We are about two-thirds of the way through our series “Truth & Love: Communicating Gospel Truth in Speech & Action.” Aware there is too much great stuff to read in our world and too little time, we continue to jump into these longer series for some highlights and discussion. Several churches have told us that they use these for reading and discussion among an outreach committee or hospitality committee, even a couple sessions or diaconates. So, here is our second installment.
1) Brad Peppo talked about being “The Only Christian In the Room” and drew on the Princess Bride to describe his desired approach to apologetics (“defending the faith”):
As I reflect upon my apologetic experiences over the past few years, I realize that my preferred approach is similar to that expressed in the movie Princess Bride by Fezzik the Giant in his hand-to hand contest with the man in black. I confess that I find myself much more comfortable to engage in Gospel discussion with a larger group of unbelievers rather than with a single unbeliever, and on my own rather than with other Christians.
There are a number of benefits I’ve seen in “Fezzik-style” apologetic encounters, but the primary one is the way that a solo appearance tends to encourage the group to give you a hearing. People naturally seem favorably disposed toward an underdog, and to have a Christian willingly offer to engage in discussion while outnumbered by potential hostiles makes them more willing to at least listen to what you have to say. But usually, it goes even further. I’ve almost always found that appearing by myself to engage in such circumstances makes the people much more inquisitive than they would otherwise be. Often such encounters turn entirely into extensive Q&A sessions about the Christian faith. And sometimes, because of the comfortability that comes from being part of the majority, questions are asked even by people who in other circumstances might not be willing to speak up.
Question: Does Brad’s “Fezzik-style” apologetic appeal to you or scare you to death? If it’s appealing, where could you take such an opportunity? For pastors, it may (like Brad) be on a campus, but for others it may be with three unbelieving friends around a coffee or lunch table. If the “Fezzik-style” of taking on a group of unbelievers isn’t you, maybe you are reminded to focus (and take) an opportunity one-on-one. Who might that be right now?
2) From John Shaw in the introduction to the series:
(On patience in building relationships) “This is one of the ways that Christians can stand out. How many people in the world are willing to invest years and years in their neighbor simply because they believe that their neighbor is valuable? People notice it. It’s different.”
Question: Who are the people in your life that you are in for the long haul to build a relationship because they are valuable? Is there anyone you need to rekindle a relationship with in this category?
Also, John Shaw:
(On James and the tongue and social media) “A little spark can set a whole forest on fire. That’s sometimes what we are doing on social media when we attack a person or an idea without respecting the person or the idea in the way that is deserved. And in so doing we set fire to relationships. And I bet some of you have examples of that, that you’ve seen or even experienced where relationships were completely destroyed because somebody typed something.
If you would like to hear a discussion on the use of social media you can go here: “John Shaw Podcast” and go to the 15:25 mark up to the 31:48 mark. Or find episode #13 of the Outward OPC podcast and listen to that time segment.
3) We had a widely popular podcast with 3 OPC pastors who are all in Southern California and all have backgrounds in Calvary Chapel before coming to the OPC.
They had so many anecdotes and helpful thoughts about how we can be more effective at reaching and welcoming people into a reformed church that it would be hard to share them.
You can go here for the first episode: “SoCal Pastors – Part 1”
Or just search for “Outward OPC” wherever you listen to podcasts.
In a follow-up article, Jesse Pirschel shared this thought about what he learned while at Calvary Chapel:
This brings me to a third thing that my time in Calvary Chapel taught me, to plan in hope. While our theology gives a more substantive argument for why the church should be optimistic, in practice I saw the expectation of growth held more prominently during my time in Calvary Chapel. When I speak of optimism, I am simply referring to the belief that God wants to save sinners and grow his church through the means He has appointed. In Calvary, there was a confidence that if the Word was preached faithfully and the body was willing to reach out, that people would come. Because of that, things were pursued in accordance with that expectation. While we know that God is under no obligation to grow any particular church, it is reasonable to believe that the Lord who has all authority over heaven and earth, who is working all things together for the sake of His church and who has promised the gates of Hell won’t prevail against her, generally delights to save sinners and draw people into the fellowship of His body through the ordinary means? With this in mind, it is helpful to plan in such a way that God given growth is part of our expectation. This will include us establishing practices that anticipate this sort of growth.
Question: Do you personally have that expectation for your church? Do you see it reflected in your church? Where? Where could it be improved?
If you want to read/listen further in this series, all posts can be found here: “Truth & Love Series.”