SPORTSPASTOR


Evangelism Goes Beyond the Pulpit
September 17, 2008, 10:54 am
Filed under: christian living, Christianity, Christians, church, evangelism, Life and Leadership, ministry, pastor | Tags:

Did you know that the typical churched believer will go their entire life without having the privilege of being involved in the process of leading someone to place their trust in Christ. I believe that this is due to the fact that they are overwhelmed by the task of evangelism. We are called to share the love of Christ with those who are lost and in need of a Savior, yet many are intimidated by this daunting task. If you dig deeper you will find that they have a fear of rejection by friends and family if they even ventured into the realm of evangelism. In fact, many believe that sharing the gospel is the job of the pastor on Sunday mornings at the end of the sermon.

George Barna in his book Revolution suggests that the role of evangelism goes beyond the pulpit. He points out that the early church as described in the New Testament book of Acts, chapter 2, carried out their evangelistic efforts through faith-based conversations. They prayed for and embraced opportunities to have “low-key/high impact conversations about truth and purpose in life. When this approach is combined with a life lived in such dedication to the things of God, opportunities will arise to share the joy of your salvation. The greatest witness that a person can have is a lifestyle that creates interest from those searching for meaning and purpose in life. When you find someone questioning your pure motives and inspired perspective you are engaged in the process of evangelism. It is our calling to share the gospel and it is God’s desire to save. I challenge you to redefine evangelism in your own life and “Go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:20)

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Over 900 People Trust Christ at Elevation Church!
September 10, 2008, 10:14 am
Filed under: church, evangelism, Gospel, Life and Leadership, outreach, pastor, sermon | Tags: , ,

Pastor Steven Furtick is the lead pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. At a young age, Steven realized God’s plan for him to start a life-changing church in a metropolitan city. Elevation Church was founded on the faith of eight families who risked everything — sold houses, quit jobs and moved to Charlotte believing God would turn their city upside down for His glory through the local church. That risk has resulted in a remarkable return.

At their two-year mark, Elevation grew to more than 3,500 in weekly attendance between its two portable campuses. In 2007, Elevation Church was named one of the 10 Fastest Growing Churches in America. And they are just getting started.

Pastor Steven’s challenging message and passionate desire to see “those far from God filled with life in Christ” has ignited a fire in Charlotte and beyond. Pastor Steven recently preached a three-part series on the gospel that was life-changing for over 900 people that gave their lives to Christ during the 3 weeks of The Gospel series. Visit the Elevation Church website and make time to listen to these sermons. Pastor Steven’s combination of boldness, conviction, and humility make him a gifted communicator that God is using to impact Charlotte in a powerful way. Pastor Steven is an inspiration to me and a constant reminder that the gospel is the power of salvation to all who believe (Romans 1:16)!



Three Good Reasons to Start a Church Sports Outreach Ministry

1) Sports Ministry provides opportunities for Outreach
Rarely do I use the term Sports Ministry without the word Outreach in the middle. Sports Outreach Ministry is a way for churches to reach beyond their walls into their community in a culturally relevant and attractive way. It may be children’s soccer, youth basketball, or adult co-ed softball; regardless, people play sports. And people watch sports. Everyone has a favorite team and sport they watch and if they don’t they jump on the bandwagon of one team or another when the playoffs reach peak excitement. Sports are culturally relevant. They are a creative means to reach out to people in your community, people who are unchurched and/or lost. A family could make contact with your church for the first time through something as fun as sports. If they have a good experience maybe they will consider visiting your church. What a tremendous opportunity sports ministry provides for outreach.

2) Sports Ministry provides opportunities for Ministry
Sports are relational. It may be cheering on a teammate, learning from a coach, or even chatting in the bleachers. Churches that have Sports Outreach Events challenge people that normally hang out in a Christian bubble to connect with people in their community, again many that are unchurched and/or lost. What a great way to make your church externally focused. The connections that are made in this way will go a long way in giving unchurched folk a positive view of the church and lost people a good impression of Christ followers. These relationships will naturally lead to opportunities to share stories about your faith. These relationships will also lead to opportunities to minister to people that need a helping hand or encouraging word when life is challenging. What a tremendous chance sports outreach provides for ministry.

3) Sports Ministry provides opportunities for Evangelism
Last but not least, sports provide a chance to share the Gospel. Maybe you have made a friend through the outreach effort of your church that asks you some basic questions about God. Maybe you have ministered to someone you met through a sports outreach event and it provided a chance for you to lead them to Christ. Or maybe you have the privilege of sharing the Good News at a Children’s Summer Sports Camp and seeing an amazing response to the Gospel message. If God uses you in this capacity you will never be the same, and you will always want to be a part of a sports outreach ministry that provides outreach, ministry, and evangelism avenues for you and your church. Start a sports ministry at your church today and impact your community for Christ.



Church DNA Essential # 1 – LOOK

There are a number of books aimed at pastors that focus on the purpose of the church. What many of these authors do not realize is they are promoting their priority DNA type. Some of the titles include, “The Connecting Church”, “The Disciple-Making Church”, and “The Equipping Church”. With all of these biblically-based books on the purpose of the church, how can you effectively decipher what DNA elements are essential for your community? I recommend we look at the life and mission of Christ to determine what our mission should be. The first thing that we can learn from the Gospel accounts is that our Lord Jesus Christ saw his primary task as that of Savior. Jesus says of himself in Luke 19:10, “the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” What does that mean for the church today? It means that we need to LOOK. We need to look beyond the walls of our church and find those in need of a Savior. Sadly, most churches today are inwardly focused. If they were evaluated in terms of the familiar parable of the lost sheep, they would be more interested in shepherding the 99 than “seeking and saving” the one lost sheep. We need to be what one author calls, “an outward-facing force”. If reaching the lost is a priority of Jesus then it should be our priority as the church.

The theme verses for our Church Sports Outreach Ministry are found in Colossians 4:5-6: “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” With God’s blessing we have successfully made the most of every opportunity through sports as a creative means to connect with our community for the purpose of encouraging them to pursue a life-long, joyous relationship with Jesus Christ. Sports is simply an effective way to build relationships with outsiders or unbelievers for the opportunity to minister to them, invite them to church, and share the love of Jesus in word and deed. We must be aware and LOOK for the opportunities that we have to share the Gospel with those who we are eager to reach. Is outreach a part of your church DNA? It should be.



Church DNA and Sports Outreach

What is church DNA? To answer this question, we have to first establish a standard definition of DNA from which to begin our discussion. DNA is best described as the basic genetic building blocks that determine who we are and ultimately what we will become. Many in church leadership and consulting are using this concept of DNA as a benchmark for assessing church health. Every church has building blocks that determine its current practices and its plans for the future. Assessing these building blocks help a church evaluate their values and priorities at the micro level. At the macro level the evaluation of a church’s DNA can measure a church’s health. The overall goal is that a church would be better able to chart the course for their future endeavors based upon their understanding of their own DNA.

Every church is different. Churches are different sizes. Some churches have 20,000 members and some churches have 200 members. Churches have different backgrounds and therefore different preferences. Because of their roots, some churches are traditional and some are contemporary. Some are stuck in the middle. I believe that a church should minister and worship in a way that best reflects the demographic of the church. In other words, minister in a way that allows the most people to experience God in a unified body of believers. This is a healthy practice of ministry and a flexible strand of DNA. This begs the important question: “What elements of DNA are essential to the local church?” I believe that the answer to this question is found in three places in Scripture. We will visit these church DNA essentials over the next three days.

How does this relate to Sports Outreach? If your church does not value the church DNA essentials that I will discuss, you will have a difficult time getting the leadership team to buy into the idea of starting a sports outreach ministry. But don’t lose hope; pray for God to use you as the catalyst for change as you challenge and influence those in leadership.



Pleasing God vs. Desiring God

Desiring GodWhen I read books, I have an orange highlighter in one hand and the book I am reading in the other. When I read books like “Desiring God”, by John Piper, I have a red pen in one hand and the book in the other. If the chief end of man is to “glorify God and enjoy him forever”, then we all need to return to the beginning before the fall and act like original sin never happened. Yes, we should bring God glory in everything we do and say, but to enjoy God focuses too much on man. The Bible says that we should please God. That to me is a little bit more reverent than enjoying God, your pal…your best friend. We can enjoy being involved in the building of His kingdom, as he uses us as an empty vessel; but to enjoy Him forever places too high of value in my opinion on fallen man. Colossians 1:9-10 says, “For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” This pericope suggests that it is more of a matter of obedience and grace than friendship and pleasure. Therefore, the chief end of man is that we might “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him!” If God created us for his glory, then we must focus more on passages like Romans 12:1-2, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” We can worship God by setting aside our own wants and desires and submitting our will in exchange for His. This is what truly pleases God and brings Him glory. 2 Corinthians 5:9 says, “Therefore also we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.” Pleasing the Lord should be the number one desire from the heart of every believer. In conclusion, Hebrews 11:6 says that “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Our Christian life is about our pursuit of God, not our pursuit of pleasure. Prepare yourself to be used by God when your primary purpose for living is to please the one that first gave you life. The least we can do is to offer our lives back to Him.



2007 Summer Football Camp

“I love the principles that you are teaching the children in addition to just football skills. My son comes home every night repeating exactly what the coaches are teaching.”
–Football Camp, Unchurched Dad

Week in Review:
Wednesday – Rain kept us inside at the local community college gymnasium, but we made the most of the first day and did more instruction and agility work than a normal camp day. Parents appreciated the fact that we had created a weather hotline that we gave the parents the number to call and we updated it each morning at 6am with the camp location based upon the weather. Fortunately, Wednesday would be our only day inside.

Thursday – Dallas Cowboy greats, Darren Woodson and Roy Williams, made a special guest appearance to talk to the campers about football and character. Each athlete shared his testimony and commitment to living out his faith even though so many NFL players choose not to do so. The kids asked some great questions. My favorite being: When did you start playing football? Roy Williams answered that he was 5 years old and found a life preserver and used it as shoulder pads and begin to tackle everything in his path, including furniture and family.

Friday – My favorite day because we had an opportunity to speak to the group about what it means to be a Christian Athlete. We presented the Good News that God loves them so much that he sent His only Son to die on the cross so that they may be forgiven if they believe in Jesus Christ. Eleven boys, ages 8-13, responded to the message and trusted Christ for their salvation. Praise the Lord!

Saturday – All of the parents were invited to watch their child compete and scrimmage on this final day. We had volunteers from our church ready to hand our frozen lemonade to the families and provide for them a warm welcome. Over half of these families are not from our church. What a tremendous opportunity we have had to impact our commmunity for Christ, through sports. We were blessed with good weather despite uncertain forecasts. We were blessed to have access to the nicest fields in town. And finally, we were blessed with a coaching staff, camp director, and camp volunteers that love the Lord, love the game of football, and loved having the opportunity to encourage and teach the children how to build skills and build character!