Tag: Evangelism

Parlour Preaching

I came across something today that referenced a concept Charles Bridges wrote about concerning pastoral ministry. Bridges was a pastor and author in 19th century England. He was a leader in the Evangelical Party of the Church of England and highly respected by his peers. The Rev. B. Philpot, Rector of Lydney, Gloucestershire, wrote in the Preface to a collection of Bridges’ letters: “I never remember any one in whose presence it was more difficult to be irreligious, or even frivolous. His whole life was a spiritualized humanity in its healthiest and most lovely exhibition.”

Bridges made reference to this quote from a work by Isaac Watts:

“A Minister, whose Business and known Employment is to speak of the Things of God, should never be ashamed to impart divine Knowledge, or to exhort to Holiness with his Lips, and to preach the Word of the Gospel of Grace, whether the World calls it in Season or out of Season, 2 Tim. iv. i. He that has the happy Talent of Parlour Preaching has sometimes done more for Christ and Souls in the space of a few Minutes, than by the Labour of many Hours and Days in the usual Course of Preaching in the Pulpit. Our Character should be ail of a piece, and we should help forward the Success of our publick Ministrations by our private Addresses to the Hearts and Consciences of Men, where Providence favours us with just Occasions.”1

Bridges then added his own contribution to Watts’ remarks:

“Social visits to our people for the purpose of spreading a general spiritual atmosphere, are also a highly important part of the Pastoral work. What Dr. Watts aptly calls “parlour preaching” — that is, the ability to introduce the subject of religion seasonably and acceptably into social intercourse — is one of the most valuable talents to the Church. If it be in part a natural gift; yet its lowest exercise is capable of unlimited improvement; and they who have attained the highest excellence in this way, are not those, who were most richly endowed by nature, but those who have ” stirred up this gift of God that is in them” with the most assiduous diligence. We do not indeed recommend that sententious and authoritative tone, which carries with it the air of solemn affectation. Let the great subject rather blend with the habit of Christian cheerfulness: only taking care not to diverge from the main object, so as to preclude a natural and graceful return: and remembering that seriousness is as essential to unction, as unction is to edification. Nor would we always open the subject formally, or in the way of abrupt commencement. If no direct method offers itself, an intelligent readiness of address, and the expression of a glowing heart, will turn some incident or topic of conversation to good account. When the obligation is deeply felt, opportunities generally will be found, or a watchful spirit of love will make them; and if the character of the preacher is put off, the man of God will engage himself in close, affectionate, vigorous conversation upon matters of eternal moment.

An adaptation of topics is, however, necessary to give effect to the exercise of this talent. Matters of general interest will always afford subjects of instruction. In mixed society, two or more real Christians, interchanging their sentiments on any interesting topic, will furnish a vehicle of profitable communication with the rest. Intercourse with the higher classes is often attended with considerable difficulty. Yet even here the introduction of truth “in the meekness of wisdom” will accomplish much; and the Pastor never appears in greater dignity, or speaks with greater effectiveness to the rich, than when his mild decision of heavenly character exhibits the determination to “obey God rather than man,” and to honour the authority of his commission with preeminent regard. We must not forget the strict account that will be required of this weighty burden of the souls of the rich; and with an eye to this account, we must wisely and diligently search out the avenues, by which to convey to them the most enduring treasure.

For the improvement of this conversational intercourse, a store of materials, drawn from an acquaintance with the best practical writers, or from our religious biographies, will prove of essential service. A readiness to produce the circulating medium — added to a recollected habit for the most suitable disposition of the topics, for the study of proper variety, and above all, for exercising our dependence upon Almighty aid — will be most important. In this spirit of consideration, diligence, and faith, the feeblest efforts will be abundantly honoured; while the best-ordered conversation, in our own spirit, will prove ineffectual for the desired ends.”2

Both these authors were writing primarily to those in pastoral ministry. However, their remarks are both useful and applicable to any follower of Christ.

1Watts, Isaac. “3. Of His Publick Ministrations.” An Humble Attempt Towards the Revival of Practical Religion Among Christians, by a Serious Address to Ministers and People, In Some Occasional Discourses. Cornhill: Globe, 1742. 90-91. Print.

2Bridges, Charles. “Part V. I. The Nature and importance of the Pastoral work.” The Christian Ministry; with an inquiry into the causes of its inefficiency. New York: Robert Carter and Brothers, 1850. 316-318. Print.

Catching People

Luke 5:1-11

Probably wonder how does this text fit in between chapters 28 & 29 of Job! Last week, Wisdom – An Elusive Treasure. Have you found it? Are you convinced it is a real treasure? Do you believe it is hidden in the Lord Jesus? If so, then you have responsibilities: ones that relate to you and your own spiritual development, ones that relate to the world around you.

You and I need to grow and mature in our love for God; you and I need to grow in our love for one another; you and I need to grow in our usefulness to God.

“I will take it for granted that every Believer here wants to be useful. If he does not, I take leave to question whether he can be a true believer in Christ. Well, then, if you want to be really useful, here is SOMETHING FOR YOU TO DO TO THAT END—“Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”” CHS

Five “fishing tips”, tips for being useful to Christ.

A. Tip #1 – follow, then fish

Matt. 4:19 fishing result of following; can’t have one without the other; is Christ who makes the fisherman

to follow Christ means more than salvation – involves service – Great Commandment: love God, love neighbor

Mark 12:28-31one of the scribes …asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Rom. 13:9The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

to follow Christ means we first lay down our weapons, turn from our rebellion, submit unconditionally to his authority…in every part of life

Rom. 10:9if you confess with your mouth that Jesusis Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

not a democracy, is a theocracy: Christ is King, absolutely – he gives instructions, provides supplies, guarantees results

follow me – imperative; I will make – declarative, not suggestive; notice – no qualifiers: if you want me to, if you’re old enough, if you’re skilled enough ==> if you obey him, he will equip you and enable you

is Christ who supplies and equips his followers to do his work through the church – not Lone Rangers but teammates

Eph. 4:11-12And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” — may be 1000’s, perhaps 100’s, but at least 3: gave pastor-teachers to equip saints

Christ graciously and generously gives for a particular purpose: not entertainment, to equip the saints for work

e.g., learn instructions, use of supplies in SS; tools for understanding and interpreting God’s two books, grow more familiar with truths to live by, principles and practices for sharing your faith with others

grow and strengthen faith/love for God in Worship: sing hymns of praise and adoration, express love and dependence in prayer, receive nourishment from Word of God preached, be further built up by observing the ordinances

put God to work at Prayer Meeting – see Acts 4:23-31 – you performed in the past, you promised, we desire and need; enlisting aid of Holy Spirit: prepare hearts and opportunities, give courage and wisdom and words

B. Tip #2 – get off the dock

Matt 5:13-16 salt and light – changing those we contact, who are nearby

salt is useless if it never touches the food or your tongue; must contact food to preserve it, to flavor it; must touch your tongue if you are to savor it

effective fishing of kind Jesus was talking about requires getting into the boat, going where the fish are…as you follow Christ; can’t stay within comfort zone on shore and expect fish to jump into net

similar application to light: people not designed to function well in the dark, that’s why blindness is considered a disability

world is filled with disabled people, those who are blinded by sin; but if blind person receives sight but no light, they’re no better off!

when God restores sight to spiritually blind person, need light to follow – means those who have the light must take it to them, so they can see their way

nighttime photograph taken from Intl. Space Sta., SE Asia; huge area of green glow, didn’t know source; determined was fishing boats with high-intensity LED’s to draw fish to surface – didn’t shine the lights from the dock, took them out to sea where fish live

doesn’t mean spending all our time with unbelievers, living like unbelievers so we fit in with their culture

does mean in the normal routine of daily life, must get out of comfortable Christian circle and actually interact with other people at more than just surface level – the weather, garden, construction up the road

also means living and speaking with purpose: intentionally take the conversation in spiritual direction; remember Jesus and Samaritan woman – directing comments about water to area of greater need than simply physical

don’t be afraid to get personal: Lonely Voices

C. Tip #3 – follow directions

Luke 5:4-6 is Christ who makes fishing successful – his place, his way, his timing

had already worked hard but with no results; besides, Jesus was carpenter not fisherman; telling them to go to wrong place at wrong time of day, how would that ever work?!

Peter said and did right thing – “nevertheless, I will…”; don’t expect “success” on first try, then give up when it doesn’t happen – relationships take time and effort to develop

success came when those in the boat in deep water obeyed Jesus’ instruction – was Jesus who made it happen, not skill of fisherman

size of catch pointed to Christ and his divine authority – Jesus intended the fishermen to know who put the fish in the net; your catch may be large or small, but fish will be the ones Jesus intends for you to catch

notice also: kind of fishing Jesus was talking about: group effort with a net, not individual sport fishing with pole – Evangelism is both individual and group endeavor.

disciples were sent out 2 x 2; apostles went out in teams; was when Peter and John prayed with their friends that the place shook

if you expect to actually catch people in your net, must use all the means and methods Christ has supplied

don’t presume you can add people to the church using shortcuts or your own ideas – is Christ who builds his church, is the Lord who adds to the church those who are being saved

D. Tip #4 – count the cost

Matt 16:13-19, 24-26 church is built with followers; following involves commitment and sacrifice for Christ and his church

let’s set the context: Christ is the head of the church (Eph. 5:23); Christ loved the church (Eph. 5:25); Christ purchased the church of God with his own blood (Acts 20:28); Christ gave himself for the church that he might sanctify and cleanse her, that he might present her to himself a glorious church (Eph. 5:26-27)

that’s what Christ has done and he expects us to follow him – have you counted the cost?

will cost you your life: “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?”

denying self costs: will cost convenience, earthly pleasures, may even cost family or friends or job or life

when you choose pleasure for moment over commitment to Christ and his church, are saying you know better what is valuable; this thing you experience now is more important, has greater significance than what Jesus gave for you

when by your choices you demonstrate greater commitment to family or friends or convenience or stuff than to Christ, what does that tell others

going to an event or talking about the weather or business or Red Sox or Patriots is more important than your soul?? and what about their soul? what is that worth?

E. Tip #5 – attract a following

Matt 28:18-20 followers are to attract more followers (disciples); don’t forget who we are following, who we want others to follow

Irwin Lutzer – “make Jesus look good” – if you’re going to sing “Jesus Is All the World to Me”, live like it’s true

if stand on sidewalk, looking up, maybe even pointing up, people stop and try to figure out what you’re looking at – make sure you’re pointing at Jesus

live in such dependence on Jesus that others see him in you and are attracted by what they see

Luke 5:10-11 don’t be afraid, follow him, catch men

how did disciples respond to Jesus’ challenge? as soon as they got to shore, “they left everything (forsook all) and followed him”

Reasons why people join a church…(according to one study) 1% Join because of a special crusade or revival. 2% Join because of the general visitation by the pastor. 4% Join because of some special and unique need. 6% Just walk in and join on their own. 6% Join because the church has a good pastor. 7% Join because of a good Sunday School. 10% Join because the church has a good program for children & adults. 65% Join because they are INVITED by friends, relatives or church members!

Another question is why people stay. ==> One leading reason – Christ-centered friendships. Succasunna Presb. Ch. Newsletter

Daresay the same is true of joining up with Christ – overwhelming majority because friend, relative or church member invited them to hear truth of Gospel. If, as we spoke last week, true wisdom is priceless treasure found only in Christ, priority must be to do all we can as God equips and enables to bring people to Christ.

You want family, friends, co-workers, neighbors to be converted, you want pews here and elsewhere filled. Do your friends and neighbors know why you are here right now? What have you done to encourage them to be here with you? What are you doing to encourage that? What do you plan to do to encourage that? When was last time you did something purposefully with either of those goals in mind? And what was it? Jesus’ challenge still valid for today: “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men”.