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The Great Omission: Reaching a New Generation with the Gospel

Posted on August 19, 2018

The Great Omission: Reaching a New Generation with the Gospel

Luke 10:1-12; Matthew 28:19 – 20; Acts 1:8

Scripture Reading

Luke 10:1-12

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. 2 And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3 Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ 6 And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. 7 And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. 8 Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. 9 Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless, know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

Purpose: Every Christ follower must understand the times they live in and how to most effectively share the Gospel with those in their community

Opening Illustration: Treasure Island, A Child's Garden of Verses-those are just some of the literary classics written by Robert Louis Stevenson. He must have had a way with words from the time he was a boy. Anne Graham Lotz tells of a night in his boyhood when his nanny just couldn't get him to bed. Young Robert just kept staring out the window, oblivious to her talking to him. Finally, she said, "Robert, what in the world are you looking at out there?" As she pulled back the curtain, she realized he was watching the lamplighter making his way down the street, lighting one street lamp after another. Young Robert Louis Stevenson saw something more. He said, "Look at that man! He's punching holes in the darkness! He’s punching holes in the darkness!”

Transition: You and I are called, are commanded to each day do everything we can with our words, our actions, our thoughts, and our attitudes to punch holes in the darkness of sin that Satan is in charge of. From Dr. Mario Sy praying with his patients, to Dale Von Thun sharing with a new member of his work team the Gospel, each of us must carry out through our own style and personality the Great Commission. The problem we face to day is that we are disconnected with the needs and people of our community.

Introduction: The Great Disconnect

  • The current harvest fields
    • According to Barna Research Group, Davenport, Iowa and the QCA is the 50th most post - Christian cities out of 100 of America’s top cities. We are right in the middle of the mix.
    • 37% of the people in our community are considered post – Christian. What does post Christian mean? What are the measurements?
      • To be post-Christian, individuals had to meet nine or more of the following factors
  1. They do not believe in God
  2. They identify as atheist or agnostic
  3. They have not prayed to God in the last week
  4. They have never made a commitment to Jesus
  5. They disagree that Bible is accurate
  6. They have not donated money to a church in the last year
  7. They have not attended a Christian church in the last six months
  8. They agree that Jesus committed sins
  9. They do not feel a responsibility to “share their faith”.

10. They have not read their Bible in the last week

11. They have not volunteered at church in the last week

12. They have not attended Sunday School in the last week

13. They have not attended a religious small group on the last week

14. Their Bible engagement is low by not having read the Bible in the last week and not believing it is accurate

15. They are NOT born again

Research done by the Barna Group completed April 2016

  • 40% of the people in Scott County, Iowa do not go to church and we are ranked 27th among unchurched cities in our country.
  • Again, 37% of the people in our community are considered post – Christian
  • Now here is the great disconnect
  • The current problemwith Christians in America
    • 95% of Christians in America have never led one person to Jesus Christ
    • In 1993, 89% of Christians, polled by Barna and Lutheran Hour Ministries research groups, agreed that individual Christians have a responsibility to share their faith as commanded by the Great Commission.
    • 25 years later, 2018, that number is down to 64% that think the Great Commission is a command for all individual Christians. A 25 % decrease!!
    • In 1993, 10 % of the same group polled thought it was the churches sole responsibility to share the Gospel
      • We put money in the plate so the church should do it
      • The Pastors and staff are paid to share the Gospel
      • This view is the MOST inefficient way to spread the Gospel of anyway you can think of.
  • In 2018 that number has risen to 30% who believe the church has the sole responsibility to carry out the Great Commission

Quote: “So what’s happening here? Why are Christians so reluctant to talk about their faith? The overarching cultural trends. . . . As a result, Christians in America today have to live in the tension between Jesus’ commands to tell others the good news and growing cultural taboos against proselytizing—a core part of Christianity from its origins and, many practicing Christians believe, is essential for the salvation of their listeners.”

“Christians have been so influenced by the culture that they no longer think biblically on this issue. Instead, they think like the culture around them.”

 – Roxanna Stone – editor in chief of Barna Research

  • What is the Great Commission?

Matthew 28:19-20

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Acts 1:8

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Romans 1:16

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

  • There are a few people who have the spiritual gift of evangelism but I don’t see anything in these verses to say that it is JUST for them or JUST the paid clergy to carry out the Great Commission.
  • It is not a suggestion, but it is commanded that we, all of us, make our lives about spreading the seeds of the Gospel
    • Social justice for all
    • Charitable causes to care of the needs of the downtrodden in our society.
    • All good things that can make a physical difference, attempt to bring peace, rescue people from slavery and on and on but the most freeing thing we can give to people who are oppressed is the hope of the Gospel
    • These issues and others are so important but must contain the Gospel because the Gospel is the only and ultimate way to transform a life and change the cycle and direction of their lives permanently.
    • I want to share ways to NOW use to share the Gospel with the understanding of who our current audience is.

The importance of process

  • We must reevaluate our evangelism methods
    • We never change the message but we must change the methods
      • Approach from the 70’s – 2000
        • Tracts
        • Street corner evangelism
        • Knocking on doors
        • Open the church doors for special speakers and events
        • Bus ministry
        • Mass evangelism
    • What are the Millennials and Generation Z looking for in how to be engaged with the Gospel? That is the question we as a church and individual Christians need to answer
      • Who are the Millennials? – those who are 22 – 37 currently – 1981 -1996
      • Who are those who call themselves Generation Z? – those who are 0 – 21 currently – born after 1996 to the present
    • The old methods have limited impact.

Quote: “Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

  • We used to say that Conversion was an event and you will see why we thought that for many years in a moment. But now, people are uneducated about the Bible, they are skeptics of the truth, they are unaware of a clear Gospel presentation in a way that is understandable to them.
    • I am guilty at times of how I assume things as I share the Gospel
    • I assume things or use Christian eze language or insider theology language without defining the terms.
    • I want you to understand where people are today

Video Clip: Gravity – No one taught me how to pray

  • So, look at the flip side of your outline and see the Engels’s chart there.
  • Explain the Engel’s chart. Explain where people used to be back in the 50’s – 90’s possibly - #4 / verses today - #8 -10
  • So, we need to understand that it will take time and continual hearings of the Gospel before the Holy Spirit and their will, will bring them to conversion.
  • Our goal is to put the Gospel in a language and a context they can understand it. We will need patience and prayer in our relationships to cultivate, plant and possibly reap the harvest
  • We may spread the seed, we may water the seed, we may harvest but it will be a joint effort with others of God’s people working in harmony with the Holy Spirit
  • So, please understand as we prepare to discuss how to share the Gospel, our audience will need;

Process +Event = Conversion

  • This is not an exact formula. No one knows how long it may take or how many will receive Christ. Only God in His sovereignty will know for sure. But we must be knowledgeable and capable of sharing clearly the components of the Gospel.
  • The change in our culture requires a change in sharingthe Gospel
    • Acts 2approach for sharing the Gospel
      • Peter preached the first sermon shortly after the resurrection of Jesus and just after the Holy Spirit came down upon the 120 assembled people who were praying in the Upper Room.
      • The audience in A.D. 32 were – Jews / Converted Gentiles to Judaism / Pagans who worshiped no god or gods or were agnostic / atheist
      • All were monotheists
      • They believed the OT scriptures
      • They were looking for a Messiah
      • Peter preached and three thousand immediately came to Christ
  • Acts 17approach for sharing the Gospel
    • Paul is on Mars Hill
    • In the city of Athens, truth was relative not absolute – just like today
      • Situation ethics / Morality by vote of the majority
    • Worldviews that believed there were gods everywhere – make your own religion. A spiritual smorgasbord – just like today
    • No one in the culture knew the name Isaac in the Bible to iPad
    • Paul learned quickly he was not in Jerusalem anymore
  • What was Paul’s approach to share the Gospel
    • Looked around the community surveying the lay of the land and found common ground to begin spiritual conversations
    • They were so tolerant and so pluralistic that the only thing they agreed on was they couldn’t know anything for sure.
    • He was in a city of skeptics and people critical of religion and religious authority
    • He sees an altar to an “Unknown God” and says What if I could tell you that God’s name?
      • He started speaking to them from God’s creation story and laid a foundation to understand the Gospel

Quote: “I sometimes wonder whether we shall not have to re-convert men to real Paganism as a preliminary to converting them to Christianity.” – C.S. Lewis

  • When you say in sharing the Gospel to someone, “Jesus died for your sins and my sins, there is a lot to unpack there.”
    • Understanding original sin
    • Understanding that God is holy, perfect and without sin
    • Understanding the reasons for the blood sacrifices in the OT to cover over man’s sin – pointing to the cross of Christ when He would be the final sacrifice and TAKE away man’s sin
    • Understanding that Jesus was the substitute for the payment of our sin on the cross.
    • All of that and more has to be unpacked and talked about to explain the Gospel to people who have never heard it before otherwise, we share and it sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher on his TV cartoons. They may be polite, respectful and listen but they are not understanding a word you say.
    • We are not talking about moving from the King James Version to The Message
    • We start with this is a Bible
      • 66 books
      • 40 different authors
      • Written over 1500 years of time
      • The Bible tells the story of God.

Application: We need to understand our audience

Transition: We must not fail to be relevant in our message for to do so puts people in peril of spending eternity away from God.

  • The change in our culture requires a change in how we explainthe Gospel
    • We must pause and reflectwhat our life was like before Christ
      • The curse of biblical knowledge
        • We have forgotten what it is like to be apart from Christ
        • For some in this room, you cannot remember a time you were not in a Bible believing church where the Gospel was shared.
    • Let me be very clear here. The world needs you to remember what life is like apart from Christ
    • We must assume people have no prior knowledge to Christianity
  • We must illustrate how being a Christ follower is the best way to live life
    • The goal is to illustrate what a Christ follower would do or think and how it is always the better road.
    • The book of James is a great book to share with Millennials and Gen Z young people who come to Christ. It shows you very directly and simply how to live the Christian life.
  • We must walk the tightrope of grace and truth

John 1:14

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

  • Perfect example is the story of the woman caught in adultery

John 8:11

“Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

  • Truth without grace is judgment
  • Grace without truth is license

Example: Someone who is living an immoral life. You must accept the person or persons but not affirm their lifestyle. Easier said than done.

  • How will you treat them when they come to your house for Thanksgiving or Christmas?

 

  • We must be able to share the Gospel in a compelling and succinctway.
    • We live in a culture where people have eight second attention spans due to screens
    • We need to share in simple ways as individuals and church
    • We need to be able to share visually
    • We need to use the internet
      • Isis uses it
      • Pornography has mastered it
      • Atheism is preaching their Gospel faithfully
      • Why not Christianity?

Application: We must learn how to share the Gospel with simplicity and brevity

  • It used to be the Romans Road, Evangelism Explosion, Four Spiritual Laws, Peace with God – Billy Graham
    • Now – New Tribes Mission – Ettaw!!
    • Some Christian movies – Case for Christ
    • Answers in Genesis – Creation / Corruption / Catastrophe / Confusion / Christ / Cross / Consummation – Prepare to Believe
    • Living Waters – Ray Comfort

Key Thought: My goal today is to cause you to think differently and unthink the old ways of doing evangelism as individuals and as a church. The day of opening the doors and hoping people will come to Jesus is rare. We must be in the culture, rubbing shoulders and being part of the process of walking people through their spiritual journey to faith in Christ.

Matthew 5:14-16

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 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.

Concluding Thoughts: What an awesome description of the reason God has placed you where you are! You're not there to shake your head and bemoan how dark it is where you work or go to school or whatever your environment. You're there to punch holes in the darkness! So, how are you doing on that so far?

Questions to Ponder this Week

1.    Will I pray the prayer of peace from Luke 10?

Luke 10:5-6

5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ 6 And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. 

2.   Will I ask God to daily be available to share?

3.    Will I be motivated by what I believe about the Gospel to look for opportunities to share?