March 6, 2011

Email Evangelism

Filed under: Evangelism — Tags: , , , — Marv Plementosh @ 12:13 pm

Are you, like me, sick of the constant barrage of pseudo-christian emails?  I receive them constantly!  They usually point out some moral outrage in our country and culture, or they call us to pray for a certain political or judicial outcome.  Often they will try to heighten our awareness of angels or bring a tear to our eye with some over-sweetened story of a dying child who says he sees God while deathly ill.  I suppose some folks eat these things up, but to me they have the flavor of over-sweetened moralistic piety and no more reflect the truths of our Lord Jesus Christ then a puddle of mud (maybe even less).  I often delete these types of things as soon as I realize what they are, but lately I have been considering another tactic.

How about having a standardized return email saved in the “draft” section of my email program?  One that could be ready to pull out at a moments notice and fire off in reply to any sappy christian-esque correspondence I might receive? Maybe it could be worded something similar to this:

“Dear Friend,

I thank you for the email you sent me regarding <insert sappy topic here>.  I am sure it must have touched you in some meaningful way, or you would not have sent it, and so I thank you for thinking of me when desiring to share these more insightful and touching moments.  Having said that, I must confess to you that I find the touching thoughts in most religious emails pale in significance compared to the true facts that I have come to understand from God’s Word.  Let me explain…

I have broken the commandments.  All of them.  I have lied and lusted, I have made many things my god (most often myself) and hated with murderous intent.  I have blasphemed and relished in wicked imaginations.  Often, when convicted of these things, I protectively held onto them.  All of these things are crimes against God’s Law.   And yet…Christ came and took my punishment!  God in the flesh humbled Himself to become man and bear the curse of a sinful wretch like me!!  And why?  Well, not for any reason to be found inside of me, I can assure you.  He was tortured and killed for my crimes against God’s Law, and when He took my punishment, He legally gave me His righteousness in the Heavenly Court.  Me!!  The most sinful of the sinful!!  He saved me!  The grace, and love behind this confounds my mind and astonishes me every time I dwell on it!  I now live a life of repentance striving to serve my new master every day, and even though I often fail, I am still forgiven.  He has brought me into His family, and with incredible grace & patience is slowly changing me so that I might bear the family resemblance.  When I sin, He chastises me (sometimes severely), strengthens me and continues to rebuild me from the inside out.  The incredible thing He has done (and is doing) for me and in me is totally His doing, I could never do it myself, earn it or pay Him back, and yet He is doing it anyway!

Many emails may be touching in some sort of abstract way, but the truth is that when they are compared to what Jesus Christ has already actually done, well…. I just think they pale in comparison.  Salvation and a new birth at the hand of a Holy and Just God is simply an overwhelming concept for a sinful and undeserving creature like me. 

You sent me an email regarding something you found meaningful, something that brought you hope, and I again thank you for sharing.  But I hope this standardized form-letter reply I have sent brings you hope of a far more substantial and real nature.  When Christ died on that Cross and regained life again on the third day, it was then that He offered life to you as well.  The Good News I just can’t get over is that there is forgiveness and eternal life through repentance and the forgiveness of sins in the name of Christ our Lord!!!  And so now, friend, I encourage you to find a quiet place so that you may fall to your knees, repent of your sins and seek the forgiveness of the one who died on the Cross.  He has promised that those who believe in His work (and His work alone) will be saved.  He makes His people into new people… whole new creations!  He makes people dead inside alive once again.  Trust me when I tell you that the real and factual hope of life in Christ is far more touching and meaningful than the email stories that carry only the glimmer of a shadow of a reflection of the one true hope, that being Christ Jesus our Lord!

Your Friend and Adopted Child of God,

<insert name here>”

I think a response letter like that might go a long way.  So many people get worked up over emotional stories, and miss the wonder of the most incredible story ever told.  Replying with a letter like this is a great way to take the focus off of “religiosity” and put it solidly back on Christ where it should be.  And the best part is this… co-workers can hardly accuse you of religious activities in the workplace when this letter is simply in response to a religious letter they themselves sent you!  I would encourage all who read this to clip the letter and save it as a “draft” right now in order to have it handy for the next religious email you receive.  To Christ alone be the Glory!

- Reposted From ChurchSalt.com

October 25, 2010

Where are our priorities… A short post..

Filed under: Evangelism — admin @ 10:28 pm

A survey of U.S. Protestant congregations in 1992 revealed that 82% of the church revenues went for buildings, staff and internal programs; only 18%  went to outreach. - “Where Church Revenues Go” The Atlanta Journal and Constitution (April 19, 1992)

October 11, 2010

“If we are the Body…” - Guest Blog From ChurchSalt.com

Filed under: Evangelism — Marv Plementosh @ 9:32 pm

I turned on the radio this morning to try to find some morning start-up music, and was instead faced with a puzzling question regarding those professing Christ in these modern times. A question regarding modern Christianity wasn’t what I was in the mood for, but like so many times when I turn on christian radio, it is what I got. The local Christian station was broadcasting the song, “If we are the Body” by Casting Crowns. I am guessing most readers are familiar with it, but for those who are not, take a look at the lyrics of the main chorus:

But if we are the body
Why aren’t His arms reaching?
Why aren’t His hands healing?
Why aren’t His words teaching?
And if we are the body
Why aren’t His feet going?
Why is His love not showing them there is a way?

I am no expert regarding the music industry nor its’ marketplace, but I do know this is a popular song and has been for a few years now. It seems to resonate with people. They hear this song and it seems to address what they see around them in their Christian sub-culture. When a song (any song in any culture) becomes popular, it is because people identify with it. So if people are identifying with the message of this song, what exactly is it about the message of this song that resonates with people? I think it can be said with confidence that the songwriter is lamenting the fact that there is no or little visible fruit from the modern church he sees around him. Is this what is resonating with people? The lack of visible fruit from those professing Christ? Yes, it is.
So here is the question I was forced to ask myself. Why are those professing Christ not recognizing this sad state of affairs for what it is? Look at what Jesus said about the lack of fruit: Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Matthew 7:16-18

The lack of fruit on a massive scale (which is why it resonates with people) isn’t just a bit of weak spot in the modern church, it is a sign that the tree isn’t a fruit tree. And why is that? The modern Church has abandoned the message of sin and guilt before God because it is too uncomfortable. It doesn’t “bring em’ in”. Without the knowledge of guilt, we don’t understand the need for Christ to bear our punishment and give us pardon, and so that message is rarely discussed either, or at least, not in-depth. We have abandoned the message the King told us to deliver and instead we have cultivated a decorative garden. We have planted very pretty ornamental trees all around the land and called them fruit trees, but they aren’t fruit trees. So when a songwriter begins to sing about missing fruit, it really resonates with folks. Everyone knows the fruit is missing, but why is everyone surprised? Do we really expect to see fruit on pine trees, or pears on maples? If a church isn’t preaching the law and the gospel, if they aren’t preaching Christ crucified (and why), then they aren’t a church. It doesn’t matter what they call themselves. And if they aren’t a church, why is it surprising that Christian fruit is nowhere to be found? Looking at this song in light of scripture gives a whole new meaning to the question, “If we are the body”, doesn’t it?

June 2, 2010

It’s What You Do That Ultimately Makes A Difference. Talk Alone Isn’t Enough.

Filed under: Evangelism — Marv Plementosh @ 8:26 pm

Sometimes we think our opinions are more important than our actions. But talk is never enough – no matter how eloquent we are. It is not what we say that in the end makes the difference, it’s what we do. Who we are is proved time and time again not by our words, but by our actions, by the way we live.

John Wesley told of a man he had little respect for because he considered him to be miserly and covetous. One day when this person contributed only a small gift to a worthy charity, Wesley openly criticized him. After the incident, the man went to Wesley privately and told him he had been living on parsnips and water for several weeks. He explained that before his conversion, he had run up many bills. Now, by skimping on everything and buying nothing for himself he was paying off his creditors one by one. “Christ has made me an honest man,” he said, “and so with all these debts to pay, I can give only a few offerings above my tithe. I must settle up with my worldly neighbors and show them what the grace of God can do in the heart of a man who was once dishonest.” Wesley then apologized to the man and asked his forgiveness.

We need to tell others of the judgment, the grace and the love of God, but it brings an entirely new meaning and effectiveness when after we tell them, we show it. This is what Jesus did…

Matthew 5:16 “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

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