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Friday, September 16, 2011

Dare to Go Where Jesus Went

It's an incredible passage! "For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp." (Hebrews 13:11) Doesn't that verse grip your heart? Doesn't it make you want to share the gospel with children everywhere? The truth is that "outside the camp" wasn't a pretty scene for the ancient Hebrews, and it's far from pleasing to us today.
Inside the camp was security, comfort, worship, pleasure, miracles, protection, provision, safety, and life. But the phrase "outside the camp" conjured up all kids of negative thoughts and feelings for the Hebrew people each time they heard it. Leviticus sheds light on the phrase for us. In 16:27 we read that the bodies of the bulls (skin, guts, and all) were burned outside the camp--not inside the camp where people lived and worshiped. Outside the camp the smell of death and burned corpses lingered.

It gets worse. Leviticus 13:45-46 tells us that those who contracted the deadly disease of leprosy were sent outside the camp--alone. It didn't matter if they were loved family members, close friends, or gentle grandpas and grandmas. They were sent to the place designated for the despised and people to avoid.

It gets even worse than that! Leviticus 24:13 says that any person who cursed and blasphemed God was sent outside the camp and stoned to death. Outside the camp was a precarious, disgusting place of abhorrent people and deathly smells. It was a smelly, dirty, and dangerous place. It surely wasn't the kind of place you would plan as your next vacation spot!

Then the author of Hebrews writes, "Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate." The King of kings did not even receive a kingly death, but instead He experienced torment in death and in the very place no one wanted to be--outside the gate.

He also spent most of His time there. Jesus spent time with persons the Pharisees would not have: smelly, dirty, and despised people, and Jesus loved them, and many believed in Him and were saved. Jesus was hated; partly because of the company he kept.

Are you ready for this next verse? You might want to sit down, because verse 13 is the clincher: "Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach." It's not a suggestion, is it? I believe the author is exclaiming, "Listen! We are the body of Jesus on earth. Therefore, we must act the way He acted when He was here; be willing to suffer what Jesus suffered." It's our calling. It's our purpose. It's our destiny.

What exactly is our purpose for living? To work, earn money, pay the bills, play church, raise kids, retire, and then die? It's evident to me that we were meant for so much more than these. I'm thankful to know my purpose; it drives me. It's to inspire and train believers to evangelize. You can join me! You can join the great purpose of Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF)! Your prayer, financial, and volunteering all support this ministry which enables us all together to reach those whom no one else is reaching--all across Houston, the U.S., and even the world. Believe me. They are there.

I challenge you with this: CEF of Greater Houston has launched an initiative called RADIUS. Go to our newly revamped website,, and click on the white box that says "RADIUS." Carefully read what it's all about, and prayerfully join the movement.

Then let's work hard together putting Christ on display by our willingness to suffer for Him outside the camp!

Serving you in evangelism to the children,
J Chad Barrett

Thursday, September 1, 2011

How to Inspire Your Church to Evangelize

Deep-seated in a society where the biggest seems to be the best, the fastest is apparently the most sufficient, and professionalism trumps community lies a simple church with a steeple on its roof. And inside this church sits the pastor in his office chair wondering how in the world he can possibly motivate his congregation to take the town for Christ.

The Faith Bible Church facility, La Marque, TX

I've set in that chair many times. (The people in the church pictured above are fantastic, and are working hard at reaching people for Christ!) Perhaps you have, too. Perhaps you're there now--the pastor of a church seeking to motivate your people to use their God-given gifts to somehow spread the gospel to the community and abroad. Or maybe you've been asking the wrong question, "What will it take to pack out my building on Sunday morning?" Perhaps you could, instead, ask, "What will it take to persuade my people to share the gospel in our community and abroad during the week?"

Or maybe you're a Sunday school teacher, youth worker, or pew warmer who feels the burden to become a mover/shaker for Christ; you feel something (or Someone) is tugging on your heart to say something or do something that would spark a great desire for your church to become a catalyst for the gospel in your community.

Whether you realize it or not, the big question at hand really is, "How can I inspire my people to evangelize to our community and beyond?"

While I definitely don't know all the answers, I'd like to offer a few suggestions that may be overlooked by many.

Pray to the Lord of the Harvest.
If you're like me (If you are I wouldn't tell anyone--it's for your own safety!), you may have jumped on the latest and greatest bandwagon of books, DVD's, and seminars on how to get Christians to share the gospel. Thank God there are some great stuff out there on this topic! But isn't it interesting that the first thing Christ told His disciples in regard to evangelism was to pray? Read about it in Matthew 9:35-38.

Jesus had the opportunity to give the boys His greatest tips on evangelism, but He said, "Ask my Father to rise up more people like you to bring the Good News to them." The reason was apparent: there were only 13 of them and multitudes of lost people! So by all means, PRAY! This must be our top prayer request in every small group, prayer meeting, and corporate service: for God to rise up more laborers to go into His harvest!

Prayer motivates. When your people sees your heart for the lost as you consistently lead them in prayer for laborers, something happens to them. They will either get tired of hearing you pray, or they will join you. Those who join you in prayer for evangelism will follow you in evangelism.

Set the Example
Isn't that what Paul told Timothy? Check it out in 2 Timothy 4:5. Paul told him to do the work of an evangelist. This doesn't mean Timothy was an evangelist. In fact, it is quite apparent he wasn't, or else Paul would've said, "Do your thing, Tim!" Paul told a young pastor to do something he may very well have been most uncomfortable doing--evangelize.

You can't lead anyone in a direction you aren't going yourself. I love the way my mentor, Dr. Larry Moyer, puts it, "Instead of talking about the lost needing Christ, we must talk to the lost about Christ!" And Paul told Timothy to "do as I do." So if you really want to inspire your people to share the gospel to the lost, then you must be in the practice of sharing the gospel to people yourself. In fact, bring one or two of your church members to watch you evangelize. They'll get a kick out of it!

Leverage Yourself
One of my good friends and board members at Child Evangelism Fellowship of Greater Houston taught me a wonderful leadership technique several years ago: leverage yourself. It's Coleman McDuffee's favorite phrase, and it has helped me lead people into a direction I felt God telling us to go.

A common approach to evangelism in many churches today is to have all church members bring their unsaved friends to one event to hear one man share the gospel one time. I'm not saying this is a wrong or bad thing to do, yet Christ told His disciples to go out and make disciples who go out and make disciples. (No, that's not a typo. I meant to type that last phrase twice.) If you were to leverage yourself in evangelism by training 5 of your people to share the clear, simple gospel, then you can potentially reach many more than you can by yourself. Plus, those 5 people know many whom you do not know! Surely, it would be much easier to send a trained Christian into the harvest than to bring the harvest to an unfamiliar building.

Think about how many people can hear the gospel if 10 of your people were inspired and trained to bring the gospel message to their friends, co-workers, neighbors, and family members. Pray, set the example, and leverage yourself. You will be amazed at how the Holy Spirit will bring His inspiration to believers in your church who seek His wisdom and direction in evangelism.

(For more Inspiring Evangelism, feel free to contact me! I would be honored to partner with you!)