out of 10 ministered to accepting Christ as their personal Saviour. Maybe it can be done this way after all?

I am asking these questions because I need to know the motive of my questioning. Am I justifying my lack of evangelising or are the questions valid?

I don’t know. How do I share the gospel with those around me? I must say that I fare badly. I do not actively share the gospel with non-believers. I only hope that I do passively: through my actions at home, in the family, at work, in public. But is it effective? Once long ago, I had someone asking me if I were a Buddhist. He told me he asked because he noticed my good acts. So maybe Christians need to be more actively involved in witnessing to give our God due credit.

I remember the parable of the seeds: some fell on the path, some on rocky grounds and some on thorns, and those that fell on good soil, became harvest, thirty-fold, sixty-fold and hundred-fold. Now, are these targets?

It looks like I am back to square one.



  1. Your honest concern about whether you are failing God is an encouragement. Still,

    >The speaker said that the results of Celebration Hope worldwide over the past 5 years have been good, with every 2 out of 10 ministered to accepting Christ as their personal Saviour. Maybe it can be done this way after all?

    No, "it" cannot be "done" this way. This is bogus. The numbers are a source of shame, in my opinion. What they are doing is not alive, like a church would be and should be. You cannot advertise Christ into anyone's heart.

    The church lives out the love of Christ, and it's love that saves, not advertising.

    Count me as one soul hoping you'll not bury yourself under their pile of guilt.

  2. I agree with codepoke that I am sceptical about statistics such as these. 2 out of 10 over the last 5 years! That's a lot of new converts! Where are they then? Anyone seem them?

    I read somewhere that someone investigated a Billy Graham Crusade held in a large city in the UK. During that crusade, thousands went forward to receive Christ. 10 years later, the investigator reported he can hardly find one of these 'converts'. Sorry, I cannot cite the source of this.

    Evangelism is always loving the stranger, one at a time.

  3. About 20 years ago I realized that I spoke two languages. Maybe part of evangelizing is learning to speak one language?

  4. I can only think of this new "evangelism package" with a deep sigh.

  5. Thanks guys for contributing and helping me in my thoughts here. Codepoke is right, I shouldn't be feeling guilty about it, because at least I am thinking about it and working it out. I suppose having been brought up in that environment from young as far as evangelism is concerned makes it more difficult to refute it.

    I am thinking that sharing the gospel should be part and parcel of life, living out the Spirit in us, talking about it most naturally because it is just part of you. I am not a salesman in the first place, and I don't invite my friends to my house to show them my products, which is why I felt out of place at the suggestion of doing that as a way of sharing the good news of Christ.

    But it does remind me to be more mindful of how I could share the goodness of God through my life. I must find the opportunities.

  6. Codepoke,
    You cannot advertise Christ into anyone's heart.
    Well said. I find it quite a sneaky way really, to get people to your house not because you want to befriend but to "sell" to them, unless you have been inviting your friends to your house since day 1.

  7. Alex,
    Where are they then? Anyone seem them?
    Exactly my thoughts!

    Evangelism is always loving the stranger, one at a time.
    Interesting one. Can you elaborate?

  8. KB,
    Thanks Bob, I remember reading that back then :) At that time, I was not really in agreement really, because I still think that words like church and salvation is what characterise Christianity. But I get what you mean as far as church evangelism is concerned. But what about using ways of the world in Christianity, is that wrong? Didn't Paul say, in whatever ways we can spread the gospel? Most probably it would need to be contextualised to Paul's time and situation.

  9. SK,
    Thanks SK, I was hoping to hear you on this one :) I still have so much to iron out in my thoughts about Theology, and I just can't send it to the dobi! haha.. I hafta do it on my own, and I am thankful I have friends to consult.
    God bless!

  10. Somehow I have a funny feeling that this urge to evangelise is motivated by one's understanding of eschatology - if I get more "souls" saved, then Jesus will come faster and I will be spared from the Tribulation. If this is the case, then I think it is selfish - we are reducing strangers to merely objects of our desires and simply another head count.

    While statistics are good, but I get a bit concerned when we merely focus on numbers. What about subsequent follow-up, discipleship, mentoring? We simply cannot reduce stangers to statistics.

    Well, I don't even know many people are "saved" through my evangelism effort. I think I fare rather badly here.

  11. ah, Kar Yong, will you be spared from tribulation when Jesus comes? oops. Shouldn't have asked a theologian that. *smile*

  12. pearlie,

    my understanding of evangelism is closely linked to the biblical understanding of hospitality.

    First, you welcome the stranger. Next, you make the stranger your friend by your sharing of your life. Then you answer your friend's questions about what makes you different and joyful. Slowly your friend becomes your brother or sister.

  13. Hi Pearlie,

    My main thinking in speaking "one language" is that two languages are not necessary if we can get away from all of the religious imagery and verbiage. If we are to truly communicate when we evangelize then we need to be able to share the gospel and biblical truth in non-religious language. People should not have to learn our strange language to meet Jesus, know what he did and receive His message.

    Blessings, Bob