This has been an extended series and we are grateful to all the OPC Pastors who participated in the interview. They provided great insights and examples. But we know that your lives are saturated with information–even great information. So, our final two posts will be some of the great quotes from the series. If you have read along with the series, these will remind you and stir your hearts and minds. If you just haven’t been able to keep up and read, this will give you a taste. These two final posts would make for good reading in a small group or outreach committee to then discuss.
The first half of the best quotes:
“What I encourage the members of the mission work to do is to think and pray about helping someone simply take one step closer to Jesus. Perhaps it’s a tiny step of introducing yourself to a neighbor, possibly becoming the first Christian they’ve ever met. Maybe it’s a medium step of inviting someone to church. Maybe you find someone willing to read the Gospel of Mark with you. Don’t despise the day of small things (Zechariah 4:10) because our God is the ultimate evangelist who can use our meager efforts to bring our neighbors to true faith in Jesus Christ.”
“Theological precision is incredibly important for long-term faithfulness—that is part of our heritage. But a related part of our heritage is Machen and the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions and Van Til witnessing to his neighbors and preaching on Wall Street. Each of these OPC ministers cared deeply for faithful gospel outreach. It is in the DNA of the OPC—with plenty of current examples as well—to give attention both to sound doctrine and to evangelistic zeal.”
“I think we need to constantly be hearing and working through the implications of the gospel which produces the humility that we need ( so that we do not distance ourselves from others in pride or speak to others in a condescending manner) but also the courage we need ( so that we do not live in fear of this culture or develop a “circle the wagons mentality” in the church. I think many in the OPC believe the gospel is absolutely necessary for coming to faith the first time and growing in maturity….I am not sure we have always thought about and worked through the gospel implications for outreach and cultural engagement.”
“I have always grown up and received all theological training within the Reformed camp. I think what I have learned from others who served with Youth With a Mission (YWAM) in Thailand was just the expectation that God can do great things and that the Spirit will provide what we need in outreach and evangelism. This has led me to pray much more for the work of the Spirit and asking the Spirit to do what the Spirit loves to do in outreach (give more courage, fix the eyes of the heart on Christ rather than the circumstances, give more consolation, remind me of what I know in the Word). Being more Spirit dependent has been a tremendous blessing received from outside the Reformed camp.”
“I believe that if the OPC wants to grow in effectively reaching the lost, the most important thing we ought to be doing to grow in our effectiveness is spending intentional time with people who do not know Jesus. We must pray and discuss evangelism, but we do not realize our purpose until we step into the lives of people who are stumbling along through this dark world and point them in personal ways to the Savior.
**How do we make that step- both as individuals and as church communities? One place we might start is by showing hospitality to non-Christian friends and neighbors. I’ve seen many OPC churches that are excellent at welcoming fellow brothers in sisters in Christ into their homes. Good food and friendly faces create an atmosphere where people can speak honestly and vulnerably. What if those doors of our homes opened not only to fellow believers but also to the Hindu family next door or the guy holding a “God is Dead” sign on the street corner? What if OPC families (or churches) started to invite their neighborhood blocks to open houses? If those things start to happen, conversations might become much more uncomfortable. Parents might worry about what their kids are hearing from their guests around the dinner table… but at the same time, our unbelieving neighbors would start to see a living picture of the warm welcome that God gives in the gospel. Not only that, but we would start to understand specific details of the lives of the lost, and we could begin to find winsome ways to commend the gospel and welcome these friends to church.”
“First, we need to become more comfortable talking personally about Jesus with other Christians. Strangely, there can be an awkwardness to speak of him, even inside the church. Talking theology is easy; it is impersonal and can bypass the heart. Talk of Jesus’ beauty or his merciful care for me in my need can get caught in the throat. We need to be more comfortable speaking to other Christians about our sins and weaknesses, and his sufficiency. We need to find joy in him so that there is Holy Spirit slosh-over out of our hearts in sharing our grace stories with others, inside and outside the church.”
“On a related theme, we need to develop winsomeness in speaking with people who have lost any sense of a Christian memory or vocabulary or morality. We need to learn to speak without anger, but with compassion, to those who think nothing like we do. Respectful conversation with those with whom we disagree is a lost art today. We are increasingly living in different worlds with different vocabularies so must work intentionally to bridge that gap.”
“One thing we have tried to do at RPC is to cultivate a warm, friendly, and welcoming atmosphere in the church. While it’s true that most people won’t suddenly decide to come worship with us, and we need to be proactive about outreach, we also want to think about what “hang-ups and hindrances” an unbeliever or unchurched person might have if they were to accept an invitation to come worship with us. We try to make sure that every visitor is greeted at the door, and we try to especially involve our college-age singles in that ministry. We try to be mindful of the immediate needs of those who might visit, letting them know where the restrooms are, or where they can take young children if there’s a need to “make an escape” during worship. We try to ensure that our first-time visitors are made comfortable and shown to a seat somewhere in the back, in case they would feel uncomfortable coming in a bit late and realizing that the only empty seats are in the front.”
“One thing that has been surprising to see is how the Lord has most often used my wife and children more than me in our personal efforts to minister to the lost. Mae routinely carries cards with church information and tries to engage with people she meets at the grocery store, the beach, the playground, the thrift store, walking or bicycling around our neighborhood, and wherever she goes. Our children regularly pray for lost neighbors and I’m often humbled by the sincerity and the urgency of their prayers. Often, it’s only after my family has had an evangelistic “encounter” that I ever enter the picture.”