Manual Rural Evangelism: Catching the Vision

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A guide to Fresh Expressions external web link. When Jesus saw the crowds he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd Then he said to his disciples: "The harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few Fresh Expressions A new initiative for changing times Our world is changing. How will Fresh Expressions help? Renewing Vision Helping the whole church to catch and live this fresh vision for mission through stories, publications and advocacy. Since it was not yet time for the cross, the Lord withdrew from Jerusalem to avoid unnecessary confrontation with the Pharisees.

His objective was Galilee. He had two routes open to Him. But the text tells us vs. He must pass through Samaria. The question is why since this was not the normal course for a Jew who went out of his way to avoid going through Samaria. Let me suggest two reasons. First of all it was necessary because He was driven and directed by the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit had been preparing a village for the Gospel of Christ. The Holy Spirit was the agent and power behind all that Jesus did Matt. He is likewise the agent and power behind all effective evangelism Acts Note the following illustrations:.


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If we are going to be a people involved effectively in evangelism, we must be a Spirit-controlled, Spirit-led people. Second, the Lord had to go through Samaria because of the prevalent attitude of prejudice toward Samaria and Samaritans found in the Jewish community of which the disciples were obviously a part. This needed to be corrected.

Christ came for all the world, for the despised and outcasts. If His disciples were to carry on His ministry after He departed, they must have His vision and purpose. So the Lord went through Samaria to both reach this village with the Gospel and to teach the disciples some important lessons. He was there for human reasons, but it was precisely this humanness that became a common ground, the bridge or avenue for contact with others and a means of reaching out to people in need of His life.

We need to capture this. We have many things in common with people all around us and each of these can become contact points if we will just become caring and sensitive to them as people; if we will just open our eyes and see the fields white unto harvest. God wants to use us to love and win people to Himself John ; cf. Nicodemus was a cultured, powerful, and righteous Jew. This woman was an unknown and immoral Samaritan peasant. But the Lord cared for and led both to know Himself as the water of life. Verse 7.

3.5. The Stewardship of God’s Truth Through Evangelism (Part 2)

His request for water. Note how He broke with cultural and religious convention and prejudice and used the common ground of their need of water to capture her attention and stimulate her curiosity so He could establish a base for reaching this woman with the message of who He was and what He could do for her. Verse 8. The absence of His disciples. They were absent at this point, but this would become a training aid on their arrival.

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Verse 9. Her response. She was startled at His request.

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He was breaking with Jewish prejudice. Edwin Blum writes:. A Rabbinic law of A. Verse You -not I-would be asking! Time and my purpose in this study will not allow me to pursue it, but this passage is loaded with principles of personal evangelism. Our purpose and one of the emphases of the passage, if not the primary one, is one of catching the vision of our Lord—seeing as Jesus sees. People who need Christ are all around us.

But for this to occur, we must have His vision, we must see as He sees, care as He cares, and become devoted to that which He is devoted. Jesus was wholly concerned with God, and because of that, He was wholly concerned with people. So, being led by the Spirit of God, the Lord used this event to pass on a vision to help the disciples and us see as He sees. We tend to be far sighted. We can see the need for missionaries in Africa the far picture , but when it comes to our oikos , our neighbors, work buddies, the kids on the block, or the runaways downtown, we have blurred vision.

We just see blobs moving about. The prayer request was for the elimination of the irritation. I suggested that, in dependence on the Lord, he might look for an opportunity to ask his supervisor if he was okay. That night we all prayed for the supervisor and my friend tried this very approach during the next week and came back to class the following week excited because it not only changed the working conditions, but it opened up a great opportunity to share Christ with his supervisor. I was simply seeking to impart the vision of fields that were white unto harvest.

In this encounter with the Samaritan woman, the Lord was breaking with convention and going against both Jewish and Samaritan prejudice. The Greek text is emphatic. Her words were words of surprise and scorn. But we might ask how did she know Jesus was a Jew and how did the disciples know she was a Samaritan?

The point is, Christ, whom the disciples viewed as a rabbi, a teacher of the Law, was talking with a woman in public and one who was a Samaritan at that! This astonished them, yet because of their respect for the Lord, no one questioned him about this. What they saw as madness , He saw as ministry. So what does this teach us about ourselves?

It reminds us how our culture and personal prejudices against others because of dress, character, color of skin, cultural differences, or personal differences whatever they might be, can literally blind us to their needs and to our responsibilities as ambassadors of the Gospel. Such people have become invisible to us. Concerning the problem of seeing those who have become invisible to us, Frank Tillapaugh has the following to say:. All they saw in Zacchaeus was a despicable little tax collector. But Jesus saw someone who needed a friend and, more than that, someone who needed deliverance from his sin.

But He saw a precious, hurting human being who could be the key to spreading the gospel in Samaria. Over and over again He saw what was invisible to those around Him. A major task for the local church body then is to help one another see hitherto invisible segments of our society. Thousand of refugees, for example, can melt into a major city and hardly be noticed. Even though they still receive mention occasionally in the media, most people, including those in our churches, scarcely know they exist. We need to condition ourselves to see what Jesus saw.

We need to ask ourselves as we move about the city, Who are these people? What is their contact point with the gospel? Is there something God would have me do? For example, go sit in the emergency room of the publicly financed hospital in your community, preferably between P. Watch as people come in with gunshot wounds, knife wounds, drug overdoses or battered bodies. Listen as they grope to give their addresses or the name of their next of kin. Having met the Savior and having become confident of who He was, the woman left her water pot and rushed into the city to spread the news John Note verse If we really know the gift that God gives us in Christ and who He is, the Lord and Savior, if we are really abiding in Him daily, how can it continue to be business as usual?

How can we continue to live without dramatic and binding life-changing consequences? But in the process of this, and because of our carnal bent, we tend to become preoccupied not only with eating and its pleasures, but with all the details of life. As our Lord warned in Matthew , we tend to be anxious over what shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or with what we shall clothe ourselves. He did.

Rural Evangelism: Catching the Vision Kevin E. Ruffcorn

What it means is that there were other forces and aspirations that were His greatest motivations and that guided His life. In this verse we see both the misunderstanding and perplexity of the disciples. They completely missed His point. They thought He was talking about physical food when in essence He was referring to spiritual concepts and objectives.

Do you see what He is saying to us? Ministry to this woman had fed His own soul because He was doing that for which He had been sent into the world. Life must consist in more than the things we possess Luke , First you plant prepare the soil and sow the seed , and then four months later, you reap. The process of waiting four months is true in cultivation and harvesting of grain, but it is not true in relation to bringing people into the kingdom of God. It involves a different spiritual process that means people are ripe for the harvest now. Some have thought the Samaritans in their white garments coming from the village vs.

Why did the Lord make this statement to the disciples? Because this represents our tendency. We tend to treat the harvest of souls into the kingdom of God like the farmer treats the sowing and reaping of his harvest. We develop tunnel vision which limits the potential of ministry opportunities that surround us. It results in spiritual dullness, personal unhappiness, unfulfilled lives, and numerical stagnation. It results in a people who become occupied with themselves, who become complainers in the church, and in general, nit pickers.

Or, it results in the religious cushion syndrome. What exactly is our problem today? False visions that lead men and women to feverishly work to climb to the top of a mountain that cannot satisfy. And in the struggle up this mountain for the goodies of this world, we not only hurt ourselves, our health and spiritual lives, but we stay oblivious to those around us in need as we climb this barren mountain.

People usually make contact with God in the same way we screw a light bulb into an electrical socket … step-by-step and stage-by-stage. We turn the bulb a little at a time, until contact is made and the light goes on. People are normally prompted to turn their attention toward God in the same gradual manner.

Jesus spoke of this process, as did the Apostle Paul, under the figure of sowing and reaping cf. John ; 1 Cor. The important principle in reaching men and women for the Savior is a process that is going on at all times. It is a process that involves soil preparation, sowing, watering, and reaping, but the fields are always white to harvest.

There are those out there, sometimes the most unlikely, that are ready for reaping like the woman at the well and this Samaritan village. We need to relax about this through understanding our responsibility. Certainly, the ultimate goal is to lead people to the Savior, but we must recognize this involves a process and never see people simply as an evangelism project. Our job is to love people as people, to reach out to them, and as we have opportunity share the riches of Christ.

We are to sow, water, and reap, but in the final analysis whether we are sowing, watering, or reaping, only God can lead them to Himself. The fields are white. Some are ready for harvesting and some are not, but as Christians, God wants us all to be involved in the process. In a world portrayed by Scripture as dark and full of people described as blind and walking in darkness John ; ; Rom. Thus, the Bible has much to say about light and sight or vision.

This certainly includes the need to understand and live in the light of our purpose and mission as the people of God. The point is that both members and church leaders can lose sight of their mission, their calling and purpose in the world as disciple-makers and change agents. As Richard Lovelace put it:. An unconscious conspiracy arises between their flesh and that of their congregations. Pastors are permitted to become ministerial superstars.

Their pride is fed and their congregations are permitted to remain herds of sheep in which each has cheerfully turned to his own way. So what happens? The theme of Acts is given for us in As a historian, Luke summarized his first work on the life of Jesus Christ in Acts , but then sets forth the theme of his second volume through the words of the Lord in But while is the theme, we must not forget that is both a reminder and a warning that the ministry of the Spirit is to be viewed as continuing the ministry of the Lord Himself through His people.

In effect, is the outline of the book showing the spread of Christianity as a work of the Lord through a Spirit-empowered church.

How to Increase Evangelism in a Rural Church

These are like concentric circles:. Old Testament. This gives us a clear picture of the place and emphasis of Acts. Numerical Growth: In keeping with the theme of the book of Acts, we have in the center of this section an emphasis on the adding of souls to the body of Christ. This is a result of the events of Pentecost and the preaching of Peter But contrary to what our Pentecostal brethren teach, Pentecost would be recorded for us as Luke has done, but it would not be repeated.

Speaking with other tongues—actual languages unknown to the speakers but understood by the hearers—would occur until the cessation of that gift before 70 A. The question naturally arises, how will the church continue to have a dynamic witness to the world? Through the Spirit, of course. But what are the essential characteristics and ingredients for maintaining a Spirit empowered or controlled church?

The Pattern of Early Church Life: It is not by accident that Luke immediately takes us to the pattern of worship and life in the early church. He seems to make a connection between numerical church growth and its spiritual growth. If there was to be real spiritual growth and the continuation of numerical growth, a certain pattern of life was essential. In this word we see the earnestness, commitment, zeal, and faithfulness of the early church to assemble and fellowship together around the things of Christ. They were deeply involved in the things of Christ. But what is involvement? The church must get involved with God and with others if it is to truly impact the world.

There are four areas of involvement: a with God, b with family, c with other Christians, and d with non-Christians. Involvement includes: love, faith, spontaneity, vulnerability, and accountability. I know of no more potent killer than isolation. There is no more destructive influence on physical and mental health than the isolation of you from me and us from them.

It has been shown to be a central agent in the etiology of depression, paranoia, schizophrenia, rape, suicide, mass murder, and a wide variety of disease states. Their fellowship was the reality of the unity of faith and love and joy that so characterized these early believers. The Pattern of Daily Lifestyles and Values: Note an important connection: Within the community of believers there was a spirit of unity in commitment and rejoicing and generosity.

Outside, they enjoyed good will or favor from the people with the Lord adding to the church daily. It thus calls attention to the impact the early Christians were having on their community because of the authenticity of their walk with the Lord and the way it was changing their lives. First, we see involvement: as believers, they were together lit. In this we see a new commitment for fellowship with believers.

Second, they possessed a new value system. This was all voluntary and based on their love for each other, their love for the Lord, and the single-minded perspective of heavenly treasure. This new value system not only led to generosity, but to new priorities in the use of their time with each other in the pursuit of spiritual things. There, they met formally and carried on their worship, teaching, discussions, and praise.

Then, they took their meals in their own homes lit. They met formally to study and worship together in the temple and then they would meet together in various homes for food and closer fellowship. We also see they met daily or day by day. This text does not command every day meetings. They may have alternated between the temple and their homes, but the point is they were consistent and they joyfully assembled together for worship, encouragement, and fellowship. All of this was to a large degree the product of their sincerity of heart.

Above reference was made to their single-minded perspective. They were a church that exalted the Lord by praise. Indeed, they lived by praise because their trust and hope was in the Lord and not in the details of life—fame and fortune, and power and pleasure. I am reminded of Psalm A further outcome of all of this is found in the rest of Acts , favor with all people and the numerical growth of the church by the work of God.

This is a message to Jewish people, but it would be well to note verse In this we see the nature and character of the true blessing of God, to turn us from our wicked ways. But what are wicked ways? Too often we have a distorted view of this. We tend to unconsciously see the wicked or sinful as people who sin differently from us. We often think of drunkenness, murder, drugs, fraud, lying, stealing, pornography, and maybe even gossip and criticism. But what about spiritual apathy, false values, pursuits, and priorities that keep us from fellowship, praying together, from the study of the Word, and ministry?

Persecution began to break out because of the jealousy of the religious leaders who had rejected the Lord. But the church thrived in the midst of persecution while today the church is, for the most part, dying in the midst of luxurious living. Our preoccupation with comfort, pleasure, and independence is killing our witness in the world. Either our pursuits keep us from seeking the kingdom of God or they blind us to those in need of our ministry. Regardless of the persecution, Peter boldly proclaimed the Lord as the sole source of salvation Acts What kind of men did the Lord use in the early church who literally turned the world upside down?

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